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Foreword

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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

“Art is very good at capturing what’s lacking in our life. You can tell what’s missing from a person…”

“Art is very good at capturing what’s lacking in our life. You can tell what’s missing from a person or a society from looking at the art they like.”

- “The more enemies Alain De Botton makes in the art world, the better off for all of us.” | gapingvoid (via sparkspring)
Sep 16

“It’s even more complicated than this, because within the two extreme primary identity states, there…”

“It’s even more complicated than this, because within the two extreme primary identity states, there have to be many different voices. As a generator, you must be able to convincingly take on a vast plurality of languages, perspectives, opinions. You have to see the world from the point of view of a man or woman, animal, plant, rock, cloud, microbe. Really see it, not just dress yourself up in a chimpanzee costume and jump around. You have to be the beast. And the critic has to sit in every seat in the house, listen to hear if the sound is coming through, check sightlines from every angle, can the front row see the tenor sweating too much, does the soprano project to the cheap seats, do the backdrops look ridiculous when you turn up the house lights for the finale, will kids be able to sit through it, will old people be offended by the jokes, is it too risqué for the sponsor, or too middle-of-the-road for the enthusiasts? And the moderator has to be there all along reminding both extremes that none of this actually matters; it’s all illusion, unless it’s serving a higher purpose.”

-

Work: Surviving the Arts | [PANK] by Scott Pinkmountain

This, and: “Once you’ve established the partitioning, work.”

Sep 15

Photo



Sep 15

one-offs-from-slb79: apoetreflects: “I have no shrewd advice…



one-offs-from-slb79:

apoetreflects:

"I have no shrewd advice to offer developing writers about this business of snatching time and space to work.  I do not have anything profound to offer mother-writers or worker-writers except to say that it will cost you something.  Anything of value is going to cost you something."

—Toni Cade Bambara, author, filmmaker, feminist, professor and social activist

All. this. truth. (cc:
grownladynotebook
)
Sep 14

Photo



Sep 14

Sunday afternoon, and no rest for the wicked…



Sunday afternoon, and no rest for the wicked…

Sep 14

“The hurricane does not roar in pentameters”

“The hurricane does not roar in pentameters”

- Kamau Brathwaite (via mountstnobody)
Sep 14

“I would like to be remembered more for being a good person who helped others advance themselves as…”

“I would like to be remembered more for being a good person who helped others advance themselves as opposed to only being a guy who made things, but I am a guy who makes things. I hope there is some kind of legacy left by the work I’m doing…”

- Jon Setzen on The Great Discontent (TGD)
Sep 13

A 100-year artwork. Mmm. Yes, we do our work day by day. We…



A 100-year artwork. Mmm.

Yes, we do our work day by day. We build monuments to our creative obsessions and preoccupations brick by brick. How many of us are invested in the kind of vision that might not come to fruition in our lifetimes— something that extends so far beyond us? How many of us think on a scale that even approaches this?

Sep 12

“I no longer have patience for certain things, not because I’ve become arrogant, but simply because I…”

“I no longer have patience for certain things, not because I’ve become arrogant, but simply because I reached a point in my life where I do not want to waste more time with what displeases me or hurts me. I have no patience for cynicism, excessive criticism and demands of any nature. I lost the will to please those who do not like me, to love those who do not love me and to smile at those who do not want to smile at me. I no longer spend a single minute on those who lie or want to manipulate. I decided not to coexist anymore with pretense, hypocrisy, dishonesty and cheap praise. I do not tolerate selective erudition nor academic arrogance. I do not adjust either to popular gossiping. I hate conflict and comparisons. I believe in a world of opposites and that’s why I avoid people with rigid and inflexible personalities. In friendship I dislike the lack of loyalty and betrayal. I do not get along with those who do not know how to give a compliment or a word of encouragement. Exaggerations bore me and I have difficulty accepting those who do not like animals. And on top of everything I have no patience for anyone who does not deserve my patience.”

- Meryl Streep, via I no longer have patience | Ioadicaeu’s Blog
Sep 11

“Creators do not ask how much time something takes but how much creation it costs. This interview,…”

“Creators do not ask how much time something takes but how much creation it costs. This interview, this letter, this trip to the movies, this dinner with friends, this party, this last day of summer. How much less will I create unless I say “no?” A sketch? A stanza? A paragraph? An experiment? Twenty lines of code? The answer is always the same: “yes” makes less. We do not have enough time as it is. There are groceries to buy, gas tanks to fill, families to love and day jobs to do.”

-

Creative People Say No — Medium

Yes to this.

Sep 10

“It’s not the tools that matter, it’s the intention with which you use them. It’s how you see the…”

“It’s not the tools that matter, it’s the intention with which you use them. It’s how you see the world and the people you choose to serve. It’s why you show up and how much of yourself you put into the work that matters.”

-

What Lens Do You Use? | The Story of Telling - Bernadette Jiwa

I’m contemplating getting back into photography again. As in: with a camera, not just the iPhone. If you were ever familiar with my photoblog, you’ll know that it’s become an archive for images I’ve captured at the poetry event associated with one of the communities of young/emerging poets I work with. That aside, I’m crushing on a full frame Sony A7 for as the next vehicle for my on-again-off-again love affair with taking pictures.

My favourite camera to date has probably been a Bronica ETRSi. Apart from the quality of the images, the physical sensation of framing a shot through the top-down viewfinder and releasing the shutter was… well, I’ve never got anywhere close to it with any digital camera I’ve owned. My current goto is a Sony NEX 5N, which is capable of pretty darn fine images, particularly bearing in mind its size. But I had the opportunity to hold an A7 over the weekend, and I was reminded of shooting film all over again. Could be time to EBay some camera gear to justify the expenditure…

Of course, as the quote reminds, none of that matters if I’m not doing the work of getting out into the world and taking pictures in the first place.

(Nod to LazarusDodge

Sep 9

“There’s something about the cosmic perspective, which for some…



"There’s something about the cosmic perspective, which for some people is enlightening and for other people it’s terrifying. For those who are terrified by it, they’re here on earth and they have a certain self-identity, and then they learn that earth is tiny and we’re in this void of interplanetary space and then there’s a star that we call the Sun and that’s kind of average and there’s a hundred billion other stars in a galaxy. And our galaxy, the Milky Way, is one of 50 or 100 billion other galaxies in the universe. And with every step, every window that modern astrophysics has opened to our mind, the person who wants to feel like they’re the center of everything ends up shrinking. And for some people they might even find it depressing, I assert that if you were depressed after learning and being exposed to the perspective, you started your day with an unjustifiably large ego. You thought more highly of yourself than in fact the circumstances deserved."

Sep 8

“So many times, we make decisions about who we are – who we want to be, who we aspire to be, what we…”

So many times, we make decisions about who we are – who we want to be, who we aspire to be, what we aspire to do – based on what we believe are our own self-imposed limitations, not those of the world. And we live inside those self-imposed limitations, without any sense that we can actually expand [them] if we let ourselves.

[…]

I don’t think it’s a matter of overcoming [our] fears – fears are fears, and we have a reptilian brain which we can’t simply turn on and turn off… It is critical to live despite those fears – if you’re waiting for the fears to go away, they’re not. You have to make a decision that you want [what you want] more than you want to be held back or self-protected by those fears.



- A magnificent conversation with Debbie Millman, who is an incessant source of wisdom on how to live a good life and how to muster the courage necessary for a creative career.  (via explore-blog)
Sep 5

“I’m no master magician but I do know how wonder feels. There are many good things about magic…”

I’m no master magician but I do know how wonder feels. There are many good things about magic and I feel that it’s my job, as a parent, to make those things so ridiculously awesome that my kid never loses the feeling of awe that the world can provide.

Magic is a predecessor to science. It provides hope where there is the mundane.

"Daddy, will you still have magic when you get old?"

"As long as you believe in daddy’s magic, I will have magic"

"Even when you get tired?"

"Especially when I get tired"



-

The Origin of Magic

I’m not yet a parent, but this is stored in my parenthood file. I’m also all about this for all of the young people I work with. Never lose the feeling of awe. With this in mind, you might say poetry = the flavour of magic that I practise.

Sep 2

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