Shall I Compare Thee to an Atomic Bomb?

Nothing Gold Poetry.

Shall I compare thee to an atomic bomb?

Thou creates massive explosions from miniscule amounts of matter.

Thou split my small heart to the nucleus and backed away from the energy released.

I am radioactive;

I am glowing green through the night,

I am forever weighed down by the intense conflict of two of the strongest forces,

Love,

Hate.

I am decay.

Shall I compare thee to an atomic bomb?

Thou burnt away my skin to see into my bones.

I art thou’s Lucky Dragon,

I am contaminated by our fallout.

Shall I continue in this half-life of fungus clouds and carcinogens

Or commend myself to the silo?

I am forever weighed down by the intense conflict of two of the strongest forces,

Love,

Hate.

I am decay.

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My 3 Favorite Things (Books!) of November 2015

Guten tag!

The best part of taking a mental health vacation is that I finally get to catch up on my favourite things. In between fussing about with grad school applications, I think I’ve managed to get into around ten books this month. All of them were quite good, but some have stuck with me all month. If you’re looking for your next read, you’ve found the right place.

3.   The Wrenchies by Farel Dalrymple

wrenchiesrgb2

They’re strong, powerful, and if you cross them, things will quickly go very badly for you. Only one thing scares them—growing up. Because in the world of the Wrenchies, it’s only kids who are safe… anyone who survives to be an adult lives in constant fear of the Shadowsmen. All the teenagers who come into contact with them turn into twisted, nightmarish monsters whose minds are lost forever.

When Hollis, an unhappy and alienated boy, stumbles across a totem that gives him access to the parallel world of the Wrenchies, he finally finds a place where he belongs. But he soon discovers that the feverish, post-apocalyptic world of the Wrenchies isn’t staying put… it’s bleeding into Hollis’s normal, real life. Things are getting very scary, very fast.

-Goodreads

Artistically, “The Wrenchies” is a beautiful book. Dalrymple’s art style is at once both gritty and other-worldly. The narrative achieves a brooding sense of menace for most of the way through. The character of Hollis is full of heartbreak and hopefulness, and is well rounded and distinct. The problem is that the story is often difficult to follow, the characters are interchangable and flat (with the exception of Hollis) and the ending doesn’t feel like a climax, nor a continuation. It just sort of ends. I learned more about the story from reading that Goodreads summary than actually reading the book. However, it was unique enough to be one of my favourite things this month.

2. Probably Monsters by Ray Culey

probably monsters

From British Fantasy Award-winning author Ray Cluley comes Probably Monsters a collection of dark, weird, literary horror stories. Sometimes the monsters are bloodsucking fiends with fleshy wings. Sometimes they re shambling dead things that won t rest, or simply creatures red in tooth and claw. But often they re worse than any of these. They re the things that make us howl in the darkness, hoping no one hears. These are the monsters we make ourselves, and they can find us anywhere…

-Goodreads

I love short story collections. I personally get so into books that I’m emotionally exhausted after finishing them, and when I was working I found finding time to polish off a novel difficult. I can read a short story on my lunch break, or during a bathroom break   business meeting, or while my partner plays Fallout Four. I own a few short story collections and anthologies, and Ray Culey’s book is one of my favourites. I enjoy the variety of stories contained within, ranging from apocalypse survival tales reminiscent of The Walking Dead to stories about impoverished people risking encounters with “monsters” to escape from the cycle of poverty. Of course, not all of the stories are perfect, but most of them are well-written and memorable. My only criticism of this work is that it’s too fricking long. I haven’t even finished the book yet (80%!) but what I’ve seen so far tells me that Culey has a true gift for writing unique horror.

1. Forever Evil by Geoff Johns, David Finch and Richard Friend

forever evil

The Justice League is DEAD! And the villains shall INHERIT the Earth! In a flash of light, the world’s most powerful heroes vanish as the Crime Syndicate arrives from Earth-3! As this evil version of the Justice League takes over the DC Universe, no one stands in the way of them and complete domination … no one except for Lex Luthor.

Yes, there are two graphic novels on this list. Like short story collections and anthologies, they are easy to read. Unlike short story collections and anthologies, they have pretty pictures. Don’t judge.

I was torn between putting this one and “Green Lantern vol 1: Sinestro” as my top book of November. Both are excellent introductions to the world of the New 52 (DC’s latest reboot) and both are well written, full of emotion and fantastic art. I find that, on a slight tangent, comics are terrible for needing fifty years of backstory and reading every single book of every single series to understand what’s going on. I will bow down and chant “not worthy” before a comic that manages to escape this, and both “Forever Evil” and “Green Lantern” did this expertly. Forever Evil just narrowly edged out “Green Lantern” because of the pulse pounding pace of the plot. “Forever Evil” manages to pull off the rarest kind of comic writing that seamlessly blends character development, action and emotion into one narrative. It also took the tired trope of the purely evil-for-the-lolz alternate versions of the DC superheroes and gave them vulnerability. My favourite part of the book was the interactions between the characters. That alone is worth reading the book. I will use a disclaimer, because I have the necessary 50 years of backstory, but I feel like new readers to comics will enjoy this new look at classic characters and archetypes.

 

What books have you been reading? Let me know in the comments below!

 

God bless,

Kelsey J.

Slam Sunday: “Aftermath” by Chris Nguyen and Em Alves

Nothing Gold Poetry.

“I am a pitcher of blood shaped like a boy, and my father clenches a bowl as if he might smash my jaw, empty me and collect my fragments.”

I’ve never posted a duet (?) poem before, but I love this poem and it’s unflinchingly honest portrayal of domestic violence and its effects.

I couldn’t find any information on the poets in the video, which makes me a sad Kelsey. If anyone knows these two amazing wordsmiths information, please comment.

Button Poetry Twitter: @buttonpoetry

Button Poetry Website: http://buttonpoetry.com/

Button Poetry Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/ButtonPoetry/

Button Poetry Tumblr: http://buttonpoetry.tumblr.com/

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PTSDiaries 10: Art and I

eye1When I was working through my trauma in exposure therapy, my therapist and I tried to find safe ways to expose myself to reminders of the trauma. Of course, seeing R. was out of the question, as it would be dangerous for the both of us. I still don’t know how he’d react to seeing me, and at the time I didn’t know if I could control my rage. As a team, my therapist and I came up with the idea of using art as part of my exposure therapy.

I’ve been working towards becoming an art therapist in recent months, a dream I’ve had since I first saw an art therapist when I was fourteen. As such, I’ve done research on art therapy. According to Schouten, Niet, Knipscheer, Kleber and Hutschemaekers (2015), who conducted a review of the effectiveness of art therapy in traumatized adults, and was found to significantly reduce symptoms of trauma. Art therapy has been used to treat traumatized veterans, those suffering from drug addictions, and many other types of complex trauma. I was confident in the ability of art to help me.

The first project that my therapist gave me was to draw R.’s old house, the place where a lot of the abuse happened. To do this, I had to take a picture of his old house. I had to call on my inner super-spy skills, as I wasn’t sure if just going to someone’s house and taking photographs of the outside was legal or not (shhh!). I went to a nearby candy store first, for some sugar courage. I took the picture like a ninja, pretending to be taking a selfie in the playground across the street so the nearby construction workers didn’t think I was scoping out the place for a robbery (bwahaha!). 

When I got home, I sat down and tried to draw. I decided to practice some of the perspective skills I learned in my art class a few days before to make the house more realistic. I over practiced, however, to avoid the feelings that came from drawing the house. When I was ready, I drew the house. To draw it, I had to break it down into it’s component shapes, and then draw the details later. Breaking it down (this is the siding, this is the window) helped me to realize something: a house is just a house. It wasn’t a Monster House, like in the 2006 film; it was just some house in some neighbourhood in my home town. 

20151119_132028The second project was a little bit more difficult. I was tasked with drawing R. My therapist suggested that I draw two different versions of R.; one as he was, and one as I saw him. Of course, I knew which one would be easier, so I did the harder one first, drawing R. as he is. 

I tried to do what I did with the house, and what most artists do when they try to draw something…break him down into his component parts. However, I’m such a perfectionist that I didn’t want to draw him from memory because it wouldn’t be accurate. Even R., I suppose, deserves the effort of an accurate portrayal. On a less pretentious note, I also have trouble remembering his face sometimes, as a defense mechanism from the trauma. Since finishing treatment I can remember his dumb face easily, but at the time we conducted this little experiment I couldn’t. I had to unblock him from my Facebook so I could see his profile picture and draw from that.

Funnily enough, that’s not the first time I’ve drawn R. I drew him before we started dating, because I couldn’t get him out of my head. Little did I know that once he was in my head he wasn’t going to leave. As I drew him I felt angry at his face for being so dumb and ugly, but then I saw it as a collection of features and broke it down and drew them as I saw them. I tried to remove the feeling from the drawing to make it realistic, hiding behind artistic integrity. Maybe that wasn’t so bad. The picture I drew isn’t accurate at all, but I tried damn it, I tried. The experience made me realize that, much like the house, a face is just a face. Yeah, it’s a face that traumatized me, but a face on a computer screen wasn’t going to hurt me. There was no point living in fear of the memory of a face that I never saw. 

20151119_132056Drawing him as I saw him, as a monster, was much easier. I chose to take inspiration from a classic Canadian monster called the wendigo, from the traditions of the Algonquin plains people. The wendigo is a cannibal creature, how was once human but tasted flesh and became a monster. The wendigo can thrall people into walking right to it and preparing themselves to be eaten. The more it eats, the more it grows, but is never full. The wendigo has a heart made out of ice and looks more like an animal than a man. I drew him as one of these creatures, because R. has a cold heart and no matter how many people he hurts, he never gets his fill of pain. The drawing of R. as I see him took me fifteen minutes, the drawing of him as he is took me forty five.

20151119_132112

The art did help me put onto paper how I feel about R., but also reminded me that, no matter how monstrous my mind had made him, he was still a human being. One with a stupid face and bad hair and generally kind of an evil jerk, but a human being. Flawed. Made of the same component parts as anyone else.

Did art reduce my feelings of depression and trauma? I think it did. I was able to make my feelings expressible, like in the poetry I’d been writing. I was happy with it. I felt that it was a safe way to expose myself to my trauma, with the added benefit of a tangible accomplishment at the end of the day. I would recommend it to other therapist. Who knows, maybe I’ll use it one day in my own practice!

 

 

God bless,

 

Kelsey J.

Where in the World is Kelsey J. Mills? What I’ve Been Up To

Guten tag!

I apologize again for the radio silence lately (and for not having a post up yesterday, as promised). I recently had a bit of a breakdown due to stress at work–for the sake of professionalism, I won’t go into it, but needless to say I left that position. I’ve been staying with my parents in good ol’ Regina, Saskatchewan while I try to find some measure of stability. I’ve been doing well lately, and I’ve been applying for jobs again. A girl’s gotta eat.

I’ve been trying to enjoy my downtime to the fullest. I’ve been working on applications for three fabulous graduate schools: St. Stephen’s College, Athabasca University, and the Toronto Institute of Art Therapy. I’m super excited for my future in academia. I can’t wait to see if any of these schools accept me.

As such, though I started NaNoWriMo, I found that I wouldn’t be able to commit myself to it fully while working on graduate school applications. My writing group has been doing a smaller version of NaNo, which we have dubbed “PicoWriMo”. The goal is to write everyday, but with no 50,000 word count. Part of my goal for “Pico” is to write a poem every week, some of which I’m going to try to get traditionally published, some of which I’m going to publish on my poetry blog. I’ve also been working on two novels and a short story during Pico. I don’t want to get into too many details yet, because they’re still in the plotting stage and there’s a good chance the synopsis I give you now will change. Keep your eyes peeled for posts about these works in progress.

I also learned to knit. I’m terrible at it.

We’ll be back to our regularly scheduled program next week, or may I be struck dead by a freak potato accident.

God bless,

Kelsey J.