12.14.2020

Around the time my sister left for Los Angeles to visit my older sister last month, was when she started feeling unwell - feelings of dizziness, constant fatigue, and a fever that was getting higher. I was getting worried, and it got worse when my sisters came back from California when she got the results. Seeing my mother isolated somewhere far away, succumbing to a ubiquitous disease with a cure that hadn't existed yet, skyrocketed the anxiety that already keeps me up at night. My mother having COVID was one of the worse experiences I've had so far this year. 




My mother works as an assisted-living nurse: she cares for the elderly in a senior home or assists them in their residence. The elderly tend to be high risk, being more susceptible to the virus because of pre-existing conditions. And so, like my father who is a nurse, she's a frontliner who is risking her safety to ensure the care of others. Like my father, she's brave for stepping forward and contributing to fight back in this deadly pandemic. 

The spread of the virus in Florida is worse, the death tolls and cases climbing up the charts once again and titling Florida as the hot-spot of COVID. Unlike many states, Florida is amongst one of the other states with no mandatory mask regulations, and Gov. DeSantis has reopened all businesses. It's sometimes difficult for me to go outside where I sometimes see people walking around with no masks, nor social distancing as if there's nothing to worry about - I've never felt uncomfortable or unsafe. 

This fear and anxiety I had peaked when my dad sat my sisters and I down to tell us my mother was tested positive. It was heart wrenching news to hear, especially knowing my mother has high blood pressure. But my dad is a fantastic medic and knew exactly what to do to prevent the virus settling down our house and being spread to us. 

For 2 and a half weeks, my mother quarantined in one of my aunt's uninhabited house a few minutes away from us. My dad went through a rigorous routine to prevent the spread – he placed a small table outside the room she slept in which kept a big bottle of hand sanitizer, a box of disposable masks, and a pair of lab goggles to protect the eyes. He only stepped into the room to feed her or giver water, to take her temperature, and then measure her blood sugar with a sphygmomanometer. He always encouraged my sisters and I constant hand-washing and avoiding going outside as much as possible unless we needed groceries, as well as taking vitamins C to strengthen our immune system. 

It was a difficult month to go through. I was constantly worried the virus was going to win, but my mother is strong. She fought hard and she survived. 

Just because my mother survived the virus and became better, it still does not mean it should be treated lightly. This virus has taken millions of lives, not just in the U.S. but around the globe. This upcoming holiday, I know that it will be a difficult and unprecedented time to celebrate with your family and I know most of us are already over this, but please think of their safety and lives. WE ARE STILL IN A PANDEMIC. A trip to the bar, or a crowded ice rink or a Christmas party is not worth the loss of a life. 

I wish you all a happy and safe holidays – whatever you celebrate this month, please remember to be responsible and take care of yourself! 

12.05.2020

Since reading Shakespeare in secondary school, and briefly touching upon the war poems of Siegfried Sassoon and Wilfred Owen, the seed of my love for poetry was soiled. But it didn't grow the same way that my love for books grew. I've since been following Instagram-famous poets such as Atticus, Rupi Kaur, and r.h.sin, and as much as I read and adore some of their poetry, I sometimes think to myself is this considered "real" poetry?



What is considered "real poetry" anyway? Poetry is art through language and, like many other art forms we know of, there's no real meaning, real purpose, real anything. It is simply a unique and creative creation that we make and we enjoy – and since everyone is unique in their own way (differing opinions, experiences, and perspectives on life), everyone has a different understanding of what is considered "art". So, in truth, there really is nothing in this world that would finitely define what "real poetry" is. 


For me, what I consider "real poetry" is something that takes me into another world or through an experience. Like how when I'm reading a book, I'm immersed in that universe through the imagery and language: the distinct voices and traits of the characters, the rich narration, and vividness of the descriptions. Poetry that is able to do that, and sound like a song sung from the tongue, is what I consider "real poetry". 


However, the poets like the ones I mentioned – Rupi Kaur, r.h. sin, Atticus, as well as Nikita Gill and Courtney Peppernell – all produce poetry that seem generic. Ones that follow the same themes and motifs of self-love and terrible relationships and heartbreak, or - even worse, imo - going into the "manic pixie dreamgirl" where it's like "she used to drink the wine / like how she used to love me" or something like that (basically anything by Atticus). From what I've read in their aesthetic looking poetry books and beautifully designed Instagram posts, they all seem to use the same recycled words of "she", "love", "drug", etc. and follow the same pattern or "design frame". 


Poetry is one of the most beautiful art forms, and perhaps my favourite, but with the new wave of Insta-poets, I feel this art form has been filtered down into commercialized poetry


Commercialized poetry? How I see it, it's poems that are a short and quick read that is direct and objective so anyone can read it/be universally understood. To me, this goes against the subjectivity and poetic language that poetry is well known for; as pointed out by this article. I don't want to say that poetry is an academia (which I don't think it is), but Insta-poems have ruined the core and true artistic nature of poetry that I grew up learning about through Shakespeare, Sylvia Plath, and Emily Dickinson. 


I applaud Rupi Kaur and Atticus for pioneering this new wave of poets and bringing poetry to the mainstream media, making it as popular as it was before the age and evolution of technology. But the fact that poetry had to be dialed down into something more consumable for readers, rather than as the complex expression of the nature of the artist, just kind of shows that, really, there is a lack of appreciation for poetry. 


Maybe people have different ways of expressing themselves, but something that I noticed was how easy it was to create an Instagram handle, type a bunch of words about falling in love whilst drunk on a plain white background, and become an Insta-poet - this guy did it, and he did it successfully.  


I think that there are many other great poets who definitely deserve more recognition in the mainstream, some of which includes Solmaz Sharif (she wrote a fantastic collection of poems that played with fragmentation and white space), Eileen Myles, Mary Oliver, and Jericho Brown (whose collection of poems "The Tradition", won the Pulitzer Prize in literature). If you want to take a break from short, forward, and generic Insta-poems, I highly recommend looking into these poets! 


What are your thoughts on this topic? Do you think Insta-poets are too generic and commercialized? Or is it just a new way to express in poetry? 

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