Tag Archives: artwork

Ode to the Haiku

The haiku is one of my favorite poetic forms. I will often jot one down in class when not paying attention to a teacher, or when riding as a passenger in a car, or on my friend’s facebook pages when I am awake late at night and procrastinating on something important to do.

Haikus are short and to the point, much like I am. It was as if the form was made for me, but really, it wasn’t. Haikus were made for all to enjoy, not just me. A traditional haiku has 17 syllables, broken up into lines that are 5/7/5 syllables each. In sticking with tradition, most haikus usually include references to nature or the seasons and contain a contrasting image within it. It is common for haikus to have spliced words, elongated vowel sounds or double syllabic sounds to fulfill the syllable count requirements. Haikus can also be joined together to make a larger poem, but each haiku must stand on its own and be able to be read as an independent piece for the poem to truly be considered a haiku.

Below is my interpretation of a traditional haiku. This is a series of haikus, but each also stand independently, or, I at least hope they do.

Shaped Poetry

I wouldn’t call myself a poet, but I do write poetry and do pursue publication of my poems. One weakness I have for poetry is shaped poetry. I’ve tried my hand at it many times, but outside of one shaped poem I’ve completed, I haven’t really fell in love with any of my shaped poems.

John Hollander, a well known American poet, makes some fascinating shaped poetry. For example, his cat poetry:

I want to pet his words.


The Last Bookstore in Downtown L.A.

This weekend I got to go to The Last Bookstore and, holy heck, I love it. As previous readers will note, I have a thing for bookstores where I want to travel the world and buy a book from each.

This lovely big store made my day.
(Credit: Amanda Riggle)

This wasn’t a bad start. I didn’t get just one book though, oh no. The Last Bookstore is known for its dollar book catacombs, where books are sometimes organized by genre, or by color, or by country. Needless to say, I was up there for hours (I think two and a half was the final agreed upon time I spent perusing books).

I believe my final count on books was thirty. Yes, that’s right, I bought thirty one-dollar books. Why? Because who can say no to dollar books! I got books on linguistics, books on Shakespeare, books on British Literature, books on history, books on naturalism, books on poetry and, of course, books on politics, because I can.

Fred was a gentleman and carried my books out for me. I think a total of 5 in that pile aren’t mine. Note to dudes: Don’t take an English Major to a bookstore on a date unless you have strong arms like Fred.
(Credit: Amanda Riggle)


A New (Literary) Tattoo Idea

It’s dangerous being an English major with a love for old literature that adores tattoos. This quarter, I have finished a class on Mythology in literature and I have gotten my latest tattoo idea from Norse mythology.

I want to get two crows tattooed behind my ears.

That might sound a little odd, but let me explain.

Odin, known as the Alfather, father of Thor and the high one (among a huge list of other names) loved knowledge. Dude knew more than Wikipedia. How did he know all of this? Well, he doggedly pursued knowledge.

In one tale, Odin hangs himself form the world tree (Yggdrasil, say that three times fast!) and sacrifices his own eye to himself in order to gain more knowledge.

The one thing Marvel and the movie Thor got right about Norse mythology.

I’d call that being committed to education.

There is yet another tale where Odin tricks two dwarfs out of the Mead of Poetry so he could gain poetic knowledge (and fart out a little bad poetry along the way. Seriously. That’s in the myth.). Beyond that, Odin battled with giants all the time, but not to test his strength, but rather his wits. While Odin knew everything, he never knew enough.

This won't be my tattoo, but it's pretty awesome looking.
This won’t be my tattoo, but it’s pretty awesome looking.

Even his throne was not that of your average God/Father (fathers have thrones, right?). Seated on either side of Odin on his throne were his two crows, Huginn and Muninn. Huginn and Muninn gathered information from the world and whispered it into Odin’s ears, thus assuring that, even when resting on his throne, Odin was still learning and knowledgeable about the world.

He also had two wolves. Why two of everything? Because…that’s why.

So, in conclusion, I want to get two crows tattooed behind my ears to emulate what Huginn and Muninn did for Odin. I want the world’s secrets whispered into my ears wherever I go, so I can constantly gain knowledge. I’ve been a student all my life (turning 30 in September, thank you) so I think it’s safe to say that I am addicted to learning. My own little Huginn and Muninn will only aid in that quest, right?

You can’t convince me otherwise. Pictures of the crows and the actual tattoos are pending until I get the final design finished with my artist.

– Amanda Riggle

50 Shades of Found Poetry


So, it’s no secret that the fan-fiction turned best-seller book 50 Shades of Grey is not considered very…literary. It’s really, from what I’ve been told, more about mild sadomasochism and a controlling sexual relationship than about story or plot or characters or sentence structure or…well, I could go on. So I decided to bully my fellow bloggers here into taking an erotic page from 50 Shades of Grey and turning it into a found poem. Here are the examples we came up with:

Hannah has playful interpretations of found poetry with the 50 Shades of Grey page:

50 shades of personification of body parts.


Weekly Review – Week 2

So, in truth, we haven’t been getting as many user-submitted pieces to share and critique on here as we would have liked. The point of the weekly section is to have users send in their work they would like feedback on. This can be done anonymously if the reader wishes, and the poem or short story or other work is posted up here for a week for the editors and readers of the blog to post helpful feedback on.

That being said, here’s a flash fiction piece by Nicole Neitzke, author and English major extraordinaire, titled “Compulsive.”

The clock ticks away the morning as I begin my daily routine: Make the bed. Straighten the bed. Straighten the bed again. Add throw pillows. The coffee maker was preset and spits the dark roast into a travel mug as I stroll into the kitchen. Two eggs over-easy and one piece of toast with light butter. One glass of 2% milk and one ripe orange. It was four breakfast items, an even number. I set two places at the table, though I always eat alone. I use my normal blue table setting, placing one mismatched green mug with a re-glued handle across from me. I sit and eat my meal in ten minutes. Take my shower, brush my teeth, curl my hair, then get dressed. As I sit down to do my make-up in the remaining ten minutes of my morning ritual, I feel something is amiss.


Poetry on YouTube!

Aside from having a general appreciation for poetry and recognizing how much more intense it can be when engaging you beyond the page, there are a number of reasons or scenarios why you might watch or listen to poetry performances on YouTube:

1) You can’t make it to/can’t afford to attend an upcoming open mic or poetry event.

2) You need something to listen to while doing the dishes or working out at home, but you’re tired of everything in your iTunes library.

3) You’re curious.

4) You’re bored.

5) You want to be cheered, inspired, touched, infuriated, surprised, or all of the above.

Below is a short list of some of my personal favorite poetry performance clips on YouTube:

Sarah Kay, “Private Parts”: [youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5AxQZlXFL_4&w=560&h=315]


Amanda Got a Shakespeare Tattoo

Lo and behold, I said in my biography that I like tattoos, and here I have a post about my latest tattoo and first Shakespeare tattoo.

The sketch that would become my tattoo.
The sketch that would become my tattoo.

I guess the question is where did this quote come from? It’s from Othello, my favorite Shakespeare tragedy. The specific speaker of these lines is Iago, one of the most sinister and clever villains written by Shakespeare. The thing about Iago is that, by all appearances, he is a trustworthy man who has fought by Othello’s side in battles and has saved Othello’s life on multiple occasions. Everyone has reason to trust Iago, the lower class man who has risen as far as he can within the ranks of his society and is angry that, while he is stuck at his station, Othello, an outsider, can advance and marry well above Iago’s station. Iago’s sharp mind, golden tongue, and honest appearance bring down ruin on the others of the play.


On Inspiration and My Writing Process

Inspiration is a little overrated when it comes to writing. My experience is that it might take you a couple of pages before you lose the impetus that got you started. In other words, you should rely on steady, determined, inglorious writing to take you the distance. I don’t mean to say inspiration isn’t important. The problem is, I think, that most people assume good writing comes from an epiphanic moment, which turns the exercise into a waiting game. When lightning doesn’t strike twice, people call it quits. Remember why you started, but never forget that the process of writing is as important, and usually yields more, than the whim that got your fingers typing. That said, here’s a little on where I find inspiration:

Reading other authors. It’s a basic but true ingredient of good writing. But don’t take my word for it:  authors from Raymond Carver to Stephen King praise the value of “research” when writing your own, original work. Ben Franklin copied whole journals to learn writing techniques. Don’t rule out work from fields outside your comfort zone, either: as a Humanities major, I’m not particularly great at math or science, but having recently read (and deeply enjoyed) works by Carl Sagan and Michio Kaku, I’ve found my own framework broadened by their views on astrophysics and the natural world. So read, read, read, until you’re confident in your own voice. Then keep reading.


I Kind Of Like to be Profane

Profanity is supposed to be offensive, I get that, but there are times when the word shit just works so perfectly that a PG substitution won’t quite do.

You know when you stub your toe on something? Shit! Shit just works so beautifully to express the pain, surprise, and anger all balled into one, four letter word. Saying shoot just doesn’t have the same impact, not in real life and not in a poem. Shit conveys a very real emotion that cannot be replaced by one word alone.