Welcome. I’m Jacob Sam-La Rose, and here’s what you need to know: I’m a published poet; I devise and facilitate projects for schools and other institutions, emerging poets, teachers, literature professionals and other creatives; I’m a geek for web technology and productivity; and I’m pretty handy with a camera. I exist in a few different places online – this particular site serves as my lifestream, an overview of what I’ve been doing on the interwebs. The content you see here is aggregated from:
Miscellany (my personal blog)
Forthen&Evermore (my photoblog)
Jacobsamlarose.com (my professional face)
Twitter (text messages to the world)
If any of the above sparks your interest, don’t be shy in saying hello (mail at jacobsamlarose dot com).
Walking the cliffs of East Yorkshire with the sounds of a Coldcut Solid Steel afrobeat special in my ears. Yes. Sometimes it’s good to connect to your immediate audioscape (currently the sound of my own heels on the path, the waves on the shore below…) and sometimes it’s beautiful to be able to carry pieces of your own sonic identity with you, out of the context you usually place them in.
In the words of Saul Williams: “not until you’ve listened to Rakim on a rocky mountaintop have you heard hip-hop…” Or something like that.
(via Melon: A Headband and Mobile App to Measure Your Focus)
Now wait just a minute. How the… When the… I mean… ?
Wearable tech is really 50/50. Recognisable form factors can be pretty cool (anything you can wear around your wrist, for example). Other things seem destined to be pilloried by all but the most ardent lovers of tech (ahem, Glass…). But that said, and whichever side of the nerd/not-nerd fence you sit on, does it not feel like The Future has actually arrived, or at least is standing at the door waiting for an invitation to cross the threshold?
A headband that reads your mind. That you can use for brain training exercises. “Fold the origami paper with your mind…” The part of my brain responsible for sci-fi narratives is doing cartwheels right now, just thinking about the possibilities.
It’s just happening soooo quickly…
“I’m guilty of it as much as anyone else, if not more. Here I am talking about empathy, day in and day out, continuing to ignore my emails. Ignoring my fellow human beings, people who want to forge or desperately maintain a connection with me. People for whom my silence is waiting, wondering, irritation, aggravation, inconvenience, rejection, confusion, lost opportunity, added work, a denial, a sign. Yet I continue to not respond.” -
Email is People | Pleasure & Pain ☯ by Whitney Hess
Aaaand we’re back. Celebrated a birthday at the weekend, which fell in the middle of a zone of focused attention (redecorating, taking care of some familial obligations, attending to a few pressing deadlines, restarting some disciplines…), which has meant that I’ve been a little difficult to get hold of recently. I’m catching up now (thanks for the birthday greets, if I haven’t already responded to something you sent— I’m working on it!), but there’s a fair amount to wade through. And I’m thinking about related issues, the balance between the focus/attention the world demands from you and the focus/attention you need to pay to the things you really want to do.
I do as best as I can to be responsive. While that’s a word that’s been claimed by current coding and design trends driven by the explosion of different screen dimensions and particularly with mobile devices in mind, the core principle remains: there’s a wide range of people who have license (by virtue of the fact that I’m a creative freelancer and educator) to contact me, each with their own set of expectations. There’s a finite body of time I have to do “work” which may or may not include the requests and expectations of those people. And there are the things that I want or have to get done. Not to mention the time that must be reserved as personal. These things sit alongside each other like neighbouring countries disputing shared borders, each prone to launching full-on land grabs. The map is constantly rewritten. And I sit at the centre of it all, negotiating and keeping the peace as best as I can.
I do as best as I can to be responsive, and sometimes I fail. Sometimes the need for focused and dedicated time trumps my daily aspiration to get to the bottom of my todo list or empty the inbox and attend to every action item appropriately. Sometimes the weight of the inbox screams loudly for attention, to the exclusion of everything else. I must make things (text things, learning experiences, and more) but I must also do the work of managing that making and all the other things that come hand in hand with living in the real world. Maker time, manager time.
The major takeaway from Hess’ post is the importance of remembering the people behind the communications and requests that we receive. With that said, I’m slowly getting better at managing expectations (gotta love those auto-responders). At the root of it all, there’s always the understanding that I’m ultimately responsible for the constant potential for busy-ness— it’s the price of doing the business I do.
Murmur — From sound to light, by talking to walls. (by Chevalvert)
Any Processing gurus out there? I’d love to do something like this mashed up with a poetry reading. Imagine a graphics engine that could reacted to words and word combinations with light, shapes and colour… Mmmm.
“When I was younger, I saw 20-somethings sitting at coffee shops and thought they must be so happy now that they’re older and have their lives together. Now I’m the 20-something and I see that life doesn’t slow down and fall into place just because you’re old enough. Being older just means that you have to make time to stop and enjoy that coffee.” - (via rebeccasusanne)
Okay, so I never actually used to see/idolise people at coffee shops when I was a teen— I don’t do coffee, and as a kid in south east London the closest I got to a coffee shop was a greasy spoon café. That said, this resonates today. Things don’t just fall into place with time. You make them so. You curate your time as carefully as a garden— you sow the seeds of beautiful/rewarding things, you do your best to see them mature, you trap and pull the weeds. When I was young, we grew an apple tree in the back yard. It took a few years to learn that without pruning, the tree produced no fruit (there was no Google, and I had no access to expertise). You cut away the things you don’t need and double down on what’s left. Funny— I’d totally forgotten that tree until now.
Taking a moment after teaching today, I’ve found an exhibition of African beauty. This is probably the most conventionally “beautiful” portrait I could have picked as an example, but the exhibition celebrates a wide range of representative portraits from African groups and sub-groups.
As an aside, I bumped into photographer Franklyn Rodgers while browsing through. Had a brief but intense conversation about exoticisation in African portraiture, the need to continually challenge one’s own perspective, and the need to ask questions not only of the subject but also the eye that sees. We also spoke about the phase of life we’re both living through, whereby we’re both responsible for parents and elders whose lives have been reduced to smaller parodies of the lives they’ve lived before, through illness or even simple familiarity.
How do we see? How has your seeing been constructed? How easily do we take our respective perspectives for granted? How do we challenge ourselves authentically? And how do we stay fresh and alive to the world and all its offerings? How to resist that tapering of perspective that often comes in hand with age and experience?
“The bouquet of cut flowers gives away nothing of the stooped labour required to cultivate it, nor the agrochemicals that prolong unblemished blooms, the emissions generated by transportation and refrigeration, or the species supplanted by commercial hothouses. The sublime landscape, emptied of people, does not tell of the evictions required to create a nature reserve. To equate the beautiful with the good is to disregard how beautiful things come to be.” - Rebecca Giggs – Cherry tree season Japan
The Spokesman (by dean saffron)
I geek, therefore I am.
I’m known for a certain obsessive streak. When something piques my interest, I’m in, all the way. That’s how I got started with writing (in all the forms I’ve experimented with, before and after settling into poetry), that’s how I am with tech (the number of Apple machines and apps I’ve experimented with is, quite frankly, embarrassing…), that’s how it went with photography (I have a small collection of 35mm and Medium Format cameras, which this video casts my mind to— a collection that would have been much larger if my drive to be fiscally responsible hadn’t won out), and now, cycling.
There’s something honest, in the most romantic sense of the word, about speeding around under your own steam. Late last week, I cycled up to Kilburn, met up with the poet Katrina Naomi at the Pistols and Pollinators exhibition she’d invited me to be a part of and had a wonderfully warm conversation about the necessity of seeing new things to keep one’s writing fresh, then down for a quick stop at Muji on Carnaby Street, on to dinner in Bermondsey Square and finally back to Lewisham. All the while, I passed through parts of London I’ve been aware of but have never really known, and the city seemed to open itself up to me in a way it hasn’t since I was young and learning it for the first time…
Of course, my first real test will be how I handle the inevitable shift in weather but, for now, I’m geeking out on bike construction, maintenance and accessories.
See you on the road…
Robert Greene - ‘Mastery’.Not sure about the absolute need for “utter worthlessness” in learning, but I appreciate the ideal of continually starting over in search of truth. Consider alongside Bruce Lee’s “a punch was just a punch” thinking.
There’s a question I try to ask myself when I’m creating something: “Is this true?”
I define truth here not as factual accuracy, but as fidelity to both intent and embodiment. A design is true if it fulfils its requirements judiciously, and yet surprises and delights its intended audience. An app is true if it has a purity of vision and focus, and serves its intended customers on their terms. A piece of writing is true if it resonates with the people who read it – even if the details must be changed in order to better do that.
Truth, in this sense, is the opposite of betrayal, or carelessness. It’s the antithesis of compromise, for any reason except making something as good as possible.
I’m also using “true” to mean essential; not in the “required or indispensable” sense, but rather fundamental and elemental. Containing everything that should be, and nothing else.
” - Tail wagging - Matt Gemmell
(via Dawn of Grime | Accent Magazine)
Things change, things stay the same. It’s a joy to see this Dawn of Grime feature; how much it reminds me of some of the raw reality captured by photo-features focused on the early days of US Hip-Hop, and yet how quintessentially English (or rather, London-ish) this feature is.
Still keen to hear more about poets who are capable of tackling and articulating the contemporary Black-British urban experience from fresh perspectives, particularly where that experience is aligned with or driven by the music of the same period. Kareem Parkins-Brown and Kayo Chingonyi, I’m looking at you…
Who are the UK’s closest equivalents to African-American poets such as Terrance Hayes, Major Jackson, Thomas Sayers Ellis, Tracy K Smith and so on? What poetic tradition, school, tribe or movements do we use to speak of poets such as Malika Booker, Roger Robinson, Charlie Dark and their like?
(These are more notes to myself for further expansion, but I’m certainly interested in a dialogue if anyone’s interested…)
Collaboration with conceptual artist Cornelia Birgersdotter Blom. Text on glass, artefacts in cabinet, on the theme of constructed identity #PandP
““Street photography” is used to generally describe the practice of shooting straight photography in public spaces. The intent in documenting life in this way is to sift through the trite, the banal, the mundane and depict the humorous, ironic, and contextually interesting aspects of society. The way we interact next to and near each other is often fascinating.” - Considering Street Photography — On Photography — Medium
“At the moment, our society’s notion of success is largely composed of two parts: money and power. But it’s time for a third metric, beyond money and power – one founded on well-being, wisdom, our ability to wonder, and to give back.” - Arianna Huffington