Readings, more readings, and how much I love readings

All right. I’m bubbling down from my I SAW LORDE AND MITSKI LIVE LAST NIGHT euphoria to write a sort of March update—although first, really quick—

I SAW LORDE AND MITSKI LIVE LAST NIGHT!!!!!!

Mitski is one of my absolute role models in so many ways, and I basically fainted when she played “Townie”. She is a rock star in every sense of those two words. And Lorde was so genuinely amazing and talented and kind, and the fact that she talked about writing and played “Writer in the Dark” is enough to power me through at least a thousand words today.

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That photo is of Mitski, rocking her own heart out and mine.

Anyway—that soul-enlivening, fulfilling, overwhelming concert was only the most recent in a long string of cool events I’ve gone to this month! Luckily for this writing-related blog, most of them have been readings.

The first event I went to was with TOMI ADEYEMI!!! (And yeah, I was basically as excited to see her as I was to see Lorde and Mitski.)

A couple of Saturdays ago, my friend and I spent the entire day in Barnes & Noble, reading Children of Blood and Bone (which has now reached its third—I think?—consecutive week at the top of the NYT Bestseller List). I’d never done this before, and it was weirdly a lot of fun. If you have anyone you can do that with, I’d definitely recommend it—you can pick out a book you’re both excited about and sit in the Starbucks for hours, drinking hot chocolate and stopping every once in a while to freak out when something exciting has happened.

Then we drove to Detroit, where we got to hear Tomi speak a little and read an excerpt from the book. We also got to meet her briefly, and she signed our books and even took a picture with us!!! Here it is:

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I don’t think a day will ever come when I won’t smile when I look at this picture. Tomi Adeyemi is such an inspiration—she makes me want to keep writing all of the time and to dedicate myself to my ideas, even though seeing them through is a lot of hard work. I would highly recommend checking out her website because she posts a ton of helpful writing advice. (Plus, she was seriously just so nice.) I wrote an article about the event here for the Daily in case you’d like to hear me geek out about her a little more.

More recently, I went to an event that was a lot smaller but still very exciting: the annual Caldwell Poetry Competition performance through U of M’s Lloyd Hall Scholars Program. I think I’ve said before here that LHSP played a big part in helping me find a community and a lot of avenues for writing and the arts when I first got to college, and this was my third year participating in Caldwell. There’s a written category and a performance category; written poetry is definitely where I feel more comfortable, but I entered the performance contest too, because why not, right? Performing scares me a little, and I think doing things that scare you is good.

Last year, I did an interpretation of “Pretty,” by Katie Makkai, which is a poem I’ve loved deeply since high school. This year I did “B (If I Should Have a Daughter),” by the wonderful Sarah Kay. I won’t lie—my performance last year was a lot better, I think because I was a lot more passionate about that poem. But even though I didn’t do very well personally this year, I’m still so glad I got to go, because it gave me the chance to hear so many talented people performing both original and interpreted work. This year was definitely the all-around strongest Caldwell competition I’ve ever attended (even though we had a surprise evacuation in the middle after a fire alarm was pulled). It went on for about two hours and I wasn’t bored for any of it.

This year, I’d like to try writing a little spoken word poetry. Just as an experiment—I know it’s not my forte, but I wrote a little of my own in high school, and I remember it giving me this great feeling of release. I wasn’t just sharing my words with the world, I was showing the world what they meant with my voice, with my body. That’s not an opportunity I give myself very often. Poetry in general is difficult for me, let alone a type of poetry that’s meant to be performed—but I’d still like to try it, for the sense of ownership and confidence that I know it offers when you can pull it off successfully. Plus, I think poetry is just a fun community to engage with in general. I love the exchange of ideas and the bold sharing that happens at events like this.

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Finally, last Sunday, I attended the annual reading of the Prison Creative Arts Project’s literary journal, The Michigan Review of Prisoner Creative Writing. This is my third year involved with the lit review, and my first working as one of the assistant editors, so I got to help out a lot with organizing the event. To be involved with this was such a privilege, and I was glad for the chance to hear so many great pieces read aloud. This is the lit review’s 10-year anniversary, so we published a “Greatest Hits” compilation, and we also had a bunch of signs and flyers individually designed and handmade by Sierra Brown, like the beautiful poster above.

All right, I think that’s pretty much all of the amazing things I’ve had the opportunity to attend lately. Engage with the arts! Attend local readings!!! They’re basically always free, and they offer such a great chance to meet other writers and readers and to get a look at what other people are working on and experimenting with.

(And listen to Mitski!!)

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Original song with my friend Clarissa

I just wrote a new post the other day, but I’m back!

I’m in Portland right now, but I just got to spend a week at home in Bloomington. I love love love Bloomington and it always makes me happy to go home, and one of the best times for going home is over the holidays because old friends of mine are usually home then, too!

My friend Clarissa and I used our together-time last week to write a song together, a new experience for me which was really fun and which I hope to someday do again. Our song is called “Home Alone” but it also goes by “Theory #78,” “Laura and Clarissa’s Emo Song,” “Clarissa and Laura’s Emo Song,” or maybe just “Winter Song” (?), because we couldn’t pick.

Anyway, I just posted it on YouTube. We also videotaped ourselves shopping at Krogucci (the good Kroger) and making peppermint bark, which maybe I will get around to editing into a music video sometime soon because I’d like to try developing some video skills (LOL) (we’ll see).

But in the meantime, here is the video of us playing “Home Alone” et al.! Enjoy!

HALLOWEEN SONGS!

It’s been sort of a while since I’ve posted something, so I’ve got TWO SCARY SONGS here, and this is sooo writing-unrelated because I didn’t even write either of these songs myself, but anyway, they’re both scary and creepy, so here they are.

This is a cover of “Little Red Riding Hood” by Sam the Sham and the Pharaohs. (Amanda Seyfried did a semi-popular cover of it and that was the first version I ever heard, so that ‘s why it’s labeled with her name.) I performed it at my house’s open mic a couple of weeks ago, and my friend and housemate Qianru was awesome enough to record it!

This one is a cover of “Shankill Butchers” by The Decemberists. The way I originally heard this song had some of the words changed, and it was sort of difficult for me to try to sing them here, the way they were originally written, without reverting back to that.

I have written a couple of scary songs on my own, but I’m not going to post either of them here or anywhere, at least not anytime soon. (One is about the Salem witch trials, and it’s okay but it’s definitely not finished yet; the other is a rewriting of “Pirate Jenny” from The Threepenny Opera, and like the original, it’s pretty extreme.)

So those are my Halloween songs! Two days late, but all the same, happy Halloween!!!!!

Nashville Summer (original song)

Here’s another song of mine! This was only the first or second one I ever wrote, so I’m aware of how cheesy the lyrics are and I apologize. I guess that’s what being a freshman in college does to a person.

Also, fun fact, this song is not about the Nashville you’re probably thinking of.

Next Time (original song)

I’m finally starting the process of posting some of my original songs on YouTube (which thankfully makes this a lot more relevant for this blog)!

This song I actually recorded a while ago, and then never uploaded it because the guitar sounded really soft and I wanted to try redoing it. But yesterday I decided I was just going to be lazy about it and upload it as it was! So here it is!

Bury Me Under the Weeping Willow (The Carter Family cover)

So this doesn’t even have to do with writing! I didn’t even write it! But here it is anyway. I started watching the new American Epic documentary yesterday and it’s got me in the mood for folk music. Who knew The Carter Family was/is so cool?? (Or maybe I was the only one who didn’t?)

Anyway, apologies also for the end of this video — my computer logged me out while I was recording and I had to log back in. But here it is, enjoy!

Mama You Been On My Mind (Bob Dylan cover)

This is a cover I recorded a couple of days ago when I was home for winter break! This is one of my favorite Bob Dylan songs, and I actually fell in love with it all over again recently when I discovered George Harrison’s version on his album Early Takes Vol 1 — which, by the way, everybody should check out if they haven’t already. Also, the sound quality here is terrible, so I will probably just take this down at some point and redo it. But here it is anyway!