The Making of a Audiobook of Poems

I wrote the collection of poems for Songs That Remind Me of Philosophy as a collection that stands together. It makes most sense to listen to the poems together. The topic is unrequited love, which I have have experience with.

I have been reading philosophical theories of love, and I have found that very few, if any, take into account the experience of unrequited love. In the theories I have been reading, love focuses on the irreplacibility of a person–the fact that each of us is unique and not duplicated. The loved one is irreplacable.

My thoughts, as a philosopher, and as someone who has experienced unrequited love, were: why isn’t this a topic in philosophy? Unrequited love is a frequent trope in literature, and the arts, but it’s hardly mentioned in philosophical theories of love. Rather, the focus in philosophy has been on more positive aspects, and love between two persons. So, I decided to write semi-philosophical poems about unrequited love.

If you order one of my CD’s, it will make more sense than if you listen to one particular poem alone. This is because rather than making a story out of a collection of poems, the poems came to me as a story already.

Poor People and Mental Illness

Because I am disabled by mental illness, and am on SSI, the topic of being impoverished while suffering a mental illness is a dear one to my heart. I will tell my story.

I suffered a psychotic break in graduate school. I was one of the people who was trying to escape poverty. I worked hard, and tried not to make any mistakes. But one cannot account for illness, and, after discussing things with my doctor, I applied for disability. This leaves me with about $8,000 a year to live on. On this amount, I cannot afford a roof over my head of my own, so I live with my mom and stepdad.

Currently, I have a 2004 Ford Focus that was paid off before I got on disability. It needs work, and I cannot afford to have work done on it. I certainly cannot afford a new car. I give myself $100.00 per week to live on, which is the definition of extreme poverty in the United States. This covers my clothing, hygiene products, entertainment, and so forth. I use the rest of the money to make payments on the computer I am using to write this, and, occasionally, I have enough saved up to buy a new pair of glasses, or a new phone, which is the only way I have a smart phone.

I have been in the hospital for psychosis eight times. I regularly go to the clinic to get medications. I go to a place for low income people. So, I associate with poor people with mental illness all the time.

One of the travesties in our country is that we make people with mental illness poor. Social Security is not enough to live on. It’s supposed to cover housing, food, clothes, and entertainment. But it barely covers my costs for gas, clothes, and hygiene products. Think about it: $8,000 per year. Can you live on that?

Before I got on disability, I tried to work because I did not want to be on disability. I was hospitalized five times before I got approved for disability. After that, I struggled with finding the right medication for me. I am currently on an antipsychotic, but it gives me some side effects.

Every month, I go to the clinic for my medication. There, I see many poor people with mental illness. For all of the good qualities I have mentioned of poor people, let me make one thing clear: Being poor is not fun. It’s not great times.

I don’t know what percentage of the poor population suffers from mental illness, but I’d wager quite a bit. If you are disabled from a mental illness, you are bound to be living in poverty.

Poor People and Rationality

I read many articles regarding poverty. Quite a few of them focus on the seemingly irrationality of poor people. This is a topic I have read about and thought about extensively.

Why do people who are poor spend money on fast food? Why do they buy designers clothes or purses? These are the topics I have read about.

Now, I haven’t read many articles critiquing how wealthy people spend their money. If anything, I have read advice from people who are wealthy about how to manage money. So, the ground is already uneven here. Why do we choose to focus on poor people, and how they manage their money, while taking advice from wealthy people? No one asks why rich people buy designer clothes.

Much of what has been written on the topic assumes that poor people are not smart, do not know how to manage money, and lack agency. None of these, in my experience, is true.

What is true is that you have to learn different things if you have a large sum of money. That is, managing less money, on a strict budget, dealing with expensive housing, and so forth, is different than having disposable income, being able to afford housing, and, even, put your kids through college.

But we shouldn’t assume the world revolves around rich people, taking their advice, and assuming that poor people are irrational.

Oftentimes, poor people have less to live on. They have a strict budget. They live paycheck to paycheck. They don’t have much, if anything, for savings. While I’m sure we could all improve in the area of money management, the fact that poor people live this way does not show that they are bad with money. It shows they have very little coming in for what they have to pay for.

If you are disadvantaged, and you are playing by the rules—that is, not engaging in illegal activities—you are probably more rational than privileged people. That is the conclusion I have come to, at least. The reasoning goes as follows: If you are trying to get ahead by playing by the rules, you have very little wiggle room for mistakes. One mistake can lead you back to poverty. One mistake can ruin your bank account. One mistake is all it takes, so you develop a habit of carefully making your choices. You choose carefully—more carefully than privileged people, who do not suffer the same consequences from one mistake.

This habitual training makes me think that poor people who are trying to keep afloat, and even rise up, are probably more rational than wealthy people. Why not take advice from them?

So let’s answer: Why do poor people buy designer clothes and purses? The answer is a lot of times they didn’t buy them. Oftentimes, these are gifts. The only time I shop a Kohl’s is when I have been given a gift card as a gift. In other cases, I shop at Ross, where I can buy designer clothes or bags for much cheaper than at department stores. And when I go to Ross, it’s not like the place is empty. There is a market for cheaper, but somewhat nice, clothes, shoes, and purses. This is why Ross is in business. Poor people need to go to the office, too, even if it’s just a secretary position. And, often, they have to look presentable for work. So they shop at Ross or get fancy things for gifts. Why do they want them? The same reason anyone else would: They are status symbols. Frequently, they are made better than cheaper things. But let me make one thing clear: I do not see many poor people walking around wearing Prada or carrying a Coach purse. I see poor people dressed in humble clothes.

On Poverty

Last week, I wrote several essays on poverty. It’s a topic I have researched a lot. I read about poverty every day. I was thinking about posting those essays here over the next few days. I grew up working class. At times, I have been poor. The issue of poverty is something dear to my heart. When I haven’t been poor, I have donated and helped other poor people. Currently, I associate with people who are poverty stricken. There’s about 14% poverty rate in my city. I think class discrimination is a terrible thing. The lives of people who are or have been impoverished matter. I hope you enjoy reading my essays.

On Writing

In college, I won awards for my writing; both poetry and prose. I find writing rather difficult, though. And sending my work out there, for all the world to judge is rather horrifying. I have been up late tonight writing, and thinking about writing. I think I have studied well enough and broadly enough to begin to write some things. That is why I have some CDs on the way, which will be available soon. However, there is always room to improve one’s craft, and I feel like I am always improving, or trying to improve. It’s not just poetry that I read, however. I take in all kinds of art and media. Recently, I was inspired by a song. I wrote a poem based off that song.

Winning awards isn’t everything, although the things I wrote which were award-winning I am proud of. One needs to keep honing one’s skill in order to stay good, and to improve. This is what I have been doing. I know of people who do not particularly like poetry, but it’s a bit like tuning your ears and eyes to a Shakespeare play. For many, it takes a few minutes to adjust to what’s being said, and then you can enjoy the play or film. I found it was that way with poetry. It takes a bit to adjust oneself to writing, reading and listening to poetry. I hope you enjoy what I have shared so far. Keep a look out for future recordings and writings!

Shakespeare’s First Folio

Shakespeare’s First Folio is touring the United States to mark the 400th anniversary of the playwright’s death. It will be in Miami in February, and I am trying to go see it. Check here to find out when and where it will be near you.

Update

I mentioned in a previous post that I have schizophrenia. I don’t talk about it too much these days. I am a person first, and having schizophrenia is just one thing about me. But I did want to mention that I am on a drug that seems to be working well for me right now. It took me about five years to find the right medication; one that suits me and does not cause horrible side effects. I have also participated in therapy, which has been really great for me. But when it comes to my ongoing health issues and whatnot, I won’t be posting too much about that. Currently, my doctor doesn’t want me working full time, so I am not. But I try to participate in a variety of things, many of which I have posted on this blog. I know that some of my followers also have mental health issues, and I wish the best for you.

Who Do You Want for President?

As soon as he announced he was running for president, I volunteered to do work for Bernie Sanders. I worked his help desk for a while. I knew of Sanders long before he decided to run for president. His comments and speeches as senator caught my attention. But I was wondering, who do you want for president?

What Are You Reading?

I read mostly nonfiction these days, and I am a news junkie. If you follow me on Facebook, you’ll know that I keep up with the news quite a bit. You are free to follow me if you don’t already, but keep in mind that I am also a political wonk. I post many political things, and I’m a die hard Liberal. This stems from my training in philosophy, where I specialized in ethics and political philosophy.

Having said that, I also *love* nonfiction. So, I was wondering, what are you reading these days? Anything to recommend?

 

Daisy in Fingers

I thought I’d share another photo with you. This one is from the summer, when there were a lot of daisies growing beside my house.

Daisy in Fingers

On Being an Independent Artist

I think being an independent artist gives one more artistic freedom. And I can reach out to my readers myself. I like that. I like knowing who reads my work. Plus, it keeps me honest. I also have my hands in many pots. I get to design things in addition to writing. I love photography. I’m getting better at it, and am saving up for a new camera. I initially got into taking pictures as a form of therapy. It soothes me to take photos, especially of nature, which is quite often my subject. I live in Florida, and I like that my work is focused locally. I am a Florida artist, and it shows.

Why I Chose to Make a Redbubble Store

I was going to make my own merchandise to go with my new book, but Redbubble gives me the option of making many things available to people without me making things people might not buy. I’m not big on waste. I don’t like the idea of making products no one will buy or use. With Redbubble, I can upload my artwork, and, if you like something you see, you can buy it. I encourage you to check out my store. There are many things to buy–from posters, notebooks, and prints to iPhone cases and more. Check out my store here!

CD’s in Production

I just received an email saying that my CD’s are in production. They will be shipped to me on Friday, Jan 29th. I do not know how long after that until they get to me. But, as soon as they get here, you can order a copy!

CD Proofs

I just approved the artwork for the CD’s. It’s not going to turn out exactly the way I wanted it to, but that’s ok. It’s my first CD, and, even though I hoped everything would be perfect, it’s not, and that’s alright. I am using this picture for the cover:

Marbles in the Sand

The back cover will be the part that’s unusual. But that’s alright. The artwork just didn’t take to the templates. Going in, I didn’t know exactly what the templates were. I have only designed for books, so I used templates for books. But, in order to get things going, I decided to OK the project. It won’t be exactly the way I had hoped, but, again, that’s alright with me. I am selling these at such a cheap price that it shouldn’t matter.

 

 

 

Why I Decided to Make CD’s

I like audiobooks. You can listen to them in your car. In fact, one audiobook I got when I was in college was a collection of famous poets. I was a commuter, so I listened to those CD’s all the way on my drive to school. So, I think of audiobooks as easy and efficient. But, also, there’s the artistry of it. I like opening a CD and looking at the visual art involved. I tired to make the artwork for my new CD relevant to my work, but also individually engaging pieces. I think that’s that’s the way to go.

I decided to release the CD’s myself because I can control the price for you. I can offer my CD’s at a cheaper price than a publisher can. Check out my new CD, coming out soon, for $6.99!

Are there any CD’s whose art you particularly like? I think I always like Ani DiFranco’s artwork.

Schizophrenia Has a Human Face

Longtime readers know that I have schizophrenia. It’s a horrible disease. I cannot really work because of it. My doctor doesn’t think I should be working full time right now. So I have taken to the arts; partly in order to heal, and partly because I have always loved the arts.

I have recently written two poetry books, one will be released very soon. The other is about my experience with mental illness. It will be released later; perhaps next month.

I expect some of my readers will know about mental illness, but many people do not. And many do not know the things people with mental illness go through. Not just because of their illness, but because of the kind of care we get. I am here to put a human face on the disease. We are human. We deserve the same love and respect as anyone else. If you know anyone suffering, my CD’s may be a good gift for them. Or some of my artwork at my Redbubble store.

Redbubble Store

In addition to the store I made on this website, I also made a Redbubble store where you can buy merchandise related to my poetry audiobooks. Right now, I have stickers, posters and more, from photoshoots from two audiobooks I wrote and recorded. Check it out!

Music

What kind of music do you listen to? I listen to a variety of things. There’s not one genre I like more than others. I find music inspires me. Quite frequently, you will find me listening to my iPod throughout the day. I like indie music especially. I think Ani DiFranco may be one of my favorites. If you haven’t heard of her, look her up. She’s really great.

A Love of Poetry

Ever since I was about 12, I loved poetry. Everyone in my life knows this about me. I have written quite a bit, and have won awards. Recently, I picked up the pen again to write some poems. I couldn’t stop. I was on a roll. That collection will be available on my store here, which I just set up. You can look at the top of the website here, and see the new store. I already have everything set up, and you can pre-order a CD of my poetry now, if you would like.

But my real reason for writing today is I wanted to know something: Who is your favorite poet? What is your favorite poem?

I have been influenced by everyone from Allan Ginsberg to Langston Hughes. I love poetry.

Opening Soon!

I am opening a store to sell some of my work. The first thing I will be selling is a collection of poems I recorded, which I’ve posted samples of. If you are a fan of artwork, this site is for you!

 

A Cold Day

It’s chilly here in Central Florida today, but not like many parts of the country, experiencing a blizzard. If you are out it that, stay safe!

Palm Trees

Photography

I am nowhere near a professional photographer. But today I shot a few photos when I was with my dear friend, Laura. Here’s one of them. It’s called Marbles in the Sand.

 

Marbles in the Sand

 

Bonus Track: Doctor’s Office

I’m feeling generous today, so I am posting another poem for you to listen to and read. This is an older poem; a few months old. I wrote it after I went to the doctor.
Doctor’s Office

The way you touch
My flower petal skin

Like a hammer smashing a teacup
And an inconsiderate stomp
Upon specks of fresh clover

Gets me tangled
In a sea

Of how impolite
People can be

While sitting in a waiting room.

Participating in the Arts Improves Mental Health

That’s according to this article, which discusses a survey that researchers conducted, asking people about their participation in the arts and their mental well being.

I have for quite some time been participating in the arts, whether it’s creating poetry, painting, coloring, or listening to music.

Take in some art today!

Do You Write?

Over the past few days, I have been writing poetry. I have won awards for poetry. Back in undergraduate school, I wrote frequently.

I started writing poems at the age of 13. I wrote one poem, at least, per day. As time passed, I got better and better.

I took time off from writing poetry when I was in graduate school, but I thought I’d take it back up.

It’s very interesting, how we grow as writers, as well as in other areas. I find the things I write about now are different from things I used to write.

How about you? Do you write?