We here at the Little River Poetry Festival are delighted to welcome poet Derek Kannemeyer as a featured reader at this year’s festival! Here’s a little bit more about him before you hear him read.
Derek Kannemeyer’s writing has appeared in Fiction International, The New Virginia Review, Rattapallax, Smartish Pace, Rolling Stone, and many other places. His 2018 publications include a light verse collection (An Alphabestiary), a chapbook (Blue Nib #1, featuring his winning poems from Blue Nib’s inaugural chapbook contest), and pieces in Ancient Paths, the Bacopa Literary Review, Aethlon, Chaleur, and the River City anthology Lingering in the Margins.KEEP READING
Written by Charlotte Stark
Each year Pride comes around, it feels natural to be retrospective and consider how far our writing practice and collective human journey has brought us towards justice for all. Depending on where you stand, you could feel we have never been closer, or that we are leagues away from the utopia many of us hoped to age into as adults. Longing for progress leaves your creativity well dry and can make all creative endeavors feel futile, even as the importance of art is doubly underscored when moving towards change. As we face the coming month and the perspective it brings annually, here are a few ways to keep your spirit whole and your pen busy.
This is my personal favorite for breaking down the barriers around production burnout. If you feel stuck in your own skin, try to access another population’s point of view. This can be as simple or as in-depth as you choose to make it. You might choose to research a cause that’s you know very little about, like sustainability, or activism. You may find that looking to experts, people on each end of the event spectrum, or even the voices of those most effected by pressing issues inspires you to create meaningful art.
Sometimes the best works are meaningful collaborations of a group of people. If you’re feeling like the art you’re making is aimless, using websites like Meetup to join writers in your area may be exactly what you need. New friends bring new perspectives and make a great sounding board when your workflow feels stagnant. Additionally, hearing about the projects of others can lead to inspiration in ways you may not foresee. It may also help to join support communities related to causes that are central to you. Having others to lean on who can guide and support you through the specific distress you feel can make all the difference between feeling passion for your work and going through the motions of productivity.
This advice can seem counter-intuitive – after all, if you feel you’re under performing when it comes to your writing practice, it seems like stepping away from your craft will only make matters worse. Taking a conscious, much needed, recharging break is a bit different from the inability to create when actively trying. During this time, you should seek out mediums that inspire you and use their practice to fulfill your usual practice times. Listen to music, play videogames, take long walks around your neighborhood and take in fresh details – whatever you know will fill the creative voids in your life. Set a concrete beginning and end date for your break, and resolve to attempt to create when the deadline comes. You will have a whole host of brand new experiences to bring to your desk with you.
When trying to keep tabs on the world as it turns, sensory overload can take over and paralyze our ability to assert ourselves and how we feel through art. It can be crushing to see fires burning on every corner and feel we’re holding a child’s beach pail to put it out with. When these moments come, consider looking at yourself rather than out at the world. This is not to say it’s best to disengage from reality or a society that needs us and our closely-held convictions, but that unhooking the connections to large events and taking time to look at ourselves, our writing practice, and what we hope to do with it can ground us. Consider what makes you write:
When you understand where your writing comes from, you can understand how best to reignite a lost spark directly at the source. Take time to ask yourself why you write and take note of your responses. It may be exactly what you need to decide which path to take next.
There is no substitute for you – not for your perspective, your voice, your experience, and your work. Burnout can kill the flow of creative process but it doesn’t have to stay that way. The world needs your art, and social progress only comes when society joins hands and steps out of the dark together. As we navigate the corporate pulls and cash grabs that can turn Pride from a relieving opportunity to see your community stand tall to a sales opportunity, use your art to remain un-jaded and continue to push forward. The world is waiting for you.