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

Popular Right Now

How video conferencing is helping in making education easier

Video conferencing is becoming a big part of the world and is opening the lines of communication everywhere.

The lines of communication are currently being opened and those that are communicating are not in the same rooms or even the same cities. With the help of technology, there have been many improvements through the world of communication. There are many benefits that come with video conferencing in the education world. With this being said, students are able to get the education that they need to get more out of life and not have to live near a large city where a school may be available.

Video conferencing is changing the way that people learn, work and do many everyday things. It is continuing to help many more get the education they need without having to spend hours in a classroom setting. 

No Student is Left Out

Even those that live in far away places that might not have the ability to go to the class can benefit through the use of video conferencing. It helps by connecting these rural students via video conferencing. This leaves no one left out and provides everyone with an equal education. It provides the students with a chance to not miss out on anything when they’re unable to make the class. 

When before these students would not be able to visit the classroom, which meant that they would not get the education that they need to move out of the area that they live. With more access to these classrooms for all levels of education, more and more people are easily able to gain the education that they need to move forward in life without having to travel very far. 

Travel More

Since videos can bring us just about anywhere, the same goes for travel that you want to do around the world. Connecting one classroom to another in another country, allowing the students to interact and learn more about each other and opening the lines of communication through video conferencing is a great way to not only take a virtual field trip but also see more of the world and those cultures out there. It is a great way to learn more about the world around us and providing even more information regarding the place these people are from.

Many people want to see the world, but are unable to do so. With the use of video conferencing, you can meet up with just about anyone in the world that also has a camera and the same program. This way, you can see a bit of their world, while you share yours. This is always a great way to learn more, but also to take in the views around you and see how their world is different from yours.

Save Lessons and Other Notes

Instead of having to write everything down and then pin it up outside the classroom, you can save these lessons and other notes right on the web. You can use video conferencing recording to record the lesson and then put it up on the web for all to see. This is something that provides everyone with an equal chance to touch down on the lessons and other notes that they might have missed in the classroom the first time. This keeps everyone up to date on their learning and activities too, which means that no one is left behind. 

Bring in Experts

You’re easily able to bring in experts that can provide you with more information or teach the students more about a specific subject. A lot of times, this is something that you want to bring in the experts to teach the students about or even to let them meet someone that they have been talking about, such as an author. Instead of having them come to the school and spend time traveling to the area, a video conference can make it possible to have them speak with the students and give them a valuable lesson without having them come out to do so. 

Parent/Teacher Conference

When it comes to connecting parents with teachers, this is an important tool that can help more parents make it to the meetings since they just have to connect through this way and not have to actually show up at the conference to do so. With this being said, parents can keep up with their children and how they’re doing in school and it allows teachers to be more flexible on the times that these conferences can be done, benefiting everyone that has to sit down and talk about the children. 

Opens All Lines of Communications

The biggest benefit of being able to have video conferencing in education is that it opens the lines of communication on many levels. No one has to worry about not being able to speak with someone, read body language, miss a class or anything else because they’re able to virtually be there when they cannot be physically there. There is no need to travel to the destination anymore with the help of these virtual classes that allow you to be there and take the lesson that is being presented to you. By opening the lines of communication, everyone is able to learn easier and more effectively and the teacher will have a better time teaching the classroom.

Video conferencing is a great way to make teaching efficient and effective. It is also a great way to bring more students to the classroom instead of having them sit out the lessons that they’re unable to go to. There are numerous benefits that video conferencing has brought to other areas of the world, but education is one of those areas that it is needed the most, so that everyone can enjoy more out of the education that is given to the students. Video conferencing is a great thing to have and it will continue to get better with time. Eventually, it will be almost as if the person is sitting next to you in the classroom and not just on a screen in front of you. This will be more lifelike and even bring more benefits to everyone. Technology continues to amaze and benefit us all. 

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

Walt Disney World Tips from a Pro

Even the experts need tips.
Dixie
Dixie

I've learned a thing or two about Disney from my frequent trips there growing up. Although I would consider myself a "Disney Pro," even the pros need some help from time to time.  Here are 16 tips to take in mind during your next trip to Walt Disney World. 

Value Resorts have just as much to offer as Moderate or Deluxe Resorts.

I always hear that Value Resorts don't have as much to offer as Moderate or Deluxe Resorts, but I believe they have just as much to offer. You get the same perks you would if you stayed at Moderate Resort. Personally, I prefer staying Pop Century- this will always be my number one choice for a hotel when I go to Disney.

Get the Park Hopper Option.

Disney's Park Hopper option is a lifesaver, especially when you plan to spend 4 days at Walt Disney World. You get to experience 2 or more parks each day, which means twice the fun! My tip: try and visit all four parks in one day during your next trip!

Get the Disney Dining Plan, not the Disney Deluxe Dining Plan.

My parents made this mistake on two of our vacations. You become too focused on when you have to schedule a dinner and use your credits, instead of enjoying your trip. It will be worth it in the end.

Get Memory Maker.

Get Memory Maker to help make your trip a little easier. I recommend getting it before your trip because it is cheaper. Plus when you get home, you can customize you photos by adding boarders and stickers!

Get tons and tons of pins.

Disney has a variety of pins (they are free!) that you can get to help make your trip more magical. They have a first trip pin, a birthday pin, a celebrating pin, a just engaged pin, a just married pin, and even an anniversary pin. Make sure to grab yourself a few pins to take home!

Wear Matching Shirts.

Matching shirts bring humor to your trip. You can look back and see how silly you look wearing these over the top shirts. I used to be against them, but they are growing on me and are now a tradition in my family.

Buy Mickey Ears or a Mickey Hat.

No trip is complete without Mickey Ears or a Mickey Hat. Buy the pair that speaks to you or go with the classics. If you aren't a fan of ears, grab yourself a hat! You can customize the ears to make your trip more special. My favorite ears are my Star Wars ears (they light up), whereas my favorite hat is my graduation ears I got to remember my special day.

Download the Disney Parks app.

The Disney Parks app is a completely free app, which helps make your trip easier. You can get wait times in real time, as well as book dining, make FastPass+ reservations, and even look at your Memory Maker photos!

Character Dining isn't just for children.

You will not regret having breakfast, lunch, or dinner with the characters (even if you are an adult). Character dining helps make your trip more magical, knowing that you get to see the characters without having to stand in line. I think my personal favorite character dining has to be either Tusker House at Animal Kingdom (breakfast with Mickey and his safari friends) or Cinderella's Royal Table at Magic Kingdom (breakfast with Cinderella and the princesses).

You will have to stand in line at some point.

Unfortunately, you will have to stand in line at some point, whether it be to see a character or get on a ride or waiting for the bus, you will have to stand for long periods of time. My tip: wear comfortable shoes, it makes all the difference.

One word: FastPass+.

Get FastPass+ reservations 30 days in advance (if you have a reservation). FastPass+ is a game changer for Disney. Make sure to get FastPass+ for rides you really want to get on or for rides you know will have a long wait time. I recommend getting FastPass+ for Peter Pan (always over 120 wait time), Space Mountain, Seven Dwarfs, Splash Mountains, Test Track, Frozen Ever After, Avatar: Flight of Passage (absolutely amazing!), Expedition Everest, Aerosmith, and Tower of Terror.

Visit the Countries.

EPCOT's countries are one of Disney's best attractions (in my opinion). When I went to Disney with my best friend, I truly discovered the beauty of each country. My tip: take a photo in each country to show how each one is different.

Be sure to check out each resort.

If you have the time, go check out the resorts you would like to stay at. You can check out different resorts by simply hopping onto a bus or hopping on the Monorail to check out the resorts near Magic Kingdom, it's eye-opening to see how each resort is different. My favorite resort to visit is Disney's Grand Floridian, this hotel is so beautiful!

Spend time at your resort.

It's nice to spend a day or an evening taking in your resort. Whether it be spending the day at the pool or walking around to see the different themes, you paid money to stay there. I love staying at Pop Century because each group of rooms is based on a decade. Typically, I stay in the 50's and I love going to the Flower pool.

Ship your merchandise back to your room.

Disney's free delivery option makes spending money easy. You can get everything you buy sent back to your hotel, free of charge, as long as you fill out the form. I use this option because I typically buy glass ornaments or jewelry, it makes my life easier knowing it will be at my hotel instead of having to worry about it.

Splurge and get what you want.

You never know when you will be going back to Walt Disney World, so splurge and get what you want. Typically, I get Alex and Ani bracelets as my splurge item, but during my last trip, I got a pearl from China. It's my favorite piece of jewelry, worth every penny!!

Dixie
Dixie

Related Content

Facebook Comments