Monday, January 15, 2007

My List of 30 Inspirations -- 16-20

I'd like to point out that this is my 30th post on this blog and I'm celebrating my movement into my 30's with a list of 30 things that inspire me.

I discovered F.L. Block's Weetzie Bat books when I was a freshman in college. I was working in the campus library and making my way through many different authors. I found the original Weetzie Bat book and vaguely remember a good review in a Sassy magazine from years ago. I immediately was entranced by Block's depiction of Los Angeles, my hometown, and the punk-rock girl who lives with her friends and raises an alternative family. In these books, L.A. is as magical and strange as I remembered it and Weetzie Bat presented a realistic and endearing heroine. While I was disappointed with Necklace of Kisses, her adult/chick lit follow up that came out last year, I could read these books a million times.

17 -- Identity

When I started writing poetry, I wrote about who I was at the moment. I was young and trying to cement who I was and who I wasn't. Every word I wrote down was like etching something in wet concrete, changing my surface. I read other writers who were committed to the formation of their identities as women and artists, like Adrienne Rich and Denise Levertov. Now that I'm older, I feel solidified. I feel like I know my heart and my mind, who I am and where I am going, so I don't write about this as much. Without this topic, I wonder where my poems will go, although I seriously doubt that my identity is as set as I assume.

18-- Mixing Media & Genre

I like the lie in writing and art that there are separate and distinct artistic mediums and genres that can never be crossed. It's so false and so easily broken. Right now, I am reading a pretty amazing book by Jodi Picoult called The Tenth Circle. It's a story of a family in crisis and it includes a comic book that mirrors the action, "written" by one of the characters. It's brilliant and seamless. One of my favorite poets, Kevin Young, uses genre in his poetry. His most recent book, Black Maria, is a noir movie in poem form. His first book, Jelly Roll, uses the blues as it's dominant trope. I haven't been able to make that leap yet, in my own writing, but I love to read it in others' work.

When I was 20, I went to Mexico City with my mother. My mother had a conference to go to, and I was allowed free reign of the city during the days. The highlight of my trip was when I went to the Frida Kahlo Museum. The museum was her original home and I was allowed to walk around in it. I saw her gardens and her studios, the bed where she would paint with an easel above her, towards the end of her life. I was (and still am) in awe of her commitment to her art and self-portraiture.

20 -- Living in a city

Right out of college, I lived in the suburbs of Chicago by myself. Of course, I picked the most conservatives of suburbs, because it was adjacent to my new job. After two years of being surrounded by minivans and neocons, I ran back to Minneapolis and the urban neighborhood I lived in during high school. I love it here -- I live in walking distance to downtown and I am surrounded by diversity. I love the rhythm of the neighborhood, the constant hum of activity. This rhythm and hum seeps into my poetry. Most Minnesota poets are really into the beauty and silence of nature, and this has always frustrated me, since we have such a vibrant city. However, a really talented Minneapolis poet, Ed Bok Lee, characterizes the unique flavor of the city in his book Real Karaoke People.