Podcasts

Recently I’ve been listening to more podcasts and I find it interesting how different they all can handle a single subject. The recent subject I’ve chosen has been true crime. Now, I’m not familiar with a lot of true crime, so most of what is being said in jest or about particular people, I have no idea what they’re talking about, add on that I am an absolute dreg when it comes to names, and you have the making of an outsider.

If you’ve been a reader of my other blog, Quirni, then you know that my mother and I read together. She’s the one who introduced me to her favorite podcasts. One of them is two guys talking about true crime and they have a very systematic approach, the other is two girls talking about true crime  and they have a very chaotic approach, it’s more conversational. I see this as a reflection of the way that poetry works too because you have those who rhyme and structure and develop their poems completely and then publish them, and those who just throw something together and publish.

Or at least, that’s how it feels and I’m sure that the girls also have a method to their madness since they actually keep their podcasts to about the same length. That takes planning no matter what anyone says. You at least have to plan how long you want to make them and then actually stop when you hit that time.

For the moment, I don’t really want to call out the podcasts because I think it’s more entertaining to talk about how they’re speaking rather than talking about the subject matter, so it’s just going to be two girls, two guys.

So here’s a rough overview of my thoughts and I’ll do my  best to relate it to something you all care about, poetry.

Two Girls

The two women’s podcast has an outline that it follows, but it doesn’t actually plan what is going to be talked about together. Interestingly enough, both women come together to do the recording and have their own notes or idea of what they want to talk about, and then discuss it for however long one episode is.

They have a really round-about approach for how they talk about everything. They begin by just talking to one another, occasionally do corrections from the last show [they openly don’t research and ask their listeners to correct them nicely] and then getting all of the advertisements out of the way. Eventually the topic of true crime comes up naturally, because one of them can find something that relates to the story they want to share, and they get into the stories. Once one shares, the other does, and then they have a few things they do at the end of the show as well.

The thing I find really interesting is that these two discuss this in a very open and conversational manner. The way they discuss it is basically just “Oh my god, did you hear about …?” and even if the other one did know about it to some extent they’re always excited to talk about it.

I really like this style because it lets you feel like you’re just overhearing the conversation while in a cafe or somewhere that people talk. It makes me feel more like these are just two people talking rather than someone trying to inform me or gross me out.

While they’re discussing the murder, each of them are free to jump in and go on tangents and allow for that in the time of their podcast. They eventually get around to describing what happened, but it’s always with warnings such as “And this is really gross” or “If you’re eating, I’m sorry” as they break the fourth wall and address their silent audience frequently. The audience is someone sitting in on their conversation, however, and it’s primarily their conversation.

That’s way different from the two guys.

Two Guys

In the two guys podcast everything is very regimented. They have all of their advertisements up front and they get their plugging done for their products right away, such as products they advertise for other hobbies, and once that’s done, they’ll just bring it up if they want a break. Primarily, the podcast is all about the topic, whatever that is. They often spend a few hours on one subject too which can mean sometimes extending to two or three shows.

You can really tell that this show is planned out from subject to subject and the way they go about talking through their topic is very systematic. One episode might just be about the evidence they have on this person or that person, while another could be about a trial, or about who else it could have been.

They also have a speaker and a color commentator rather than two presenters. In this case the color commentator takes the roll of the audience completely. Whenever the speaker wants to address the audience, he addresses his co-producer. Occasionally he will mention “the people at home” but it’s usually in a detached way and the color commentator has to address the people at home himself.

This can be awkward like trying to write a blog without “you” because sometimes the color commentator will add more information about the case and the listener can tell that he knows exactly what he’s talking about, so there’s no reason to present to him in particular. It just is how they write the show.

There’s also much less time for side conversation in this podcast. They’re always on topic pretty much, and they stay to one crime, give or take the relevance to other crimes, and that’s pretty much it. They are much less likely to go off on tangents.

Comparing

Between the two podcasts, they both love to talk about crime and I’m pretty sure they both listen to one another, so it’s fun to see the differences in how they operate. The two guys are trying to be as accurate as they can be, while the two girls are being very loose about their accuracy, but both of them end up with the same information in the end and both of them have to make corrections.

While the one is more conversational, the other is more like a radio show, or something where you are an audience which isn’t involved in the discussion at all. The other includes the audience on a regular basis either talking about what they’ll think, or what they might be doing, going as far as to talk about what the people in jail that they’re talking about might be doing as well. They’re completely aware that people who commit these crimes might be listening to their podcast.

I find it interesting that with two very different approaches, they both garner the same audience. They both are interesting to my mother and that’s not just because she has a lot of time to listen. She enjoys true crime, and while she’s actually supported the two guys’ podcast, I think the reason she hasn’t supported the two girls is only because they have less merchandise out and about advertised on their podcast. The two girls advertise tickets to live shows rather than stuff with a logo on it.

Relating to Poetry

These are by far two types of poems written today. One school of thought is that you should be conversational with your poetry, talk to your audience, discuss what’s going on. This is huge for poets and writers like Billy Collins. The more you can discuss with your audience, even if it is one sided, the better your poem is to this school. I’d love to call them the Conversationalists and have it actually be a thing, but I’m not writing my masters final yet.

The other type is the type where people are talking about a moment in time, or discussing something with themselves or with a set audience in the poem. There are even poems which present a story and you’re just along for the ride. This is like the two guys podcast because they have an agenda that they’re trying to develop, just like the other style, but they do it by creating a captive audience, an audience without a voice.

If you’re reading a poem about nature, you’re probably not involved unless it’s saying something in the second person, and who does that? So I find it fascinating that it shows up in other forms of spoken word. There isn’t a binary choice here either. With two people running a podcast there could be any variety of styles including creepy music, reenactments, just sharing the facts and no speculation, sharing no facts but expecting everyone to already know about it, excluding the audience entirely, relying entirely on there being an audience, and all the intermediate answers. Poetry is the same way.

In poetry today there is a mix between the different types of poems out there from poems that directly speak to the audience, to those who are just reflections of ideas without any addressing of the audience at all. You can look at poets like the confessional poets and see how they became conversational, but it’s more than just one option.

As I keep listening to podcasts, I will be interested to hear the different varieties that are out there, and see how they affect my experience listening. Personally, I am in love with this conversationalist movement, so I will be happy to see it continue in podcasts and other types of media as trends shift and grow.

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“To His Brooke.” Review

Edmund Spenser’s  “To His Brooke.”

For those of you who don’t happen to have a wonderful copy of The Yale Edition of the Shorter Poems of Edmund Spenser or those of you who have never heard of Edmund Spenser before you searched poetry on WordPress, here’s a copy of the poem I will be talking about.

To His Brooke.

Goe little brooke: thy selfe present,
as child whose parent was unkent:
To him that is the president
Of noblesse and of chevalree,
And if that Envie barke at thee,
As sure it will, for succoure flee
Under the shadow of his wing,
and asked, who thee forth did bring,
A shepheards swaine saye did thee sing,
All as his straying flocke he fedde:
And when his honor has thee redde:
Carve pardon for my hardyhedde.
But if that any aske thy name,
Say thou wert base begot with blame:
For thy thereof thou takest shame.
And when thou art past jeopardee,
Come tell me, what was sayd of mee:
And I will send more after thee.

Immeritô

With the text out of the way, I’d like to talk about the poem, but first, there’s one more order of business. I want to paraphrase the poem as well, so if you don’t want to read my paraphrase of the poem, skip the next speech box.

Read More »

non-capitalization in Poetry

Non-capitalization is good for helping progress the emotional drama of a poem. For many poems, this is a capitalization strategy that you can try to see if it will help improve what you want to say. This style can surprise you.

Writing any poem without capitalization to begin with can be a challenge, so mostly this style is good after finishing a poem while exploring all of the different tones and options. The time I find non-capitalization helpful in a poem is when the poem is informal, and quiet, or morose. Non-capitalization tends to change the tone towards something more personal and sincere. Poems which are navel gazers or preaching poems can turn into something that sounds honest when getting rid of the formality of grammar.

There are two different ways that you can play with non-capitalization; leave everything uncapitalized, and leave sentences uncapitalized.

The difference is a method of thought. In most cases, uncapitalized poetry won’t mean uncapitalized words, just not capitalizing the first word in your sentences, but that isn’t the only grammar rule which deals with capitalization. Some poets also add on that they want to capitalize nothing. It’s all about a degree of choice. There are even some poets who will choose to capitalize nothing but the most important part of the poem to draw attention to it.

Everything Uncapitalized

This tone is usually more private, almost like whispering and sharing a secret. It comes off soft, and sometimes disrespectful to the speaker or the individuals and places involved. This is because most of the time capitalization of proper nouns and pronouns is regarded as honoring that individual.

With this style, you would not capitalize things like “I” and “United States” which can leave the tone of the poem somewhat morose. Most poems that choose to go with this style also feel less restricted to proper sentence structure and grammatical rules.

There is a new trend in poetry for younger generations which creates poems that do not follow these grammatical rules such as just using lists of noun phrases as a poem rather than adding verbs and sentences. These poems can be very bold and shocking, but most of them will look better without capitalization because it plays at the idea that these are not sentences, but fragments which were meant to be fragments.

The more you want to break traditional rules, the less grammar and punctuation you may want to try in the poem. Not all poems will abide by these rules. It takes understanding the subject, the motivation, and the response people will have to find a balance between clarity, and presentation. Some grammar rules will help with the flow of the poem.

Sentences Uncapitalized

This tone presents with more belief in self if the poem is first person, and more respect for the character if it is in third person. In this case, you still capitalize things like “I” and “Tim” but you wouldn’t capitalize the beginning of sentences. Oftentimes this is the stop-gap for poems which feel too formal with capitalization, but not informal enough for a lack of capitalization.

Another fun thing to do with this style of non-capitalization is to allow for a lack of punctuation, or minimal punctuation which can create interesting sentences, and develop new ways to read lines. You can use enjambment to plan sentences as they read, versus sentences that are on a line. This can be tricky if you stick with all grammar rules, but given the trends of poems, it’s oftentimes easier to create unique images on a line with enjambment than you may imagine.

Applications of non-capitalization

In many ways non-capitalization in poetry can be a challenge to see how well your poem stands up to grammatical criticism as we read. Sometimes the capitalization in a sentence or paragraph can hide grammatical flaws like missing clauses.

As we read, we jump from sentence to sentence with capitalization guiding us along, and getting rid of that capitalization can create a new perspective of how the sentences flow together, and where they don’t. A problem for some young writers is to write in complete sentences, and getting rid of capitalization can show them where the complete sentences are so they stop putting periods where a comma should go.

More than a learning tool, taking away capitalization can give people a feeling of missing something which may be exactly what your poem is about. Sometimes the best metaphors for emotions are visual rather than the symbolic meanings of the words. If the poem is about a lack of beginnings, or a lack of respect, or just written by someone who would be texting it rather than typing, try taking out capitalization, give it a little bit of time, then read it fresh and see if you like it better.

The worst thing that could happen is having to add the capitalization back in, so it’s worth the extra effort!

Review of “Cheerleader” by OMI

A Review of Cheerleader by OMI

For those of you who have not heard the song yet, here is the video.

“Cheerleader” is a lighthearted tune with a baseline of drums and a heavy beat. The singer seems to stay mostly in the alto’s range, and sounds somewhat synthesized to get the desired result. Overall, that’s not what I’m going to be discussing. I’m going to be talking about lyrics. Why lyrics? Because even if we don’t realize what they’re saying at the time, the lyrics are what come out of our mouths after we’ve heard the song.

Also I’m more of a poet then a musician so it’s only natural I’m drawn to words.

From the perspective of language, “Cheerleader” is balancing on a dangerous blade talking about relationships openly, along with talking about cheating. It has been something of a normal thing in songs to discuss relationships for a long time, but recently, there has been a trend of language about cheating for as long as I can remember, which is really only since “Wasn’t Me” but that sort of tune with lighthearted songs being about how to get away with cheating hasn’t let up.

If we look at “We Are Young” by Fun. which has lines like “…asking ’bout a scar /and I know I gave it to you months ago/ I know you’re trying to forget” the song “Cheerleader” comes off as a refreshing change of pace. This is a song not only about a strong woman, but a happy relationship. It’s not perfect from a feminist standpoint, but it has a more stable idea of relationships than “We Are Young” and many other songs out today.

So let’s look at the lyrics. In some ways the song is dangerous because it is speaking about girls being temptresses and needing them to be perfect. The song begins with something that is crucial to its blatant disregard for the female side of the relationship. “When I need motivation” is the opening line and while it is hidden behind the intriguing beat to some extent, it is something we can pick up on when we watch the video. he reason this is the cornerstone to the song’s defense is because it discounts everything that has to do with what the girl needs. This isn’t a song about relationships in general, it is a song strictly about when our speaker requires support. Without this line, it is a song about a man who requires everything of his woman and the only reason he’s not cheating is because she’s doing everything in her power to keep him. With this line, it is a song about a small slice of their relationship narrowing the playing field down to just when the speaker is feeling poorly.

This is one of the reasons why it is a refreshing song. In some other songs we get too much view of what is going on in the relationship. Here, we are invited to assume the rest of the relationship is healthy through inference such as “Mama loves you too, she thinks I made the right selection” showing that outside opinions approve of the relationship as well, but in the end, we’re still only talking about motivation.

Another refreshing aspect of this song comes when the speaker first discusses the woman, while it’s short, it is powerful to imagine, finally, that a woman is someone who can give motivation because “she stays strong” and not because she can coddle and coo over someone, although apparently she “gives love and affection” with the right balance because she stays strong and gives love and affection. This combination of woman is a good role model for people to follow.

I do have some problems with how “Cheerleader” talks about the girlfriend. Considering this is about motivation, it seems almost to undermine the independent model of female that it produces by saying that she “walks like a model” because that is not something that should be required for motivation. Motivation doesn’t come from a walk unless you want motivation to walk better. While models have to have a determined, powerful walk, it completely negates the voice that goes with being strong. In fact, the song never says anything about her intellectual support. The closest we get is “I’m empty when you’re gone” in the second verse which could mean a number of different things.

Another problem I have with “Cheerleader” is less feminist and more of a realist opinion. Atop not saying anything about her in a human sense, the song also puts her up to a high pedestal of dedication to the speaker saying she grants all wishes. While granting wishes is fine, it’s not always the best idea or the most supportive action someone can take. If someone in need of rehab was supported by an individual who granted all wishes, they would never get away from their stupor and into the help they need. Because of this, it seems short-sighted to judge the girlfriend positively based on the fact that she grants all wishes. This is not exactly a desirable state of doing things. Sometimes people need that push of figuring it out for themselves to get them to grow as a human.

Of course, in a short song, it seems dismissable when compared to other songs out there today such as mentioned before. It does, however, create a balancing act for “Cheerleader” to carefully maintain it’s location as a positive influence. The deeper you look at the lyrics, the easier it is to tip “Cheerleader” towards the negative side when you consider the chorus juxtaposed with the first line.

It is easy to believe that “Cheerleader” is about a man who is tempted to cheat and in need of motivation to not cheat, in which case the earlier points of her needing to walk like a model and do everything her counterpart wishes creates a poor identity for women despite her being a strong woman. There is also the fact that “She is right there when I need her” is part of the chorus which could mean that despite being in a healthy relationship, the man is still conflicted about cheating but decides against it because his girlfriend is always at his side and if he were alone, he might choose differently.

The redeeming quality becomes the line about missing his girlfriend, and the fact that in the song he repeatedly expresses the ability to deny someone wanting to cheat with him. This is redeeming because even though he may or may not disregard the intelligence and individuality of his girlfriend, he is showing the ability to say no.

In today’s culture it is a common misconception that if someone tells you “no” about something, they then have the right to try to shame you into doing it, and you are supposed to feel guilty when you say no. This song does not have that misconception at all, which helps put it above the bar despite the problems that it may or may not have depending on your reading/listening of the song.

Overall, I approve of “Cheerleader”  because with as much attention as people pay towards lyrics, this one has a positive message that can help support equality among women and men in the game of dating. It promotes a positive relationship, give or take, and the support two individuals should show towards one another.

As a final note, I’d like to look at the song in terms of gender bending and relationships in general

If we changed the lyrics to the opposite genders to maintain a heterosexual relationship, the song would push the boundaries of our understanding of relationships in media, which is, in itself, refreshing. In media it is often seen that a woman needs to be strong and if she is, she cannot accept a strong man or show her feelings. She, in some ways, has to become the man of the relationship instead of accepting that two people can be together, be strong, and not fight about every little thing. Compromise is rare. If we had a woman singing this song talking about her man as someone who walks like a model, it would be a very strong stance, and she would still be showing the vulnerability of a woman who needs love and affection as the man does in the current version of the song.

In the end, I’d give this song a 7/10, above average, but could use improvement. It does good in a lot of areas, but it still needs some work. The main work it needs is not in the chorus at all, but the second verse where the girlfriend is dehumanized to a genie who can walk well and shows no real active or vocal support for the speaker’s plight. The relationship also could use some work in the chorus, minorly, because the girlfriend’s presence seems to be required to avoid the speaker cheating, but because of the positive tone towards a good relationship, and the simple fact that someone is saying no to cheating and the song is still catchy. In the end, it would have been a stronger song if it was gender-swapped, but it is a good song.

Have a song you want me to review?

Comment! Tell me what you’d like to read and I’ll see what I can do.