Broken-down Poetry: January 2011


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Saturday, January 29, 2011

Poetry as Therapy pt. II

Thursday I was upset about something (or, many somethings) while I was at Nathan's house. After some crying and some huffing and gruffing, I did what I always need to do when I'm upset: I wrote.

I laid down on Nate's couch with my laptop on my stomach and started typing. Nate asked me what I was doing - I quickly hid the screen from him.

"Don't read it," I said.

"Are you writing angsty poetry?"



Writing is therapeutic -- especially poetry. I write poetry when I'm upset or particularly emotional (good or bad).

Going back to my MacDonald quote about poetry being the utterances of men's thoughts, I think poetry is one of the best ways to express emotion. That is, if writing's your thing.

Back in high school, when my friend Austin had some anger issues, I told him to write it out. Instead of lashing out at people, he should write in a journal. It served him well.

Poetry and writing is therapeutic to me, but for artists, painting is. For musicians, playing is. Whenever Nathan's in a bad mood, I make him play his guitar.


This post is meant to be a reminder -- mainly to myself. Instead of ranting, instead of venting to everyone I know, I need to write my feelings down. My journal is an awfully good listener.

Scriptwriting Archive:
Broken-down Poetry, and what it means
The strenuous marriage of writing

Friday, January 28, 2011

Poetry as Therapy pt. I

I'm working on a blog post for Scriptwriting about poetry as a form of therapy, which will go up this weekend, but for right now I thought I'd post an example of that. I hate that Dr. King and IWU students are reading this on their RSS feeds, because of the content of the following poem. (Consider this your warning.) But, remember that first and foremost this is my blog, not my IWU-affiliated Scriptwriting blog. If it offends--sorry. Maybe if you get offended easily, you should stop reading: HERE.



god, is this how it works—
you’ll speak to me only if
I’m a youth-pastor-to-be,
with a microphone and
microscopic wit, whose words
are amplified even larger

than yours?
Do I have to have
a faux hawk and f---ing
skinny jeans and a
Wesleyan theology
to carol your name

like angels?
Do you even listen
to skanks who sell their
self-esteem for sex
or addicts who always,
always, always, always

give in?
Doesn’t it seem like you’re
spending too much time
with those who are good
at looking good
but not with those who

Aren’t you impressed
by how well I’m
though I’m not
(even kind of, even sort of,

really) repenting?
Aren’t you tired
of being deaf
and mute?
Aren’t you sick
of being so


Sunday, January 23, 2011

The strenuous marriage of writing

"Being a writer is a strenuous marriage between careful observation and just as carefully imagining the truths you haven't had the opportunity to see. The rest is the necessary, strict toiling with the language; for me this means writing and rewriting the sentences until they sound as spontaneous as good conversation." - John Irving, emphasis mine

I read this in my creative nonfiction class Friday as a preface to a memoir by John Irving. Immediately it reminded me of scriptwriting and the importance of writing conversationally.

The first half of Irving's quotation is referring to fiction or creative nonfiction: you tell the truth, but let your imagination play a role. (In creative nonfiction, unlike fiction, you can't use your imagination without first prefacing it. You don't lie.)

In scriptwriting, I see this "strenuous marriage" -- even only a few weeks into my scriptwriting course.

The radio spot writer wants to tell facts: WHAT is the product? WHERE can I buy it? HOW is this product special? WHY is it worth buying? etc.

But at the same time, it's done in a creative way:

PERSON 1: Man, oh, man. It's gone -- it's all gone!
PERSON 2: What is--
PERSON 1: Quick! Someone call 9-1-1!
OPERATOR: 9-1-1, what's your emergency?
PERSON 2: Jimmy, Jimmy. What's happening? What should I tell them?
PERSON 1: Someone ate all my Doritos!

For me, I favor one partner or the other in this marriage of sorts. I'm noticing that for this class, I'm favoring the Facts and ignoring Creativity. The danger of this is endless: I could write a boring spot; I could write something that's supposed to be funny; but falls flat, I could overwhelm people with facts.

The opposite is just as true: If I focus too closely on creativity, I may forget to add important facts, like WHAT the product even is.

As for the second part of the quote, about writing something as "spontaneous as good conversation," I can't help but think of scriptwriting. That means stripping writing from very "Englishy" language. That means I don't write sentences like:

Though my love for Doritos is vast, I only have fifty cents -- not enough to buy a bag.

You write the way people talk. How do people talk? Well, go back to the beginning of the quote again. You figure it out through observation. When I'm writing dialogue for short stories, there's always one character who has an overuse of the word well, because that's what I do.

An excerpt:
Then he likes you?
Not exactly.
You just said the rest was history, like it’s the end of the story. So it’s not?
Well, that was a month ago. So much has happened.
Like what?
The date.
You went on a date with him?
Sort of.
Tell me!
It was nothing. We just watched a movie at his apartment.
Well, yeah alone. It was a date … I think.

I write wells in only because when I was writing this piece, I was saying the dialogue outloud. (I even cut out some of them, because it was a little too over the top. Good writing doesn't mean you add in speech flaws for effect. Apparently I say well too much.)

Thanks, John, for the insights.
I don't know about the rest of you, my dear Scriptwriting class, but it's a lot easier to talk about something (writing) when you have something to base it on, i.e. a quotation.

Just a thought.

(Now I'm hungry for Doritos.)


Scriptwriting archive:
Broken-down Poetry, and what it means

Monday, January 17, 2011

God, relationships, and an overuse of the word 'suck'

Alright. Well. Here's the deal:

My favorite image of God is that of the Great Romancer - my husband. As a romantic, I have viewed Him this way even as a young girl. But, as we all know, relationships are tough. They even suck at times.

Friendships suck. Boyfriend-girlfriend relationships suck. Marriages suck. They're hard sometimes, and they really, really suck.

Anyway, I was thinking about God as my Husband today, and it kind of pissed me off.

I'm coming out of this really low spiritual valley. Translation: I've felt far from God; I've felt far from the Church; I've felt like I've been asleep the whole time. I'm finally getting back to where I know I should be. I let God off the couch; I'm letting him back in bed. But I feel like it's not enough.

Why? Well, a relationship is never one-sided. Sometimes I feel like my relationships with others are easier than my relationship with God because with them, I can tell if they're putting in effort. I can see them trying. I can see someone keep his mouth shut when he usually yells. I can see her clean up her side of the room.

But God? Geez, I can't tell if He's even trying.

I pray to Him. I read about Him. I sing to Him. I tell Him everything I'm feeling -- and still nothing. God, do you even hear me?

I feel like I'm holding up my end of the deal, but He is not.

I say, "God, I think we need to work through this." And what is He doing? He says He agrees, but does nothing.

It's funny because yesterday at church I filled out a spiritual inventory. It's supposed to tell me how I'm doing spiritually. I keep thinking about my results. It sure looks like I'm a Christian. It sure looks like I'm doing all the right things. But it's going to say that I'm not doing enough. It's going to say that I'm acting like a baby Christian all over again.

I read my Bible. I pray. I fast. I go to church.

That inventory is going to say that I'm doing alright, but I need to tithe and help out at the church. It's going to tell me that my faith isn't very deep -- it's surface level -- and they're going to invite me to go deeper. They're going to tell me to get into a small group or find a mentor or go through some membership class.

They're going to think of me as a little kid, someone who hasn't seen the rough side of faith -- as if this is the first faith crisis I've seen.

Well, it isn't.

I've been "married" to God for some time now. We've had some good times and some bad times. We aren't newlyweds. We're not in the honeymoon phase.

I'm doing everything I know how to do to get out of this phase.
But still it feels like God's not holding up His end of the deal.

O Lord, you have examined my heart
and know everything about me.
You know when I sit down or stand up.
You know my thoughts even when I’m far away.
You see me when I travel
and when I rest at home.
You know everything I do.
You know what I am going to say
even before I say it, Lord.
Ps. 139:1-4, NLT

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Broken-down Poetry, and what it means

Hello, my new readers.
Welcome to Broken-down Poetry.

For those of you who frequent my blog, you're probably wondering what's with the intro. Duh, I'm at Broken-down Poetry.

Well, here's what's up: Today and for weeks to follow, I am blogging for a class, Media Scriptwriting. We're required to blog about writing weekly. Well, I do a lot of that anyway, so I thought I'd go ahead and keep with Broken-down Poetry instead of creating a new blog. (Plus, BDP needs more readers!)

So. Welcome.


So what is Broken-down Poetry?

First and foremost, it's a blog I started my senior year of high school over at (Funny story: I moved from Wordpress to Blogspot because I thought Blogspot was cooler. Most professional bloggers are doing the opposite.)

I named the blog from a quote by George MacDonald, a 19th Century clergyman/writer. He said that "poetry is the highest form of the utterance of men's thoughts. ... Prose is but broken-down poetry."

I knew in twelfth grade that I was a prose writer - I didn't write any of that poetry crap. I fell in love with MacDonald's words because I knew that what I wrote came from my heart, but it was broken into easily digestible pieces.

Okay, what do I mean by that?

I mean that I am not a flowery writer. You know who's a flowery, detail-oriented writer? Jane Austen. So is Nathaniel Hawthorne. And so is another Nathaniel, my boyfriend, who is probably reading this and is probably not very happy with me. (Heh. Flowery in a good way, Babe.)

I am a clear-cut, let's-get-rid-of-these-stupid-adjectives writer. I delete word; I don't add them. I don't waste my time describing a scene to you. I say: here's the scene. Imagine it yourself.

When I started writing poetry earlier this school year, I noticed that even then I was eliminating words. I was breaking down poetry into smaller bites of poetry.

If you look around my blog, you'll see that everything is short. The posts may be long, but paragraphs short. My poems are typically 5-8 syllables a line.

So what's this mean to you? Nothing, I guess. I just find it interesting.... I find it interesting how my writing style fits my personality. I'm the one telling people to hurry up - let's go! I'm the one who goes from one task to the other without slowing down. I can't sit through movies because I'm too antsy.

I write the way I feel - rushed. Let's not belabor this.

I like that media scriptwriting is all about writing within time constraints. Oh, I can do that. You say 30 seconds, and you got it. I can tell a whole story in a few seconds if I want. (Okay, I imagine it's going to be a lot harder than that.)

But truthfully, I'm excited. Finally I can worry about keeping things short than adding words to meet some stupid page requirement.


Tuesday, January 4, 2011

I love you.

I call this a prose poem. 
I also call it an apology.

I love you.
Okay, now say it with more feeling.
I love you?
Better, but with more passion this time.
I love you?
Close, but it’s missing something. Say my name.
I love you, Caitlyn.
Say it slower though, like you mean it.
I loooovvee yooo—
Not that slow!
Better, but it’s still not right. Hmm. Call me something else—call me “babe.”
I love you, Babe.
Try “baby.”
I love you, Baby.
Maybe it’s what you’re wearing. Can you put something else on?
[In a hat.] I love you.
Now you look ridiculous. Say it to me over dinner tonight.
[Over dinner tonight.] I love you.
What if you were holding a ring?
[Holding a ring.] I love you.
God, that’s still not right. Someone get this guy a baby!
[With a child.] I love you.
Hmm. Take me on vacation; tell me then.
[Clinking glasses.] I love you.
Now say it while you kiss me!
Mm mmuvf mooph.
Are you trying at all?
You don’t have to shout it! Geez.
. . .  
You don’t love me at all, do you?

Monday, January 3, 2011

More importantly ... Lauren's Writing Goals for 2010 Revisited

I just posted a revisiting of my Christmas Break Goals, but I find this more interesting, because I've had a whole year to accomplish these goals. Let's see how I did.

1. Write more fiction. I did it! I wrote a lot of fiction this year:

I wrote poetry ("Lets Break Up," The Incarnation, Txt Msg, Unsaid, Future/Present Poems [w/t], Tree Poems [w/t]) and I wrote short pieces (And Eat It Too, the untitled story I wrote about some girl being in love, In Theory, The Little Red Hen Retold).

Note. I didn't count the writing I've done in class (Prose or Creative Writing) nor the works I haven't published to my blog.

I still don't like writing fiction short stories, but I don't mind short short stories and poems. I just have commitment issues, as exemplified in the post before this one. I'd rather labor over a short work than a longer work.

2. Write more frequently. My goal was to write four times a month, which would mean in 2010 I should have blogged 48 times. And in 2010, I blogged a total of (drum roll please) 74 times! Wow!

In 2009 I blogged only 40 times!

It should be noted that I blogged completely different in 2009 than 2010, mainly once I discovered my love for poetry. My posts in 2010 were generally shorter than those in 2009, they contain more photos and more fiction for sure. I think this is good. The first goal shows that I wanted to vary my blog posts anyway. This is good. I shows that I write more than just non-fiction.

3. Connect with other bloggers. Fail. Okay, so Jason Boyett did do that interview piece with me, but that's about it. Actually, I haven't been to Jason's blog much since he moved to, mainly because that site's obnoxious. His blog is good, but that site is annoying.

4. Take risks! I have! I've taken a lot of risks with my writing. I inserted swear words all over the place; I try new stuff with dialogue; I write only in dialogue; I gave poetry a shot; I just wrote what I felt like writing instead of thinking about the rules; I've imitated others' writing styles.

5. Learn big words. Okay, I haven't done this either. I have a new favorite word, at least: assuage. I love that word. With me now: assuuuuuage.


Christmas Break Goals Revisited

Major fail. I tried, though, I promise.

1. Read three books. I've read two so far (Drops Like Stars by Rob Bell and Real Sex by Lauren Winner, which is better known as "That One Sex Book Lauren Winner Wrote") and I have about a chapter left of Wild at Heart which, yes, I started well before Christmas break. I'm non-committal. I can't finish books I'm not excited about--not anymore anyway.

2. Volunteer five times. Heh, try zero. It's really hard to volunteer after you haven't for a few months. Major fail.

3. Do my Sojourn homework. I started it! I'm 1/3 through it. I've also done other stuff for the paper, i.e. making handouts for the staff, planning how I'm going to do edits next semester, contemplating what should change about this semester, making goals, etc.

4. Write a paper. No, I didn't do it. BUT I have some ideas for poetry and creative non-fiction pieces. That's a start, right?

5. Get a tan. I went a few times, but I didn't care enough to keep paying money to go. I'm not pasty white anymore, and that's all that matters to me.

6. Practice being wise with money. Nope. I went broke buying Christmas presents ... and tickets to a Decemberists concert. Even bigger fail.

7. Update resume/apply for internships. This I did well. I wrote a cover letter, updated my resume, and updated my website (my online portfolio). I did a huge transformation to my site, at the request of my boyfriend who demands everything be clear and simple. (Meh, he was right.) This was probably my greatest accomplishment over break. I'm happy with how the site looks now. It still needs a little work, especially on the multimedia page, but I think it looks a lot better. Future employers, here I come!

8. Take care of Body. I did pretty well with this too! I only pigged out a few times this break, and only because it's the holidays. I've eaten tons of healthy foods (salad! vegetables! hummus!) and smaller portions. And I've only been drinking water ... and Old Crown coffee. I also got Wii Fit for Christmas, which has helped me stay active. Believe it or not, that game works. I'm not a huge fan of the aerobic exercises--because I don't think they work all that well--but I love the yoga and strength exercises. How can push-ups not be good for your body?

9. Blog/write for fun. Okay, I haven't done much of this either. I've journaled a bit and have written a few poems, as you can see from my blog, but I haven't done a whole lot. Like I said before, I wrote a cover letter, which is definitely writing. I haven't abandoned my love completely.

10. Relax. Mmm. I've done this too. Guess how many episodes of How I Met Your Mother do you think I've watched? Maybe 100. How many times have I seen dear Nathan? Seven. (Which isn't enough, obviously, but it's pretty impressive for a 3 1/2 week break, and we live an hour apart.)


Break's almost over for me. I move back to campus on Thursday and Sojourn workshops start Friday afternoon. I think I'm ready for the semester. I'm a little scared because my schedule looks intense, but I'm excited for a lot of the classes (mainly my two Mary Brown courses).

I've always had a soft spot for spring semester anyway. It seems more romantic for some reason. There's nothing like walking to class at 7:45 a.m. when the sky's still black.