Pages of Awesome

Sunday, August 3, 2014

Life is a Highway

Last week I rode I75 from a comic shop in Lexington back home to Northern Kentucky. It's a short drive, an hour and a half, but it can feel like hours if I don't shake the rear view mirror with rap music and let air through the windows brush my hair. This past week, though, I was tired of music. I spent my couple hours thinking about my destination, about home.

There wasn't a lot to look forward to--forty hours a week in a dusty, blue polo, stacking boxes and straightening shelves for Kroger. I haven't had an original idea since school let out. I use what little free time I have to ingest old Doctor Who, Walking Dead, and Arrow episodes, interrupted only by meals and Batman graphic novels. I enjoyed just consuming for a few weeks, but after two and a half months of "feeding," I'm ready to create again.

The problem is, here at home, I've accepted a lazy lifestyle. I have a month left at home and I'm constantly hoping that going back to UK will make me productive again. Planning for the new semester helps me work through the mundane existence that is tossing up bottles of hand soap on dirty shelves every day. I remind myself why I'm working: Nathan, these past eight hours paid for your British Literature textbooks. That reminder hydrates me for the next work day.

I'm working in Independence, but waiting for Lexington. Lexington motivates me to tuck in my shirt, slap on my hat, and tie my shoes every morning

This subconscious exaltation of Lexington isn't healthy. I'm telling myself daily that a few miles away there is a place with super green bluegrass. I'm putting my hope in a city, but my location isn't my problem. As wrong as this mindset is, I need to replicate it spiritually.

A long time ago, a tent-maker named Paul encouraged his friends to live as though they were citizens of Heaven. He reminded them that everything they do today should be done to better their future kingdom, that they should focus their lives around making disciples and worshiping God instead of sowing tents and picking veggies.

His encouragement is easy to understand. To live our lives centered around the Gospel and Heaven is as easy as working at Kroger to pay for school. Everything I do in that blue polo, I do so I can write papers, get my degree, watch basketball games, win a national championship, and call myself a Kentucky Wildcat. Those things are more rewarding and long lasting than my boss's approval of me at work. In the same way, everything I do on Earth, I should do so I can make disciples, improve people's lives, and celebrate God's grace. Paul says no moth will every eat these like they might our clothes, no rust will ever touch these like it might our cars, and no fire will every consume these like it might our bodies. The Gospel is more rewarding and long lasting than a paycheck and a Bachelor's degree.

If I center my life around Christ, I have to depend on the Gospel. My work today will be based on my expectation of Heaven. My faith will give me the energy to complete mundane tasks at work, read my Bible, and show compassion to the people around me.

This faith will not disappoint me, even if Lexington does. I'm asking God to give me this faith. Before I know it, my drive will be over and I'll be home.


Saturday, March 2, 2013

To UK or to UofL

Stay in school and don't do drugs. College is important.

I'm looking forward to it. New classes, a focus on literature and writing, it's going to be a blast. The only problem is where to go and how to get there.

Lots of ups and downs about where I want to go, why I want to go there, how I know I want to go there, and whether I'll be content with making the decision to go there on that basis. I wrote a poem earlier in the year about this indecision, this contstant movement toward an unknown end. I'm sure there's some other seniors out there--here's what I'm feeling.

Standing Still
The sun sets, the wind walks, to your left a rabbit scurries
through thick twelve inch grass; dusk breathes on the earth,
and clouds billow and brush past stars that—though seemingly motionless—
pulse with purposeful passion.
And you sit still, not at a crossroads but a field—beautiful and windswept
like the girl you love crossing smooth legs at your hip, like her hair which dances
as she once did, a hummingbird or an otter in a shallow brook; she whispers wisdom,
but you don’t hear over the perpetual motion of the field—not now, not yet.
No, you listen to the sun—that burning, fiery star
tugging at your empty chest, pulling you toward its purifying kiln;
you can’t hear the soft vibration of her lips because right now, you wish
the sun would just this once stand still for you.

You dream—if only for a second, only for a moment,
that racing star might wait for you.

Any seniors our there? Where are you headed next year? Any college kids or out of college kids? What helped you decide? Let's chat.

Strength and Courage,

Friday, March 1, 2013

Great with Child to Speak

I've been reading through a book of old poetry I snagged for a quarter at my library's used book sale. It never ceases to amaze me how constant human nature has been throughout history. We've written about the same things, felt the same things, and struggled with the same things. As a writer, this is interesting to me.

What's more interesting, is when writers write about their ruts--their struggle for artistic perfection. I came across a sonnet by Sir Phillip Sidney. It's worth sharing.

So let's read this together. I love every word. And together, let's do our duty as writers.

Loving in Truth
Sir Phillip Sidney

Loving in truth, and fain in verse my love to show,
That the dear she might take some pleasure of my pain,
Pleasure might cause her read, reading might make her know,
Knowledge might pity win, and pity grace obtain,
I sought fit words to paint the blackest face of woe:
Studying inventions fine, her wits to entertain,
Oft turning others' leaves, to see if thence would flow
Some fresh and fruitful showers upon my sunburned brain.
But words came halting forth, wanting Invention's stay;
Invention, Nature's child, fled stepdame Study's blows;
And others' feet still seemed but strangers in my way.
Thus, great with child to speak, and helpless in my throes,
Biting my truant pen, beating myself for spite:
"Fool," said my Muse to me, "look in thy heart, and write."

So do it! Write something! And tell me about it. "Turn others' leaves" with me.

Strength and Courage,

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Artist: Change in Mediums

I'm blogging again. It's time to return to the self indulging internet and spill my guts about whatever I feel like, hoping someone somewhere might read it. Apparently, I've been missed.

Since GSA, school stole my time but I worked on the novel. More recently, I've abandoned fiction in pursuit of poetry. I love it. I can write more, better pieces than I could with just fiction. I'd like to return someday, but for now I am content being a poet.

I've been successful too. Overture Award semis, Scholastic Writing American Voice nomination, and great personal enjoyment from it all.

I'm becoming okay with this new writing identity--verse instead of prose, stanzas instead of chapters. I leave you with this parting sonnet.

To Share a Poem
Nathan R. Petrie

I wanted to share a poem with you
today, something to make you think
like Finney, remember like Frost, or, better,
weep like Keats. Got to wondering why
that was—why I thought important, meaningful
writing provoked, shouted, or cried. Why
I thought I knew good work by the count
of those who remembered it. Got to thinking maybe
there was too much of that: too much clinched-teeth,
eye-wetting, accept-the-unacceptable writing. That maybe
we’d lost touch with why we wrote to begin with, the pleasure
of seeing, like perched eagles, crystal rivers shape the earth.

So, I wanted to share a poem, but tonight, by light of a slowly
growing moon, all I saw was this. At least, I can say that it’s true.

What've you been working on? Any poets? I've missed this.

Strength and Courage,

Thursday, September 6, 2012

God Breathed Writing

I want to write something worth reading, but not only that, I want to write something God wants me to write, and something that brings honor to His name. I want to challenge readers, but more often than not, my writing challenges myself. Sometimes too much.

Obviously, I'm an extremely busy teenager so novel writing is difficult--but that's not all that I mean when I say it is a challenge.

I'm challenged to believe and live what I write. And I'm challenged to write the truth, and do so with some semblance of literary value. And that's difficult because it's not the only thing I'm doing.

So if you would, friends and readers, please pray for me as I write this story. The outline is nearly complete, at least enough to get started writing, but it doesn't feel...right.

How has your own writing challenged you spiritually or in other ways?

Strength and Courage,

Monday, July 9, 2012

Govenor's School for the Arts - Recap

I got back from GSA this Saturday and I have this to say about it: AMAZING.

Those of you who live in Kentucky or any other state--look into your GSA program, see if you have one, and apply. It was truly amazing.

What was so amazing? Well, let me give you the rundown.

Every morning began with a performance or presentation from nationally or even internationally recognized artists. We had painters, weavers, classical dancers, contemporary dancers, orchestral chamber music, wind chamber music, contemporary (think Cage) music, a cellist, three poets, dramatists (solo and in groups), filmakers, jazz pianists, architects, and more!

Following these inspiring performances, we went to studio/master classes. As a Creative Writer, my instructors were Kelly Norman Ellis, Mitchell LH Douglas, and Ellen Hagan. Look them up. They're brilliant. All three are college professors and one even directs an MFA program. We got the best of the best.

In class, we recieved writing prompts, detailed lessons on the craft, guest artist appearences (we had Maurice Manning, Lynnell Edwards, Alicia Whitaker, and  THE Frank X Walker...look these cats up....they are Pulitzer nominees and trailblazers). We also workshopped writing immediately after writing it...esentially a college course but with more engaged classmates and teachers.

At night, more people performed for us, and if not, we'd go up to the computer labs and type what we wrote that day and recieved personal one-on-one critiques from the professors.

In our free time, we did more writing, read for the school at weekly Coffee Houses, collaborated with visual artists (I had a poem illustrated!), jammed in the lobby to impromtu jazz, played cards, and got to know each other even better.

To bed at midnight, up again at 7.

As for the Word War, my final word count is......

And I think I underestimated quite a bit. I filled up an entire TopFlight Wired notebook. This doesn't count blog posts, journal entries, etc. This is only poetry and prose.

Post your final word counts and/or questions about GSA! I'll give you a few more days and then announce the winner!

Strength and Courage,

Friday, June 22, 2012

GSA Poem

-Nathan R. Petrie-

Truth is a song and a story
sung by a small blackbird
who crescendos with age alone;
it is uninterested
in opinions or whether you listen—
it just sings,
humming with reserved energy,
like the waters of Mississippi
were dammed at its mouth.
Be silent and listen
to the songs of the streams,
for your hearing is wanted
and solitude beckons—
like a calling blackbird.

(PS Week of poetry is almost completed! This was written during a workshop with Pulitzer Prize nominee Maurice Manning. Sweet right??)
"Stand tall now and proclaim what you have seen, speak in whispered roars..."