All posts by anasls12

About anasls12

Mexican, poetry enthusiast, hopeless idealist

“Every new beginning comes from some other beginning’s end” 

I decided to name my last entry after the song “Closing time” by Semisonic; because, as we have seen with my fellow bloggers’ posts, music is also poetry. And also because, in this case, the song portraits perfectly the situation we are facing: it is time to say goodbye.

I had always been curious about what having a blog would be like, and wondered if I would be able to pull it off if I tried. So for me it was a very enriching experience to be forced to do something I was afraid of trying before: putting myself out there. It was a leap of faith, but today I’m glad to say that it went way better than expected. Having to take care of the blog taught me 2 things mainly: discipline and trust.

Discipline, because every Thursday I had to sit down and break my head trying to come up with something to write that had to do both with poetry and the weekly topic. But also trust, because I had to come to terms with the fact that, even when my English is not perfect and I may get information wrong, I should not keep myself from trying. Sometimes I will have mistakes, and it’s alright; I just have to correct and learn from them.

But overall, it wasn’t at all boring. Even if at times it was challenging, my Thursday afternoon was usually the part of the week I looked forward to. The fact that your homework is to write about something you love always makes things easier and better. I wrote 7 blogposts in total: My first rhyme, A Modern Poet, Dissected Poetry, En perseguirme, Mundo ¿qué interesas?, Poetry for the world, and Who wins?. It was awesome to realize that some people out there actually were interested in what we had to say. We had visitors from the US, Mexico, Australia, India, UK, and Spain; and some of them were kind enough to leave comments or like our posts.

For all the things I stated above, it is heartbreaking for me to say farewell. I think it is more than stated that I have nothing but positive things to say about my experience with blogs. So with nothing else to say, I leave you one last piece of poetry, this time written by me. Hope you like it.

Y de pronto quedó la nada

Donde alguna vez existió todo.

No más sueños de día,

no más realidades de noche.

Se desplomó.

Se desplomó como se desploman las utopías,

Como se desploman las cosas que no se crean ni se destruyen.

Se desplomó para transformarse,

Como la energía.

Para renacer,

Como el fénix de la mitología,

Se desplomó.

Y de pronto quedó la nada,

Donde alguna vez existió todo.

No más sueños de día,

Ni realidades de noche.

Una fortaleza,

derrumbada por los hechos.

Una construcción,

devastada por la rutina.

Pero de entre las ruinas,

Y de las carbonizadas cenizas

Emergió otro intento.

Ana Salas

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Who wins? 

This week I’m going to talk about outstanding poems in 2016. You may think that poets are scare in today’s society. Hence, my work here will be hard to accomplish, and this blogpost brief. However, dear reader, if you are thinking this you are wrong. 

Poetry, as everything else in the world, is evolving. I have mention previously the emergence of Spoken Word and some significant figures of this type of poetry, such as Sarah Kay. Also, I recently wrote an entry on how poetry is present in social media, which have contributed to massive sharing of content. So perhaps poetry isn’t as it used to be in the 18th century, and the publication of poems has surely changed as well. But truth is that today  we have infinite material to work with per month, let alone per year. When I looked on Google “poems 2016”, 8 500 000 results appeared. So with so many poems written and publish in the passed ten months, how can anyone decide which is the best poem in 2016?

The answer is: you can’t. Sorry to disappoint you, but that’s the truth. Poetry is relative, and you may like one type of poetry more than another one; but that doesn’t mean that it’s actually  better. And of course there are competitions, which have winners (obviously). That’s the case of the Brave New Voices International Youth Poetry Slam Festival, event that takes place in de US once every two years. Last festival was in 2015, and the champions were a group called Philly Youth Poetry Movement. But this competition was only for Slam Poetry. What about the other types of poetry? 

There are other competitions such as the Oxford Brookes University International Poetry Competition. Yet, they face the same problems. They simply cannot include all poetry in one event. Poetry has come a long way; it has developed and changed. It can’t possibly be judge as a whole anymore. 

Nevertheless, as I don’t want to leave you empty handed, here are the two poems that won in the competitions I mentioned before. This one is called “Today Cromer is Moscow” by Christopher James, and it won the 2016 edition of Oxford Brookes University International Poetry Competition:

Seagulls preside on the spires

and onion domes of Cadogen Road.

There are snowdrifts in the belfry

of the parish church. In the Hotel de Paris;

they’re serving Rassolnik soup

and vodka so cold it makes your glass

smoke with ice. In an upper window,

the ghost of Galina Ulanova looks out

across the waves balanced on a single toe.

At the end of the pier the oligarchs

are watching The Tremeloes sing Kalinka

while on the seafront, crab fisherman

dance the troika in their wellingtons.

Ice-cream men wear bearskin hats

and play Stravinsky to summon

the children from their homes,

because today Cromer is Moscow.

In the lighthouse they’re reading

Pushkin and playing chess to pass the time.

Down on the beach old cosmonauts

skim stones into the sea while

beneath their feet, the faces

of the tsars are imprinted in the sand. 

———
And I will leave a video of the slam poem “Glory” which was presented by Philly Youth Poetry Movment, winners of the Brave New Vocies Festival in 2015. Hope you enjoy. 

Ana Salas 

Poetry for the world 

Believe it or not, for the past few years social media has contributed to the resurrection of poetry. This art, that seem to be lost for good some years ago, has gained strength due to the new types of media. From the appearance of Youtube to the implementation of videos on Facebook, all those changes have made poetry a little bit more accessible and approachable for people. Moreover, multimedia communication and internet have made possible for amateur writers to be able to publish their masterpieces without the necessity of finding a publisher. 

If you go to Youtube and you look for the word “poetry”, the list of results that will appear is endless. And if, for example, you felt like looking up “Here I Love You” by Pablo Neruda in Youtube’s browser, you would find a lot of videos in which people are reading that poem out loud. Youtube became this kind of database in which you can find almost every poem in its audio version. However, Youtube also works as the biggest free publisher. Anyone with a regular camera can upload their very own material and become poets, as easy as that. There are many current poets that owe their success and fame to Youtube. Such are the cases of Sarah Kay or Dark Matter. It is also important to acknowledge Facebook’s essential role for poetry today. Facebook, for modern poetry, is like a massive and free advertising agency. The simple way in which a posts can be shared helps the content to reach a wider audience in less time. 

Finally, I would like to mention my blog as a meta-example for this week’s entry. But my blog is only one of thousands; poetry is one of the most frequent topics for blogs today. If you look up “poetry blogs” in Google, Google finds 13,200,000 different results. So, basically, what I’m trying to say is that the there are infinite examples as to how social media covers poetry. A due to the way in which we can interact in social media sites, our love for poetry is easy to spread. We should be thankful. 

(Image from The Oddysey Online)

Ana Salas 

En perseguirme, Mundo ¿qué interesas?

This week blogpost provides me an incredible second chance. Some weeks ago I uploaded an “important case study”, which meant that I had to investigate and write about an event, or a poem, or a person in specific. I chose to do it about Sarah Kay, whom I admire, and her poetry. Yet, the decision was tough because I really wanted to do it about a Latin American poet. However, today I have de amazing opportunity to tell you about one of my favorite poets, who not only is Latin-American but also happens to be Mexican (Yay!).

Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz was born in San Miguel Nepantla, Mexico, in 1651 and died in Mexico City in 1695. She was a child prodigy; she learnt to read at the age of 3 and wrote her first poem at the age of 8. She loved reading, studying and writing, and that´s why she took the decision of joining the Order of St. Jerome. She wasn´t really religious, but she didn´t feel like getting married and if she joined the Order she could keep doing what she loved.

She was one of the most emblematic figures of Romanticism in Latin America. And she is also well known for her liberal perspectives; she could even be considered a predecessor for feminist literature. Examples of her femenist tendencies might be found in her book “Respuesta a Sor Filotea” [1] or in her poem “Hombres Necios” [2].

To finish this entry I would like to post “En perseguirme, Mundo ¿qué interesas?” which is a poem that not only portraits the feminism we were talking about earlier, but also portraits her style. Even if you don´t understand Spanish very well, you can realize by the way it sounds that it is a masterpiece. And if you really want to understand the poem thoroughly, I am glad to remind you that there are certain tools that can help you. Without anything else to say, I leave you the poem (the written and the audio version). Hope you enjoy it:

En perseguirme, Mundo ¿qué interesas?

En perseguirme, Mundo, ¿qué interesas?

¿En qué te ofendo, cuando sólo intento

poner bellezas en mi entendimiento

y no mi entendimiento en las bellezas?

Yo no estimo tesoros ni riquezas;

y así, siempre me causa más contento

poner riquezas en mi entendimiento

que no mi entendimiento en las riquezas.

Y no estimo hermosura que, vencida,

es despojo civil de las edades,

ni riqueza me agrada fementida,

teniendo por mejor, en mis verdades,

consumir vanidades de la vida

que consumir la vida en vanidades.

Ana  Salas

Dissected Poetry 

This blog, as you may have notices, is about poetry. We choose this topic because we feel that nowadays one of our favorite thing in the world is slowly perishing, and we cannot allow that. I believe that there are two main reasons why this is happening. The first one is because sometimes poetry isn´t accessible. What I mean by “not accessible” is that, first of all, people usually do not go to bookshops to buy poetry anthologies. They usually go looking for famous best-seller novels or books for educational proposes. Without books or previous recommendation it seems pretty impossible for anyone to end up reading poetry. And even if you have surpassed the obstacle of inaccessibility, there is always the reason number two: complexity. More often than not, poetry is not simple to understand. So at least you are reading a poem in a class where they are going to explain what it means afterwards, you are pretty much screwed.

However, it is important to know that both of this problems have solutions. And these solutions are incredibly useful for this poetry blog. For the accessibility problem the solution is online poem browsers. Sometimes even for me it is hard to find the poems that I want to post each week. But one of the browsers that almost never fails me is the Poetry Foundation. In this website, which is quite easy to use, you can look for poems from a certain school, a certain region, or the poets’ birthdates. The webpage also has videos so you can see interviews to poets or poems performances, and audio poems so you can hear them instead of reading them.

Another useful site might be poets.org. The variety of poems that this page offers is a little bit shorter than the variety of Poetry Foundation. Yet, this page has something that might be appealing for people that usually do not like poetry but feel like reading something according to their mood. In poets.org, you can look up poems in two categories: based on the theme or based on “the occasion” (for example, if you are looking up a poem because of an anniversary the page gives you a list of poems that you might like). The third category is “form”; you can also look for poems that are perfect examples of a specific literary form.

And addressing the complexity issue, I would recommend SparkNotes. This website allows you to browse poems and poets. When looking for a poem, this site displays the poet´s biography (which for the blog comes in really handy when we are looking for reliable information about authors) and an analysis of the text. The biography is really useful because you get to understand the context in which the poem was written. Moreover, the analysis of the text help you to know what certain metaphors mean, what certain words mean and basically what the author wanted to say. The only problem with SparkNotes is that they only provide material for English written poetry. However, there are other not so prestigious pages that might provide the same material for Spanish written poetry.

I hope that these sources are as useful for the readers of this blog as they are for me. I also hope that with these tools it will be easier for everyone to understand the meaning of a poem the next time we upload one. If that happens, the goal of this blog might have been reached: poetry will be closer to everyone.


(Image from The Narratologist)
Ana Salas

A Modern Poet 

Sarah Kay is a 28 year old Japanese Jewish American poet who was born in New York City. She started her career as a poet when she was barely 14 years old; she participated in a casual Slam Poetry event, and she hasn’t stopped ever since. She is known because of her Spoken Word poetry, and also because of the TED talks she has given about Spoken Word. 

Her biggest accomplishment is the creation of Project V.O.I.C.E., which is an organization that uses Spoken Word to educate and inspire. As the website of Project V.O.I.C.E. says, its goal is to promote empowerment, improving literacy, and encouraging empathy and creative collaboration in classrooms and communities around the world. Alongside Phil Kaye, she founded this project back in 2004. Now she is co-director of the organization and she travels around the USA giving conferences, promoting Project V.O.I.C.E. and recruiting new poets.

Among her famous poems you can find “Hiroshima”, “B  (If I Should Have A Daughter)”, “Hands”, and “Postcards”. Most of her poems cannot be found as text, because she mostly does Spoken Word poetry. However, there are some blogs (such as Sarah Kay’s Poetry) on the Internet in which you can find transcript versions of  videos of her performances.

So, just in case you want to hear about her story and about Project V.O.I.C.E. firsthand, here is a video from her TED talk in 2011. In this video she also performs 2 of her poems, “B (If I Should Have A Daughter)” and “Hiroshima”. Hope you enjoy it.

Ana Salas

My first rhyme

According to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, the simple definition for poetry is something that is very beautiful or graceful. But I have read poems that look horrible at first glance, and I have heard others that can manage to make you feel vastly uncomfortable with the first few verses. So poems aren´t always beautiful; however, something that most poems have in common is that they’re always filled with feelings.

My name is Ana Salas, and I wrote my first piece of poetry when I was four years old. Perhaps I’m being too ambitious. Perhaps you cannot call poetry to what I wrote (with terrible grammar and spelling, I must add) that day, 15 years ago. Yet, I still like to call those short lines “poetry”; not only because it took me nearly 3 hours to manage to make them rhyme, but also because I poured my little four-year-old self into them.

That day I found out how powerful words can be. And even if I didn’t thoroughly understand the superpower that I had discovered, I kept doing it. I kept writing poetry, and I still do because it is an awesome tool to get to know yourself.  For me, it has always been easier to understand what I feel through poetry.

And since now I have nothing left to say, I will end this post by showing you one of my favorite poems written by Xavier Villaurutia. It is called Nocturno Estatua:

Soñar, soñar la noche, la calle, la escalera

y el grito de la estatua desdoblando la esquina.

Correr hacia la estatua y encontrar sólo el grito,

querer tocar el grito y sólo hallar el eco,

querer asir el eco y encontrar sólo el muro

y correr hacia el muro y tocar un espejo.

Hallar en el espejo la estatua asesinada,

sacarla de la sangre de su sombra,

vestirla en un cerrar de ojos,

acariciarla como a una hermana imprevista

y jugar con las flechas de sus dedos

y contar a su oreja cien veces cien cien veces

hasta oírla decir: «estoy muerta de sueño».

Ana Salas