Author Archives: Alexis-Rueal

About Alexis-Rueal

I am a Poet. I ballroom dance, and I crochet. I own a Goldendoodle. I love pizza, ice cream, Star Trek, Doctor Who, and my husband. The rest are just details.
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Information on an Anthology I’ve been published in

“Buzzkill: An End of the World Anthology” from NightBallet Press has just been published. I’m published in this along with my friend Ed Plunkett and others. As the title states, all of the pieces (art, fiction, poetry) discuss various aspects of the end of the world. The title of my piece is “And At the End of the World.” Ed’s piece is called “The Luckiest Ones.”

Information on ordering is on the website.

Many thanks to NightBallet Press and its editor, Dianne Borsenik.

First iWPS slam of the season, crocheting and back to shadowcast love…

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Well, the first slam of iWPS season was put in the books last week. There were seven of us performing. I drew fourth slot, which I was fine with. My three minute piece was called “Where I Come From,” talking about my moves when I was little. A good piece… one I had been wanting to write for quite a few years. It ended up with a 28.3. Scored me for fourth for the round. My friend, Ed, gave a rousing poem about the insane sex scene from the worst poet movie ever, “Street Poet,” He ended up in the lead after round one.

The second, two minute round, had me changing my pieces around. I opted for one of my more popular pieces, “The Mammary Way.” (yes… it’s about THOSE)  Ended up with a 28.7 for that one. I was quite satisfied with two 28+ scores. There were a lot of 29s given to the other poets, and Ed ended up winning the night (his first win since ’09) and Rose came in second (that woman can spin straw into gold). I ended up third. We all received points toward the Grand Slam to see who is representing Writer’s Block at iWPS.

I was surprised with the result. I’ve never scored points so early in a season. Rose said she’s seeing more confidence in me. To be honest, I feel more confident. I trust my stories and  performances more. Feels pretty good.

After that, though, I took a break. Wrote one poem about my name and worked on my crochet. I’m creating a new doily for my side table. I want to eventually make a runner for the coffee table, but I’ll be happy with the smaller doily, right now. It’s been fun getting back into the swing of crochet. It’s good to have a couple of different creative outlets– keeps the mind sharp.

Here’s a picture of the piece in progress…

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I still have a border to figure out, but I think I know where I want to go with this. And, no, I don’t use a pattern. I rarely use patterns for doilies, anymore. I enjoy the problem solving aspects of creating a new pattern.

And, as if my life isn’t crazy enough, I’m back to shadowcasting, now. Sunday is the first rehearsal for The Midnight Shift’s performance of “Army of Darkness.” I’ll be playing Evil Sheila. I even convinced the mister to play a deadite. Fun times.

So, yeah… that’s me this past week. Going to see Jon Sands perform at WB tomorrow… and hopefully get inspired for some new pieces for next week’s slam. We’ll see what happens.

New Slam Season… and the travesty that is “Street Poet”

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New slam season starts tonight at Writer’s Block. Individual World Poetry Slam prelims. This was the season I started out with last year… the one year anniversary of my slam adventure.

I admit, it’s had its ups and downs. I love performing. I love putting myself out there for people. I love hearing the different stories everyone brings to the table. I love the “So what!” scream and the “Fuck the time!”

I hated not placing well, though. I hate that it feels like I started this adventure so late.. though, really, not late at all. I hated not being able to go to the national events and be a part of the performances… and I hated that I felt that way.

But this year. This season… I’m turning over a new leaf. Performing what I want to perform– not what I THINK people want me to perform, and pretty much not giving a damn about the scores. I figure, I’ll either win to get in… or I’ll storm an event. Other people do it. Why can’t I. I just need to use these events to make myself a better performer, a better poet… and to have fun, dammit! Poetry is supposed to bring me joy. Creating is supposed to bring me joy. Letting myself get stressed out about the slams takes away that joy. I will not let that happen, anymore.

Speaking of slams…

I, and around 10 fellow poets from Writer’s Block all met at the library Saturday for a showing of the 2010 *ahem* movie “Street Poet.” SP is the SECOND title for this movie– the first being “Fighting Words”… from 2007. Yes, this movie was so bad that they had to re-issue it three years later with a different title. We sat and had pizza and snacks and watched this travesty and gave it our best Riff Trax treatment whilst also playing Slam Bingo. Every cliche we could think of we put on our bingo sheets and marked them off as we saw them. I won. Damn straight!

As to the movie. Wow. It was bad. It had C. Thomas Howell as a hipster sell-out poet with the world’s worst soul patch. It had a bunch of no-name actors portraying poets and publicists… and it had Fred Willard as a Marc Smith-lite version of a Slam Host… the slam being the “Poetron Slam.” No, there were no neon lit spandex suits worn during the making of this movie. If so, the movie might have been better. Maybe.

There was just about every conceivable stereotype concerning poets in this movie; everything from the drunk poet using his poetry to try to pay the rent to “I just want people to hear my words.” Ugh. There was (get this) a poet with a shoe endorsement deal (C. Thomas Howell’s character… that shit was funny). That literally had jaws dropping in the room.

Oh, yeah… we in the room believed that this movie took place in the 2000’s, but you didn’t find one poet using a computer, and there was mention of “floppy disks” in one of the poems. That one left us scratching our heads.

And if the general poetry cliches and inaccuracies weren’t bad enough, there were the world’s most awkward sex scenes in this movie (the most up-front way anyone in cinema has told another person that they were HIV positive AND later the most dramatic unsheathing of a condom ever. EVER.), and the oddest poetry slam ever created. And not one damn snap! Not one! AND they used props during the slam. The hell!

I could literally go on and on about this movie… but I will spare you. Needless to say, this movie should be buried in a pit. A pit of poetic despair, never to be seen from again, along with C. Thomas Howell’s soul patch.

It was such a bad movie, one of the poets in attendance said “If this is how people see us, I’m out.” We all kinda felt that way. About halfway through the movie, he left. Couldn’t handle it. We don’t blame him.

So, if you’re at a Redbox or on Netflix and you see “Street Poet,” do yourself a favor… search for “Slam Nation,” instead.

Columbus Arts Fest and the after effects (pt. 2)

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Okay, I promised a part two to this… so here I am.

Not only was this past weekend the Columbus Arts Festival, it was also the Rustbelt Poetry Slam. Teams from all over the midwest came to Columbus to compete for a team and individual title. I didn’t get to go, as I was preparing for Arts Fest– and, let’s be honest– trying to balance my life in the process.

From what I have read on Facebook and seen on YouTube, there were some fire hot performances. To cap it off, the Writer’s Block team won the team competition.  That was amazing to hear and I was quite proud of them. And, a little envious.

Oh, envy…. green-eyed beast. Sitting over my shoulder, watching the performances on YouTube, reading post after post celebrating each others’ work, that beast almost took the wind out of my sails for the weekend. Almost made me feel that Arts Fest was second class or something. Made me feel like there was a part of me that STILL doesn’t belong in the poetry community. Made me wonder what is still wrong with my poetry that it doesn’t belong in this upper echelon of regional and national performance. Kept whispering in my ear, “why aren’t you like them?”

I really hate that part of myself.

I listen to performances, read the responses about it giving people chills, being genius, having “arrived” and I wonder if I will ever have that skill. Be able to move people that much. And those were the questions that lingered for a couple of days after the Festival.

Until today.

I remembered going to see a friend perform last Friday night. He didn’t see me in the audience until a little over half-way through his show. He finally saw me and said hi. He then asked me if I still perform “Pockets”– a poem I wrote two summers ago. He said he “hearted the Pockets poem a lot.”

And then at Arts Fest, a woman telling her friend that I was the one who “wrote a poem about doing it in the garage.”  She was a fan of that one.

And, of course, remembering that I worked DAMN HARD to make it to Arts Fest! They don’t take everyone, and it’s an absolute HONOR to be there and be a top three finisher, to boot! Just making it to Arts Fest was one of my goals when I first moved to Columbus a year ago. To make it AND place in the top 3… it leaves me jubilant and humble.

What did I learn from these memories?  My poems DO live. They take on little lives of their own and make their little mark on that woven tapestry of memory. And that’s pretty cool.  And I’ll take it, and keep on writing and performing. Hopefully, I can keep writing and performing pieces that will entertain people, periodically.

So now, dear readers,  I deal with burn out. I’m tired, peeps! Work and poetry and still getting settled in with the mister. I took a couple of months off f from shadowcasting, but I think I am going to have to cut down even more. I love shadowcasting, but I can’t do two casts… that’s two shows a month plus rehearsals. I can’t do that if I want my primary focus to be on improving my poetry.  This means that there are some hard choices coming; but it’s best to cut back than burn out on everything.  Damn responsibility.

I am taking a couple days off from writing. Might crochet this week. Might just read. Might just sleep. But next week,oh, I’ll be getting back into the swing of things, and the world better watch out. I still have stuff to say! My story isn’t over, yet.

 

Columbus Arts Fest and the after effects… (pt. 1)

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Part one of my recap of Columbus Arts Fest and my recuperation/ thoughts on the future…

It took me a couple of days to get over the beauty that was Columbus Arts Fest down at the Riverfront. It was my first time really visiting and getting to know the area. They’ve finished a couple of new parks, walking areas, a new stage– all of which are beautiful. And I got to be a part of it all.

If you don’t know much about CAF, it has a slew of artists, musicians, and yes, poets from across the nation (though, to be specific, the poets were all Ohio). There is almost every art form imaginable on display and for sale, and it is a wonderful way to get a taste of the Columbus art scene. The mister and I bought our first piece of art together– a print from an artist named Sooro Kim. The picture on his artist info page is the print we bought. It hangs next to our front door. now.

The Ohio Magazine Word Is Art Stage was at the entrance to the Festival. We got people coming and going, and it was great. People would turn their heads, stop and listen as the poets were performing. One of the volunteers told me that during my piece “Her Hips,” the people would keep turning as I repeated the phrase throughout the performance. He asked, “what is it about hips?” I could have gone on FOR YEARS.

The performances that I saw… amazing. I didn’t catch many because my mister and I wanted to do a little walking and exploring. Bless my mister; he enjoys poetry performances,  but he needs a break, periodically. I work with him.

But back to the performances:

The second runner-up, Rose Smith enthralled the audience. She has a masterful way of telling a story, describing a scene, and, honestly, I could listen to her all day long. The winner of the Arts Fest competition, Joanna Schroeder, amazed. She has a very unique take on the world, and it is reflected in her poetry. She also has a commanding stage presence, and it showed. I was impressed, indeed.

My performance? I enjoyed myself, from my signature piece “They Called Me,” to my newer formed pieces such as my Ghazal “Tonight” and “Her Hips,” I tried to give them every spark I had. It felt good. My mister said I had a very good command of the stage during my feature, which pleased me to no extent. That was my first major feature, and I wanted to have a nice ebb and flow to it.

The nicest thing about the performance, quite a few people I truly care about were there. Ed and Scott were running the stage– and Ed introduced me, which was a very nice moment. He and his wife were two of my first friends I made when I started going to Writer’s Block. They both mean a lot to me.

And, besides my mister, MY BROTHER showed up. I had never before performed in front of blood relatives. That really meant a lot to be able to see him and his friend in the audience. And he recorded it… I STILL need to get that video.

Anyway, here is a photo of myself, Rose and Joanna. I had to make sure I got a picture of the three of us together. Such a good memory to keep.

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From left to right: Rose, Joanna and myself.

After the features, there was a Slam hosted by Scott (Woods, awesome poet… former President of Poetry Slam, Inc.). Myself and three gents. It was all in good fun and featured two rounds of poetry and a haiku round. The audience scored. And there were some interesting scores. I ended up last. A big, teddy bear of a poet, Brandon, won the night. It was well earned, and a lot of fun.

Sunday, I performed three pieces with The Secrets of Oshun. My friends, Vernell, Izetta and Tiffani are members of the group, and all had great performances throughout the hour. It was a good cap to the weekend.

To be continued…

Damn Straight Social Media Dictates My Self Worth! (Draft of a piece I am working on)

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I admit it:  I count “likes” on Facebook. I wait with bated breath for that little red number to pop up at the top of my screen. Merry Christmas, schmuck!  SOMEONE, SOMEWHERE likes what I have to say and WANTS to respond!

SHIT.

No they don’t.  Like the last kid picked at Dodge Ball, the numbers show that these are responses to some other person’s post. Someone else garnering the Likes and Shares that I crave like chocolate.

“WHY?!,” I cry to the social media gods.  “Am I not witty enough? Not insightful enough? ARE YOU NOT ENTERTAINED?!?! ”

I want “Liked.”  I want winked at. I want followed, tweeted, tagged, pinned, poked, tumbled and shared. If you didn’t know me, you’d think I wanted laid. Hell, that’s easy. I just want to be KNOWN.

When you think of social media darlings, I want you to think of me. I want to start the Cat Meme known through out the world. I want my witticisms to cut through walls like a laser. I want my twitters to tweet loud and long  I want the contents of my cybersoul pinned to my shirt sleeve. I WANT to be VIRAL. I want to know that when I look into a mirror, someone is looking back who everybody KNOWS.

Not remembered. I don’t care about remembered. Etching myself into memory takes work. Take repetition and time. Takes doing a lot of little things like listening, conversing, spending time with people who might actually want to spend time with me. It’s slow. It’s tedious.  Far easier to be known and Googled later.

I just want to be known, now, in the click of a send button. I don’t really care if I am loved. I just want to be “Liked.”

The Deadly Sins of Dieting (From a Rachel McKibbens Prompt)

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I don’t typically publish my poems online; but every once in awhile, I like to share. This is based off of a Rachel McKibbens prompt she gave during last month’s NaPoMO 30/30. It was to write a series of vignettes based on the seven Deadly Sins. This is my take on it. Hope you enjoy.

 

I.

The magazines pile up.

A dozen different diets and

the same slim bodies on the covers.

Same hourglass waist, same

tan, tones muscles.

Same self-satisfied smile.

I call bullshit on the “Lose 8 pounds

a week while dieting only 2 days!”

I wonder what I need get at the store to start that?

I look for my last pair of fat jeans.

 

II.

That bitch in front of me has to be

a size-Motherfucking-2.

And eating Twinkies.

I’ll fucking show her what she can do with those

Goddamn twinkies!

She’ll wish she were Tallahassee with an ass load of Zombies

ready to chew after I shove an entire box in her pie-hole!

AND a Dr. Pepper!

FUCK!

 

If ever I wanted someone to get a sugar-coma–

If ever I wanted to run somebody down with a Hostess

Truck– just for the irony–

If I ever wanted to find Richard-fucking-Simmons

and yell “YOU’RE WRONG YOU MANOREXIC LITTLE BASTARD!”

It’s right now.

I want a fucking twinkie.

 

III.

I want twinkies AND ice cream.

Butter Pecan.

I want a pizza tonight.

I want to use my Belly Dancing workout DVD

as a coaster for my Yoo-Hoo.

I want to Google the recipe for deep-fried twinkies–

I just  know you can make those at home.

I want an extra large pizza–

pepperoni and onion.

I want the fancy butter pecan ice cream.

 

IV.

I really don’t want to clean the vomit off the floor.

Damn, that’s a lot of twinkie wrappers.

How many pieces of pizza are left?

Oh… now I know why I have to clean vomit up off the floor.

Time to crawl into bed.

 

V.

You know what? No, I’m not a size nuthin,

but I don’t have to eat my knuckles after eating

a sandwich.

Society cares too much about looks,

they should respect… my MIND.

I don’t care if I lose any more weight.

And if people don’t want to look at me–

fuck ’em.

I’m happy.

Yes.

And I won’t stop being happy, either.

 

VI.

Shit, son! Two pounds lost!

Damn, I can buy that new blouse,

but I’m going to need a new skirt, too…

A-Line. Or maybe dressy little peddle pushers and sandals.

Ooh… maybe some LINGERIE.

Hell, it’s got to be raining somewhere,

I wonder how much is in my savings account?

 

VII.

Hey, baby.

Yes, this is new lingerie.

No, I wasn’t expecting to keep it on for long.

Honey, can I be on top?

I hear it burns more calories.

 

Recap of Writer’s Block All-Nighter and Other Goings on

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I know, I haven’t been on for a little while. Life gets busy, ya know? But I’m here, now, so let’s chat.

Friday night was my 15 minute feature at the Writer’s Block All Nighter at Kafe Kerouac. I went on after my friend, poet Ed Plunkett. He always brings amazing work to the table. So funny. I wish I could write more funny. When the mood hits, maybe…

My feature, it went well. I performed a few of my 30/30 pieces from this past National Poetry Month. I performed a couple of pieces I had just written within the past three days before. And a couple older pieces, including my title piece from my first chapbook (to be published in early 2013… don’t worry, I’ll keep reminding you.) It felt, good, but I do need to start rehearsing some out loud readings again. I don’t want a shaky voice. Time to get in front of the mirror!

I finally got to meet a facebook friend at the All-Nighter. A wonderful young poet named Ben Ditmars. He read from his book, “Night Poems,” and did a very nice job.

I wish I could have stayed longer, but between last year (when I DID stay all night) and this year, I moved in with my life-parrtner (the Mister, we will call him). The Mister does NOT stay up late often. And, on top of that, I ended up with a migraine. Fail. Had to go back home.

Saturday, I did make a return for a Haiku death match. We had 6 poets and two rounds before they started eliminating people. Yeah, it didn’t go so well Saturday. I just wasn’t in my haiku groove. But it was fun… and FUNNY. Two out of three judges had been there overnight, and they were slap-happy. This was a good learning experience, though… haiku about masturbation go a looooong way in a death match. 😉

It was a really good show, Vernell Bristow was an outstanding host and is making a wonderful coach/member of this year’s team. They ended up making 600.00 toward their funding to Charlotte.

If you wish to donate to help these remarkable poets (Vernell, Hanif Abdurraqib, Rose Smith and Gina Blaurock) get to Charlotte, please feel free to donate here: http://writersblockpoetry.rewritingovid.net/DonateToThe2012NPSTeam.php

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On other topics, time to really hunker down and get Arts Fest preparations underway. I really want some new poems for Arts Fest. I have starts, just have to get in there and work them around. I really want to start up my crocheting again, too, though. Been itching to make some runners, etc. for my living room set. I’ll fit in. Somehow. I do know that I have to cut back on some things. I have been too tired, lately. I don’t want to burn out on life. Need to prioritize my need to do’s and want to do’s. I love to stay busy, but I have to have that calm time, too. Just every now and again.

Performance updates for the rest of May and early June… and an apology.

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Hot diggity, ladies and gents.  Had the BIGGEST surprise this week.  They finally posted the Columbus Arts Fest schedule and I found out that I placed SECOND in the overall competition. That means a 40 minute set on June 2nd at the Word is Art Stage. I go on right after one of my poetry idols, the great Rose Smith, who placed third and gets a 35 minute feature; and right before the winner of the Arts Fest competition, Joanna Schroeder, who will have a 50 minute feature.

Before that, though, I still have my 15 minute feature on Friday the 18th, for the Writer’s Block all -nighter; and it looks like I will be part of a haiku deathmatch on Saturday, the 19th. Gotta school me some folks. 😉

It’s amazing, this past year in Columbus. I remember talking to a friend (friend, teacher, slammaster, poet extraordinaire), and telling him that I had three main goals for my first couple years or so in Columbus: 1. Continue to get published. 2. Make Arts Fest. 3. Make a National Slam Event within two years.

What can I say? Two out of three in the first year isn’t too shabby. I still have work to do Slam-wise.

As to Slamming…

I pretty much had a mini-breakdown after the Grand Slam for the National Team in mid-April.  I came in last. Some outstanding poets (Vernell Bristow, Hanif Abdurraqib, Gina Blaurock and Rose Smith) made the team and will represent Writer’s Block very well in Charlotte this year.  But I admit, fully, that I did not handle coming in last well.

I was tired. I was grumpy. I was fed up with coming in last or near last A LOT.  And so I grumbled. I doubted myself. I wondered if poetry was my thing after all. I alienated people. I ended up weepy and whiny.

And I’m sorry for it.

I try to be the “noble” poet, doing it for the art, etc. You know, that old chestnut. But I admit, I’m human… and sometimes my humanity overwhelms my nobility.  I really wanted to make that team. I wanted to make top 4, EARN my way to the team– NOT beat other people… I don’t think of it that way. I love these people too much to think that way.  I just wanted to be a part of something big and remarkable. And it really stung to know I have to wait another year to try again.  I have spent a lot of time waiting in my life… especially during my marriage.  It just really sucked the life out of me for about a week after the slam, and I wasn’t a good human being. And I really didn’t love poetry for awhile.  I tell you,  I wish I could take it back.

But, I learned that I have to get better. I learned that Imma gonna have to work HARD–especially going up against these poets here in Columbus. I have to make my language rock hard and razor sharp. And I have to learn to enjoy it again. I have to write for me again.  And I have to please myself with my words first and foremost. I won’t please anyone else if I don’t do that.

So, I am set to write this weekend. Formed poetry, free verse, it doesn’t matter. I just want to write.  Create something new and (hopefully) eloquent. And I want to have fun. And I will.

Some prompts I have been working on (feel free to pilfer)

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Been thinking of some new things to write about. I have oodles of starts and ideas, but I am always adding to them depending on what’s going on in my life.

1. Write about a life’s dream that didn’t come true. At least, not yet, anyway. What is it? How long have you had it? Why hasn’t it come true, yet? Do you think it will?

2.  I write a “poet and her muse” series. Have about three or four at the moment.  Do you believe you have a muse? What’s your relationship like with it?  If you don’t have a muse… write about that. Why are muse lovers goofy? Have fun with it. Personify your muse, put it in wild scenarios.

OR… if you’re looking for a muse… write a want ad for a muse. What qualifications are you looking for?

3. “Write a painting”  Painter Karen Snouffer painted an entire series based off of poet Fred Andrles’ work.  So, what type of poem would you have painted? Write the story of a painting. Paint with your pen.

4. Number poem. Tell a story with numbers.