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Sunday, April 7, 2013

Jessica Unplugged: Her Aesthetics of Poetry

I had to write this for my poetry class, especially for the book I have to write for the final project (at least 20 poems). This was the assignment:

Prepare a ten to fifteen minute presentation on a work of art, literature or subject/event/thing, outlining how this creative work or thing influences your own writing. Include an account of your personal writing philosophy. To prepare for this assignment, write a manifesto, discussing principles governing your sense of form, what you think a poem is and does, your ideas of social responsibility as they relate to writing and your intended audience, and an outline of how your aesthetics were formed. Handouts for the class required. Written manifesto (3 typed pages) must be submitted to me for grading and will serve as the introduction to your end of the semester portfolio/chapbook. 

Jessica Unplugged: Aesthetics and Style within Her Poetry
I remember the early 90s like it was yesterday. Growing up, my grandma and my great aunt told me to write and keep on doing what I love. They enjoyed what I wrote and the illustrations I included with it. They were convinced I had talent and should keep at it. I remember the joy I felt of making up books and writing short stories (it was short stories up until I was in eighth grade. Back then I think my inspiration was from my favorite TV shows on Nickelodeon such as All That, Ren and Stimpy and the Angry Beavers. Literary I would have to say it was Carol Lewis, R.L. Stine, and surprisingly, I loved Edgar Allen Poe starting in second grade.
I was always a short story writer until eighth grade. However, I started writing poetry “full time” in eleventh grade after a creative writing class. I resisted writing poetry up until I was a teenager because I always thought poetry had to rhyme and rhyme back then bored me. Also, I never saw F. Scott Fitzgerald, Hemingway and Stephen King never wrote poetry and I was deeply influenced by those authors. I don’t remember what exactly changed my mind, but I loved Mrs. Gallis’s creative writing class in eleventh grade at Upper Merion Area High School. This was around 2006-2007. She taught us all forms and inspired us to break free from forms and we could write anything we wanted to. My class groaned when she assigned a poetry book assignment, but I loved the challenge. We did have to use some forms, but the rest of the book was entirely our own creation. I wrote in calligraphy, wrote rhyme, free verse and the few forms that were assigned—I also loved illustrating this. The book was titled Ramblings of a Rebel and earned an A; a year later, this book was the basis for my first self-published book that was published by in 2008 (it’s by the same name).
Around this time I started reading Sylvia Plath and just loved her style. She is still an inspiration of mine and has helped me through many hard times like break-ups, the diagnosis of bipolar disorder and hypothyroidism, then the death of my grandma in January 2013. I just loved her sense of style and her form varied, which never made her writing dull or boring. In some poems she rhymed, others were free versed and it worked. It finally clicked that unlike what my eighth grade teacher said in 2004 when he assigned a poetry book assignment, poems don’t need to have a set, rigid form. They could exist in free form or whatever the poet envision. I also started reading e.e. Cummings around this time and his sense of style really stuck out to me in a good way as well.
When I write poetry, sometimes I will rhyme. I do love a few forms and try my best to write them. I am a member of (since 2006) and I was challenged to write a diatelle in May 2012. A diatelle, according to ha “a set syllable count and a set rhyme.
The syllable count is: 1-2-3-4-6-8-10-12-10-8-6-4-3-2-1, the rhyme patter is: abbcbccaccbcbba. It is usually displayed centered.” It was challenging, but I came up with one of my best poems:
Riff-Crowned Lullaby

I drowned
in drum sounds
neon and smoke
in my brown eyes, it pounds,
like the beating of my heart, pokes
the guitar's riffs, the bass hums, forever spoke—
droning dives in and out--static--out and in; palm
catches the rhythm, the chords never shook.
It is hard to contain, my bloke,
love knows and shows no bounds—
lullabies took,
concerts wound;
smoke crowned—

I generally don’t write romance poems; I’m more of a historical, sports and travel writer, but this drummer and an old friend from summer camp had my heart and was my muse at the time. I believe a writer should write about what inspires them. I am inspired by the American Civil War and have been since 2004 after a love affair with history starting in eighth grade. It seems around that time I developed into what I am today. I also take great joy from traveling and seeing new places and meeting new people inspire me. I like informing about where I’ve been and what I’ve learned. To me, that’s why I write. I want to show people they are not alone with their struggles and I want to show them different cultures and places. I was raised around foreign exchange students from Slovakia and I think my love for travel and cultures are evident in my writing.
When I’m not writing about Wisconsin, I’m writing about Philadelphia and my travels on South Street. I love getting pierced and for a while, that experience has been shaping my writing. I love the shop Infinity and the staff that works there. I want people to go, so in the form of essay I talk about it, but I open with a poem. Even when I’m writing about Civil War reenactments, I have to open up with a poem. In my mind, a poem is a good start and something that will draw people in. I love combing both mediums of essay writing with poetry. Sometimes I will experiment with form.
For me, I believe a writer should be socially responsible for their writing. They might not necessarily inspire a generation, but he or she should move others in becoming the best person they can become. I think we should all inspire the best in everyone. Even when I am depressed, I hope I inspire people and make them feel like they’re not alone. When I’m depressed, my writing becomes a source of therapy and I hope people get a sort of catharsis out of it. I believe like the ancient Greeks and believe that poetry is a sort of catharsis for everyone. Whether it is published or not, we put our heart and soul into what we write and it’s just great.
I have come a long way since 2004 when I wrote my first poetry book in eighth grade for Mr. Burns’ English class. Yes, I do write in form from time to time, but I think it is up to the poet to choose what captures their heart. If you don’t capture what is in your heart, you’ll find a hard time writing and might end up faking a feeling or mood or even worse—creating a feeling or mood that you didn’t want at all. It is up to the writer to set the tone. My grandma’s and great aunt’s spirits still live within me: I keep my writing true to myself, but I explore as many genres as I can. I believe you shouldn’t be afraid to take leaps and try new things.


  1. This is a fine piece on your writing, your style and how you've grown as a writer. I liked reading this and will read it again. :)

    1. My presentation seemed to go well. :) I just have to get cracking on writing 20 poems about my grandma for May 6th.

    2. How many more poems do you have to go?
      What is the 6 May deadline about: for submission to something, to give yourself a timeline, a class deadline, hmm?

      Tuesday mornings are my brief chance to relax.

      Oh, wow, now there 50 days until I study abroad! :O

    3. Oh, I just read at the beginning of the post it is indeed for class. You don't have to worry about that part, then. ^^;;;;; /slow