Poets of the Week: William James and Nathan Say

Poets of the Week: William James and Nathan Say

"Poetry empowered me to champion the good in where I come from."

This begins another month of poetry and interviews. To view last month's articles, check out my profile. Also, congrats to Cal Harris and Ashley August for being the most shared article last month with 190 shares!

This week I sat down and talked to William James, author of "Rebel Hearts & Restless Ghosts" and train enthusiast, and Nathan Say, a disability consultant and Las Vegas poet! Here's what they had to say on changing the world, social issues, empowerment, and more!

Q: What is the first thing that people learn about you from your poetry?

William James: I suppose everyone potentially learns something different about me depending on what poem they're in conversation with, how well they already know me, and countless other variables, so I can't say for sure what The One Thing People Learn would be. I hope that anyone who reads or listens to my poems comes away knowing that I care deeply about things, even more deeply about people, and am not hesitant to seek out the value in that which our society has declared valueless.

Nathan Say: That my disability, queerness and otherness are fully incorporated parts of my body. I think there are lots of people with disabilities that try to ignore their disability and try to “integrate.” I spent a lot of years trying to not get in people’s ways instead of demanding the space (both physically and culturally) that I (and everyone else) deserves, and I hope my poetry can show the “others” of the world that its OK to exist in the world as they are.

Q: If your life were made into a movie, what actor would you want to play you?

William James: Have you ever seen that movie American Splendor? It's an indie flick from the early 2000's about the life of the comic artist Harvey Pekar. Paul Giamatti played Harvey, and absolutely nailed the character... so I think I'd want my dude Paul to play me in the unlikely event that anyone ever found my life interesting enough to turn into a movie.

Nathan Say: Josh Blue-- He’s a comedian with Cerebral Palsy.

Q: Right now, what is the most important social issue in your world?

William James: I don't like the idea of attempting to assign a hierarchy to social issues; especially as a straight white cis man, it's not for me to try and define one social issue as the "most important" because so few of the battles currently being fought in the name of social justice apply to my day to day life. I can say that the ones that affect me the most directly are mental health awareness & suicide prevention advocacy, and working class struggle. I identify strongly with the working class. I'm someone with several-generations-long lineage of blue-collar, working class roots. My father has worked in a factory for as long as I can remember. My maternal grandfather worked for years on a farm, my paternal grandfather worked for the Farm Bureau, then as a truck driver. My great-grandparents also labored on the farms. I've had extended family members who have, at various points, been janitors, housekeepers, personal care aides, etc. Nobody in my family has ever held what society would consider a "glamorous" job. There's been lifetimes of hard work for low wages in my bloodline, and as I've started using poetry as a means to explore the ways I self-identify, that past has become important to me. So, that's the issue that is most prominent in my own solipsistic world... but is it the Most Important Issue? Not for me to say.

Nathan Say: Centering male sexual assault occurrences, specifically letting people know how frequently it occurs and how often it occurs. 1 in 4 men in the United States have experienced rape or physical assault in their lifetime, according to the National Domestic Violence website.

Q: If you could go back in time and meet 1 poet, who would you meet, where would you meet, and why?

William James: Hands down, I would want to meet Philip Levine. Specifically, before he became the poet laureate, when he was still working in the factory. I'd love to have the chance to see that factory floor with him, to see how that shaped his sense of poetics first hand. Until someone showed me a copy of "What Work Is," I never knew that there existed someone who was both unapologetically working class AND proudly a poet.

Nathan Say: Dinner with Anne Sexton. I think “Wanting to Die” was one of the pivotal pieces that really unlocked a desire to explore all the things in my life that I’m afraid of.

Q: How has poetry empowered you? In what ways?

William James: Coming from a blue collar family, living in a small town (population 480 as of the 2010 census) where anything literary or artistic was viewed as frivolous & a waste of good resources, poetry first empowered me to simply break away from that utilitarian point of view, and appreciate things for the sheer beauty of their existence. I lived for most of my life in what is always derisively referred to as "flyover country," that place the people from the Big City say is worthless & a drain on the system. Poetry empowered me to champion the good in where I come from.

Nathan Say: I move through the world very quickly and frightened generally. So when I come to the page to write or go to the stage to perform I use the blank page as this really expansive place where I can explore what is in my mind and heart, and that sounds fairly foofie doofie, but I feel the truth of that. And also, it helps me find a community.

Q: Where do you call home?

William James: Everywhere & nowhere. Sometimes home is a chair by a campfire, sometimes it's in the pit at a hardcore show, sometimes it's a poetry slam or open mic. I am most at home when I'm riding in the cafe car or the sightseeing lounge of a passenger train bound for literally anywhere. But really, home is wherever I can go to be among people who agree with me that I deserve to exist.

Nathan Say: Las Vegas, NV

Q: If you could change 1 thing in the poetry community, what would you change?

William James: I am tired, more than anything, of the internal rating system that we have established, where we've decided that the technical skill of a person's poem is equal to that person's inherent value to the community. I truly believe that the kid reading on the open mic for the very first time ever is exactly as valuable to the community as the rock star poet with the million views on YouTube. My first year at the National Poetry Slam, I overheard a Very Important & Well Known Poet saying that you could "tell how good a city's poets were by how tall their buildings are." I hate everything about that mentality (refer to my home town being called "worthless flyover country" so many times). If I could change anything, it would be that we, ALL OF US, champion the unpolished, the raw, the (dare I say it) "less talented" members of our communities as much as we champion the shining stars.

Nathan Say: We really need to work on being more inclusive. There is a lot of ableism, homophobia and transphobia that we need to address in a very real way.

Q: Any plans for the future?

William James: I've just started sending out the manuscript for my second poetry book out to publishers to see if I can find a home for it. Simultaneously, I'm working on two other collections - one, a series of deconstruction poems written using only words that appeared in the lyrics to some of my favorite albums (links to examples of these poems can be found on my website); the other a narrative poetry collection chronicling the events of a flash flood my family survived back in 1996. I recently founded an online poetry journal called Beech Street Review, which will be dropping its second issue in November. I'm going to try to keep my head down and do The Work.

Nathan Say: Working on my MFA right now at Pacific University, while also working on a manuscript, it is always perpetually almost finished.

Q: Anything else? (Comments, links, poems, etc?)

William James: Beech Street Review is always open for submissions - send us something! Also, I still have some copies of my first collection available, so buy one from me maybe, I guess.

Nathan Say: Thank you. I’ve included a link to one of my signature pieces.

Next Week: Christopher Michael and Malt Schlitzmann

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Atlantic City Should Be Immediately Added To Your Travel Bucket List, There's More Than Meets The Eye With This Gem

There's something for everyone.

When people usually hear the word “AC” they usually picture large amounts of alcohol, endless rows of poker tables, and flashy slot machines. However, the truth is Atlantic City has much more to offer than meets the eye. Since my first trip to Atlantic City on my 13th birthday to see Kelly Clarkson live, I found each trip after that to offer me something new and exciting.

Below I’ve listed some gems of the city besides the typical casinos and clubs.

1. Tanger Outlets and the playground

Unless you are a local or have visited before, you probably wouldn’t know that Atlantic City is actually home to two major shopping centers, the Tanger Outlets, and the Playground. The Tanger Outlets is my personal favorite as it has over 100 stores to shop in. The Playground is also fairly popular amongst visitors and has high-end stores such as Louis Vuitton and Tiffany’s. The Playground though is generally more expensive to shop in and as a girl who appreciates a good bargain, I would recommend to check out the Tanger Outlets first.

2. The Steel Pier

The Steel Pier is great for a day out and to bring out the inner child in all of us. It is open from April to October each year and features an arcade, over 20+ carnival themed rides, and even a helicopter service to see the sights from bird's eye view! In addition, the Steel Pier also offers many holiday and seasonal events that are always well organized and exciting to attend.

3. Great dining

Atlantic City has such a variety of dining options that it's almost impossible to find a place that you don’t like. Some of my personal favorite places to eat include Tropicana’s Carmine’s Italian Restaurant, Harry’s Oyster Bar and Seafood, and the Melting Pot. Most restaurants are within walking distance from the hotels, but still, make sure to make reservations as you may not get seated right away!

4. Rooftop and indoor pools

One of my personal favorite things about AC is their abundance of rooftop and indoor pools! When traveling during the summer I suggest spending an afternoon at your resort’s rooftop pool. Even If your resort doesn’t have one, many hotels offer day passes to theirs. As for indoor pools, they tend to actually be pretty nice and quiet during the winter months.

5. Concerts and shows

From outdoor beach concerts as pictured above to small comedy shows, AC has it all. Since AC is filled with large hotels with clubs and concert stages, it isn’t hard to find a show for you. Below I have listed some of the most anticipated concerts and shows for this season in the AC area, so be sure to get your tickets soon if you plan on going!

Most Popular Upcoming Shows

Sat Mar 24th, 12:00 PM and 6:00 PM: Atlantic City Beer and Music Festival-Atlantic City Convention Center-Atlantic City, NJ

Sat April 14th,8:00 PM: Jerry Seinfeld-Borgata Events Center- Atlantic City, NJ

Sat May 26th,7:00PM: Keivn Hart-Boardwalk Hall Arena-Atlantic City, NJ

Sun Jul 1st,2:00PM-Sam Hunt-Atlantic City Beach-Atlantic City, NJ

Thurs/Fri/Sat-July 19th, 20th, 21st-Britney Spears-Borgata Casino Event Center-Atlantic City, NJ

Ultimately, Atlantic City is what you make of it. If you are looking for a traditional gambling and partying scene, AC can definitely give you that experience. However, AC is much more than this and I would go as far as recommending families to go on a weekend getaway here during the summer,as it offers something for every age. Hopefully, every reader can take something from this article and do some further research on what AC has to offer that relates to their specific interests.

Cover Image Credit: Allison Gass

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Lil Yachty's 'Lil Boat 2' May Not Be Enough To Keep Him Afloat

Here's what you need to know about "Lil Boat 2."

On March 9, Lil Yachty dropped his newest album, “Lil Boat 2.” The album consists of 17 songs, most of which were probably better off not being on the album and seriously failed to impress me, despite its early success on iTunes.

In all of the reviews I have ever written, I normally organize it song-by-song, giving feedback to each track. This time, however, I think I can save all of us time on this article by just being completely honest about Lil Yachty’s “Lil Boat 2.”

Most of the songs from 1-10 on the tracklist are NOT worth listening to.

"TALK TO ME NICE" (ft. Quavo), "GET MONEY BROS." (ft. Tee Grizzley) and "she ready" (ft. PnB Rock) are the only three songs from the first 10 that are even remotely enjoyable.

Other than those three, every other song from the top ten songs on the tracklist were absolute garbage.

The beats to the songs weren’t that bad but, overall, it just sounded like Lil Yachty and his features were WAY too high to be in the studio.

Yachty’s flows, bars and rhyme schemes were ALL weak throughout the entire album, and if it weren’t for the final six songs on “Lil Boat 2,” this review would be nothing but bashing Lil Yachty.

From the 12th track on the album, "MICKEY" (ft. Offset, Lil Baby) the album runs through much more smoothly, regardless of how basic those last couple of songs are.

I imagine Lil Yachty’s fanbase consists mostly of teenagers who eat tide for Internet views and anybody who knows nothing about what a real rapper is.

Seriously. I cannot stress how elementary this album is. If you’re looking for new rap music to listen to, check out Tory Lanez’s album, “MEMORIES DON’T DIE,” or Logic’s “Bobby Tarantino II.”

Both of those albums are so much better than “Lil Boat 2” that they make Yachty look like an amateur–which he is.

Final Score: 5.8/10
Cover Image Credit: Wikimedia Commons

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