Shoutout Saturday (My favourite slam poems)

Hey everyone! Happy Halloween! I hope you all are celebrating however you can within lockdown restrictions, and having a good time. This post has absolutely nothing to do with Halloween, but, um, here you go anyway. I hope you enjoy!

I remember my first open mic. I was twelve years old and, to be totally honest, I had no idea what I was doing. I’d just started writing poetry about five months before. I remember, my mom came home on day, and told me there was this article in the newspaper, about an open mic starting up in my area. I practised this poem that now, feels kind of awful, but back then was my absolute favourite thing in the world for days, polishing it to what at the time felt like perfection.

I didn’t expect people to like it. But they did. During a time of my life when I felt lost, and aimless, and alone, this room full of strangers cheered me on. I remember, this one lady pulled me aside, and she told me that I was going to make it, and gave me a hug. She was a total stranger, but it meant the world to me.

That was the moment I think I really fell in love with poetry. And, honestly, that night changed my life. I haven’t been to a poetry slam/open mic in a while, but I really miss it. I might go to an online one sometime, I don’t know–but for now, I thought I’d share with you my five favourite slam poems, that I come back to time and time again for inspiration.

“Explaining Depression to My Mother” by Sabrina Benaim

Sabrina Benaim is probably one of my favourite poets of all time, and to be honest, her work has gotten me through a lot of not-so-great mental places–and shaped my own style. (She has a Zoom open mic, and I really want to get up the courage to do it, but also, I have anxiety, and just keep putting it off.) I remember, I found this poem right after I’d done that first open mic, and I’d study it for hours, taking note of her delivery, and flow and whatnot. This poem isn’t perfect, and the way she delivers it feels very chaotic and a bit desperate–but I think that’s why it resonates so deeply. You can tell the poem comes from her heart, and that she’s being completely honest and vulnerable.

I hope that my blog can do the same thing that poem did for me, when I first heard it. I hope I can be part of an honest, intimate, and real conversation about mental health issues–and serve as some kind of reminder for the both of us, that things will get better.

Sabrina Benaim has a book too, if you like this poem! I’d highly recommend it; it’s called Depression and Other Magic Tricks and should be available anywhere books are sold.

“To This Day” by Shane Koyczan

This was another one of the poems I absolutely obsessed over back in the day. (A huge shoutout to my eighth grade English teacher, who had us listen to this piece for school–.)

As someone who experienced bullying in the past, and at the time was still processing that experience, this poem home. It made me feel heard, and safe, and understood, and it helped me deal.

Shane Koyczan just has this beautiful, strong voice. His poems are always heartfelt, honest, and real. He just has such an interesting, unique performing style. I don’t know how to describe it, but his work inspires me so much, and is, like, a lot of the reason I started this blog. (Also, the only reason I survived eighth grade.)

Anyhow, what I’m trying to get at here is, if you haven’t heard his work, you should check it out–it’s really good. 🙂

“One Side of an On-Going Dialogue with Sharon, my Therapist” by Desiree Dallagiacomo

This poem is so special to me. I love how it’s delivered; because every time I watch this video, it just pulls you in–makes you feel like you’re sitting down, and talking with a friend. I might not have personally experienced the things she describes, but I can’t help but feel her pain as my own–does that make sense? And that ability poetry has, to immerse you in someone else’s feelings, and allow you to safety feel and empathize–is something I love so much.

The delivery isn’t perfect in the typical sense, and the lines aren’t always “neat” or “clean”–but they’re real, and I think that more than having a perfect poem, that’s what matters. Desiree Dallagiacomo’s slam poems honestly have taught me so much about performing, she’s such a skilled poet.

“Anxiety: A Ghost Story” by Brenna Twohy

This poem is so brilliantly written. I don’t think I’ve ever seen anything quite like it. It starts off so lighthearted and funny, and then it hits you like a punch in the chest, with these raw, beautiful emotions. The flow, the metaphors… from an artistic standpoint alone, it’s gorgeous.

Not only that, but the poet understands exactly what the experience of anxiety is. If you’ve suffered from the condition, there’s no way this poem couldn’t resonate with you.

(Also, there really was something up with the kids in those Goosebumps books.)

“Anxiety Isn’t Cute” by Alyse

I love, love, love this poem–admittedly, I’m biased, since I don’t think it would his as close to home if you don’t have anxiety, but I’m pretty sure most of my audience struggles with some mental health issue or other, so I feel like most of you will understand this experience.

Maybe this is just my experience, but I think, it’s hard to struggle with a mental health issue and not experience someone—whether in real life or in the media—romanticizing your condition. And, eventually, you start to internalize it. This can look like wanting your symptoms to worsen, and making yourself feel worse on purpose, and not seeing your symptoms as all right, fine, even desirable despite the destruction they might cause in your life.

And whenever those habits rest their ugly head, I like to listen to this poem, as a reminder about how absolutely bullshit that is.


Okay! I think that’s enough geeking out about poetry for one night, but I hope you enjoyed, and that you’ll check these poets out. They inspire me so much, and, I don’t know, they all seem like really awesome, kind, strong people.

Over the past year, I’ve lost touch with the reason I fell in love with poetry, and writing in general. But I want to get it back–the kind of excitement I used to have, back when this was just something I did for fun, or to vent on a bad day, on the floor of my bedroom. And somehow, going back to my roots–to these people who I looked up to, two years ago, really helps.

I’ve been thinking about making a lot of changes to this blog of late–I think I’m going to change my URL, and edit the design a bit. I just feel like I’m entering a new phase of my life, and I want to grow, and change, and learn how to be brave again–and if I’m going to do those things, I need this blog to change with me. Does that make sense?

Lots of love,

dragonwritesthings

What I’ve been listening to + reading (Shoutout Saturday!)

The 12:37 | Listen via Stitcher for Podcasts

The 12:37

The 12:37 is one of those podcasts I got recommended to me at some point, and so then I added to my library on Spotify–but just never really got around to until a few weeks ago, when I finally got up to date with The Penumbra Podcast and was looking for something new to listen to. But I’m so glad I did.

It follows Nora, a twentysomething girl who accidentally boards a time-travelling train on her way home from work. But there’s a larger plan afoot, and also yet another evil corporation who is actually manipulating everyone, which I’m totally here for. There’s found family, and a really cute romance, and it’s just so good.

I really appreciate how depression is handled about, as well as taking medication for it. You can tell that there was a lot of care put into the way they wrote it, and as someone who takes meds, and experiences depression, it hits home. Also, the representation is amazing, and it makes me so happy! If you’re looking for diverse media, you really can’t beat podcasts.

Death by Dying | Listen via Stitcher for Podcasts

Death by Dying

I’ve probably said this before, but I love how you can listen to podcasts while doing other things. With a book or TV show, you have to pencil out a whole part of your day to watch/read, but podcasts can conveniently be listened to while I’m working, or while I’m on the bus, or doing schoolwork, or whatever. I listened to the entire first season of Death by Dying while I was doing some gardening for a client, and got ridiculously emotional as soon as I went home.

Death By Dying follows the tired obituary writer of Crestfall, Idaho, as he tells the stories of the recently departed, and investigates their lives. It has a similar vibe to Welcome to Night Vale, since they both take place in these absurd small towns–which, as someone who lives in an absurd small town, I am absolutely here for–but it’s also completely different? It’s quiet and mournful, it’s funny and ridiculous, it’s terrifying at times, and also, the sound design is gorgeous.

I don’t know–as someone who’s spent a lot of her life observing death from a distance… this show just hits different.

Wolf 359 (podcast) - Wikipedia

Wolf 359

Okay. So, this podcast isn’t in any way a new find for me; I spent most ninth grade absolutely losing my mind over it, because it’s such a good show. I have the whole thing downloaded on my phone, and I guess I never bothered to remove the episodes after I finished them. So, while I was working, I realized I didn’t have anything else downloaded, and so I decided to reslisten to it, and I have no regrets because it’s amazing, and I love this show so so much. It’s particularly nice to listen to while I do things I don’t want to–because hey, I may have a massive pile of dishes to do, and also my cat threw up on the carpet, but at least I don’t work for Goddard Futuristics.

Wolf 359 follows Doug Eiffel, a tired, kind of obnoxious communications officer, aboard the USS Hephaestus. It starts out as a workplace comedy, but about ten episodes in, does a super cool genre switch, and suddenly, yep, guess what, there’s another evil corporation manipulating everyone. (What can I say, art reflects life.) It’s one part comedy, one part tragedy, and one part cosmic horror, and honestly feels concerning relatable after having spent a fair amount of time alone, in close quarters with two other people for an indeterminate amount of time myself when we were in quarantine. The soundtrack is amazing, the writing is just so good, and the sound design is beautifully done, and, I don’t know, it’s probably one of my favourite podcasts out there–so go give it a listen.

Here in the Real World: Pennypacker, Sara: 9780062698957: Books - Amazon.ca

Here in the Real World

I’ve had this book sitting on my nightstand for a while, but recently, I finally got around to reading it. And I am so glad that I did. This book just hit way too close to home for me, and I think pretty much any other creative person would feel the same.

Here in the Real World is about Ware, an 11-year-old boy whose mom sends him off to summer camp, so she can help his sick grandmother. He’s surrounded by people who see his introversion as a problem, and are constantly trying to get him to interact with other children in a different way. So, after a few days of the camp, he drops out, and goes wandering into the forest, where he finds this abandoned lot, with an old church on it. It’s there he meets Jolene, who’s been turning the lot into a garden, and the two set out to make it into something beautiful, and completely new.

This book is heartwrenching, and beautiful. It made me remember what it felt like to be a little kid, figuring yourself out, and trying to find your place in the world–to not be so tired and cynical. And honestly, I really needed that.

Okay! I think that’s about it for today! I hope you liked reading me geek out for 1000 words, because I had fun writing this post. 🙂

Lots of love,

dragonwritesthings

My favourite indoor plants (for partial sun)

Hey guys! Welcome to yet another Shoutout Saturday, a name which I thought of in the midst of a mid-life crisis, and am now starting to think might be cheesy. Every Saturday, I like to break things up from my usual poetry game, and just talk about something that makes me happy; whether that be books, or podcasts, or, I don’t know, other things. This post is a little bit rushed, since I may or may not be writing it on the night it goes up. But, I hope you enjoy it anyway! I’m a huge houseplant gal (something I probably picked up from my job gardening—after you stare at plants for long enough, you start to get a bit fond of them.) It really helps with my mental health, having something to take care of, I don’t know–and I spend a lot of time inside working on things, so having plants to look at helps that time feel less dull and suffocating.

Peperomia

Peperomia are probably one of my favourite houseplants! I currently have two right now, but one I kind of messed up the watering of so, uh, let’s ignore that; that plant was having a wonderful time before she decided to die on me and actually I’m really still not sure what I did wrong; I’ve had that plant for four months now and it’s been super easy until two days ago. Anyhow, look at my peperomia ginny! Isn’t the pink variegation on the leaves so cute?

Mine have been doing all right in partial, indirect sun, near a small east-facing window. I water them about once every week; whenever the top three inches of the soil have dried out completely. I haven’t done anything to them fertilizer-wise, but they seem to be fine with that. (I read an article that said you could kill a plant if you used anything other than 10-10-10 fertilizer at 1am once, and I’ve been kind of terrified to try anything since.) I love how cute and funky these plants are; one of mine has this leaf that’s been, like, separating into two leaves? It looks super cool, and I’ve grown emotionally attached to this plant, so, yeah.

I don’t know if I’m doing it wrong, I am not a plant expert, but I love my peperomia anyhow, and hopefully it survives.

Lemon button fern

I got this bad boy from the grocery store for ten bucks–which is a steal for a plant this big–and he’s been doing great so far. (Admittedly, it’s only been two weeks, but according to some research I did lemon button ferns are some of the easiest ferns to grow, so let’s just go with that there.) I love the little dots on the fronds, and how unique this whole fern is. I grew up surrounded by lovely, wet forest, with lots of ferns naturally there, so seeing them always reminds me of long walks in the forest and, uh, having free time at all actually. I just love them all so much, I don’t know.

Come on!! Look at those little white dots!!

I’ve been trying to keep mine moist, but not soggy, whatever that means. I don’t know man, but it’s been putting out a ton of new growth of late, so presumably I’m doing it right.

Air plant

I got my air plant at a craft market in literally sixth grade. That’s four whole years ago now–which, uh, wow, can’t believe it’s been that long, but the craziest thing to me is that for two or three years, I didn’t water this thing at all. I put it by the kitchen window, so it could get all the steam whenever I boiled over a pot of spaghetti/washed the dishes with hot water, and admittedly, it didn’t grow, but it stayed alive, which I think is super impressive! So if you’re looking for a houseplant that will tolerate neglect, air plants are a great option!

For those of you who don’t know, air plants are, as the same suggested, free of any roots at all. They draw their water from the air, and naturally grow in humid swamps and whatnot. However, to stimulate that kind of environment in, yanno, Canada, I just mist it very thoroughly every two weeks or so. I know other people like to put theirs in bowls of water and whatnot, but the mist is just the simplest method for me.

I don’t know what light levels this thing is supposed to be in, but I’ve had mine in my bedroom–the same room all of these plants are in–and it’s putting out lots of new growth. I’m hoping to get it to flower, so I’ll maybe do a plant update if that works out. 🙂

This thing has moved around my house, and been in a lot of different holding situations. (Could I buy one of those terrarium things? Yes. But I’m cheap, so I won’t.) At one point in quarantine, I went through a huge terrariums phase, and made a moss terrarium as well. I used some sand I found in the shed, and some seashells I had in a wooden bowl for some reason, and some garden twine to make it look very… boho chic? I don’t know, I’m tired, I think it looks all right.

Nerve plant

My mom picked my nerve plant up for me as a surprise while she was grocery shopping, and I’m so proud of my little plant buddy! When she got it, it was in this tiny little seedling container, but recently I transplanted it into a bigger container and for, like, a two buck seedling from the grocery store, I think it looks beautiful. I mean, come on! Look at those little cute leaves! (Have I made it clear enough how much I like plants, yet?)

I’ve literally just been watering things when my plant-watering-reminder app tells me too, but according to a quick google search, nerve plants like to be watered when the top of the soil dries out, and be in a humid environment (so you should mist them now and then). Um, you learn something new every day? I remember we got one of these as a houseplant for my grandma, who has dementia, and it was horribly mistreated, and yet somehow managed to thrive for ages; so yeah, these should withstand a fair bit of neglect. 🙂


I am in no way a gardening expert–but I hope you enjoyed reading as I geek out about plants? I have no idea what the purpose of this post was, but it’s too late to go back now, so, uh, yeah. Hopefully next week I’ll remember to start writing this earlier on. Plants are difficult, but they make me so happy, and, yeah, they’re worth the effort, and the many failed attempts to me.

Lots of love,

dragonwritesthings

Shoutout Saturday (My favourite shows on Netflix!)

To be totally honest, I’m not normally a TV person. If I want something fictional that requires a bit less effort to consume than a book, I’ll usually listen to an audio drama, and if I just want to watch something, I’ll watch YouTube.

So I’m pretty picky about these things. But despite that, these shows have made their way into my heart, and I love them all so much.

She-Ra and the Princesses of Power

Okay, so no one is surprised that this is the first item on this list. However, let me explain why I love this show so much anyway, because I love it so much.

To be totally honest with you, that’s how I feel about most cartoons. In my original draft, this whole list was literally just cartoons, but I decided to cut most of them out. If you spend any significant amount of time on the internet, you’ve probably heard about this show; especially since season five I feel like it’s become much more well-known.

But in case you haven’t heard of it, here’s a basic summary: it’s set on the magical planet of Etheria, torn up due to a war between the Horde, and the Rebellion (all the kingdoms the Horde is attacking who are not so into being conquered and destroyed; it’s kind of a dumb name if you think about it too much). Adora has spent her whole life being trained to rise through the ranks of the Horde, and become a force captain–perhaps even more–by her mother-ish figure, Shadow Weaver, who is very abusive and creepy, and manages to traumatize pretty much everyone she spends time around. She spends her days training beside her childhood best friend, Catra. Until the two sneak into the Whispering Woods, and stumble across the Sword of Protection. Long story short, Adora gets captured by the Rebellion, discovers her connection with the Sword, escapes her cult, and defects to the Rebellion, and also she’s an eight foot tall lady with really nice hair and a sword now.

I’ve probably rewatched this show at least ten times, and I have no regrets. There is… literally nothing I can think of that would improve it, at least off the top of my head, and it’s gotten me through some really tough times, so it’s just close to my heart for that alone. Literally, like, two of the characters are straight–maybe–and it’s just generally a really casually diverse show. (The characters all have different body types, skin colours, etc.) It doesn’t copy verbatim off of the 80s show–which, according my friend who watched it as a kid, is definitely a good thing–but it doesn’t discard it either. Ultimately, it’s its own show, and I love that. The characters are three-dimensional, and they all feel like real people to me.

Anyhow, it’s probably one of my current favourite shows of all time, so go check it out if you want to.

Never Have I Ever

This was a quarantine show for me, since it came out, I believe, around April? I remember, I was tired, and so, in my allknowing quarantine wisdom, I decided to binge the entire season in one night. (I finished at, like, 2am.)

A little while ago, my friend and I sat down and binged the whole thing from start to finish together, with our brains a little more intact than they were when this show came out. And, uh, yep, can confirm, it’s still good, and, although obviously not completely realistic to what being a teenager is actually like (because being a teenager is boring, and basically just involves crying a lot, having a perpetual existential crisis, and juggling 17 different responsibilities at once), the themes it explores really ring true to me, and if anything the way it’s dramatized makes it feel much more relatable.

It follows Devi Vishwakumar, an Indian-American teen girl, dealing with the death of her father, and trying to fit in with her peers. But it’s never overdone, or cheesy, and in a lot of ways pokes fun at typical tropes. She masks her feelings by trying to be someone she isn’t–going to parties, trying to find a boyfriend, and accidentally destroying any meaningful human connection she has in her life–you know, normal teenager things. It’s funny, and heartbreaking, and I love this show so much.

The Dragon Prince

And, to wrap things up, one of my other favourite animated shows! When I was a kid, I read an obscene amount of middle grade fantasy novels. As I got older, obviously I started looking for books that felt a bit older as well, but I’ve never really gotten into YA fantasy in the same way that I used to love books like Percy Jackson.

This show sort of reminds me of those books I used to escape to so often; if their essence had sort of been translated into TV show form.

It’s set in a continent divided between the magical lands of Xadia, and the human kingdoms; which are much more typically medieval. The show starts with the threat of assassin hanging over King Harrow of Katolis. His sons re told to flee, but are reluctant to do so with the knowledge their only remaining parent might die without them. Rayla, a Moonshadow elf assassin, on her first mission attempts to capture and kill Prince Ezran, the heir to the throne–and the three discover a well-kept secret, that could change the world as they know it.

This show has such beautiful art, and the character designs are absolutely immaculate. I guess it’s just one of those shows that makes you feel safe, and at home, and I love it so much.

Anyhow, I think that’s about all I have to say! I hope you enjoyed reading me ramble for ten minutes or whatever, and tune in next week for my favourite something-or-other-I-haven’t-picked-the-topic-yet.

Lots of love,

dragonwritesthings

Shoutout Saturday (My favourite YouTubers)

Hey guys! So, like every other teenager, I spend an inordinate amount of time on YouTube–definitely more time than I spend watching TV. YouTube just feels so much more authentic and accessible to me, I don’t know. So, with all of that time spent on that side of the internet, I’ve amassed some favourites. These are only a small slice of the people I watch, so if I want I’ll probably do a part two, but this is all I really had time to write this week.

Okay! On to the post.

Dominic Noble

My friend introduced me to this channel, and I’m so glad she did! I’m a huge book nerd, and often don’t feel entirely comfortable talking about those interests. So I really love finding other people online who care this much about reading, I guess. His channel is a sort of combination of your typical book review content, meets a commentary video. I love how he dives into certain areas of literature (like Amish romance novels, or the Twilight series) that most people would just laugh at–with an open mind. He just seems like such a lovely person, and every time I watch his videos, I come away feeling a bit better than I did before.

I’m so used to automatically being afraid of men, I guess, and always having to assume the worst. His channel serves as a really nice reminder to me that not all men are awful. It always makes me feel safe, and I just appreciate him so much for being a nice person.

bestdressed

I don’t talk about this online, but I’m kind of a huge fashion geek. I often struggle with feeling out of control, and there’s something about putting together a relatively nice outfit, to help me feel just a little bit more in charge.

It’s so rare to find a fashion YouTuber who doesn’t feel like they would have bullied you in middle school–and so refreshing when you finally do. Ashley’s fashion style/general aesthetic is immaculate, and although that’s definitely why I subscribed to her originally, I think why I really fell in love with her content was just how real she is. Watching her videos feels like catching up with an old friend, and her channel has just been a really safe space for me, throughout the past year. Also, her editing style is so beautiful; every video leaves you feeling like you’ve just watched a short film.

So, yeah, give her videos a watch–I promise you won’t regret it.

Bernadette Banner

I love history.

I love learning how people used to live. I love knowing where certain trends or ideas came from originally. I love knowing that… the world has been around for a really long time.

I also have a weird relationship with sewing. I unironically love a lot of traditionally feminine jobs–I get real satisfaction out of cleaning, and cooking, and baking, and taking care of others. It makes me feel really good to know I can fend for myself if necessary. I love making other people happy with little things, like a soup I made, or a homemade cake, and I’m a big believer in making things from scratch. Anyhow, to be honest, sewing is the one housewife skill I just have not been able to learn so far. Instead, I live vicariously through watching people like Bernadette remake historical gowns on YouTube.

Her videos have such a calming quality to them. Her whole aesthetic is iconic, and her videos also have that short-film kind of feel. A well, they’re insanely well-researched and informative. You can really tell she loves what she does–and whenever I feel doubtful about this whole writing thing, I watch her videos–and it makes me remember what being passionate about things is supposed to look/feel like. (I explained that badly, but I can’t think of any better way to put it into words.) Also, I’ve gradually been amassing sewing tips from her channel, and am going to attempt to thrift-flip my Halloween costume, from this oversized pinstripe suit I got for six bucks to something hopefully better. So I’ll let you know about any updates on that!

Anyhow! I am not great at writing reviews, but I hope you’ll check these people out anyway, because they all make me so happy.

Lots of love,

dragonwritesthings