Pages:

Foreword

IMG_2109 smaller

Hello. 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:

If any of the above sparks your interest, don’t be shy in saying hello (mail at jacobsamlarose dot com).

Apr 13

C.M. Burroughs interviewed by Jan Beatty on Prosody

CMB: Al Young charged a group of us black poets from Cave Canem with writing political poems. Maybe six months later, Toi [Derricote] asked me if I was going to write about being black and write about race. Maybe six months after that Thomas [Sayers Ellis] asked me— or rather, told me, once I'd begun writing these poems about race— told me that it was an important thing, that not so many poets were doing it, and that we really had to get out there and start speaking for the people and for what's happening in actual life, not the existential poetry we read that includes flowers and pretty things, but the grit of life and living.

...

JB: How do you respond as an artist to someone, even— I'm assuming these people are your teachers— even if someone is your teacher, saying you need to write about this, you need to do this, and then you sit down and do your work, does that mean you necessarily would do that, or... I mean, a lot of writers I know see their work rising organically from the page. How do you make sense of those forces?

CMB: I believe in it, in the organics of poetry, and all that is fine and well, but I think that these poets, particularly these people— Thomas, Al and Toi— asking these things out of me, you know, whether they felt it was need or not, I discovered the need in myself to write through these things, if not just about them.
Aug 30

“We had a lot of trouble with western mental health workers who came here immediately after the…”

We had a lot of trouble with western mental health workers who came here immediately after the genocide and we had to ask some of them to leave.

They came and their practice did not involve being outside in the sun where you begin to feel better. There was no music or drumming to get your blood flowing again. There was no sense that everyone had taken the day off so that the entire community could come together to try to lift you up and bring you back to joy. There was no acknowledgement of the depression as something invasive and external that could actually be cast out again.

Instead they would take people one at a time into these dingy little rooms and have them sit around for an hour or so and talk about bad things that had happened to them. We had to ask them to leave.



- ~A Rwandan talking to a western writer, Andrew Solomon, about his experience with western mental health and depression.

From The Moth podcast, ‘Notes on an Exorcism’. (via jacobwren)
Aug 30

“Do the work. It’s a stay against paralysis, against the descent of dread. It’s less dramatic than…”

“Do the work. It’s a stay against paralysis, against the descent of dread. It’s less dramatic than “seize the day!” more affirming than “stop overthinking everything!” It is functional, and that’s what she’s trying to be. Do the work.”

- The Weird, Scary and Ingenious Brain of Maria Bamford - NYTimes.com (via dc-via-chicago)
Aug 29

“At the core of Pollen is an argument: First, that digital books should be the best books we’ve ever…”

At the core of Pollen is an argument:

First, that digital books should be the best books we’ve ever had. So far, they’re not even close. Second, that because digital books are software, an author shouldn’t think of a book as merely data. The book is a program. Third, that the way we make digital books better than their predecessors is by exploiting this programmability.

That’s what Pollen is for.



-

Pollen: the book is a program

Pollen is a publishing system that helps authors create beautiful and functional web-based books. Hallelujah.

Aug 28

No secret— I like the idea of self-tracking and quantified…



No secret— I like the idea of self-tracking and quantified living. My set up is less than ideal right now. Although I’ve experimented with capturing different datasets, I’ve never really managed to get the balance right between the effort required to establish and maintain a self-tracking discipline, and the actual return offered through points of learning derived from the data. Or to put it another way— I haven’t managed to satisfactorily reconcile the cost transforming captured data into meaningful information.

The Jawbone UP24 captures activity passively. That, and Moves on the iPhone are my longest running tracking efforts. Beyond those, I’m currently focusing on a set of Q&A style applications and intiatives, searching for correlations. Each of the following apps demands your attention at random points during your day, and asks you a series of questions.

Reporter (iPhone app)

You get to determine the questions you’re asked. The app itself offers some pretty attractive charts, and there are some interesting conduits to visualisations of the data you capture. It’s the most attractive app of the bunch, and the one I’ve had the longest, but the one I respond to least.

Mappiness (iPhone app)

Yes, another iPhone app, part of a research project at the London School of Economics that’s specifically interested in happiness in relation to specific places. There’s a useful set of charts and correlations built-in, and while they’re not as easy on the eye as Reporter’s, they’re probably more informative, at least out of the box. I’ve been a little more consistent with answering Mappiness whenever it calls for attention…

Track Your Happiness (web app)

I’ve just started using this one. It’s very reminiscent of Mappiness— some of the questions and categories are eerily similar, although attributed to a research project out of Harvard. That said, I like the variation in questions that are offered up. Although the base questions remain the same (Do you have to do what you’re doing right now? Do you WANT to do what you’re doing right now? Are you alone? And so on…) each call to respond throws up something slightly different, and this novelty makes it a little more interested to answer the call, pushing beyond the drudgery of capturing data and making each mini-interview an opportunity to pause and reflect.

Early days yet, but I’m really curious to see what I’ll learn from each of these, if I use them for long enough…

Aug 27

“…looking back at some of his earlier work, Bailey is now the first to admit that pushing too…”

“…looking back at some of his earlier work, Bailey is now the first to admit that pushing too hard and being too bold is an occupational hazard. “People have said, ‘White boy, you are messing with my culture. You have no right to tell the story of our spiritual practices or our history, because you are getting it all wrong.’ And I can’t defend those works today in the same way I could back then. For all I know, I could look back at Exhibit B in 10 years and say, ‘Oh my God, I am doing exactly what they are accusing me of.’ But that’s the risk you take. It comes with the territory.””

-

Edinburgh’s most controversial show: Exhibit B, a human zoo | Stage | The Guardian

Exhibit B is coming to the Barbican, later in September.

I received a request to participate in a petition via Facebook against the work (insert love letter to social media here) on the basis that, with black people presented in cages for the benefit of an audience, the work was, at its core, racist.

I can appreciate the knee-jerk. And the parallels between this and the kind of “human zoos” of the past that this work seeks to make comment on. That said, the entire enterprise is predicated on that notion: making comment upon a way of viewing people of colour and otherness, and to challenging the thinking behind viewing “the other” through the lens of spectacle.

I wonder how many of the protesters took a stand against it before they knew what the work is about, and what its intentions are?

How many contemporary portrayals of “otherness” are essentially leveraged in a similar, spectacular way, made more suspect for the lack of interrogation or challenge? How much is swallowed without question because the cages and bars that once separated us from “the other” have been replaced by (television/computer) screens?

Rather than joining the call to protest about the work before its staged, I’m planning to experience it first, then attempt to decide for myself how “successful” it seems to be.

Aug 26

“The teens are calling it CADcore, a more aggressive variant of renderscape. Mostly, it’s…”

“The teens are calling it CADcore, a more aggressive variant of renderscape. Mostly, it’s bewildering.”

-

This Japanese music video is quite strange | The Verge

Oh descriptors, how I love you.

Also: desire to write a poem like this (the twinned audio-visual experience that this video offers). Hm.

Aug 25

“Readers don’t want something that merely rehashes outmoded styles, but are interested in how…”

“Readers don’t want something that merely rehashes outmoded styles, but are interested in how authors react to – and distill – the times in which we live. The best new books are written in a form appropriate to our lives as we experience them now, not as we did 100 years ago.”

-

Hard books for hard times: literary experimentation gains popularity | Books | The Guardian

Dear poet— this applies to you as well.

Aug 24

Protesters bearing witness in Ferguson, MO (Scott Olson/Getty,…



Protesters bearing witness in Ferguson, MO (Scott Olson/Getty, via Front Page)”>Rhizome | Rhizome Today)

Aug 23

“If I’m not getting anything out of self-tracking that’s worth the set up time, battery draining, and…”

“If I’m not getting anything out of self-tracking that’s worth the set up time, battery draining, and mindfulness of checking up on my data, is it worth it? Of course not. Each of these services I drop is one less piece of mental clutter, more space on my hard drive, and—yes—less data I’m giving up for free to some venture-backed startup company that’s just going to get eaten by Facebook or Google in a year or two. Which is why I stick with tracking stuff that focuses on actionable data. If I know I’m spending two hours a week on Facebook, or Tweetbot is my most used iPhone app, that’s actionable data.”

-

A Few More Thoughts On Self-Tracking - Sanspoint. - Essays on Technology and Culture by Richard J. Anderson

I’ve been mentioning Quantified Self A LOT in recent professional development workshops, but I’m very aware of the fact that it’s hard to get into a deeper conversation about it with people who are new to the notion of self-tracking without a) a relatively easy pathway to collect meaningful data-points and b) a relatively easy way to visualise, correlate and learn from said data.

Yes, I sport a Jawbone UP for physical activity and sleep, and I use Moves on the iPhone primarily to map my movements day to day (with a little bit of added context for categories of movement— walking, running, cycling, driving etc). Moves, through some internet wizardry that I can’t even remember how I set up, sends data to Runkeeper, which loops back to my UP account. But that’s just physical activity. There’s an entire other layer of activity I’d like to be able to report on, but only if I can find the easiest meaningful way to do it…

Aug 22

“The thing about life in the real world is, all your hopes and dreams and desires and feelings are…”

“The thing about life in the real world is, all your hopes and dreams and desires and feelings are trapped inside you. Reality doesn’t care — it’s stiffly, primly indifferent to your inner life. But in a fantasy world, all those feelings can come out. When you cast a spell, you use your desires and emotions to change reality. You reshape the outer world to look more like your inner world. You have demons in your subconscious? In a fantasy world those demons can get out, where you can grapple with them face to face. The story I was telling was impossible, and I believed in it more than I believed in the 10,000 entirely reasonable, plausible things I’d written before. Fantasy is sometimes dismissed as childish, or escapist, but I take what I am doing very, very seriously. For me fantasy isn’t about escaping from reality, it’s about re-encountering the challenges of the real world, but externalized and transformed. It’s an emotionally raw genre — it forces you to lay yourself open on the page. It doesn’t traffic in ironies and caveats. When you cast a spell you can’t be kidding, you have to mean it.”

-

Finding My Voice in Fantasy - NYTimes.com

Mmmm. Throwing fuel on the spark of a desire to experiment with sic-fi poetry and/or short fiction…

Aug 21

“so far, it has raised over 10 million dollars… and counting. my mom has spent every single day of…”

so far, it has raised over 10 million dollars… and counting. my mom has spent every single day of her life for the past three decades trying to get this kind of attention and funds for this disease.

i don’t care if it’s a stupid gimmick. i don’t care if people are just doing this because it’s trendy or because they want pats on the back. i don’t care if it’s the new harlem shake. i don’t care if for the rest of my life, when i talk about ALS, i have to say “you know, the ice bucket disease.”

please, everybody, please keep pouring buckets of ice over your heads. please keep donating money. please keep talking about this.



-

amy phillips: on the ice bucket challenge

I’ve seen a number of posts on the internet speaking out against the ice-bucket thing, and how the challenge has little to do with the disease. And then: this. Go read the whole post for the full story.

Attention is currency.

Aug 21

(via A Softer World: 1137)



(via A Softer World: 1137)

Aug 20

“Freed of my compulsive student ticks, I actually read the poem.”

“Freed of my compulsive student ticks, I actually read the poem.”

-

THE POEM: Jack Kerouac’s 11th Chorus of Desolation Blues | B O D Y

And: “…there’s value to playing around and seeing what I can do when I’m not trying to please. And there’s value to knowing that I’m utterly free, free as empty space, and I don’t have to be cautious, don’t have to be serious, don’t ever, ever have to be anybody else’s idea of poetry.”

Aug 19

Sarah Lewis, from The Rise (via View From the Ledge)



Sarah Lewis, from The Rise (via View From the Ledge)

Aug 18

“Despite hand-wringing at each technological turn — radio, the Internet — the future will be much…”

“Despite hand-wringing at each technological turn — radio, the Internet — the future will be much like the past. Artists will sell some things but also give some things away. Change may be troubling for those who crave less ambiguity, but the life of an artist has never been filled with certainty.”

- Jonathan Lethem, "The Ecstasy of Influence" (via monicawendel)
Aug 15

The REAL to-do list. While I was travelling…



The REAL to-do list.

While I was travelling (Philadelphia—>NY—>Toronto), I fell into the habit of making diagrammatic journal entries on the iPad, through Paper. I’m currently using a cheap (but much loved) micro-fibre tipped stylus/pen, but if this continues, I might have to spring for one of those bluetooth enabled precision-tip things…

Aug 14

I’ve been reminded of Robert Montgomery’s work today….



I’ve been reminded of Robert Montgomery's work today. (Thanks, Kathleenjoy). Gotta love the way work like this resurfaces through the internet feedback loop; tides of discovery that echo and rebound across the web. You discover something, file it away on your Tumblr blog or in your Pinboard account, and every now and again, someone in your network discovers it, independently, and summons it up again. I’m sure there’s an algorithm or theory that determines the proper amount of distance between nodes that codes for the best manifestation of this principle of echoed discovery. An alternative form of spaced repetition, perhaps?

I’d be really interested in doing something like this. Making poetry tangible; playing with installations, light, photography. Add to the someday/maybe file…

Having attended Nine Worlds this weekend, I should also start experimenting with sci-fi shorts. Do we still call it sci-fi, or is it all just speculative fiction now? Hm. I feel a map of should-dos coming on…

Aug 13

“When people say they want to “get fit”, what they mean is that they want to adapt their bodies to a…”

“When people say they want to “get fit”, what they mean is that they want to adapt their bodies to a different environment or set of demands. But from this perspective, you can’t “get fit” in order to change the way you live — you have to change the way you live if you are adapt to something else. The psychological dimension between the brain and the body is a huge factor here: add an extra twenty pounds and your body reacts by infusing you with a lethargic attitude that prompts you to wallow in Candyland. But get accustomed to an exercise-induced endorphin rush and you’ll feel miserable if you don’t get your daily dose! You can never eliminate the reciprocal patterns of thinking that influence your behaviour — but you can significantly influence them. More precisely: you can only shape who you are by shaping the variables that you must adapt to. Therefore, “getting fit” is simply forcing your body to create new feedback loops of adaptation.”

-

Adaptive You | James Shelley

This. “The big question is: what are you adapting to?” All of those other changes in your life/career/output (etc) you want to manifest? What variables do you need to shape in order to adapt accordingly?

Aug 12

Thoughts on poetic computation and assistive technology. Taken…



Thoughts on poetic computation and assistive technology. Taken out of context (see more thoughts on assistive technology here) but… mmmm.

(via School for poetic computation (SFPC) - Call for the Fall 2014 term (@sfpc_school) / by @tchoi8)

Aug 11