Dec 28, 2017

Learning To Read Pt 3 (Improving Your Writing or The Devil of Detail)

How often do we think we know someone from their work? 

Have you ever read something and felt like the author just got you? That they had some intuitive look into your psyche? If your like me, it happens too many times to count. 

But the more I write the more I come to believe that the opposite is true. Maybe it's not the author that gives words magic, but the reader?


This series looks from a readers point of view about how to become a better writer. How I learned to read poetry taught me a lot about how I want to write. Check out Part 1, and Part 2.


One of the first things I did after I decided that poetry reading was something I wanted to do, was read aloud to myself. At my home, pacing back and forth, in my underwear as I read my favorite poems to the furniture.

Trying things out in different inflections. Different voices. It went from uncomfortable, to absurd, to terrible, to ok, to horrible, to ok, and the more I tried to read like somebody else the less sense it all made.

So then I tried not trying. 

And the more I let go of what I thought the reading should sound like, the more I could relax, slow things down, and read clearly. Suddenly my readings became better.

The less character I put into it, the more my voice emerged into the piece. And when I could hear my voice in the words, the poems became more meaningful.

That struck me. And it's a simple idea.

What I got out of it, was not the words as written, but the meaning I put in as a reader. Without a reader. All writing is dead. Without a reader, the writer is sending thoughts to a great abyss of meaninglessness. A writer is only half an equation - if even that. 

It is Readers who birth these still thoughts to life. 

Sometimes even incomplete thoughts become lush and full. 

I thought, out of all my favorite books how many details were missing that I filled in as a reader. How much of the scenery, costumes, emotion did I put in. I mean there are some writers who are heavily detailed, but even they can't put in every color, every sound, every smell, every taste, every thought and breath. And why would they want to?

This isn't an excuse to be lazy as a writer. It's a fundamental understanding that everything written, every word, is in service to this great mysterious reader and their benevolent imagination.

Writing then becomes about the quality of the details and skill. Not just the abundance of technique. Any written world will always be incomplete, but the right details in the right place will feed the imagination of the reader. 

Give just enough to orientate a reader into your world, but not too much where the piece becomes a dictation of a photograph.

Read a piece, see what details stick out and why that works? Imagine what details you would give instead. Or best, try to write a poem with as few details as possible and see what emerges.

every one
in every room tonight
over books and screens over
thin scraps of paper waiting lonely
for release dying to see a person
in the piece but they ain't
in the thing

collecting fragments
we're only buying dreams of dreams
whose words dried-dead

to you now
say it now. say
and I'll echo you
but I ain't in
the thing

every one 
in it together
in every room tonight
looking lonely for answers
in cracked-mirrors
but it ain't in 

                           the thing 

much love


ps. as always like, share, subscribe and if you want to talk you can reach me on this blog, youtube, facebook and twitter. Also my new website ReneTheWriter.

pps. Let me know if you liked this and I can do more.

Nov 30, 2017

Learning To Read pt 2 - Improving Your Writing

Poetry, like all writing, is the message. Every poem has one. From the author to the reader. From reader to listener. And often that message is simple, though sometimes it is obscured in difficult layers of representation. *(from part 1)

Part 2

The Message is Lost

I'm not one to tell people what is or isn't poetry. I think that is a pointless conversation. I'm also hesitant to say things are right or wrong, or good or bad. I tend to think of poems as being in-progress or finished.

It's also worth a note that Whitman's Leaves of Grass was in-progress from 1855-1892 as a published work. So it's OK to improve and change. Things don't have to be so final. 

Another note: my observations aren't meant as a law, but more of a guide for something that I see all the time with poetry, 
especially on Instagram.

I read a lot of poems on my feed. Some really move me, some make me laugh. A lot fall into this beautifully-confusing category. So many poems have great stories and ideas, but collapse in on themselves. 

They start about subject A then move to B then so on and so on until we are at F and  never have come back to any of the earlier points. Then its over.

It becomes hard to keep them all straight, but the lines feel good and there is something of a story there. Something the author wanted to say. I can read the author's excitement. Their passion. They're right on the cusp of having a polished idea in their poem, but somewhere between the feeling and the page, the message was lost. 

The poem doesn't hold the burn. 

And when I'm done reading the piece, I don't feel like I understood anything clearly. Maybe I could chalk it up to poetry being abstract or vague... poetry can be. But there is a big difference between an abstract concept, and the complete lack of one. 

This is something we develop as readers.

As a reader it is easy to make a judgement and say I liked that, this made sense, this was weird, or good, or sexy, or terrible... but as Writers, I see that judgement disappear.

I think because it is easy to understand ourselves, and it is hard to know how others will read our words. But we need that readers mind in order to write our messages clearer.

So lets start again small.

Instead of worrying about a big idea. Start with a simple one. Some people say start with a title, but I have trouble with that honestly. I think the point is to start with a concept. Something that you can return to. Something that can ground a poem into a setting, or character, or action. This is where my Zen style thinking takes over for me. Good or bad. 

Recently I wrote a poem called Coffee. 


the taste was bitter - she looked at me as if to say 
t'know more things are different
t'know more things have changed
t'know of the many things we lost 

like the slow drip
in the cold morning

unaccounted, unrecorded, unappreciated
unable to recall just one

the taste was bitter -
and she didn't have to say

Whether or not you think it is great, I don't care, but it demonstrates one of my favorite things about writing poetry. Evolving a simple idea into an emotion, and then into an experience. 

I wrote it with the idea of coffee in the morning. Home brewed. It was a simple setting. Once I arrived on the line, the taste was bitter. I felt I had an emotional hook. The flavor for the coffee became the symbol for the relationship between the narrator and this second person.

It was tempting for me to want to evolve that idea more. To let it run away, but I try to control myself to some degree. To talk about the relationship. Why it has become bitter. Where it started. What could happen next, but there has to be a point to what is being said, or else the message will be lost. 

This is the part I think is subjective 
and where real writing craftsmanship takes over.

To me it was enough to know that the bitterness had overwhelmed the relationship. To know that the characters were not on talking terms, notice the lack of dialogue, combined with the repeating lines - she didn't have to say. It was enough of a story to focus on the drink. The slow, drip of the machine, the cold, wordless interaction fusing with the taste of bad coffee. The story became self-contained but not dull; there was a story between the lines.

And I built that taste for enough/not enough through reading. Relating my poem to all the things I liked as a reader. That is my barometer. Not what you think. Not what magazines think. Not what teachers or lovers or friends think. But my taste from reading.

For example, I am a big fan of returning to the opening line to close off a poem. It's a simple technique, not to be over-done, but it can help close off the loop of a narrative; reinforce the main concept of the bitter taste, and the establish the importance of the relationship to the reader. That is, after all, the one thing I want a reader to take away from this piece.

If I had ended with the line, unable to recall just one, the last image of the poem would be the slow drip of the machine. Which is cool and poetic in its own way, but betrays the conceit of the poem. 

Coffee is not about the machine or even the coffee being made. It is about the people drinking it, and their inability to connect during a very communal activity.

Having a cup of coffee and talking about the day is a near Universal staple of the human experience. We could simplify it even more to say, talking over a drink be it alcohol, tea, water, soda, or coffee is so human it is easy to forget that it is a thing we choose to do in order to help us connect with each other.

The utter failure in this relationship to move in to normal conversation means they are so infused with the bitterness, that there is nothing left. Nothing to talk about. Nothing to exchange but the bitter looks. 

And they both know.

So maybe you didn't get all that from my poem the first time. Maybe you think it is not a poem, cause it doesn't rhyme or have an identifiable structure that can easily be categorized as a poem. Or maybe you think it sucks. Honestly I don't care.

The words I wrote have a deliberate message I am creating through 

Word Choice
Social Constructs

and even though I have used a lot of poetic tools, those individual terms would mean nothing if the poem meant nothing. 

If it didn't add up to the communication experience between writing and the reader. If it didn't have a story behind the poem.

So think about this: What do you want the reader to understand and take away from your poem? What is the essential idea? Make it small. Make it focused. And see if that makes a difference in your writing.

Third Note: This completely applies to most types of writing in general. Either Song. Novel. Essay. There should be some clear idea in any writing that needs to be said. With out that essence, why should anyone read it?

Much love


ps. as always like, share, subscribe and if you want to talk you can reach me on this blog, youtube, facebook and twitter. Also my new website ReneTheWriter.

pps. Let me know if you liked this and I can do more.

Nov 8, 2017

Learning To Read. Pt 1

You probably know by now that I love to read poetry. It's the reason I got into writing in the first place. 

And in the short time I've been reading publicly, I've been lucky enough to find so much encouragement (btw thank you for all the kind words. they mean a lot to me). It's become such a big part of my life, that I decided to talk about how I learned to read and hopefully get more people to try.

Quiet a few years ago, a member of the Royal Shakespeare Company visited my school and read On The Eve of St. Agnes.To tell you that it was an important moment for me would be an understatement. It changed how I wrote, how I read, how I understood poetry. 

And while I am nowhere near on that level, I am better for what I learned from that experience. More about that specific reading later but here are some things that have stuck with me since then.

Part 1

Poetry People and Poetry Is The Message

Let's start with an uninspired, blanket observation: poetry isn't for everyone. And while that's true for almost anything, I have found such a hot or cold reaction to Poetry that I can't help but try and theorize why something I love so much, can be so hated as well. So I'll move to my second cliche and move to the beginning of these experiences.

Most of the time, when people find out that I love poems, I'm met on some scale between confusion, annoyance, distaste, or anger.


                 Vary rarely.

I meet someone who enjoys poetry too. 

It's not impossible. But I find those encounters to be outliers. And of those few encounters it's even harder to find someone who enjoys the same kind of poetry I do. Maybe this is do to my geography, or the small circles I keep, and maybe this would all be solved if I just got out more?... but this has been my experience.

So younger me, often kept poetry as a solitary subject. Something not to bring in to conversations with my friends. The times I remember best, ditching class, to have time alone in a corner of a library, or in my room, or on the university lawn, or hiding in the front seat of my car with the windows down. Quietly absorbing every line. Taking in the page as a secret passed thru history just for me. And I was fine with that. In fact it was exactly what I wanted. A way to enjoy my lonerism.

After all, poetry wasn't about making friends. 

Still isn't. 

Poetry is something I do for me. I read and write cause I want to. It's my desire that is it's own reward. There's no monetary value. No good job or high five. No reason other than a desire to read and write. I can share a moment with a writer's thoughts, see if they speak to me, if I like it or not or if I want even want that message in my life. And everything about Poetry, hinges on me. And while yes, sometimes it's another author who wrote the piece, the conversation is strictly internal. They were merely the fuel for my own imagination. I hold the conversation. I dictate how it ends. 

And I imagine this true for you, if you are a poetry person.

Maybe that's where the disconnect occurs? Maybe some people don't understand why they should put so much work or thought into a poem when it takes so much effort to understand and they receive no tangible reward. Poetry is slow. Its practice requires calming that internal itch for fast and easy and waiting for a longer, personal reward that may not reveal its purpose until years down, when a reader can recall a succinct and poignant line.

And while poetry is personal, at its origin, it's meant to be communal. Meant to be spread and shared. That was a big lesson for me to learn from the Shakespearean Actor and my wonderful Romance Professor. What's the point of writing, of publishing, if not to spread out like a virus thru time, infecting futures with the strange ramblings of your mind? 

Poetry, like all writing, is the message. Every poem has one. From the author to the reader. From reader to listener. And often that message is simple, though sometimes it is obscured in difficult layers of representation. *(More on this later)

That communication is the most important part of reading. Even if you're alone in your room, on a recording, in bed with a lover, or on a stage in front of a room full of people, or live on Instagram, the point is to uncover the message. 

Bring it out. 

Give it warmth. 

Slowly make it live. 

Only the reader can do that.

A good reading should help the message emerge. A great reading should bring the author's voice off the page and into our reality. Into the moment.

Sometimes it takes a lot of time and re-readings to ever get to a comfortable place and say - I know this poem well enough to read it.

I hear a lot of people read unconfidently. And this is probably because they aren't precisely sure what they are saying. 

So take time. 

I never read aloud the first time. And I never perform without many, many re-readings. I imagine this was equally true for the Shakespearean Actor who read at my University.

Read unfiltered, then Re-Read asking lots of questions like:

What did the author mean? What is actually being said here? What should the reader get from this? Why is the poem divided up the way it is? Are the rhymes and rhythms supposed to be emphasized or is it just a background mood? What is the tone of this poem? Etc.

There are a million questions and even more answers, but with every answer you find (different readers will and should find different answers) you should get closer to understanding your message.

 This is the work of reading. It's not easy. 

And the reward... that's even harder to define. 

Maybe here we can revisit this Love/Hate problem. 

Why work so hard for words? Why go slowly over an idea, again and again? Why obsess over someone else's thoughts? If you see no value in it, it is the equivalent of eating a chunk of rubber tire. Hard. Distasteful. Unrewarding. It's easy to understand why someone would hate the thought of it. Or think it strange that other people enjoy it.

I think that's the inherited attitude of our High School understanding of Poetry. And for that, I won't blame them.

But if like me, you are a Poetry Person, you know there are universes of ideas to escape to. Dreams to make. Experiences to feel. Each one has made my life so much deeper. Has taught me to appreciate others. To Think. To Feel. To Love. To be cautious of the words I use. To be mindful of my form. To be something more than I could be without Poetry. 


So I challenge you to find a poem, record yourself reading it the first time, then read it over until you find some new insight into the meaning, and record it again. Hear the change that comes with understanding.

Much love


ps. as always like, share, subscribe and if you want to talk you can reach me on this blog, youtube, facebook and twitter. Also my new website ReneTheWriter.

pps. Let me know if you liked this and I can do more.

Oct 10, 2017

- (A Demonology) pt 2


So slow it didn't seem like such a big deal at first - I cut one rope, then the next.

Never really knowing how many I had left. Just a desire to remove.

I'll take an aside here to say, I know I'm talking about a lot of abstracts and metaphors here. Stay with me.

>>> cut/cut/cut

I thought the only way I could learn to be a better person was to remove the excess. 

Slice and hack away at outdated beliefs. Superstitions. 

Anything that didn't serve me to be better. Anything that held me back from progressing as a thinker. As a writer. As a person. Anything that clouded my judgment had to go. 

The more I cut, the more I kept finding. 

Always, layered underneath, these old undesired parts of my character hiding away. What did I believe that wasn't inherited from some past belief or circumstance of history? What did Rene really care about? What do I believe in?  What do I want to be? My life seemed to be false understandings masquerading as Truths, until I began to believe there wasn't anything left of me that was real.

But those old ropes were my safety. The links to my family, history, city, state, country, god, dreams, masculinity, and self. Whatever perspective held me down also used to be an old comfort. They gave me answers to questions I couldn't know. They made me feel secure in this infinite mystery of existence. Protected me from the fear of ignorance, even if by giving me a different ignorance instead.

I wish, mostly in my weaker moments, that I could turn back to those old comforts, but I can't. 

I know.  

I learned how dangerous it is to put a knife to an old belief. 
There is no way back. Imagine trying to re-believe in Santa.

When you sever yourself from a tie like family or religion, or masculinity, there is no way to re-thread it. They become cut forever. Having been proven to be brittle. Frayed. Devoid of old power.

And the magic of those bindings are equal parts safety and danger. Some of us protected by it. Some strangled. Because their power is in fear. Without them I became alone to face my fears of the unknown, my fears of humanity and existence alone. 

And the more we have to fear, the more we need and the more necessary those bindings become. Clinging tighter to something that felt real but is daily slipping.


So to my nights (if you are following from the last post) when my mind is buzzing in thoughts and sleep won't come and the dark room seems filled with my memories. And I want to reach for past comforts, but dead prayers don't get answered.

There is an out. Understanding is the knife. The knife is freedom. Yes, there is fear in my freedom. What do I cling to when drift is stormy and the path is dark? When I have nothing but my own voice to answer to? But fear doesn't have to be bad.
You can drift. If you want.

I know. I learned.

So I try to imagine a quiet.

I imagine floating above myself. Free of sound. Free of smell. Free of taste. Only seeing the bed below and the body I've come through the world with and float higher into the night air looking down on the smallness of that bed and the shadow of person left lying.

For a long time it might seem that I am floating in the empty dark, but further still in this meditation, are all the stars and planets. All moving alone like me in to the infinite dark.

Somewhere in that strange dark imagining. There is music. There are words. There is mystery and answers. Cold, sterile, beautiful answers.

Answers that come from no-where. 

Thoughts that bubble and fade.

Everything is



in this natural, terrifying beauty.


ps. as always like, share, subscribe and if you want to talk you can reach me on this blog, youtube, facebook and twitter. Also my new website ReneTheWriter.

- (A Demonology) pt 1

I have these nights every few weeks.

Bad nights when sleep went come. Even as the heavy weight of exhaustion sits on my mind. Pushing my eyes half-closed. The feeling of falling into the bed hitting like waves. Sleep seems so close.

But the waves wash back, and the eyes never fully fall, and the dreamy mind is busy making a thousand thoughts from all my days past. Rising like ghosts from the dark fissures of my brain.
It has to do with anxiety...

If I think about it too much, everything gets tighter, my body starts to tingle with the lack of oxygen, my heart constantly jolts awake every time I start to drift too close to sleep. And it makes me think about it more. And the more I think, the tighter everything gets.

When I was really young. I'd have these nights and my young mind took this feeling for fear and panic. My mother would lie with me.  Slowly running her fingers thru my hair. Her hands always felt cool. I remember her gentle fingers like a breeze. And her chest. 

The long, slow breaths she would take,as I buried my face against her, telling me to match her.

-In. She'd whisper and start at the crown of my head drawing back thru my thick unkempt tangles, as we breathed together. Her fingers gently flew out of my hair and returned to the top.

-Out. And again her cool fingers brushed thru me. And slowly the jitters would cease. My mind would stay with her. My air would open. And I could breath. And I could fall.

The bad nights still come. I've only grown heavier with ghosts. My mother is now one of them. A face to visit me on sleepless nights. 

Sometimes I can close my eyes and breath with her.


But I have learned other ways to deal with the bad nights, since then.

Writing is one.

If you can't tell, tonight is a bad night...

One thing about these nights, I know I should sleep. My body is begging for it. I know. 


Ghosts need exorcising.

Maybe I'll work my way thru them. Maybe this will be my book of demonology. Maybe I'll write and write. And cleanse my heart. 

And there won't be any bad nights. And there won't be anything left to haunt me. And I will breathe. And my heart will be light. And sleep will be beautiful.

If only I believed in such things. Still won't hurt to clean out demons you don't believe in... right? It never hurts to write.

I haven't blogged cause I needed a refocus. And now I think I know. Perfect in the time of think pieces. Start some medicinal writing as well as updates as I get closer to my book.


ps. as always like, share, subscribe and if you want to talk you can reach me on this blog, youtube, facebook and twitter. Also my new website ReneTheWriter.

Jul 7, 2017

A Few Things

I haven't written here in a little while. 
Maybe I've been nervous about it. 
Deciding what I want to say next. 
So i'll start with a few


1. music is almost done. I've been saying this forever but this time I mean it. there is direction. There is purpose again. and I couldn't be more excited. we have learned so much just pushing ourselves into the music. the first and best advice we ever got: get into the studio. learn who we are.

2. visuals. this is the next big hurtle. to convert a sound to an image ain't easy. and shouldn't be. with a little research I've seen a lot of nonsense around. things masking as creativity have nothing to show. and cheapen the sound. there is motion trying to milk out emotion for art and commerce. but if i never commit to a purpose there will never be a purpose. 

never be fooled. this is art. everything should mean something. this is commerce. everything has a motive

3. words. write more. and more. turn the ink to blood and force it to life. writing can be beautiful and ephemeral and romantic. but at some point. you have to take it into the dirt. this is the most violent of parts. editing. the manual labor. 

4. all of this takes time. time. time. put this into perspective. we will be ready when were ready. but this time i see everything different. this time. 

So where do i start? Jaime is wrapping up the sounds. I write when I can. And the visuals?

find a theme or narrative in the music. not both. thread the idea or the story. the images can not suffer a lack of purpose. everything should be for theme or narrative. emotion and story. this is not too different from fiction writing. not too different from music. not too different from poetry. you find the story and bring it out. the medium is only a toolkit for shaping the how. the stories are the what, and the why.

if this doesn't make sense. you can ask me. but mostly this is just to get my mind right as i move forward. i think ill get back to writing more here.


ps. as always like, share, subscribe and if you want to talk you can reach me on this blog, youtubefacebook, twitter, and now my website

Feb 24, 2017

Quick Update: Still Alive

Still Alive

New baby is here! More than a little tired. But writing is going exceptionally well. Poems, 2nd Novel. Working on a website soon... was thinking of starting a novel on here... but i have so many ideas... 

My brothers are working on a new mix of our Idyll Green songs.
until I get things more together, here is a poem I've been working on...


There is no
city when every
thing is apart
brother. from brother.
hiding side-streets. vagrant breaks
like bottle shards
to flicker in early morning
flames. licked red. for any /see 
comfort we give th'least of us.
being known by our charity. is being Human.

There is no 
city when all
fall by the dividing
lines and walls.
neighbor. against neighbor.
till we are the worst desert to cross.
with no kindness to shadows. suffering
with no warmth to their foot
cold among the cheap cruelty of words.
cruelest. who see / an' know better

an' stay. silent. 


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Jan 5, 2017

Morning. Unwanted pt 5 (a hymn of forgetting)

It started with my eyes.

Darting calmly between the soft, pink floor mat and the florescent light above. Half of my face buried drooling in cotton-shag. Lost in whatever stupor I had fallen into. 

I had lost the hour, when finally the bloodlines around my irises stopped throbbing in a wave of calm.

Coolness ran across my forehead like the gentle massage of loving fingers expanding through my face.

The touch, long and delicate reached back through my brain. Scratching, soothing down the cracks of my spine, across my shoulders.


Heavenly light. I could feel her. Across the country. I haven't known too many touches like this...

I felt still.
a relaxed feeling 
I've hadn't felt in how long? ... 
have I ever felt this calm?
how do I describe freedom of sadness? 
to be relieved of my knowing?

I looked down at the pink bath mat. As every molecule was cut from its gravity and I was lifted up. Off the floor away from the white tiles. Detached. Forgetting anything that held me to the ground. 

My right hand rose away from me, and like I was turning over in air to the ceiling than back to the floor as my legs hit the light fixture. My spine rolled up to meet it until I was lying flat against the ceiling looking down to the body below. 

There was music for him. Around me. Music for them. I heard the strum. And hymn of forgetting. The music of the stars.

And felt no fear for him. Always to be the face in the water... knowing what I am, and finally forgiving him... there that was a genuine smile.

to be cont.


ps. as always like, share, subscribe and if you want to talk you can reach me on this blog, youtubefacebook and twitter

mood: Vivaldi: La Follia

  • Sonata in D Minor, Op. 1, No. 12, RV. 63, 'La Follia': I. Adagio (feat. Giovanni Antonini)" by Il Giardino Armonico