Influence: Poet Nicole Blackman
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I wrote my first poem at age 12. It was called "My Little World" and it is unequivocally the worst thing I've ever written. In 10 uneven lines I clumsily and embarrassingly paraphrased lyrics I had memorized from The Smith's album, "Meat is Murder" (specifically, I blatantly borrowed from "How Soon Is Now"). Singer Morrissey's lyrics inspired me to become a writer and, initially and for longer than I'll admit, I pedaled my literary bicycle with the assistance of unbalanced training wheels - it took years until I would find my own voice. At age 14 I was first published by Bastard Child Magazine and then published soon after by Bibleland News. My near copy-right infringements littered the disapproving pages of almost every bottom-of-the-barrel rag for years to come.
For years I jumped from musical lily pad to lily pad, embracing the lyrical themes of R.E.M., The Cure, New Order and many many others within my poetry. In 1990 I first heard "Terrible Lie", by Nine Inch Nails (at a KMFDM concert), and my writing inhaled something different than what it was accustomed to breathing in. I bought "Pretty Hate Machine", memorized all words and imprinted every emotional outpouring onto my heart by the end of the first day. My poetry became more raw (and less traditional) and I added unapologetic sadness into the recipe. Then, 4 years later, "The Downward Spiral" was released and I added a dash and a sprinkling of aggressive loneliness and a cup or two of violent outpourings to the main course - creating one poem after another filled with unrelenting angst, internal turmoil, and non-stop mental violence. This is when my poetry began to take on flavors of it's own. It is at this point I started to borrow themes, but come up with original thoughts and wording about these themes. It is during this time in my writing career my parents stopped reading my work. And I understood why.
Then one sunny day, in 2000, I was visiting the alternative music store, "The Underground", in Las Vegas, NV (my hometown) and began casually skimming the pages of a few of the books and zines they had stashed haphazardly on a cheap table at the back of the shop. By that time I had been published by dozens of independent and poorly distributed zines and had a few of my writings appear in high-low to mid-grade magazines and publications. My poetry could be found in several publications - but in no publication you'd openly brag about to others at parties. Because the cover art was eye-catching, I picked up Nicole Blackman's poetry chapbook, "Blood Sugar", and began to read the contents between it's covers. Within minutes (because during those years everything seemed so immediately important), I purchased the paperback and read it cover to cover upon arriving home.
For me, "Blood Sugar" was the catalyst for my writing to lean in a very different direction - to embrace new (to me) themes and to write in a more focused and intentional manner. So, I changed how I wrote and was rewarded for it by some of my work being included within the pages of publications that had previously sent me multiple rejection letters.
I close this post with a powerful spoken word performance by Nicole Blackman.
Here is Nicole Blackman reading/performing her poem, "In The Movie Now" - and it's worth the listen.