A New Category

I think I’m nearly done stretching this website out too much. I know you, my most wonderful readers, have needed patience to stomach all the random things I’ve written about recently, but I promise we’re done, unless of course a future employer does something contractual that makes me amend that. But I don’t see that happening.

In any case, I want to tell you about a new category/series I’m going to be starting. On my personal Facebook account, I often share an article, meme or something every day or two that I’m a fan of. Sometimes it’s an article that choked me up, sometimes it’s an inspiring meme, sometimes it’s a great quote from which I hope to start a discussion.

This new category, titled “My Favorite Today :)” will be where I do that here, in a more public forum. It’ll give you a reason to come back, new readers a reason to check my site out, and above all just something worth reading that maybe can make your day better in some way. Most of what interests me is generally positive, so I promise I’ll be limited with what political weirdness I share.

These first few posts will be catching you up on what happened earlier this week, but after two or three, I’ll go to one post every day or two. Expect about four posts per week, maybe a few more, but not usually any fewer. Just depends on what interesting stuff I find online.

Knowing that I’m a journalist, you can probably expect a good amount. 🙂

Poetry: Anthem Of Age 27

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Today I am fast at play.
Not “hard at work” because to say “work”
would be to imply I resist what
I do.
I do not.
 
On my desk are notes
and a full page of verse I have been…
What’s the word? “Whittling away at”?
surely not “Working on” but perhaps.
Working on.
 
Behind me is a made bed with blue blankets
on my left. On my right
a freshly-erased dry-erase board
sticks to a wall. It is empty like a blank page
though I don’t believe there is actually anything empty about a blank page.
 
To my right is a coffee cup on my desk
with the inscription “The Adventure Begins.”
Further to my right is a lithograph of Taylor Swift in summer.
On the floor to my left is a blue yoga mat. The sky is blue as if in summer
though I know that scientifically, it isn’t actually blue.
 
All around I am surrounded
by beauty. From Taylor Swift
to the phone which lacks any new texts, even as I hope to get new texts.
And in front of me is a beautiful, blank piece of paper on a screen, not beautiful
Because of what already is, but beautiful because of what may yet be.
 
God is good!
I love Sundays.

Friggin “Spots.”

“Spots.” That’s what I used to copy edit. Friggin “spots.”

If you’ll allow me, I’d like to open with a joke.

Last year, I submitted a job application to one of my favorite newspapers in the country. I got the resume proofread, then proofread it myself and all-in-all had a jolly good time making sure it was as clean as the inside of a piano just hitting the show floor in a high-end piano store.

My first position listed on my resume was my then-current position: copy editor.

You know who copy editors are: the overworked, underpaid and under-appreciated masters of diction, syntax, punctuation and Associated Press style (such as the lack of an Oxford Comma in this sentence, see what I did there?). They’re people who fact-check and spot typos of every shape and size in whatever articles they’re hired to scour for media outlets around the world.

I was one of THOSE people.

So imagine how carefully I worded, and edited and re-edited the copy editor explanation bullet points on the resume I was submitting to what was very possibly my dream job.

Imagine how copiously I reviewed and re-reviewed those particular bullets, striving to make them a combination concise, stylistically perfect and perhaps even poetic.

Here, dear Reader, is both the joke…and how that first bullet point read.

“Edits stories from a variety of desks including spots, news and opinion.”

“Spots,” Ladies and Gentlemen. I copy edit…”spots.”

Outstanding.

My name is Shelton Matthew Burch, and I was clearly not destined for THAT internship. lol.

Thanks for reading. 🙂

 

Returning To Why You Read

Weeks ago, I announced I was switching this website to be poetry based. I announced this blog would be mostly for poetry and that my new website would be more for my general writing.

But I confess, dear Reader, that I was wrong.

This site is, and always has been, for more than just poetry. Poet598 is my brand. It is my reminder that no matter what I am or what I do, I am a poet first, but always more.

Going forward dear readers, I commit to publishing everything I can on this website and this one alone. Many of you read not for poetry but for the wide variety of things I share.

Please forgive me for trying to fix what wasn’t broken. This I confess to you at 2:32 a.m. on a Saturday morning.

Have a great day everyone, and thanks for your readership. 🙂

-Poet598

Returning To Resonance

Dancers are known for being our own biggest critics. Heck, maybe people are known as being our own biggest critics. We rip ourselves apart mercilessly in the face of friends’ feedback to the contrary. We deny our souls the satisfaction of being loved not by others, but by our very selves.

But sometimes we’re just afraid.

Afraid of what? Who’s really to know. Afraid of who? What’s really to say. Marianne Williamson might argue “off success” to the first question and of “ourselves” to the second.

I prefer to think I’ve just been afraid of being vulnerable again by writing poetry.

Not by being vulnerable in the sense of opening up about one’s life or oneself or ones circumstances; my friends, and in particular my peers on the Tap Dance Ensemble I’m blessed enough to part of, could all tell you I’m probably annoyingly comfortable sharing that side of me.

Not by being vulnerable in the sense of defying the stoic, never-talk-about-your-emotions-ness that stereotypically comes with being a straight man in today’s society; again: my friends, and in particular my peers on the Tap Dance Ensemble I’m blessed enough to part of, could all tell you I don’t typically conform to such a thing.

Rather, I’d prefer to think I’ve been afraid to write poetry because I’ve been afraid to fail again.

This is a weird sensation for me. Ask friends on the dance team, and even friends in general, and you’d probably hear them tell you that I try things just for curiosity’s sake. I do stuff like take computer-networking jobs because I want a new challenge. I start dancing even though over a decade of running has left me with the flexibility and turnout of a brick that hasn’t stretched in a few months.

Not so with poetry. Last semester, in Spring, I took a 600 level poetry writing class that left me mentally limping as I stumbled out of it, licking my wounds and promising myself I’d never enter another poetry contest, a statement I still hold to. I learned, or if not “learned,” then “observed” that my poetry didn’t stack up at all with my peers’ work. It wasn’t abstract or deep or unexpected in any of the ways we’re taught poetry should be. It was technically simple, grammatically dull, and at times overly-idealistic. Or, to put it more directly: my poetry stunk. That was the gist of what I discovered after hearing the work of my peers last semester.

It’s taken until today for me to finally get over that.

Yet again, one of my friends on the dance team has come through for me, igniting a twig on the ground in the rainforest, convincing the fire that maybe, just maybe, this poetry thing was worth another go.

It was always, for the record, worth another go. I just was perhaps afraid to put on my shoes and step out onto the dance floor again.

So I’ll write again, and not just write again, but write poetry and share it again, and let history and the readers decide where it falls on the grand scheme of things and how significant it is, even if my diction will be simple and my ideas too idealistic for the genre at present.

Sam Clemens failed at nearly everything he professionally did in his life, but his words defied the grave and inspired some of the most profoundly important American writers to ever live.

Maybe one day my musings will become that meaningful.

 

The Dance Over Words?


“Meaning necessarily entails words, symbols. They point to something other than themselves. Good music doesn’t point anywhere. It just is. Likewise, only unhappiness has meaning. That’s why we feel compelled to talk about it and have so many words to draw upon. Happiness doesn’t require words.” -Eric Weiner, “The Geography of Bliss.”

For that very reason, I wonder if my idea of trying to translate poetry into dance is a futile exercise. Good dance should convey an emotion, and not one capable of extrication by words.

I suppose I thus imply that the dancer is superior to the wordsmith of equal stature. Does dance, in my eyes, transcend the essence of writing because writing requires words while dance can simply symbolize?

This question of the heart merits further introspection. Is there added virtue, based on the quote above, in how writing (outside of forms that self-analyze, such as the ars poetica in poetry) points to something else? Does dance always point to itself, or can it point elsewhere as well? 

Please leave your thoughts below :).

Poetry: “Sacrifice”

Sacrifice
After “Red Delicious” by Maggie Smith
 
Because he was the oldest
he was always the one sent.
 
On errands, on long drives,
on long shifts into the night when the night sky was beautiful
 
despite how it also mirrored the chaos Adam would collapse into.
Like the way that first explosion rocked the night,
 
as it sucked away heat like the vacuum
of space consuming a star’s energy into the essence of nothingness.
 
Adam was the kind of guy you always wanted around,
until he wasn’t. Then you hated him
 
even after he died, not the death of a warrior or of the scorpion king
but of a climber who was on R&R, and had lunged for a precipice but misjudged
 
how much strength his hands contained.
Or maybe not.
 
May his memoir
never become an ode.
 
He climbed on,
persisting like the cold night in the foxhole that never seemed to cease.

Poetry: “Internal Dialogue”

“Internal Dialogue”
Finished on November 15th, 2014 at 6:26 a.m.
 
On a cold day I was woken,
To a frightening kind of sound,
A thundering chaos,
Surrounding all around.
 
 
*Note to self: This poem speaks to you Shelton. Within your soul it hides. Finish it when you’re ready* -Signed; Yourself on July 23rd, 2010.
 
*Note to Self: I am here sir, and I am ready.* -Signed; myself on November 15th, 2014 at 5:50 a.m.
 
 
Five years later the frigid wind and clouds,
Red with the reflection of the city lights,
Swirl about my window outside,
Frigidly wishing to bring the season’s first snow…
 
I wrestle internally at 5:50 a.m.
 
I wrestle within,
Seeking to draw back to life my long dead muse,
A muse that, though not very effective by anybody else’s standards,
Always seemed to work for me?
 
A muse, I just realized, I’d killed via journalism.
 
Like a greek goddess, it was given to my by God,
Not some foreign, pagan God,
But by the God of my fathers,
The God of Abraham.
 
All Glory be to Him… *internal thought: “Him” = capitalized*
 
My light words flutter across the page and even now I fight it,
The desire to go back and edit in Associated Press style,
Even knowing that by the nature of what this is,
Journalism would never regard the writer worthy enough to share such emotion.
 
Such frustration and angst… *shakes head*
 
So I sit here.
Cuddled up in bed at 5:50 a.m. alone,
Hoping I can save the essence of the lovely one as she hides in my soul,
Like the lovely gaelic goddess Venora, waiting to be rescued.
 
Very few readers will get that reference, and those that do will probably roll their eyes 😉
 
So I search my soul,
Longing, looking, exercising poetic devices I know how to use,
But can’t really truly use,
When inspiration remains hidden within, locked away in a cell like William Wallace,
A few more people will probably got THAT reference. 😉
 
So much sadness!
So much frustration at not writing poetry for so long!
So much fear, that perhaps I’ve killed my second true love!
My second passion….
 
Hockey was the first…
 
I seek within, pondering, praying,
Then I shut the screen off all together.
And freehand it.
This work should not be of the eyes, but of the heart.
 
I don’t need to see what I’m writing….This is an internal affair.
 
My writing starts to flow and my heart starts to glow!
Suddenly, maybe she isn’t dead! Maybe my muse survives!
I channel her, praying I can summon her from the depths of my soul!
Come to life oh lovely heart! Come to life oh muse!
 
My heater in my place turns off, holding a comfy 68 degrees…*so cold*.
 
Oh a cold day, I was woken
to silence….
The birds chirped not, the traffic was stopped,
The phone was silent,
Life’s pulse seemed to drop…
 
In that awkward silence, I felt I could hear my own heartbeat.
 
On a cold day I was woken,
By fear of the day,
My cool heart dreading,
The performance of the play.
 
Then a wind came over me,
and my sails filled again
And I rode the soft poem,
Right through the ocean’s end.
 
I create something marvelous,
Alone it grows in my soul…

A Contestical Retirement

If you like my poetry, dearest readers, you’re about to get more of it.

Back in January I entered what I felt was my last poetry contest. I found out last week that I didn’t win. Heck, I didn’t even place.

This, however, isn’t some heartbreaking ballad of a post about how heartbroken I am about that. Nor is it some rage-filled memoir about how I hate that I lost and am simply retiring out of rage. Again, let me reiterate: I’m not stopping submitting my poetry to contests because I’m angry or heartbroken, because, honestly…

I’m not. Either of those things.

Here’s the truth of the matter for me. I started this blog wanting to show the beauty in life. To tell of it in such a way that my words would print such eloquently taken photos into the retina of your minds that my camera itself couldn’t have shown it to you any better than my words. It’s easy to find the bad in the world and share about that. Anyone can do that. Goodness, part of how I make my living as a journalist involves telling the bad things going on in the world.

But this site exists because I actually see hope in the world. I love people. I see the beauty in their eyes and the good in their souls and believe that deep down, in some foreign chamber of our hearts so beautifully dark that we’re afraid to look inside lest we be sucked in, we all are actually good. There’s beauty everywhere, you just have to let yourself see it. That’s what this website is all about.

That’s what my poetry is really all about as well. I write poetry to do what I usually can’t as as a journalist: to write something deep and personal and to do so while using metaphors and symbolism so as to mask some of the work’s meaning, and make the reader have to give effort to fully understand it, while making it accessible enough that the reader can, eventually, understand it, and thus feel more connected to the work because of it. Robert Frost was a master of this: of writing poetry that was accessible so that the least educated person in the world could read it and take something from it, but still have a deeper meaning so that professional scholars of the genre could also find more within it once the worked(see “Mending Wall” and “The Road Not Taken” as classic examples).

Poetry contests, while great, are not something I excel at, but they also have a disadvantage: they almost always want unpublished work. That means I have to be careful not to post my best work on here because blogs are often considered a form of publishing, and therefore any poems shared on blogs generally are ineligible for use as contest submissions.

To me, that seems counterintuitive to my mission as a writer. I want y’all to see my work and be inspired by it. To find joy and inspiration in it, and to use that inspiration to be happier, healthier, and/or just in generally better at being the type of person you are trying to become. To share it with those in your lives that you think need it because you know them and know the work and might know it would help them.

So, slowly, over the coming years, I will share all of my work from my high school poetry (which will be titled in a way that identify’s itself, since I think a lot of it is pretty terrible lol) to what I’ve written recently (which I won’t specify except by not labeling it as high school era work). This will all start tomorrow and will become a weekly thing.

Feel free to comment, share, and, above all, enjoy. 🙂

Have a great rest of your night. Also, Good luck if you happen to be a student like me and this is your finals’ week. We’ll get through this.

 

Influenced Into Life

I watched this

https://www.facebook.com/plugins/video.php?href=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.facebook.com%2Fanonews.co%2Fvideos%2Fvb.997108126967413%2F1207466685931555%2F%3Ftype%3D3&show_text=0&width=560

Then wrote this. 🙂 Enjoy.

A Poem

Someone told “You write great
love poems.” Today she said this.
Doesn’t count much for the memoir
sitting unwritten, demanding
my attention on my desk.
My teacher won’t allow it.
Too recent.
But can a person write well
about love anyway? Can they
encounter something so frail,
so delicate, so failing, so easily amused
yet so easily threatened and distracted
and threatened by distraction? Can we
write so well, even in lines of verse
or American vernacular?

But I’m a romantic. How could my memoir be about anything
else.

🙂