Friday the 13th — Academic Style

Having a Friday the 13th in October was too fun for this horror writer to pass up, even in the classroom. I had my Composition & Culture students discuss the pros and cons of what would happen if social media suddenly vanished from campus, and then we took a look at some horror films (and the excellent show Black Mirror) that portray social media/technology as an ultimate and relatable in-your-face evil as compared to the more metaphorical/societal evils vampires, demons, witches, and other baddies in horror tend to represent. (Check back later for another post on this comparison because I think it’s a fascinating one to delve into).

For some creative fun, I brought in my pal and poetry colleague Mike Arnzen’s Fridge of the Damned Poetry magnets and challenged my students to use the poetry bits to create something inspired by our social media conversation (because poetry is fun!) I was both impressed by each group’s abilities to provide a great analysis to convince me how their poems tied into our earlier conversation, and quite happy to see the overall engagement in creating poetry because, as anyone who has met me knows, I believe in the power of poetry and doing any kind of creativity, always. With about 10ish minutes on the clock, I set the challenge, played some spooky soundtracks in the background, and they got to work.

Check out each group’s poem below! And while they are dark and I love horror, I obviously like some social media (I mean, I am blogging about this after all), but I very much believe in the importance of discussing our social media-obsessiveness, and maybe poking fun of our habits can lead to some introspective moments of reflection and encourage us to put the phones down and enjoy the fall foliage or read a book beneath the autumn sunlight. Or write wacky poems with friends.

Tommy's group

“Fear is human…” Tommy, Devin, and Cory show us how sometimes people are childish on social media, but hurtful comments can seal into one’s mind. And sometimes, social media claims our very souls…duhn, duhn, duhn…

Sam's group

Sam, Megan, Josh, and Kylie give us some abstract lines to show how time disappears when on social media. It can hook us in, render us numb, and end with the shrieks of the innocent.

Mike's group

Demons within chocolate? Oh yes. Mike, Kate, and Camila delve into how sweet someone can seem on the internet versus the inner demons that may be lingering beneath the surface.

Lauren's group

Lauren, Katie, Allison, Teegan, and McGarity present a dark analysis of the fragility of our nerves when on social media, and how despair can grab us when we dangle our hearts on the internet.

Azaria's group

“broken humans / in agony” — the glare may hide some words, but Azaria, Alma, Nelson, and Brooklynn don’t glare away from showing how broken people can break even more inside the noisy world of social media.

Kelsey's group

Kelsey, Lexi, Mackensi, and Kamyron chop us up with this abstract and detailed piece on the potential darkness lurking when we give too much of ourselves to social media.

Andrew's group

The glass machine, is it social media or is it humanity? Andrew, Taylor, Gabby, and Trent provide some interesting thoughts on different elements on various social media in this one.

Josey's group

“swallow you dead” — it certainly can. Owen, Liz, Anna H., Anna M., and Josey provide us with these final thoughts on the costumes we sometimes wear on social media compared to our true selves.

 

 

 

Human Casket and Flower Stitches

How’s National Poetry Month treating everyone? Here’s a couple poems I’ve done so far to kick the month off:

Screen Shot 2016-04-06 at 5.13.49 PM.png

human casket- made with The Fridge of the Damned magnets! This piece is also over on Michael Arnzen’s Flickr page where he posts the poems made with these deliciously dark magnets (there’s also a link to get your own set!). Check it out.

And here’s one more piece for the day.

Flower Stitches

My heart is dark and dry,
but you water it with love,
pure in its coldness

the drops trickle down
my ribs and grow flowers
inside my lungs

their stems wrap around
my bones and clutch
me together

small green stitches
with black thorns
piercing from my pores

scars that bleed
make me pretty
with the blood of our love

 

Happy National Poetry Month!

My photograph of the replica at the Carnegie Museum.

Happy National Poetry Month! This means it’s time for NaPoWriMo! Will you be writing a poem each day this month? I will be challenging myself to write at least two everyday. To kick things off, I wanted to share my first poem of the month with you. The piece below was inspired by the photograph I took at the Carnegie Museum of Art in Pittsburgh. After doing a little research I discovered the sculpture is a replica cast of the Winged Victory of Samothrace, a marble sculpture created in the 2nd century BC of the Greek goddess Nike. The real deal can be found at the Louvre. Needless to say my new goal is to get myself to Paris and see the original sculpture that has inspired me. Check out my poem “Goodbye Halo” below, and happy poetry writing to you!

The beautiful statue on her pedestal in Paris.

The beautiful statue on her pedestal in Paris.

Goodbye Halo

She is not the first angel
to plummet from sky to earth,
to crawl her freezing, broken form
over to the underground fire
he burns at night,

but she is the first
he has fallen in love with.
She is victory,
keeping her sins hidden
between feathered wings
because somewhere between
darkness and a battle above
the clouds, she unraveled
and the light, the sun, the day
all became too much.

Go ahead and fall, angel,
the devil will greet you
and say, “hello pet,
hello my headless snake
who is still my favorite,
who is still my most deadly.”

Fear the light, angel
and dig crosses sharpened
to points into the flesh
of your neck, leave jagged
wounds as you detach
your face, your head,
and say goodbye heaven,
goodbye halo.

Happy World Poetry Day!

To celebrate World Poetry Day, I’ve written a short poem below. In the meantime, check out this great site to read some wonderful “poems on poems.”

Book Skin
by Sara J. Tantlinger

I remember the fable of your veins
and how your bleeding wrists tasted
like a burnt book across my tongue.

We were nameless bodies curved
inside bent pages, keeping love hidden
between an old spine as we inhaled
ink into our hearts like black oxygen.

Spiders scurried across the dust of bones
and left cobwebs inside our eyes, but we
knew addiction would flavor our choice
to crack open skin and read scarlet stories
that swam beneath our underwritten flesh.

Happy Valentine’s Day!

“I do not love you as if you were salt-rose, or topaz,
or the arrow of carnations the fire shoots off.
I love you as certain dark things are to be loved,
in secret, between the shadow and the soul.”
-Pablo Neruda, Sonnet XVII

Ah, amour.

What does today mean? It means I work all day in retail later and I’m sure after today I’ll never want to see roses or boxes of chocolates again (*cue the last minute shoppers.* Oh, they will come, believe you me). And today means I have a writing deadline for grad school by midnight. That’s about it.

Valentine's Day means zombie hearts, right?

Valentine’s Day means zombie hearts, right?

Oh wait, it also means I can write you a love poem or two, *says the horror writer as she cackles and slips back into the shadows.*

I love love. Especially dark, twisted love. So much in fact that I wrote a whole poetry collection about it (that I will totally have published someday and share it with you all…right?!)

Anyway, here’s two love-filled poems from me to you. Now go tell someone you love them, even if it’s your cat.

After the Massacre

The candle burned auburn,
and he thought of her hair,
of her lipstick after dessert,
and her red velvet tongue.

He remembered her blood,
how easy cutting her was,
and how she bled like drops
of rain over the flower garden.

He thought of her skin, daisy-
petals painted with scarlet flecks
and how she tasted like Valentine’s
Day, right after the Massacre.

I Am Love

This is me breaking the glass over your head,
watching wine and blood mix together, and
I wonder if you will still want me then, when
the sirens scream and the police kick in the door?
And that is the end of our battlefield romance,
of bloody love in the sunshine state, and god,
your skin smells like smoke and I am inhaling
you until my lungs blacken like boiled tar.

I have found darkness. I have crawled inside its
angry mouth and begged forgiveness, but our sins
had already been slayed, been splintered into red
caskets and buried beneath dirt blessed with holy
water, and I cannot touch it, I cannot dig our lust up
from the cursed soil because our wicked passion
resides in my atoms, my eyelashes, is curved beneath
my fingernails, and how can I compete with that?

I know you intimately, the way sand beneath the ocean
knows its foaming grip, its salted perfume. I know you.
Darling, I am you. I am crawling out of your ribcage,
breaking bones like they are sand dollars disintegrating
between my feral teeth. You can tell me you don’t love
this, but I know better. You can say you are sick of my
kisses that taste like copper, but raw and bloody are
the only ways I know how to teach this lesson.

Maybe we just liked the flavor of ruin too much, and I spent
too long imagining the taste of your marrow dancing on my
tongue, the way I longed to swallow you whole and have your
life marinate inside my veins. Now we are left at the end of
the world, waiting for the bang, for the whimper, for whatever
promise the writers scripted. You never could decide which
ending you liked better, and I was just trying to survive. You
chose now. You chose me. I am Love, and I am your destruction.