Friday, March 21, 2014



"it was OK to be affected by emotion. it's OK to be scared. it's OK to be impressed. it's OK to have these things that shake your world up a little bit. and then turn that around and tell me about it and put it into words so that other people know what it feels like to have this experience that has moved you in some way"


"I brought my lunch to school with me every day. and either my mother or my father would write a poem on a little piece of paper and fold it up and put it in my lunchbox so that when I got to school, when it was lunchtime, I would open it up and have a new poem waiting for me. I have most of them all in various notebooks that I pasted together when I was a kid."


"I think there are people in the world who are too interested in hearing themselves talk. and we're all guilty of it in various moments, myself included. but when you're too eager to hear yourself talk, you don't listen to anybody else and that's a problem. then there are people who are scared of talking and are scared of telling the world their story and speaking up. the problem with that is, when they don't speak, they allow other people to speak for them. oftentimes, those people can't do it justice. you know, no one can tell your story like you can, and I really love hearing someone tell their story. there's nothing like it. so I think striking that balance is really important."


"the people that I have learned the most from are often people who listen the best and only speak when they have something important to say. it's a real skill. it's a real talent to be that kind of person. it's something I admire very, very much and aspire to."


"instead, what is easier for a reader or an audience member to understand is something that they can experience with their five senses. so something that I can smell, something that I can taste, something that I can touch, something that I can hear, something I can see — that is what I can relate to. so even if you're talking about an experience that I haven't had before, if you're telling me about it in a way that you invoke my sensory memory and my sensory understanding of the world, we're talking about the same universe and I can understand what you're saying. that makes sense to me in a way that abstract terms sometimes don't."

"I don't know. I don't know how to feel about it. I think that language is a lot more powerful than people give it credit for."


"I mean, I think people underestimate the effect that language has. so when we're careless with language, that's how people are hurt, that's how people get in trouble, that's how people misunderstand one another, that's how dangerous situations happen. I also think that that's where the beauty of language lies, that instead of using this word, if you take the time to consider this other word, maybe that other word has more connotation that is going to help in what you're trying to express. you know, it gives you more freedom in being as specific in your language as you can be, which is fantastic."


"and yet, I hated feeling like I wasn't important enough to contribute to that world. there was like this waiting time that I had to figure out all of these things first before I was allowed to contribute. and I think that that's central to when I write poetry is when I'm trying to figure something out pretty much exclusively."


"I write a poem when there's something I cannot navigate without poetry. and in doing so, when I put that poem out into the world, what I'm saying is, hey, look at me trying to figure this thing out, which I haven't yet, but this is me trying. if you're trying to figure this out too, maybe this can help you or maybe you can help me. and then maybe together we can make something make more sense than it does right now."


"absolutely. and that's one of the things that I try very hard to teach is that you don't have to be anywhere other than where you are right now, and all we're asking is for you to share where you are right now with us so that we can try to understand it and we can learn from it because, regardless of what your age is, you've definitely gone through things I haven't gone through and I want to know about it and I want to learn from it."


"a lot of what I was doing in schools as of late had been trying to convince teenagers that it was OK to be affected by things, affected by emotion, and that it was their job to turn that effect into something new and original and authentic to them. there was so much resistance to admitting that anything got to them in any way. there was so much like nothing is impressive, nothing is scary, nothing intimidates me, nothing is moving, because it's really scary to be vulnerable ever, but especially when you're a teenager. that's just the worst is to admit to being vulnerable for them. so much of what I was doing was trying to say, listen, it's OK. it's OK to be scared, it's OK to be impressed, it's OK to be amused, it's OK to have these things that shake your world up a little bit, and then turn that around and tell me about it and put it into words so that other people know what it feels like to have this experience that has moved you in some way. so I was really working at trying to get people to rediscover wonder. it's a really exciting time to be looking around and seeing and learning and taking in culture in all different forms."


"I like words. I really love words. I love strange words. I love words in other languages. I love words that sound funny and taste funny and make me think. I love words that mean exactly what I need them to mean. that's the best when you have a word that's so specific to one moment or one emotion and you go, yes, that's exactly what I need it to mean. because it doesn't happen all the time. there are plenty of times it's kind of this and it's not really that. you know, it's a little bit of this word, but not entirely. so the few times when it fits like a glove, it's just such a great feeling."


"I want you to write five things you know to be true, and they be about anything you want. it can be about science, history, what you had for breakfast, your family, your favorite sports team, the boy you have a crush on, whatever you want it to be. there's only two rules. the first rule is don't think too hard and the second rule is each answer you give, try to give it a little bit more meat than just one line."


"what it does is it makes people put down on paper what is already bubbling around in their head. oftentimes, when people say, oh, I don't know what to write. I can't write. I don't have anything to write. or I sit down and I look at a blank screen, I look at a blank page, and I freak out, because I don't know how to start from scratch. well, the truth of the matter is you're never starting from scratch. you're full of a hundred million thoughts and ideas and feelings and emotions and reactions. but most of the time, you disregard them as being unimportant and unpoetic. but when you force yourself to put them down on paper and just look at them for a second and go, hey, you know what? I could totally write a poem about how much laundry I have to do today. I could totally write a poem about, you know, how that phone call with my cousin was weird last week, whatever it is."

source i: on being | transcript
source ii: on being | soundcloud


iremi nisces said...

Asalamu alaikum,

Thanks for sharing, I know its been a while but death came knocking on the door.. Come have a read and make dua for all those who have lost their loved ones.

Take Care

Anonymous said...

salam alaik yumayyy. i luv this!
no (ii) is pretty cool! nak buat kat anak lah nti. anak buka lunch box je ada puisi kat nasi goreng sardin. eh.

saray kay dgn phil kaye sgt lah osem kan? bila bca poem diorang atau dgr kat utube, slalu speecless dan blur2 -- mcm mna diorang punya otak boleh osem sgt ntah

ps : malas sign in. bolehla buat confirmation kat wasapp nti. hahaha. kvaii :p

Anonymous said...


thank you :)

shhh, senyap senyap sikit.
big no!

"..cuz i would write a poem on a little piece of paper and fold it up and put it in his lunchbox.."

ngeh :p

kan? ada buku sarah kat kino. "no matter the wreckage" tajuknya. tapi..out of stock, shheesshhh =,='

ps: takde lagi yang sebut yumayy yumayy tu :B