Tag Archives: Billy Collins

#SATurday: Missouri Shows Me

14 Mar

Missouri Shows Me

I recently moved again. This time, I have found myself in Missouri, so Missouri has officially become my sixth state, my fourth in the Midwest, my second for my twenties, and my first for states that begin with the letter ‘M’.

Every time I move, I find myself wondering if that much is really that different. In the overall picture – yes – culture varies across regions of the United States, but – at the same time – people are people. We all have a story to tell. We all have loved ones, and enemies, and moments that have scarred us, and dreams that have inspired us. I find a level of comfort in familiarity, but I also count the ways my life has changed.

In Missouri, for instance, I am noticing the trees. And the hills. And the curved roads and the way the wind changes from the bottom of a hill to the top of it. In my previous state of Kansas, the wind was a constant force – never changing from one corner of the street to the next – and I could see for miles. Now, when I find myself in a car, I find it quite unsettling to go up a hill without knowing what could appear on the other side. Perhaps, this is also a reaction from my car anxiety, but for now, let’s focus on Missouri and what the movement has shifted in me.

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I have a brand-new desk. As a writer, my desk is extremely important to me. In fact, I feel more like I have moved desks than homes. So far, I’m quite found of this little, black workstation. So is my cat.

Every morning, we sit at my unfolded desk, which is situated left of a window – facing even more trees – and at night, I can watch the sunset without moving away from the computer. Sometimes, I wish beauty demanded one to move away from the computer in order to see the beauty outside. Although it’s easy to move myself, I think it would be an even more interesting world if – in order to view something like the sunset – we had to be outside and right beneath it to see it. If we were inside, it would be like the very blinds that do, in fact, blind us on most days. So, I suppose, in some ways, we already live in this world I am dreaming about on a night long after the sun has fallen. I cannot even remember seeing it happen. I definitely did not feel it. And I wonder how something so big – like the ending of another day – can pass by without stealing a moment of recognition.

I try not to dwell in the guilt these thoughts cause, but I mostly try not to lie to myself by saying I will, surely, see the sunset tomorrow. I will (most likely) miss that one, too.

This is much like moving to me. Here I am, contemplating what moving to Missouri feels like to me, and even though I asked myself, “How does Missouri feel?” my only emotions reside in what I decided to bring with me.

Two copies of the first-edition of November Snow sit on the top left shelf of my desk. My new, leather-bound journal is next to them, followed by a marble, cat statue my brother bought me during his honeymoon in Mexico. I have strawberry candies, and pens, and two maneki-nekos – both from Japan via my aunt who works there – and a photo of my late mother, who happens to be that same aunt’s older sister. Those objects, along with my top-ten poetry books (including but not limited to Edgar Allan Poe, Sylvia Plath, Billy Collins, and Erin Moure), have ventured with me.

As I flip through my poetry collection and stare at the trinkets I have as companions, I find it difficult to believe I’ve ever missed a sunset at all. A sunset is not a “thing” – it is a time – and it is constantly moving…much like how I feel moving around the country has always been my way of living.

Moving to Missouri is a living sunset to me, a consistent change on the horizon, right outside my window, always there. And even if I do not see or feel it, it still shows itself to me. I only have to acknowledge the existence of it all – a moment in time, brought on by another ending to another day so a new one can begin.

~SAT

I was a guest writer on Lit World Interviews recently. Check out my blog post, How I Found a New Publisher after Losing One, by clicking the link. Here is a small preview: “Previously in my career, I allowed seven years to pass between my first novel and my second novel. This was because I have made that “I am going to stop for a while” decision before, and while I think it was a necessary lesson for me, I knew I couldn’t do that this time around. Not again. But that was all I knew for certain. Everything else was a looming cloud of ‘What now?'”

10 Cry-Worthy Books From My College Years

8 Sep

Announcements: 

Take Me Tomorrow now has a book trailer, which I hope you’ll take a minute to watch, like, and share before you read today’s post! Thank you.

10 Cry-Worthy Books From My College Years

After I wrote Books That Changed My Childhood, I received a few emails asking me about my other novels, so I am going to continue sharing different types of reads that have affected my life. I’m also adding my favorite quotes! I’ll be honest. I started writing a list of novels that affected my high school years, but it got out of control, so I moved onto my college time only to realize most of the books did, in fact, make me cry.

Yes. That was a warning.

Most – if not all of these – made me cry. And if you’ve never cried at a novel, I recommend these because everyone should cry at a novel at least once in their reading lives.

cry

1. The Art of Racing the Rain by Garth Stein – Yes, this novel is told from a dog’s perspective. And yes, you can take a dog seriously. (If you think you can’t, trust me when I say you must read this book.) A friend recommended this novel to me, and I was hesitant when I picked it up in the bookstore. To my surprise, I read it in one sitting, even when my vision got blurry.

“Here’s why I will be a good person. Because I listen. I cannot talk, so I listen very well.”

2. Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro – If you’ve ever though that first-person can’t be taken seriously, then, Ishiguro is here to prove you wrong. There are no other words to describe his prose in this novel. You will begin at childhood and grow into an adult, just like you did in real life. It will remind me of how you learned in life, and it will tear you apart.

“All children have to be deceived if they are to grow up without trauma.”

3. The Unmemntioable by Erin Moure – Arguably one my favorite poetry collections if not my favorite. (I can never decide which one is my favorite.) I first read this in my poetry class at the University of Kansas, and I have continued to read it over and over ever since. The exploration of language, history, relationships, and identity is more than enough to cause emotional reflections.

“When there was no one left, it became nowhere. There were no more letters after the w.”

4. American Born Chinese by Gene Luen Yang – Cry-worthy? Debatable. But the emotions are just as strong. The awe could possibly bring tears to your eyes. They sure choked me up. But I mainly added this because it’s the perfect example of a graphic novel that proves all graphic novels can be taken seriously.

“It’s easy to become anything you wish . . . so long as you’re willing to forfeit your soul.”

5. When The Emperor Was Divine by Julie Otsuka – This novel has never left me, perhaps because Otsuka never gives names to her characters. She forces you to become them, delicately and masterfully, before she explores Japanese concentration camps in the United States. This is one of those stories I lent out to someone and deeply regretted it when I didn’t get it back. I will have this book on my shelf again one day.

“He wondered if you could see the same moon in Lordsburg, or London, or even China, where all the men wore little black slippers, and he decided that you could, depending on the clouds. ‘Same moon,’ he whispered to himself, ‘same moon.'”

 6. Breath, Eyes, Memory by Edwidge Danticat – Not for the light-hearted. I first read this memoir after the earthquake in Haiti. I wish I could say more about it, but I fear that I would take away from the exploration of culture and identity if I did.

“Love is like the rain. It comes in a drizzle sometimes. Then it starts pouring, and if you’re not careful, it will drown you.”

 7. A Long Way Gone by Ishmael Beah – Again, not for the light-hearted. This is a memoir of a child solider, and it is also one of my favorite books. Right when you think you can handle his prose, he reminds you of his age, and you are torn apart, but you keep reading because his voice coaxes you to.

“We must strive to be like the moon.”

 8. One Day by David Nicholls – Maybe the emotions in this novel are a little too close to reality? Meet Dex and Em, two friends who continue to meet on the same day every year for…oh, you know, their whole lives. A definite reminder of how time passes, how much can happen, and how we change because of it all.

“You can live your whole life not realizing that what you’re looking for is right in front of you.”

9. Aimless Love by Billy Collins – Another poetry collection, but this is technically a few of his collections together. If you’re hesitant about poetry, I definitely recommend Collins because he is easy to slip into but complicated over time. You might not cry, but you might have to take a moment to feel like crying after reading a few of his poems.

“No wonder the moon in the window seems to have drifted

out of a love poem that you used to know by heart.”

 10. On the Road by Jack Kerouac – Yes. I just admitted this. I cried when I read On the Road. I’m not sure why since it’s not necessarily a “sad” novel, but it was for me. The exploration and exploitation of Dean really brought the sadness out in me. I would get more into detail about how I feel about Dean and the other characters – which were definitely based off of real people – but I don’t want to spoil the story. On the Road is more than just a recount of drugs and sex in the Beat Generation. It’s forcing life when faced with living like you’re already dead.

“…the only people for me are the mad ones, the ones who are mad to live, mad to talk, mad to be saved, desirous of everything at the same time, the ones who never yawn or say a commonplace thing, but burn, burn, burn like fabulous yellow roman candles exploding like spiders across the stars.”

Oh, just an extra. Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close by Jonathan Safran Foer. I only debated this novel because I technically read it when I was fourteen, but I reread it later on, and I cried. Again. And at the theatre when I saw the adaptation. And when I got home and read it again. And again when I forced my friend to watch the movie.

I don’t purposely read novels that are turned into movies, but it might be interesting to note that these are also movie adaptations now: Never Let Me Go (I cried) and One Day (I almost cried.) On the Road (Okay. So I didn’t cry at this one. But the feels!)

So what novels or poems have brought tears to your eyes? Why? Share them below, and let’s have a cry fest! (A happy, artistic one, of course.) I’ll bring the tissues.

~SAT

Relax & Read: Sailing Alone Around the Room

27 Jan

After Friday’s post about my poetry and nonfiction writing classes, I received a few questions regarding reading other genres. For instance, Ed Raby Sr. (blogger about one man’s quest to apply Biblical Theology to life), asked “Poetry was something I never seemed to get into. Do you have recomendation for a person who does not like poetry? Other than Dr. Seuss?”

I think this is a great question, because it represents every person who has asked me similar questions about expanding their reading palate into other genres. Personally, I’ve studied screenwriting, poetry, fiction, and (now) nonfiction. Each time I begin a new genre, I learn essential elements to writing I never considered before.9780375755194

In this case, poetry has taught me to say less but mean more. Writing poems enhances writers’ abilities of creating symbolism and delicate yet powerful prose. So, if you’re thinking about trying poetry, I wanted to recommend one of my favorite poets: Billy Collins.

Personally, horoscopes for the dead is my favorite collection of his, but I think Sailing Alone Around the Room is more eclectic while retaining a simplistic charm.

You can read some of his poems for free here:

But here are my favorite quotes from Sailing Alone Around the Room:

“I can hear the library humming in the night, / a choir of authors murmuring insides their books” (Books)

“But all they want to do / is tie the poem to a chair with rope / and torture a confession out of it” (Introduction to Poetry)

“No wonder the moon in the window seems to have drifted / out of a love poem that you used to know by heart” (Forgetfulness)

“it moved into the future / like the sharp tip of a pen moving across an empty page.” (The Wires of the Night)

I hope you take the time to read some of his words (he writes A LOT about being a writer) and enjoy his words as much as I have. If not, I hope you take the opportunity to read some free poems (because they are all over the internet) and fall in love with their structure enough to embrace their elements into your writing style.

~SAT

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