“You Won’t Read This” (Poem)

Wait... is that a baseball diamond back there?

Wait… is that a baseball diamond back there?

Well, it’s been a time since I shared some poetry on here — what with law school and all — but that doesn’t mean I haven’t been writing it. It took gradual progress and drafting, but I started and finished this one after only a month or so into the winter semester! It sat on my hard drive for a while, passed around among friends, but I decided I should share it on here.

It’s about college, and part-time jobs, and literary journals. It’s about paranoia, and privilege, and not being totally sure who or what you want to spend life doing. It’s about girls — a million, or three, or maybe just one. It’s about videogames, the internet, and wishing you could talk with music and intense colors instead of text messaging and social cues.

Ironically, the poem “functions” best the fewer people read it — and yet, of course, I love to share my work and get feedback. So I hope you don’t take the title to heart too strongly when I say…

You Won’t Read This

- – -

This particular piece felt like a leap for me at first, but in retrospect it was a pretty logical progression. During and after writing a “literary self-portrait” in English last year, “An Easier Way to Get Out of Our Little Heads,” I realized how natural, cathartic, and yet… well, artistic it felt to write in a prose-poetry style–flitting between ideas and images, figures of speech and cultural references, yet wrapping it all back around around a core of feelings and thoughts that read as personal and yet relatable.

Looking back, I started letting poetry take over keeping a journal around the end of high school — a few stray verses or a whole poem every few months (admittedly, of varying objective quality) as a way of condensing my hopes, frustrations, and a handful of powerful memories into a structured yet sincere whole. So with this one, I decided to take everything I’d learned – and experienced — in the past few year, and try it again. It may be too early to self-declare a niche for my poetry, but I feel like I really found it with this one (is “love and philosophy for Millenials” too long a moniker?).


Couldn't think of a picture, so here's my "quotepic" of "The Beat Goes On" by Beady Eye!

Couldn’t think of a picture, so here’s my “quotepic” of “The Beat Goes On” by Beady Eye!

Good grief, how long’s it been? One, two, three, four, five… six months? I couldn’t blame you if you jumped ship on this blog after that long–in this fast-paced age, I probably would’ve moved on to greener pastures of soft-focus nature photography and motivational fitness posts myself. Shoot, Tumblr really did get the better of me!

Well, that and law school — because yes, I am still clinging on for dear professional life at Cornell Law! Since last September, I’ve celebrated my first birthday without a proper family party, cleared the first semester with a 4.9 GPA, loved, lost, hovered somewhere uncomfortably in-between, and got on the fast track to study international law at the Sorbonne in Paris this summer. Regrettably, my writing’s slowed to a crawl since then, but (often, I fear, to my detriment) I never stop thinking and consequently taking notes on ideas for plots, quotes, general philosophical musings, and the occasional rap lyric. Also, Tumblr’s fun, but I owe it to myself to have a dedicated site for my writing work, how few and far apart it may appear — if only so y’all who bought my book don’t feel shortchanged for abiding by my advice to “stay updated” at Notes & Sketches!

- – -

So on that note, I’d like to present a candid–albeit regrettably slightly truncated–video of me performing my slam/rap poem “Dour Number One” (link to the old PDF post) at Cornell Law’s 2014 “Cabaret,” a miniature festival of art, auctions, and alcohol put on annually by the school’s Public Interest Law Union. I’d performed it before, but never with a crowd this big — even knowing it by heart with some new tweaks, I got pretty shaky up there, so I apologize for losing the mic a few times!

Dour Number One - LIVE

Rumbl in the Tumbl (FOR THOSE UNAWARES)

I just Googled "Tumblr" and grabbed something that came up... I don't know, I got studying to do.

I just Googled “Tumblr” and grabbed something that came up… I don’t know, I got studying to do.

I have a Tumblr now! You’re probably already aware of this if you follow me on Twitter or are a Facebook friend, but I thought I would just make a formal announcement for those who still favor my blog, or wondered whether I had anything interesting to say for the last half-month again. While WordPress has been convenient and enjoyable to share writing through in the past, I’m planning on slowly shifting to and/or redundantly posting my shorter poetry and prose on Tumblr as well, as the more openly social nature of the site will hopefully allow my work to reach a wider audience more quickly–as well as introduce me to amazing projects that others are hoping to publicize, too!

So just follow that link right down there. I promise I’ll go easy on the washed-out nature pictures and HBO gifs!


“UW” (+General Update!)

So I know it’s been a while since my last update ’round these parts… but I have a reason! Specifically, three: the first is my week-and-a-half-long trip to Italy in July, which sent my family and I “down the Boot” from Venice to Pompeii in a flurry of pre-modern churches and gypsies. The second is the continued writing of my first novel, “There’s Something Wrong with the Neighbor’s Cat: A Hyperawesome Nick Smiths Adventure,” a process which I don’t feel lends itself well at this stage to being shared in internet-size segments (however, while the informal write-a-thon has concluded, the most thorough and earnest summary of the project can still be viewed here).

But the third is my impending attendance at Cornell Law School in Ithaca, NY! Getting my affairs in order for the big move, from getting my superfluous books in suitcases to taking a train home for a single pertussis shot, has been a surpringly taxing affair, but knowing that I’ll be getting a righteous legal education (in the Bill & Ted sense of the word) in a brand-new community is encouragement enough.

However, when looking towards an uncertain, one cannot help but reflect on the collective memory formed by the triumphs and trials of the past that led to where they now stand. It was in just such a pensive mood that I ressurected an old childhood hobby of mine and composed a collage, made exclusively of images taken with my iPod Touch’s camera during my undergraduate career at the University of Washington. However, I saw the opportunity for this to also be a visual story of sorts, quietly encapsulating the passage of time, with all its uplifting beauty, humorous absurdities, and emotionally-trying moments that college students go through. As such, I deliberately omitted pictures that showed my face or centered in on my name, and while the majority of these pictures are in chronological order, a few have been rearranged to act as a “chorus” or signal reflection on the part of the “narrator”.

…Or something to that extent. I don’t know, I’m not an art major or anything. I was just in an introspective mood and felt like making my first “visual story” piece. By all means, enjoy and critique!

The difference between "college" and "collage" is but a vowel.

The difference between “college” and “collage” is but a vowel.

Let the Write-A-Thon Commence!

Somewhat literally, since my principal distraction right now is playing "The Last of Us."

Somewhat literally, since my principal distraction right now is playing “The Last of Us.”

I’m quite pleased to report that, after a few glitches involving an overeager spam filter, I am now an official participant in the the 2013 Clarion West Write-A-Thon! Occuring concurrently with the Clarion West Writer’s Workshop–Seattle’s 29-years-running summer collaborative for dedicated sci-fi/fantasy authors, overseen this time by such masters of the craft as Neil Gaiman, Samuel R. Delany, and Joe Hill–the Write-A-Thon gives authors who didn’t or couldn’t enroll the opportunity to still motivate themselves and promote their writing.

As I’m one of those folks (I’d claim it’s because admission was competitive and required a brief essay/writing submission, but I was honestly just overwhelmed with college stuff at the time and knew I’d be intermittently busy throughout summer anyway), I’m using this opportunity to officially get back into writing my first novel, There’s Something Wrong with the Neighbor’s Cat: A Hyper-Awesome Nick Smiths Adventure! (which the more dedicated among you may remember me announcing in this post). You can see my official Write-A-Thon profile–with a new summary of the book’s plot, as well as my financial and writerly goals for the project as a whole–right here. And oh, how about that? There’s a Paypal donation button… *coughcough*


#hyperawesome [Let's make it catch on!]

“Breakdowns and Boxes” (+BIG TIME GRAD STUFF!)

Boy, our problems look so small from up here...

Boy, our problems look so small from up here…

Hey, happy summer! So since my last post, there’s been some considerable developments “behind the scenes” here, which is part of why it’s been so long since there’s been a last post. But in any case, before we move on to the story at hand, the biggest announcement must be made: I have officially graduated from the University of Washington, and I’m also-officially headed to Cornell Law this August!

(Candid shot from my uncle)

(Candid shot from my uncle)

Needless to say, the last rush of assignments before the camera flashes and mortarboards started popping was both nerve-wracking and exciting. However, it turned out I managed to stave off senioritis, and cleared my final quarter with two 4.0′s and a 3.9! That latter grade was for English 484, which you’ll remember as having previously produced “Bread and Buttons” and “Day of a New Dawn“, and I can thank the success of my last two assignments for it. The last, last assignment was to reimagine a story from earlier in the quarter in a totally new form (or give it a major text-only revision–but where’s the fun in that?); some conveyed their tales through photography, a short film, or even a cooked dish, but what I decided to do was turn Bread and Buttons into a videogame… minus the actual game. Confused? Well, take a look at these pics I snapped before turning it in:




The basic idea here was, seeing as videogames have been such a big part of Dan Brooke’s life, could he be the kind of guy to see his that life in game-like terms? So though the disc itself contains only a slightly-edited text file of the story, I designed a full PlayStation 2-style cover and brief instruction booklet (it’s shrunken because Photoshop and Windows Photo Gallery can never seem to agree on real-world dimensions) for Dan’s “game of life.”

I can upload some high-quality JPEGs of that later, but I don’t want to hold up the main focus here any longer: my second-to-last 484 work, a “revision” of “Bread and Buttons” based on N+7, a writer’s game of sorts that involves taking every noun (alternatively, verb) in a piece of text and replacing it with the word seven entries ahead in the dictionary. Obviously, “the dictionary” is a broad concept–and the afore-linked program’s identification of nouns was shaky in places–but the assignment’s guidelines permitted keeping only a quarter of the new nouns. So after copy-pasting “Bread and Buttons” page by page, I was left with an utterly chaotic pile of text; in a way, my work was cut out for me by the images formed from the most striking words repeated throughout (“aphrodesiac”, “rosary”, several varieties of flowers), but I still had to make sense of the whole thing. The resultant narrative retained only the loose structure of its predecessor–a lone guy pacing his home and ruminating–but took a totally different turn into…

Breakdowns and Boxes


I think this story turned out considerably grittier than anything I’ve ever written, but that’s partially because it almost exclusively focuses on characters and situations that I’ve never written about before (an elderly man, for one, but to say more would incur spoilers). As such, I’ll admit/agree with my professor’s comments that it has moments where believability is stretched, and others that come across as a narrative cop-out. However, I wholly invite your criticism! As always, I hope you enjoy it–and everything else I continue to write, as the summer is set to give me some quality time to continue my novel and submit shorter works to academic and creative journals–but I can only get better if someone outside my own head tells me how.

“The First American September of Tyler Walsh”

Land "Oh"!

Land “Oh”!

Alright, little change of pace here! Or rather, a brief step back in time–this story is another one I wrote for English 384 last quarter  (see also: “Above“). Due to my dissatisfaction over the slightly chopped-up nature of the draft I ended up turning in, though, I didn’t feel comfortable sharing it online, and could never get around to running over it to get everything “just so.” But I finally did, and so here you go!

Some notes: The piece was written as a segment from a novel I’ve been brainstorming for a while (“I Land“), and so I suppose this could be considered a “test run” for the set-up and primary characters. The final scene is the one I had to cut from the original assignment draft for the sake of brevity; I’ve included it here as a sort of epilogue/prologue, and while I’ll admit it currently feels a bit rushed, it still establishes plot details and relationships I didn’t feel were coming through naturally early on. Also, the part of Tyler Walsh (why yes, I was having a hard time coming up with a name!) is herein played by my brother Kyle in a picture on page 2; any further connection between himself and the events of the text is hopefully entirely coincidental.

But enough rambling! If you’ve got a list started of “Stories to Read,” then consider #1 to now be…

The First American September of Tyler Walsh

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