On this week of gratitude, I’m delighted to share 3 poems by Daniel Damiano, from his poetry collection, 104 Days of the Pandemic. This collection provides us a wonderful opportunity to reflect on the emotions of the pandemic through an assortment of delicate and ferocious moments captured daily since March. Thanks for sharing your work with us, Daniel!
About Daniel: Daniel Damiano is an Award-winning Playwright, Screenwriter, Actor, Poet and Novelist based in Brooklyn, NY. His plays have been produced in many areas of the U.S. as well as London, England and Sydney & Melbourne, Australia, and his poetry has been published in Crooked Teeth Literary Magazine, Newtown Literary Journal, New Voices Anthology, Cloudbank and HotMetal Press. He has been nominated for Pushcart Prize for Poetry and was a Finalist for the Arts and Letters Prize in Drama. His acclaimed play, “Day of the Dog”, was published in 2018 by Broadway Play Publishing. In 2020, he completed his first novel, “The Woman in the Sun Hat”, as well as a book of poetry, “104 Days of the Pandemic.”
I’ve had the great pleasure of knowing Ahren since High School. This person, this peculiar and inventive theater kid made such an impression on me as I tried to find my footing in those days. There is no doubt in my mind my creative life would be catastrophically duller and unfulfilled if it weren’t for this incredible human being. Whenever I look back on how we started our creativity, I discover new eureka moments that still inform how I collaborate and make art today. Ahren has always been a true hyphenate; a tech theatre guy, performer, musician, designer and curious creative soul. From our early days performing interpretive duets at Speech & Debate tournaments in high school, or acting at our Shakespearean finest our Senior year, to really committing to a long-distance songwriting collaboration with our band For The Benefit, we learned to trust each other and pushed to ask bold questions of each other. Since then, Ahren has become a brilliant set designer, visual thinker, and multimedia artist for the stage. I am so wowed by his work that it’s so rewarding for me to have experienced his progression from such an early time of exploration. Time flies, and so here we are, almost two decades later, continuing such a wonderful friendship that inspires me more by the day to bring my best to my work as well.
Thank you for all you’ve given me and all you continue to bring to my life, dear friend.
THE PRESENT: A SMALL PROJECT ABOUT A ROBOT
A short while ago, we rekindled our creative interaction with a flashback project I thought could use another stab. A final stab. In 2005, I wrote a story song about a character named Prometheus, a robot with an existential dilemma to solve. Back then, the version I did left a lot to be desired, and I didn’t get around to creating the visual component needed to fully flesh out the character. So looking back, I thought, this could be a good starter project for Ahren and I to freely explore and design without expectation. I hope to bring more details to this page as developments arise!
[POOR PROMETHEUS] TIMELINE
2005: I wrote the song in 2005 based on a childhood character of mine called Captain Condor, who was a loyal robot betrayed by humans and left to ponder his dramatic purpose. I eventually recorded the song and released it under the Cultured Animal album, “Headphone Music for Nowhere People.”
End of 9/2020: Ahren and I had a few chats to discuss potential short form projects.
10/2020: Settled on [Poor Prometheus], a robot’s tale that would give us a strong visual for Ahren to play and build upon.
11/2020: The 2005 recording of the song leaves a lot to be desired. I recorded the vocals on my old eMac (hella old and you could hear my AC going too, jfc). Re-did the vocals in early November after finding the original garage band files. Reached out to my musician friends Dane and Dust to potentially record a new bass line and add completely new arrangements to the existing synth, vocals, and beat. We’re working on that now!
11/23/20: Ahren send me the first minute of rough animation. The pacing, the look, and overall tone of the piece are set. Ahren’s a visual master and you will be able to see his unique point of view on full display with this piece!
I met Dust during my time at Casper College, what seems like ages ago. He has always been a figure of inspiration in my life, and looking back, I realize how fortunate I am to find myself collaborating with him now. We’ve been trying to start an EP album, with Dust providing his epic guitar playing skills for us to build on (there is really no other way to do this, Dust playing guitar is a supremely inspiring thing). Most of this summer has been a stop and go endeavor, but we’ve been in touch about what kind of songwriting collaboration we want and what is most pressing on our minds. The idea of loss was a constant in our conversations, as Dust lost a friend to suicide last year. Things of such gravity need to be synthesized, and he felt he wanted to honor his friend in this way. With our first single, Black Road, we used a demo of Dust’s as a building block, and I challenged myself to write a story for that recording. When I first heard the track, I knew we could use it as a starting point to capture some of the emotional hardship Dust experienced.
It happened very quickly, but right now, it’s exactly what we need to get back to creative ways. Sometimes, we shouldn’t overthink the work. It’s our job to do. This recording was exactly what we needed to jumpstart the collab, and now we’re in the process of hashing out the next one! We’re hoping to get back to our Village Inn brainstorming breakfasts to figure out the next creative project. For now, long distance collaboration via email will have to suffice.
11.14.20: Dust sent along an idea to start working on lyrics for our second song. The demo is about minute or so, but strong enough that I can start writing to. Once we have something, we’re going to invite our pal Dane to give us an extra boost. Great sounds unfolding!
11.21.20: Wrote up some lyrics I really like based on Dust’s demo. Tentatively calling it “Cerulean.”
11.22.20: Quick discussion with Dust re: album goals and getting the word out. We’re hoping to have four more songs by the end of the year, and pass on some things for our friend Dane to join the fray. Discussed other song ideas and the possibility of a streamed performance early next year. Also, we probably have to change the collab name to add Dane. Sucks to get a new name, but quite psyched to keep the momentum and bringing a new friend. But so far so good!
Came down with something early last week and it derailed my podcasting plans. Feeling a bit better, so here’s this week’s show a few days late!
On this one I’m talking to myself about being accommodating to my awesome friends/collaborators, the perils of shifting expectations, and once again, project no budget setbacks. You know, the stuff working class creatives have to deal with.
Hello all! Trying out some video for the Creative Drive Podcast! Here’s a short story I wrote a few months ago, I’m working my way back into writing fiction, so here it goes! If you’re a writer with a day-job, I’d love to know what you’re up to and how you’re holding up in the throes of every day chaos. Submit your poetry and flash fiction today and I’d love to share it on the podcast! Send in your short works today!
Hey all! I recorded this on Friday 10.16.20 because the schedule was a little wonky, but alas. I’ve had a week of deep thought and realignment. Have you ever felt like things were going swimmingly only to realize things are actually the opposite of that? This week has reminded me to never forget my North Star, my family, over work or art. Things are good, but I can do better.
Be honest with yourself and own up to your shortcomings so that you can fix them. Mine is time management. I can’t serve myself, my family, or my friends/collaborators this way and I have to work harder at it.
Jaime Alejandro Cruz is a writer, podcaster, and arts advocate based in Wyoming. He currently produces The Writing Record and Creative Drive, podcasts to showcase and encourage the creativity of artists with day-jobs.
A Quick Script
After reaching out to Anthony about the Rode film competition, we began looking for a narrative that could be told visually, and of course, with the power of sound design. After a handful of calls, Anthony and I fleshed out an outline of points to cover, and I went to town on the script! I loved having such a close deadline, but also Anthony’s creative support to get it done quickly.
We only did a couple of revisions prior to planning the production. The great part about getting on the same page about what we wanted to achieve made the rest of the project incredibly easy!
Get on the same page as soon as possible, and work toward a singular vision.
Here’s a fresh rambling on the most recent barriers to creativity. Also, I don’t want to do a video version of The Writing Record so I won’t be sharing the video version on the blog. Sadly, I don’t have time and it’s not bringing anything to the YouTube channel. Here are my reminders to myself this week:
Planning is important. Not getting distracted may be even more important.
Weekends and days off are for rest. But they are also there for you to get shit done. Don’t make a mistake like I did and let your days off fly by.
Today we feature once again a friend of the show: Zach Murphy!
Zach Murphy is a Hawaii-born writer with a background in film. His stories have appeared in Peculiars Magazine, Ellipsis Zine, Emerge Literary Journal, The Bitchin’ Kitsch, Ghost City Review, Lotus-eater, WINK, Drunk Monkeys, and Fat Cat Magazine. He lives with his wonderful wife Kelly in St. Paul, Minnesota.