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. 🙂

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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.