Poets Of The Week: Amir Safi And Jonathan Brown

Poets Of The Week: Amir Safi And Jonathan Brown

If you could go anywhere in the world, where would you go?

Last week I began a series of Poets of the Week with Sarah Frances Moran and Charlie de Courcy. If you missed the article, check it out here.

This week I had the chance to interview two wonderful poets from the southern part of the United States: Jonathan Brown, the Buddy Wakefield-inspired poet-turned-musician-turned-rule-breaker and Amir Safi, the lover of Whataburger and all things Texas. Here's what they had to say about their poetry.

Q: What is your biggest inspiration?

Amir Safi:Anything that makes me feel. Any feeling, emotions move me to write.

Jonathan Brown: Probably Janis Joplin. She’s the person I think of when I think about art and how I like it. Art doesn’t have to be pretty. It should be honest and passionate. It’s not about approval; it’s about feeling things together. I feel like that is the difference between art and entertainment, for me.

Q: What do you think is the single cleverest line you have ever written?

Amir Safi:“The violin says, ‘I broke a few bridges because too many songs sound like excuses.’”

Jonathan Brown: “Tomorrow will be yesterday in two days.” That’s from my song, Near Numb Ear Drum Drum Head.

Q: Do you prefer writing funny or serious poems and why?

Amir Safi:Currently, I really enjoy writing satire. I feel that humor is the best vehicle to illustrate meaning. This is why I believe people enjoy watching John Oliver among others so much.

Jonathan Brown: Blanket answer, I would say serious. However, I also don’t think that serious poetry works all the time. Your seriousness loses its weight when all of your emotions are on a similar volume level. When you stay in a range between 8.5 and 10 on an emotional volume scale, it is not that interesting. So, I am leaning more towards being a little funnier than I used to be.

Q: What is your biggest aspiration in life?

Amir Safi:My biggest professional aspiration right now is to retire, ha! My biggest personal aspiration is to be grateful. My biggest aspiration in poetry right now is to bring together awesome writers and get their work out in front of others through multiple outlets, including but not limited to Twitter, podcast, YouTube and of course the live stage. Context for this vision: Much like Impressionism was met by harsh criticism from the conventional art community in France, slam poetry has received the same reception from academia, but Drake doesn’t need a degree to prove that his art is worthy. Under Impressionism artists such as Renoir and Monet among others formed a community.

Could you imagine being in a community where you were working on a piece and Renoir came by to offer you his two cents? This is not to say that we are the equivalent to Drake or Renoir, just saying that we don’t need permission or approval to have value as writers. It is my goal to create such a community in Houston. It is my hope that AvantGarden, known for its rich history of hosting Houston poetry readings, becomes our own version of Café Gerbois. That goal has since grown through the establishment of the Write About Now YouTube channel and theWrite About Now” podcast as well as other social media channels. The Internet is another name for a boundless stage for artists to meet, collaborate, inspire and share.

Jonathan Brown: I think I am doing it, but I just want to do it more often. My biggest aspiration in life is to make art and travel the world. I just want to do it on a larger scale. In the past, I was a high school teacher for 8 years. When you are a teacher, almost none of what you do day-to-day is about you. However, this past year, going full-time with my art, it’s all about me. From how to make more art to how to be a better me, it isn’t as fulfilling as I expected it would be. So, next year, I want to do more workshops with young people. I want to do workshops in schools, prisons, and art museums. I miss seeing the spark of young people finding their voices. Right now, it feels like I’m constantly slam-dunking, but I really miss the assist.

Q: What is your favorite book of all time, poetic or otherwise?

Amir Safi: There are so many to choose from, but I would say the most influential/my favorite work is Siddhartha by Hermann Hesse and right beside it are various poetry collections from Rumi & Hafiz.

Jonathan Brown: My favorite book right now isWhat I Talk About When I Talk About Running by Haruki Murakami. It’s been really helpful to me. It’s an extended metaphor between writing and long-distance running. While I haven’t run a marathon yet, I have done two halves. I think that the metaphors in this book are spot-on.

Also, I really love the Bhagavad Gita, which is the Hindu holy book. It is the first ever self-help book and there are metaphors in every line. It is a gorgeous piece of poetry and art and scripture text in one.

Q: What is your proudest accomplishment?

Amir Safi:I don’t feel like I have a proudest accomplishment. That sounds sad, but I feel like my proudest accomplishment is always changing. At one point my proudest accomplishment was writing a poem or making a friend or getting an 100 on an exam or spelling a word right or getting the courage to read a poem or starting a nonprofit or winning Southern Fried or winning Southern Fried again or the fact that my parents still claim me or getting my work shared by major media networks or the fact that my girlfriend and I have been in a relationship together for three years and she still cares about me or being a big brother or crowd surfing for the first time in an inflatable raft during Steve Aoki’s set at the MTV Woody Awards. Honestly, I’m insatiable; I feel like I can always do better at everything. I don’t have a proudest accomplishment; I have a “that was a nice, now, how can I do better in the future-ishment?”

Jonathan Brown: I don’t have one. Every time I acknowledge a proudest moment, I attempt to destroy it. I think trophies are unhealthy for the mind. It’s being materialistic in a memory way. I’ve done a lot of fun things, but I don’t hold any one specific thing above the rest.

Q: If you could go anywhere in the world, where would you go?

Amir Safi:To sleep.

Jonathan Brown: Inside. I would go right into the birthplace of consciousness. I would go to the Big Bang and the end of the world at the same time. I’ve traveled a lot internationally and in the United States, and that’s a beautiful thing, but there’s really no place like home. When I talk about home, I am talking about the place that those executed on death row mention in their final words, a coming home. I mean a place that I can go to often while I’m still alive and is not necessarily a physical place.

Q: If you could only use 1 word to describe yourself and your poetry, what word would you use?

Amir Safi:Ambitious.

Jonathan Brown: I would like to say ‘honest.’ Other words like thankful, grateful, passionate, and thank you come to mind. But, I guess if I had to pick just one, I’d go with honest.

Q: What is a quote that you feel defines you or is your life motto?

Amir Safi:My favorite quote is "One day You will take my heart completely and make it more fiery than a dragon. Your eyelashes will write on my heart the poem that could never come from the pen of a poet” by Rumi, but the quote that most defines me is “No one knows in which shell the priceless pearl does hide” by Hafiz.

Jonathan Brown: My quote is “If you meet God [Buddha] on the road, kill him.” Once I figure out who I am, I look forward to creating a new definition and destroying it quickly. I look forward to more cross-pollination of music and poetry in my future.

Next Week: Ashlee Haze and Seth Marlin

Cover Image Credit: Amir Safi and Jonathan Brown

Popular Right Now

35 Major Life Facts According To Nick Miller

"All booze is good booze, unless it's weak booze."

Fact: If you watch "New Girl," you love Nick Miller.

You can't help it. He's an adorable, lovable mess of a man and you look forward to seeing him and his shenanigans each week. While living the infamous and incomparable life of Nick Miller, and obviously Julius Pepperwood— he has learned many valuable laws of the land. And, although Nick refuses to learn anything from anyone besides his mysterious, old Asian friend Tran, he does have a few lessons he'd like to teach us.

Here are 35 facts of life according to 'Nick Milla Nick Milla':

1. Drinking keeps you healthy.

"I'm not gonna get sick. No germ can live in a body that is 65% beer."

2. Dinosaurs never existed.

"I don't believe dinosaurs existed. I've seen the science. I don't believe it."

3. A paper bag is a bank.

"A bank is just a paper bag but with fancier walls."

4. Having sex is similar to delivering mail.

"I'm like a mailman, except instead of mail it's hot sex that I deliver."

5. Moonwalking is a foolproof way to get out of any awkward situation.

Jess (about Nick): "Now he won't even talk to me. I saw him this morning and he just panic moonwalked away from me. He does that sometimes."

6. Using a movie reference is also a great way.

Cece: "Come on, get up!"

Nick: "No, I don't dance. I'm from that town in "Footloose."

7. There's no reason to wash towels.

Nick: "I don’t wash the towel. The towel washes me. Who washes a towel?"

Schmidt: "You never wash your towel?"

Nick: "What am I gonna do? Wash the shower next? Wash a bar of soap?"

8. Exes are meant to be avoided at all costs (especially if/unless they're Caroline)

"I don't deal with exes, they're part of the past. You burn them swiftly and you give their ashes to Poseidon."

9. IKEA furniture is not as intimidating as it looks.

"I'm building you the dresser. I love this stuff. It's like high-stakes LEGOs."

10. You don't need forks if you have hands.

Jess: "That's gross. Get a fork, man."

Nick: "I got two perfectly good forks at the end of my arms!"

11. Sex has a very specific definition.

"It's not sex until you put the straw in the coconut."

12. Doors are frustrating.

"I will push if I want to push! Come on! I hate doors!"

13. All booze is good booze.

"Can I get an alcohol?"

14. ...unless it's weak booze.

"Schmidt, that is melon flavored liquor! That is 4-proof! That is safe to drink while you're pregnant!"

15. Writers are like pregnant women.

Jess: "You know what that sound is? It's the sound of an empty uterus."

Nick: "I can top that easily. I'm having a hard time with my zombie novel."

Jess: "Are you really comparing a zombie novel to my ability to create life?"

Nick: "I'm a writer, Jess. We create life."

16. All bets must be honored.

"There is something serious I have to tell you about the future. The name of my first-born child needs to be Reginald VelJohnson. I lost a bet to Schmidt."

17. Adele's voice is like a combination of Fergie and Jesus.

"Adele is amazing."

18. Beyoncé is extremely trustworthy.

"I'd trust Beyoncé with my life. We be all night."

19. Fish, on the other hand, are not.

“Absolutely not. You know I don’t trust fish! They breathe water. That's crazy!"

20. Bar mitzvahs are terrifying.

Schmidt: "It's a bar mitzvah!"

Nick: "I am NOT watching a kid get circumcised!"

21. ...so are blueberries.

Jess: "So far, Nick Miller's list of fears is sharks, tap water, real relationships..."

Nick: "And blueberries."

22. Take your time with difficult decisions. Don't be rash.

Jess: "You care about your burritos more than my children, Nick?"

Nick: "You're putting me in a tough spot!"

23. Getting into shape is not easy.

"I mean, I’m not doing squats or anything. I’m trying to eat less donuts."

24. We aren't meant to talk about our feelings.

"If we needed to talk about feelings, they would be called talkings."

25. We're all a little bit too hard on ourselves.

"The enemy is the inner me."

26. Freezing your underwear is a good way to cool off.

"Trust me, I'm wearing frozen underpants right now and I feel amazing. I'm gonna grab some old underpants and put a pair into the freezer for each of you."

27. Public nudity is normal.

"Everbody has been flashed countless times."

28. Alcohol is a cure-all.

"You treat an outside wound with rubbing alcohol. You treat an inside wound with drinking alcohol."

29. Horses are aliens.

"I believe horses are from outer-space."

30. Turtles should actually be called 'shell-beavers.'

Jess: "He calls turtles 'shell-beavers."

Nick: "Well, that's what they should be called."

31. Trench coats are hot.

"This coat has clean lines and pockets that don't quit, and it has room for your hips. And, when I wear it, I feel hot to trot!"

32. Sparkles are too.

"Now, my final bit of advice, and don't get sensitive on this, but you've got to change that top it's terrible and you've got to throw sparkles on. Sparkles are in. SPARKLES ARE IN."

33. Introspection can lead to a deeper knowing of oneself.

"I'm not convinced I know how to read. I've just memorized a lot of words."

34. It's important to live in the moment.

"I know this isn't gonna end well but the middle part is gonna be awesome."

35. Drinking makes you cooler.

Jess: "Drinking to be cool, Nick? That's not a real thing."

Nick: "That's the only thing in the world I know to be true."

Cover Image Credit: Hollywood Reporter

Related Content

Connect with a generation
of new voices.

We are students, thinkers, influencers, and communities sharing our ideas with the world. Join our platform to create and discover content that actually matters to you.

Learn more Start Creating

The Zodiac Signs As Bath And Body Works Scents

Just in case you want to know what scent you are!

Bath and Body Works fans could be considered to be part of a cult. The scents draw you in as if calling your name, if you ever
wondered what your scent should be based on your zodiac sign, here it is!

Aries: Country Apple

The rather impulsive Aries takes their time picking and choosing the scents from Bath and Body Works. The soothing scent of a fresh apple orchard is just what they need on a daily basis to keep up with their shenanigans.

Taurus: Japanese Cherry Blossom

The personality of a Taurus is stubborn, or what I like to say, is stuck in their ways. When they first discovered this scent in middle school, this was it. This is the only scent you will find anywhere around a Taurus.

Libra: Pink Chiffon

Pink Chiffon is another cult classic. This best selling scent went out of style for a hot second but is back and bigger than ever.

Leo: Thousand Wishes

Thousand Wishes is a purr-fect scent for a Leo. The light scent adornes the wearer just the right amount to get the desired reaction from those around them.

Aquarius: Be Enchanted

The rather cold personality of an Aquarius is counteracted by the loving scent of Be Enchanted. The scent is just enough tenderness for the wearer to be relaxed.

Gemini: Moonlight Path

Gemini's constantly change their favorite scent and are in and out of the store almost weekly to by new lotions, candles, and body washes. You will never see a full empty bottle of anything, however, Moonlight Path is the scent they keep coming back to again and again.

Virgo: Sea Island Cotton

The clean personality of a Virgo must be matched with the clean scent of Sea Island Cotton.

Capricorn: Cucumber Melon

Another clean scent of Cucumber Melon is the exact thing a Capricorn needs. The balance and calming scents are what make this scent so attractive to a Capricorn.

Scorpio: Paris Amour

The light scent is what you would expect from an extreme sign like a Scorpio. The scent lightly washes over the wearer in almost a cloud that

Sagittarius: Cashmere Glow

Cashmere Glow is a perfect scent for the winter sign. The vanilla and golden peach scent is just the mixture that creates the perfect accessory in the chilly months.

Pisces: Warm Vanilla Sugar

This lovely scent accentuates the lovely personality of a Pisces. They can never get enough of this scent so they just keep buying and buying until they have a full stockpile.

Cancer: Velvet Sugar

Velvet Sugar is the perfect blend of red velvet and strawberries and a Cancer is always changing their mind. The wearer can tell if it is a more red velvet or strawberry kind of day, and that is the balance that they need in their lives.

Related Content

Facebook Comments