Expedition

This journey is unlike anything I could’ve imagined ( good thing this whole thing isn’t my daydream). Because I didn’t think I had it in me, this thing that everyone else saw in me. This thing that earned me the honor of teaching twenty-two blossoming minds.

I was only substituting for about a month and a half before this kindergarten class was tossed into my lap.

I’m considered a long-term substitute; these babies are mine for the rest of the year. I don’t have a teaching certification. My BA didn’t have anything to do with education. I didn’t even want this responsibility. But anyone who is a writer knows about the call to adventure, when the protagonist’s world turns upside down, random people start coming out of no where and the protagonists begins to learn things they wouldn’t have thought to ask about.

And it’s funny because when I prayed, all I asked for was a little push in the right direction. I want to teach college level one day and all I wanted was to be shown the way…

And I think I’ve hit that first conflict. I haven’t been able to write or read or do anything like that for me. I wasn’t able to finish the first draft of my novel for Nanowrimo and I’m only six chapters away. Honestly, I’m crying on the inside, trying to figure out what’s going to come next because I know where my heart really lies; it’s in my writing.

I don’t know where I’m going with this – with this career shift or this blog post. I guess this is me just trying to figure it out, coming to terms with what I’ve asked for.

It just feels strange, knowing that I was heard.

And answered so swiftly.

What does this mean?

– B. Brown

(art by Randall David Tipton: Logjam)

She Raises Me

A prose poem that I wrote for class:

Flirting with thirty from down the hall, barely grasping the scheme of it all, I pull my breaker tighter though the weather is nicer as she tugs on the strap of my baggage, slowing my pace. In a line, with no front and no end but I’m next, in the midst of a contest with no rest… I’ll sprint ’till my shins split and she knows this, believes this even as the tears streak. I’m crushed and ground, salt of the earth, weak. And she still sees the beauty in the beat and swollen me. Is certain that this hurt is only temporary… she tempers my tantrums on the contrary. One of the most beloved set loose from a luminous galaxy to find… me and to wind… me while the rest of this test worries into my vitality. I’m taller. But she’s bigger. I now read well. But she is the cover, my daughter, six and none the wiser that she’s wiser, a better mother to the child in me.

– B. Brown

(art courtesy of Pinterest)

What I Learned in Boating School Today is: Literary Theory (Quick Read)

So I just finished up a course in Literary Theory and when I say this was my most difficult course by far, I mean it. No, really, this course had me questioning everything about my writing, my choice of authors, my purpose in life… my soul was wrung for every last drop of conviction it possessed.

But my turmoil wasn’t without reward.

I learned about the four major approaches to literary criticism:

Marxism, which is mainly looks for class struggle and social conflict in a text, and how it reflects history, Deconstruction, which loves to look for the pitfalls of language, laugh and throw it back in our faces in pieces, Feminism, which is exactly what it looks like (and damn, there’s a lot of it in classic texts) and my favorite, Psychoanalytic, formed from Freudian principles and supplemented with the ideas of Lacaniasm.

I don’t want to keep you long, seeing as though there’s a wealth of more entertaining things to read out there, but I want to just stress the importance of these theories really quick. I believe that as a writer, it would behoove you to do a bit of research on these to deepen your understanding of what makes for rich and timeless literature. If you know what the scholars look for, you’ll know what to deliver. The hardest part is figuring out how to deliver it and that’s where these theoretical approaches come in. As you all know, it’s crucial for us to read critically; the principles of these theories will help you do that. I can honestly say that the manuscript I’m currently drafting has gained a few more layers.

If you’d like me to do a mini series, diving deeper into these forms of critiques, let me know in the comments section. We’re all here to learn, grow and share and I’d love to hear your take on these critiques.

-B. Brown

Writing Tips: Breathing Space

We want to know the most,
so we research, listen and watch

to be better,
so we think, plot and execute

to become the best,
so we wake, push and write

and write and write and write
and write some more

until it becomes a chore
an assignment, a quota, a demand

and then we reprimand
ourselves with a shaking hand

under conditional rules
with splintered tools

we are fools for this love,
this creative writing passion

overthinking, mind overcrowding
with words, lines and pages

but we are not computers
or vending machines

we are sages, creating
dimensions from absolutely nothing

who need water to feel
and winds to heed

time and space, balance
and room to breathe

– B. Brown

Don’t forget to allow yourself to unwind. Pushing yourself , holding yourself to higher standards, demanding more from yourself is necessary to improve yourself but our brains are muscles, don’t forget that. Our brains are muscles so don’t forget that it can be strained, torn and snapped. Allow yourself a break from the craft to recharge your talent.

and if you’re still not convinced…

(image courtesy of Pinterest)

Fearless

now I spit out

the bloody tooth

and smile

nothing scares me

I’ve already seen

my death

come on, that’s it

what else you got

for me?

– B. Brown

This poem is from my book, Amnesia. Sometimes I have to go back and look at earlier poems to find my place again…

Witnesses

you may have posted a poem the other day
about heartache and frustration
or maybe you shared a short romantic story
one that’d been simmering in your mind for ages
or maybe you had the strength to drag
a traumatic experience out into the open
as memoir or journal entry…

what ever it was, it felt good getting out, right?
(I can’t describe the satisfying feeling
I get letting my works flap their wings
and take off for their soaring sprees)

but it’s never the end of our stories

what we write, will live on forever,
finding themselves in unlikely hands,
changing minds and hearts
echoing a unique human experience
for it’s audience; it’s the audience
that impacts the imaginative world’s journey

so, we have to prepare for the pupils that screen our words,
the inner ears that hear our whispers
the thoughts that can thwart or carry our themes…
we should want to know who’s reading,
who’ll want more of what, our harsh honesty or vivid dreams?

who are we writing for? for what reason?
you’ll want to know who’s reading, who’s listening
because if there’s no one around
will your tale prevail?
will it still traverse it’s itinerary?

will it still be worth happening?

– B. Brown

(image by Wesley Burt)

Spat Out

I’d knew it’d get stuck in my teeth

but I’m a child with spacious eyes

who’s been deprived

and I thought if I took my time,

peeling away the melted layer,

pry it with only my lips,

roll it over my tongue a few times,

I’ll find it’s flavor ’cause it was my favorite color, I came to my favorite store,

with coins and more,

should I wanted to try a few more

but I was sure,

I would like it, I could like it, I could…

tolerate it, work with it,

maybe with my needs to chase it, 

it’d give me a profound effect but I gave,  pressed it on the roof of my mouth,

split and parted it,

broke because I couldn’t help it

the satisfying smack, slurp and pop

why not go all in for the full experience?

it was meant to be eaten, chewed and cherished

but no one told me of it’s center,

the wrapper was bare from a barrel backed into a corner, it’s sour, tacky, tart center

that splintered and stuck my tongue,

gritted my teeth had me choking,

how could this bitter bite

come from candy so sweet?

– B. Brown 

To Walk on Water…

the single cell amoeba
sends out it’s distress signal
in the form of a secretion
that attracts other
single cells…

safety in numbers,
fish maintain
a closed distance
from one another,
constantly keeping tabs,
not too close, not too far
just enough to up
the odds of survival
should nature decide
to rush it’s course…

and it’s the same
for our famed avian,
collectively riding
magnetic winds,
formations reforming
according to the shift
in elements,
highly efficient
as one…

and what are the bees
without their queen?
what is the pride
without their king?
what are the packs
without their alpha?

these, algorithms,
these rules of life,
of survival, of existence
of community, of society
are prevalent everywhere

even with our kind

but the funny thing is,
for some reason,
one way or another,
we can generate
new algorithms,
new ways of life

we have options

we don’t need
secretions
to provoke a congregation
(did I push a button?)

we don’t need
to keep others
just within our reach
for detection,
for protection
(is the shoe starting to fit?)

we don’t need
formations
and patterns
to really feel,
to get where
we need to be
(did you forget
you’re a spiritual
being?)

we have autonomy,
individuality,
in a universe
constantly conspiring

we have
an unmatched form
of navigating
for survival,
through community
throughout society,
of our existence

that’s right,
we can navigate
our own existence

so there’s no need
to be a part
of a sluggish consciousness,
there’s no need
to swim blindly
with the purely surviving,
there’s no need
to clutter the horizon
with the rest of ’em,
you don’t necessarily
need a queen,
or to carry a king
or be ruled
by an alpha…

unless that’s your place,
and that’s just fine,
in a way,
it isn’t any less divine

but what if you could be
a multi-celled anomaly?
what if you were
destined to walk on land?
what if you could
survive the flight
to holy heights?

what if you need no form?
what if you could walk on water?
what if you could make it to the sun?

what if,
my darling,
what if?

– B. Brown

(painting by Linda Olsen)