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That One Night a Poetry Reading was Drowned out by the Background noise of an Excited dog and other Distractions

By Seth Singleton

I went to a poetry reading on August 30th.

I went to the reading to see two good friends Joseph Lease and Donna de la Perrière and to hear from a new poet named Natasha Saje from Utah.

I think it’s great to hear a different voice and hear her perspective. She called it a “dream come true and a marvelous experience.”

Vivarium-Book-Cover

Moe’s Books

It was held at Moe’s Books in Berkeley. Moe’s has a storied history among writers and poets.

Natasha is an English professor at Westminster College in Salt Lake City, and she made a point of stating that for her this was a powerful experience. It was a lot of fun to hear her description. Which, is understandable if you are just visiting or haven’t lived in the Bay Area for very long. Even if you have, Berkeley is similar to many bustling places, and the pace of our lives makes it easy to walk past gems like Moe’s and Pegasus bookstores on the way to work, the grocery store or coming home from anywhere.

Moe’s has a frenetic energy, in part, because of its location. It’s right at the corner of Telegraph and Dwight. Its location is prime not only because it is three blocks south of University Ave and the Berkely campus.

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The prime location invites street vendors, wanderers, and this can feel chaotic.  Unless you are familiar with this environment when you are driving or walking, and people who do not know where they are going, it can feel very confusing. When those people become restless, searching for a place where they can park or sit, and stop and think, it can be difficult to adapt to their erratic behavior and the response it evokes from others. The fact that unless you are familiar with the streets, being surrounded by people who are in a hurry is unsettling. They want to get somewhere that they can park and that makes it uncomfortable for anyone around them. They’re not going to drive with any comfort. It makes their actions seem sketchy, undecided, and inconsistent.

You’ve begun with this frantic energy that is so clear and prevalent and this great little bookstore that feeds on that momentum that people carry with them. Inviting anyone from outside to come in and experience the books and readings by Local and nonlocal poets. But it also creates the opportunity lack of understanding when it is clear to the people attending the reading that the people who are coming in and out are not paying attention to the reading or the impact that their coming and leaving are having.

I have some audio that I believe will illustrate or encapsulate one of these moments. We’ll see how well that works out. But I wanted to start out with this idea, in a bookstore on telegraph ave in Berkeley and a poetry reading. Because a few different ideas came out during this reading, and I think anyone who enjoys reading or writing or listening or even a public art performance like a poetry reading and experiencing this, what I am about to describe is probably going to feel not only familiar or disquieting in its familiarity whether you dislike people being interrupted, whether you dislike being interrupted yourself, when you are somewhere that you can’t control what’s happening around you when you are trying to enjoy something you want, again I think it goes back to that frenetic energy that I described.

Being aware of the reading

If you enjoy writing, reading, listening, or experience a public art performance or installation like a poetry reading and experiencing, what I am about to describe is going to feel not only familiar but also disquieting in its familiarity. Whether you dislike other people being interrupted or dislike being interrupted yourself, when you are somewhere that you can’t control what’s happening around you while you are trying to enjoy something that you want, I think it harkens back to that frenetic energy that I mentioned earlier.

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Sonorous Poetry – The Lyrical Joy

So, Joseph started off the reading with selections from his new book The Body Ghost. I first heard Joseph’s voice during the reading of excerpts from his early collections like Testify and Broken World. He has had poems featured in Best American Poetry and Norton’s anthology. They contain a lyrical quality that is something that has always drawn me to poetry.

I had the chance to talk with him after the reading. One of the first things that I focused on was that I enjoyed poetry because it is sonorous. It goes to my childhood and the musicality of the message. When I was a child, it was easy to receive my indoctrination into Christianity and Pentecostal through the engaging songs and the messages they relayed. They were inspirational and engaging. Over time they became familiar and comforting. Poetry has always offered that musicality that invites me to enjoy, and engage and participate.

So, there I was listening to Joseph read from The Body Ghost. It was funny that I ran into someone who was at another reading held at City Lights about 5 months ago, that I also attended. During a Q&A I pointed out a line that I really enjoyed about a skeleton in a suit stuffed in a mailbox. “Just a body in a mailbox.”

It was a very haunting image to me and presented so many different ideas. I mean questions of course. But, also interpretations of that image can ingrain itself on the brain, on the memory, and on the ear. The person I ran into was named Colin. When he talked about the reading he mentioned that someone had made a comment, and then he said repeated my comment about the mailbox. It was funny to share an affinity, that for me, had my own reasons for enjoying, and I am sure Colin also had his own, but that we could both have a connection for different reasons over the same line. We could both relate to Joseph’s work, not only through that one line but now through the shared experience of hearing it read aloud and engaging with it at a previous reading.

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After Joseph read, his wife Donna de la Pierre read from her upcoming chapbook. I don’t have any information on it at this time, and I don’t want to take the risk of bothering Joseph or Donna at this hour. However, if you would like to see some of Donna’s published poems you can start with True Crime.

Recording and Timing

Perhaps it is a good time to point out that when I am recording these podcasts before I transcribe them here, it is usually four or five in the morning. There is often less outside noise to create distractions. There are moments when I might be inspired to reach out and contact them. But, since they are in my timezone, and it is not two or three hours later in the day, they would probably prefer to just sleep and talk to me later.

Donna read from her new chapbook. She offers similar musical phrasing when she reads. And, yet, her voice is a different melody, that is a compliment to Joseph, but is also singular and that is a supplement to her style and voice.

And then there was Natasha, who I have never heard. She read selected poems from Vivarium. Someone who is writing from a different geography is writing from a different mindset that is based there. I like hearing that thinking because that it is often parallel and then perpendicular to my current internalization or rationalization of my ideas.

But, hearing the images and the sounds and the ideas that capture her desire for writing is a chance to see inside someone else’s process. And I like that, simply because it shows me something that I have not considered before. It encourages me to find ways to make my work stronger and better, and I think overall my work becomes more reflective. This allows me to engage more with the outside world and the subject I am trying to capture.

Without doing so I might have gotten as close as I could, but I know that I would not be able to get as close as I might consider. Simply because without knowing more, how can I consider more.

To contact Seth Singleton about storytelling, click here.

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Video Tutorial: How to leave me feedback about podcasts using the voice message feature on Anchor

By Seth Singleton

Do you ever wish you could tell someone on television that they were doing it wrong? It’s not that you are mean or that you are trying to hurt them, but you see something that they don’t or can’t.

What about radio?

Do you ever hear something that would sound better or if it was said differently?

It happens to me.

It’s not something that I try to do intentionally, but if I am listening or watching and I hear something that sounds wrong, my mind immediately pictures what it would sound like if it was better.

Then I wonder if there is some way that someone could have told them. Maybe I could have told them. But how?

When I post things I know that there is always a chance that I am doing it wrong. There is a mistake that I will miss or not catch. At some point, I know that I will hear or see or read the mistake and then I will hopefully fix it.

But, what if it wasn’t just up to me to catch the mistakes. What if other people could let me know too?

I think I could catch more errors.

Would that change things for me?

I think it would help me improve the quality of each new post.

Would I be aware of my mistakes earlier if someone let me know that I had made a mistake?

I would try to remember each reminder before I made a new post so that I could improve the quality and the content.

Would it have to be only mistakes?

I hope not. Don’t get me wrong, the value of someone pointing out what I did wrong is invaluable, but so is the idea of someone giving me support when I get it right.

Criticism or support can reveal how to turn a topic into a theme or series by changing my approach.

Use Your Voice

That’s one of the main reasons why I am glad that there is a message feature available through the Anchor platform.

Not only can you leave me your feedback, but you can do it in your voice.

Not sure how to spell the thing that you want to say?

Need to put some emphasis on a few words that will make all the difference in what you are trying to say?

Here’s your chance

The voice message service is one way that you can give me feedback on my podcasts. It’s also a great way for you and me to connect, and for me to hear how I can provide you with the content that you want.

To help you see how this works, I have included a series of screenshots and two short videos.

If you did not feel like reading everything above you can watch this short video about why I want to hear from you.

 

 

How it Works

The Recent Update

Anchor recently released an update for its app. The changes are cosmetic, but this short video shows you how to quickly navigate to the voice messages feature.

Making it Easier for You

 

 

Thanks for watching.

 

Contact Seth here

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Three Writers, Two Musicians, and One Doctor Respond to Questions Raised at the Black Representation in Gaming and Media Panel at GDC 2018 and Where the Conversation is Going Next

The present is always recovering from the past. When times are good it takes energy to sustain them. When times are bad it takes energy to change them. The best way to know how to sustain or how to change is asking questions.


Why Questions?

Questions reveal the way we think, the way we feel, and the way we reach our conclusions. Telling a story, cultivating a discussion, or building a world, involves asking and answering the hard questions. I was lucky enough to record my conversation with Dr. Sarah L. Webb, Fenyang Smith, and Jabari Alii. These three creators provided answers that not only informed the discussion, they also expanded it.

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Why the Same Questions?

There’s this thing called the Proust Questionnaire. It’s a list of 35 questions that were created as a parlor room game. The game is designed to establish a series of baseline answers people and then offer deeper insights. These can reveal the inner desires and surprising details that show the little differences in why and how we think what we think. It is named after novelist Marcel Proust who made it famous with his claim that when answering the questions a person reveals their true nature.

The host of the show Inside The Actors Studio uses these questions at the end of interviews with renowned actors. Vanity Fair has made a practice of including the questions on the last page of its magazine. The answers are supplied by public figures and always interesting and nuanced.

The questions are a valuable way to understand a person’s motivations, thinking, and more. It is also a popular way to create compelling characters and understand how their values can shape the direction of a story.


Why these Questions are different?

The Planet Rise team attended a panel on Black Representation in Gaming at the 2018 Game Developers Convention in San Francisco, Ca. We listened to a series of questions discussed at a panel called Black Representation in Gaming at the 2018 GDC in SF.

What I wanted to know is how does what we do change the way we answer and interpret the questions and how does that impact the creative process?

Why is this important?

I work on a video game that features a heroine who is a strong black woman and a commanding young leader. Two of the other prominent characters are also black. The success and failure of projects that feature persons of color have had mixed degrees of success and the questions in his panel were addressing the elements that led to success or failure. And the limits that this has placed on recent opportunities.
The questions were helpful because they offered the chance for speakers who work in the video game industry and represent the small percentage of people of color that are employed by these companies.
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The questions

If our game is going to be successful then we must be aware of the way that our answers compare with the answers that we heard at the panel and how that will influence the game we are creating.
These are some of the questions that were raised at the panel.
  • Why are there so few games/movies with diverse main characters?
  • One Myth is that they are hard to sell or market, what do you say to this?
  • What is the value of a story that crosses all borders, and more?
  • Is it important to create a spectrum of diverse characters?

Who Answered

Fen-Smith-Lean

My first conversation was with Fen Smith, a musician and story writer for the game Planet Rise. Fen provided insight on the viewpoint of writing the environment and the characters that make it real.
You can listen to his answers here.

 


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Sarah Webb Photo – Courtesy of Hodges Media Team
The second conversation was with my friend  Dr. Sarah L. Webb. Dr. Webb runs a website and writing contest called Colorism Healing. She has written numerous essays and published collections that feature emerging voices who are shaping a reflective discussion about colorism.
Part 1

Part 2


Jabari-Alii-Standing-with-Leaders
The third was with my friend Jabari Alii.
Jabari founded the company Blue Alchemy Studio. Blue Alchemy is creating the digital strategy-card game Planet Rise which is nearing its final stages.
Creating a company and a game, and making them both run requires a lot of planning.  How do these questions inform that process?
Take a listen.


New Podcast – My World Cup Saturday: 4 Inspirational Games, 3 Stunning Wins, 2 Shocking Missed Penalty Kicks, and 1 Unexpected Draw all rolled into 10 Hours of Soccer Glory

By Seth Singleton

https://anchor.fm/seth-the-storyteller/embed/episodes/My-World-Cup-Saturday-4-Inspirational-Games–3-Stunning-Wins–2-Shocking-Missed-Penalty-Kicks–and-1-Unexpected-Draw-all-rolled-into-10-Hours-of-Soccer-Glory-e1lgfo

World-Cup-Russia-2018-France-vs-Australia

Summary

  • World Cup Russia 2018 was in full swing starting at 3 a.m. Pacific Time here in California.
  • From France’s 2-1 victory over Australia to Messi’s missed penalty kick that resulted in a 1-1 tie with Iceland, the stories of heartache and heroism changed with each pass, shot, and goal.
  • Sometime around the first half of Croatia vs. Nigeria, the impact of Peru’s 1-0 loss to Denmark centered around a penalty kick missed by Christian Cueva.
  • Nigeria’s Super Eagles fought to overcome an early 1-0 deficit to Croatia.

To Contact Seth Singleton click here

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Top 5 Reasons I Recorded “Do Superheroes Ever Have This Problem?” on my Anchor Podcast and Why I Plan to Record Them All

By Seth Singleton

Storytelling was originally an auditory experience

The first stories were spoken aloud. They told you how to find food, which plants were used to heal, and the history of the place where you lived.

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Not everyone is able to read

Like listening to audiobooks, podcasts allow people to hear the information they want when they are driving to work, working at a job that allows them to think, or just enjoying a walk or run. Age and eyestrain can make reading a story on a screen more work than enjoyment. Now, when reading hurts, you have another option.

It’s another way to send a message

In the past, messages were sent by pigeon, by smoke, and even invisible ink. Sometimes one person had the job of shouting announcements from a central location. In other examples, a team provided hourly announcements or relayed messages from one location to another, miles away.

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I grew up listening to stories on the radio

The radio was always on in the house where I was raised. It was a family radio station. Hosts provided commentary and discussion, and there were scheduled times for story hour. On Saturday mornings, I listened to the adventures of Ranger Bill and his old sidekick Stumpy.

I believe in fostering the imagination

Listening to the radio taught me how to use my imagination. It’s similar to reading a book instead of seeing the movie. The author gives you the details and the descriptions that make the story come alive. You get to fill in the spaces like a coloring book. The story becomes personal when your brain creates the images that bring it to life for you.

https://anchor.fm/seth-the-storyteller/embed/episodes/Do-Superheroes-Ever-Have-This-Problem-e1ba0c

If you enjoyed listening to this podcast of Do Superheroes Ever Have This Problem and want to hear more episodes of Storytelling with Seth click here.