Book Review – The Speechwriter: A Brief Education in Politics

Name: The Speechwriter: A Brief Education in Politics

Author: Barton Swaim

ISBN: 978-1-4767-6992-9

Genre: Politics, Non-Fiction, Memoir

Pages: 204

Difficulty: 3/5 Dictionaries

 

Brief Introduction:

Barton Swaim is new to the world of politics, but he is now a speechwriter for a local governor, and is willing to learn. Indeed, he learns a lot. Through the eyes of Barton Swaim, we get an honest insight into the ins and outs of the world of politics.

Favourite Quote:

“Stella, I wish you had said that.”

She had tears in her eyes.

Reasons Why You Too Should Read It:

  1. What is politics?

Swaim is still trying to figure it out, and you probably are too, so pick up this book! Swaim brings you on a range experiences, from his miniscule tasks to the emotion every staff felt after the governor’s scandal had destroyed their hard work.

  1. It is raw and honest.

Yes, Swaim is neutral in his writing. He ‘wrote [the book] because he had to it” and for you to enjoy. In addition, he is not afraid to tell you how he felt when his writing was sent back by the governor, or what he did to try to keep his job. This allows us readers to trust the book, thus giving us reliable insight into the world of politics.

  1. How is language used?

Of course, with the job of a speechwriter, Swaim’s experience revolves around writing. In fact, there are a few chapters that focus solely on writing and the use of language. For example, Swaim teaches us the importance of nuance when he begins transcribing his letters to understand “the reason for [the governor’s] choice of words”. In addition, I realised that we all have a unique set of writing style, and it speaks volume* about us.

*You’ll understand the reason for the phrase if you read the book 🙂

A long overdue book review, my apologies. I would love to hear what you guys think and know what book(s) you are reading now. Do leave a comment!
Love, Temidayo 

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Deeper Than A Lifetime

In response to “The Knife” by Keith Douglas

Keith Douglas describes his poems as “extrospective” meaning that they are focused on external impressions rather than inner emotions. I believe, “The Knife” does not fall into that category and thus intrigues me the most out of all his poems. I would describe “The Knife” as a love poem; a love poem written in the midst of war at the point where dead was most evident. Hence, I believe it is one of the most sincere love poems that could be written. Although it is a love poem, its title is a word associated with danger, hurt and death for which I believe the poem was written for Ying Cheng. Ying Cheng also known as Betty Sze was an elegant Chinese lady who dated Keith during his university days. Unfortunately, her love for Keith was not as deep as his and thus the refusal of his proposal which lead to her being the unrequited love in Keith’s life. “Deeper than a Lifetime” aims to give Keith a second chance at a love that seemed so pure, to tell Betty all the things he wished he did and how differently he would have done things.

 

Dear Betty,

To turn back time and make my choices again,

I wish I could say that I would do everything exactly the same,

But unrequited love is only less painful when compared to once-requited love.

I wouldn’t have loved you as hard.

I wouldn’t have dived into the deep end of the pool just like that.

I would have tried much harder, with more suave to make you fall at your knees for me and my love.

I would have made you shed the sophisticated coat you wore whenever you met me,

The one I knew you wore to mask your true form.

I would not have hid the romantic that I was.

I would not have pretended not to be the simple guy who just wanted you to love him, who took this to be more than just a fling.

I would have took you to feel the breeze in your hair more often and to take long walks in the parks arm in arm, so that you understood the small yet important things in life.

I would have brought you to rooftops to watch the sunsets and sunrises that although were beautiful, weren’t as beautiful as you.

I would have brought you to water bodies to swim so that you could wash away all the uncertainties that you carried on your shoulders, so that you stopped calculating every move before you made them.

I would have ensured that you knew that time stopped when I looked at you, when I was with you.

I would have made sure that my ‘I love you’  s were loud and seductive but could only be heard in the wind as your long black waterfalls danced to its melody.

I would have made sure you thought of me every day without fail, the same way that not thinking of you each day felt like a bad day.

I would have made sure you understood that such selfless, aching love only came once in a lifetime and try to make you more courageous to follow the tune of your beating heart.

I would have made sure that you cried when I had gone to the army and that you sent letters, letters that would have been a small form of remedy and a reminder that you hadn’t forgotten me.

I would have made sure that the next time I saw you, would be as I, with you boldly held in my arms.

I would have made sure that I hadn’t die in a war when I had much more I wanted to say to you, to scream at you, to show you as Keith Douglas.

Don’t say that I am full of regret, because I am not.

It would be easier to forget you entirely,

But I guess I can’t.

My love for you runs deeper than just a lifetime and I can’t

Say goodbye until I have achieved what I truly believe is

Worth living for.

Heartbreaks

She broke up with him today.

I’ve never seen her so distraught,
So vulnerable like ever before today.
For the very first time, her stubbornness had dissolved into water droplets.

It’s been said time and again
that love is a complicated thing.
There is a certain amount of courage, almost foolishness that makes you put your heart on your sleeves, each time.
Yet, almost like an addiction, I see them throw themselves at the risk.
Repeating the process that has now come to be normal with growing up – heartbreaks.

The thrill of a companion is what drives them most times.
I wish it wasn’t.
It’s a downhill fall if the solution to the hole within was to fill it with the sweet words of a companion.
For why would teeth be plucked out from excessive intake of sugar?

As ladies of a new generation,
I wish we wouldn’t be so vulnerable to societal norms.
I wish we would learn to see that self-worth is the best filling.
I wish we would learn to throw away the items society has thrown in our face to hide our flaws.
I wish we would learn to be comfortable in our own skins.
I wish we would learn to eat and dress for ourselves.
I wish we would learn to never be afraid to let out the warriors in us.
I wish we would learn to see how much more we could be,
if the strength came from within.

The Answers

It’s hidden in
Their deaths
The aftermath of the stories they create
The aftermath of living in storyland and experiencing all they wished they could but couldn’t or/and didn’t dare to in the real world
Tennessee Williams, a profound writer
Who didn’t believe in original sins or guilt but in the reasoning that the right or wrong that individuals make is “by necessity or by certain still-comprehended influences in themselves, their circumstances, and their antecedent”
So,
How would Tennessee Williams explain his own tragic death from asphyxiation?
The fancy word for
His chocking on a plastic medicine cap
An irony or a protest?

It’s hidden in
The 15-20 mins planned story I performed
About how I lived in the Worlds of the characters in my novels
Placed myself in their shoes and took their skin
For so long, for too long
That I was facing the consequences of
A slowly but surely dying body
Due to a disease unknown to man

It’s hidden in
My poem STORYLAND
In which the very reason I open a book
Books which are so much like life
With a beginning and an end
With many adventures in between
Is simply for the joy of experiencing
Experiencing
More than I ever could in this life time

It’s hidden in
The New Year Resolutions we make
The bucket list we create
Our search for love
The dreams we hunt for and the goals we hope to fulfill
But most especially the uncertainty of death at any point in time
That lingers in the air

It’s hidden in
But it’s not that hard to see

World Poetry Day Special~

In celebration of World Poetry Day and as a lover of poetry, I created a simple presentation for school, in hopes of encouraging students to write and perform poetry too. I would like to remove the stereotype that people have about poetry, that it is boring and hard and share with them the wonders of poetry.

I hope that after the presentation, students shall have a more positive opinion of poetry and be able to see how simple and beautiful it is.

Here is the power point presentation:

World Poetry Day

Of course, here is an original poem to celebrate the day:

Let’s Talk

Let’s talk about things we don’t usually talk about.

Let’s talk about the pain people hide beneath the cuts.  

Let’s talk about the secrets students bury because they are afraid to talk.

Let’s talk about the dust that old hunchback cleaners with warm smiles sweep out of classrooms, creating sandstorms.

Let’s talk about the whispers flown miles away from circles of teenagers.

Let’s talk about the books we are dying to read but won’t discuss.

Let’s talk about the corrupt we motivate.

Let’s talk about the things we hate, that boil our blood underneath the skins we dread.

Let’s talk about the sky. 

Let’s talk about death and how the unknown prevents us from sleeping.

Let’s talk about the spirits within us that are begging, begging to take over.

Let’s talk about the words we said, didn’t mean to say, wanted to say, couldn’t say, wished to say, lived to say, and died trying to say.

Let’s talk about the future we hope to see in a crystal ball.

Let’s talk about those dodging bullets and bracing violent waves.

Let’s talk about the dreams that have shattered and have yet to be reborn.

Let’s talk about those without a place to call home.

Let’s talk about love and how we all secretly wish for it.

Let’s talk about how selfish and greedy we all are.

Let’s talk about how cruel we’ve made the world and how we are going to make all of it stop.

At The Crossroads

‘Where are you going to go?’

‘I don’t know.’

‘How long are you going to take?’

‘I don’t know.’

The worry in Mother’s eyes was beginning to affect me. It was evident she did not appreciate my lack of answers but I had no answer that would ease her worry.

‘What do you know then?’

‘I know that I am going for a drive and that I shall come back when I am ready to.’

‘Please stay safe and keep in touch every hour.’

I nodded as a reply and walked out the front door. Mother was not one bit willing to let me go but she was aware that I needed a breath from everything.

I walked to the garage, took 3 bottles of fuel, a blanket, the stack of cash I had saved, some clean clothes and began my trip to nowhere. The large green fields slowly turned to large trees and the urban houses turned to large high rises. The familiar strawberry scent in the air was long gone and replaced with a strawberry ash mixed scent. The light blue sky was turning into a gloomy grey one, a great representation of my feelings.

I was not surprised that i had unknowingly driven myself to the city. All my life, I knew that I was meant for it. At night, I would stare at the ceiling pretending that it was the city and would hear it softly but surely calling out to me. Sometimes, I would stare really hard, reality easily faded away.

The only reason why I, such an independent, strong-headed, smart lady stayed in a place that did not go in sync with the rhythm of my heartbeat was because he had stolen my heart. He also happened to be the reason I was moving with no destination on a fast lane. Tom and I knew each other ever since we were in diapers. Our Mothers were best friends and nothing less was expected of us. We did everything together and shared everything. The flowers of our friendship soon blossomed to romance and we soon became the envy of all our friends. This later extended to the whole school. We were prom queen and king, we were voted best couple for all our years in high school and we were voted most expected to get married. I did not care for the fame, I was simply happy being with Tom.

After we graduated, he took me on a surprise road trip to the city. His destination was a mesmerising water-body which went two ways. He had stumbled upon it and knew that I would love such a unique place was nicknamed the crossroads and became a symbol of our love.

A few days ago, the promise was broken, shattered into unrecognisable pieces when I found Tom cheating. It is funny how one can know someone their whole life yet not know them at all. When I found out, I did not shed a single tear, not even a single drop. I had simply returned the ring and left.

Now, I find myself back at the crossroads.

I would be lying if I said I was not hurt but I would also be lying if I said I was surprised. Life is everything but a fairytale and when everything was going so well, I knew somewhere along the line, there would be a problem. It just happened to be a much bigger problem than I ever imagined.

Gazing at the crossroads, I wished for a reset button but none came. My mid-length waves had begun dancing to the melody of the wind before I realised how cold it was. I watched the waves in the water-body hit against each other, creating a beautiful dance. The stars were out when I left the crossroads but immediately when I got into my car and began my drive, I knew it would be my last time here.

My life was going to change and this time I shall be the pilot.

Hunting Expedition

The dark heavy clouds followed me from Wall Street to, well, nowhere? The sky was my canvas, and painted on it was my mood. I had no plans, just a complicated map, a three-dollar Target compass and a 1960s car. I was tired of making plans, having plans and fulfilling plans. I was tired of being the person described in my job description. So, like your average half-dead, fully drained, dowdy woman, I embarked on an expedition.

Along the highway was a gas station filled with men of inflated egos. Their only prides were grunting vehicles. Their 30kg baggage made it hard for me to enter. The pistol-like stares they shot at me was enough evidence that I was a flower among thorns or better still, a woman in a man-only town. A 3kg of fuel had never felt lighter as I rushed towards my car.

The heavy silence throughout the journey was a constant reminder of how my social life had failed me. There were no buzzing, no twittering, not even a single ‘ring’. When I thought I had found my hero, it was a pop-up of my office schedule—a grim reminder of the life I was running away from. I was tempted to allow my phone a chance at sky-diving.

Once my stomach started grumbling, I realised there was something I could not run away from. Thus, I decided to try my luck at a diner for brunch. Upon entering, I was overwhelmed by a strong aroma. It was as if Vanilla and lemon had a baby. The attitude of the mini-dress that cat-walked towards me with a cup of complimentary coffee unfortunately, was a jarring contrast. Yet nothing was going to distract me from a well-deserved meal: the finger-licking, high-in- calories, honey-glazed waffle and the roasted, perfectly brewed, aromatic coffee took me to Mars and back. It was a miracle how much the taste of coffee could right the wrong of a waitress!

It no longer felt like an expedition to nowhere.

With the windows down as I continued the journey, I smelt the salt in the air before my eyes laid upon the water body. It made me speed with zealousness. Upon exiting the car, I was welcomed by passionate winds which played a melody my mid-length waves fell in sync with. I felt right at home with the sea softly calling out to me.

Rainbow fishes illuminated the vast blue sea and their synchronized movements were evident.

Painted on my canvas was now cerulean. I was on the hunt for the meaning of life and as I stood gazing into the horizon, with my feet sunk into the wet sand, fully embracing the warm kisses from the cool waves, I found it. I knew there and then what it meant to be alive, to be alright and to want to live.

I knew there and then my own unique hunting expedition had become my salvation.