Fun loving and experimental are two words I would use to describe Casandra. I remember one Monday night, Cas’s usual to read poetry live on @yellowpenguinnyc. Cas had decided to use a psychedelic filter that outlined her body in multicoloured light as she read. I must admit, it was trippy but, also trance inducing -- while the words flowed from her mouth. Her body movements encircled Cas like that of dark shadow drawing but, instead of a chalk outline, it was a sliced rainbow. And, the poetry, Cas' words are truly magnificent and thought provoking, qualities I genuinely appreciate when I absorb the words of others. So, get your fingers ready and send Cas some virtual finger snaps as done during her lives and follow @_ohmycas. Moreover, before I forget stay tuned to a forthcoming interview with Cas where we discuss dance and all things motion. Oh, yeah! I totally neglected mention she is a dancer too -- I'm totally jealous!
RMMW: We all have an inner critic; how do you contend with yours?
C: I realized a few years ago that I have always been my worst enemy. I think this tends to be the case for many of us. For many years fear held me back from pursuing writing, reciting, or any art form. This inner critic began losing power as I became more fearless, more sure of who I am, or am willing to be. I suppose it may sound "cheesy", but I contend with my inner critic by working on myself; by loving all my creative expressions, even the "ugly" ones. There is great strength in self acceptance.
By honoring all parts of me, I am able to honor all I create.
RMMW: Have you ever been creatively blocked? It yes, how did you overcome it?
C: I wouldn't call it blocked. I have had periods where I am too busy living, but the ideas and verses are always flowing in my mind. The only time I could say I felt that way was as a child, before discovering my passion for art, before discovering my voice. I suppose I interpret it a bit different, I believe if an artist feels blocked it is a symptom of something larger; of a disconnect from the essence, or creative source.
For me, the cure for any creative block is to get out of the tunnel vision and do something inspiring. I can find inspiration in everyday events. Within a memory, scenery, connecting with my emotions, a scene on the street, literature, music, graffiti etc. I think one just has to be open, aware, and use all their senses.
RMMW: What do you enjoy most about reading and curating poetry live on Instagram via @yellowpenguinNYC?
C: I love working with @yellowpenguinNYC because I enjoy providing exposure for other artists, for what it is worth on this social platform. I believe that by reading these writers on IG live the listeners get to enjoy the poetry on another level, and it feels great to be part of something like that.
RMMW: Who are you favourite Poets to read?
C: I don’t know why I immediately wanted to ask dead or live poets. But I mean I love words, so I have a hard time saying I have a favorite, per se. I regularly read Mario Benedetti, who i would say is my "favorite poet". I enjoy Sylvia Plath quite a bit as well. Dylan Thomas is a toe-curling kind of read. Charles Bukowski. Ruben Dario. Neruda isn't in my regular reads, but he can always make me feel, which is what (for me) art is about.
And my favorite poem to read is a simple poem by Tupac Shakur titled 'the rose that grew from concrete' - I could read it over, and over. I enjoy reading in general, and I find poetry in music lyrics, movies, written on the side of the road, even in conversations.
RMMW: How many unfinished manuscripts do you have, and will you be publishing them?
C: I have about 3 unfinished manuscripts. The simplest answer is yes, I want to publish them as soon as possible.
RMMW: Someone asked me the other day, if I thought it was weird that individuals read live poetry on Instagram -- by poets who are currently living. What do you feel are the benefits of reading live poetry by contemporary writers?
C: Well, as a live host it is a bit less stressful to not by on a stage, or at a public event. I actually have always suffered from stage fright and social anxiety - (despite the theater background) - so when I went on an IG live 'open mic' it was actually nice to avoid being face to face with a group of people. I would say for those who are maybe more anxious in social situations that is a pro. Also, as I stated before, there is a certain benefit to being featured. It is great to actually help get talented writers receive a bit of exposure on a social platform. Not everyone is in a country that has a lot of possibilities for them as a writer, or performer.
RMMW: What do you feel are the struggles of the modern-day poet?
C: I believe one of the major struggles a modern-day poet deals with is standing out in a sea of creative humans. Throughout history most poets weren't discovered until after their death. In modern times we have these social platforms, as well as other means of getting our writing out there. I believe this makes it very difficult to set oneself apart, as well as simply be acknowledged on a larger scale.
RMMW: Do you feel social media hinders or helps writers?
C: I think social media can hinder or help, it is very much a double-edged sword. It is up to oneself to use the internet as a tool and not become fully submerged in it.
RMMW: What is your poetry origin story?
C: I honestly can take my passion and admiration for all literature, especially poetry, back to when I was about 3 or 4 years old. My mother majored in the performing arts. She would recite 18th century Spanish poetry to me as she acted it all out. All of this was followed by a breakdown of each line and its symbolism. She would do the same with songs. I suppose she planted this seed that I would nurture into my preteen years. In fourth grade I was in advanced reading. (I also had just learned English as a second language.) I excelled in reading comprehension, and I believe I have my mother to thank for that. She made the connections in my brain early. I began writing when I needed to, because I needed to. I needed to express myself. I was too shy to say all the things that ran rampant in my mind back then, so I picked up a pen and paper. I was 13.
By the time I turned 16 I would literally stay awake for days just frantically scribbling away and smoking cigarettes. I believe reading saved my life, and writing allowed me to live it. I truly am passionate about writing as much as I am about reading, and that's all there is to it.
RMMW: People have constantly said to me throughout my life that any subject can not be made into a poem. I disagree, I think any subject can make a brilliant poem -- what do you think?
C: I believe I answered this in some of my prior responses. But I definitely have to agree with you. Poetry and art is everywhere, as beauty is in the eye of the beholder. The beauty of painting a canvas with your words is you can make connections where there maybe didn't exist, through imagery and symbols. All literature is packed with symbolism. There is excitement and magic in this, for me, in discovering the multiple meanings of a piece. All things in life have layers, and that is enough to get me inspired. (I would hope the same for all)
RMMW: Where is your favourite place to write?
C: In all honesty I love writing so much I could do it anywhere. Writing, for me, is better than most pleasurable activities. I feel adrenaline rush through my body just talking about it. But I suppose if I could make myself a small writer's den somewhere it would have to me near nature. Like, a cabin on a mountain that overlooks the ocean would just be extraordinary. (laughing) But honestly, just anywhere I can smoke and type/write until my fingers fall off.
RMMW: What is your most preferred piece written by you and why?
C: This is a tough one. Those who I read my pieces to know, I commonly say "I love this piece" - I am simply excited by finding a clever or precious and precise way of expressing myself. I can't ever pick just one. But I do have a lost piece that won a contest back in high school. It was titled "Sinner's Prayer". It was such a painful time in my life. The piece consisted of a call to a god I am unsure exists, and even though my actions are that of sin, "I don't want to be another dead leaf in the fall". That is actually the only solid line I recall form that piece, and it was the ending. I am not sure if I can ever get my hands on it again. I have a few others I just can't live without, but there is one titled "Battle Cry" - it is on my IGTV in spoken form - it is a piece where I basically ask someone to not love me. I suppose I adore it most because of its rawness. I am asking to not be loved, but if one listens closely, I am asking not to be loved for the wrong reasons.
RMMW: If you had a superpower – what would it be?
C: If I had one superpower it would be invisibility. I just believe that would be the greatest protective source as well as advantage when it comes to superpowers.