madisen kuhn

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introducing: almost home

almost home is my most intimate collection of poetry yet, and it will be all yours on october 1, 2019. with beautiful illustrations by melody hansen and a foreword by orion carloto, these poems of mine are in very good company. 

you can pre-order it today (!) from amazon and barnes & noble (click here for a complete worldwide list.) pre-orders are incredibly helpful for getting the book to debut on best-sellers lists, so if you have the chance to in the next few months, i would so so appreciate it.

this is one of those moments where life doesn’t feel real. when i began writing the poems for this collection, i was partly terrified that i wouldn’t be able to create a whole new book. that somehow words would evade me and i’d have to resign my title of ‘poet!’

clearly, that didn’t happen.  

i really struggle with self-confidence and doubt myself any chance i get, but i’m doing my best to grow (cbt myself) out of that. i burst into tears when i finished writing this book because it hit me that even when the world feels like it is falling all around me, when i feel like i am failing more than i am succeeding, i still have art. i will always have poetry. it is my comfort, my outlet, my teacher. i have never been more proud of anything.

i learned so much about myself through the creation of this book. i have never been more confident in my identity as a writer and i am so grateful to have my dream job. i feel like the luckiest person on earth to have you all as my readers. know that i am here with and for you, through thick and thin. you will always have a home in my heart. here’s to our next chapter.

in this stunning third collection from madisen kuhn, madisen eloquently analyzes some of life’s universal themes within the framework of a house. whether it’s the garden, the bedroom, or the front porch, madisen takes you into her own “home,” sharing some of the most intimate parts of her life so that you might also, someday, feel free to share some of yours.

filled with beautiful hand-drawn illustrations from melody hansen, this boldly intimate, preternaturally wise, and emotionally candid collection encourages you to consider what home means to you—whether it’s in the lush, green-lawned suburbs or a city apartment—and, more importantly, explores how you can find it even when home feels like it’s on the far-off horizon. 

i’ve been dropping a few hints and teasers that were hard to catch but fun to hide in plain sight. if you look at my last email, the first letter of each paragraph spells out ‘almost home’ (was really proud of that one, haha.) i set my twitter header as the cover photo, changed my name to “ah!” (the initials of almost home), put a countdown on my website, etc. but no more teasing! it’s here! ah! i love ya’ll and hope to meet you at a signing/poetry picnic sometime later this year!

take care,

madisen

ps. keep an eye out for giveaways on my instagram. i plan on doing a lot leading up to october 1st! (including but not limited to: signed books, gift cards, candles, jewelry, my favorite must-haves, etc.)

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the love club // 3-3-2019
 
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AH! The past few weeks have been crazy for me, but I’m finally able to slow down a little and wanted to pop in and say hi! How are you feeling? It’s cold and raining here. I’m sipping a lukewarm soy chai latte at Starbucks because I got caught up journaling and forgot it was there. Since January, I’ve been bringing a reusable cup and it makes me feel way less guilty about my frequent coffee shop visits. I have a deadline this week so I’ve been spending a lot of time writing in coffee shops. For some reason, I have a hard time getting creative at home. I’m able to focus much better when I go out somewhere with the intention of writing. It might be different if I had a specific spot to write in at home (like my own office…someday) but our apartment is pretty small, so my options are either the couch or the kitchen table. When it gets warmer, I can start writing on our balcony. I’m excited for that. 

Like I said, I have a deadline. The most important one of my career thus far. I have loved writing forever, but I could have never guessed I’d end up a poet. My grandmother was a writer and I idolized her. I would sit on the floor next to her blue velvet armchair and listen to her tell stories about all the writing contests she won. She was an amazing storyteller. I would give anything to be able to read something of hers now, but I’m not sure any of it was even saved. In elementary school, I entertained the idea of being an author. I’d write the first couple chapters of a book and then get bored. Then, somehow I got the idea in my head that I wanted to move to New York City and become a journalist (so really, Leah Lu is living MY childhood dream??? Haha.) In seventh grade, I was the only 7th grade editor on my school’s newspaper (I love(d) bragging about this.) 

Meanwhile, I thought I hated poetry. In 10th grade, we had a guest speaker come in and read The Red Wheelbarrow. She made us guess what it meant. It infuriated me. I can still remember her face as she slowly walked back and forth across the room with an expression that obnoxiously hissed, “I know something that you don’t.” She never gave us any sort of explanation or commentary. And while I can appreciate The Red Wheelbarrow today, I wish my English teachers had started us off on more accessible poetry (hello, Mary Oliver!) so that we could appreciate the classics with more understanding. Instead, we just checked out. 

Oof. It wasn’t until I discovered Tumblr poetry that I truly engaged. The two writers that opened my eyes to poetry were Lang Leav and connotativewords (aka -jl). I could actually read and understand what their poetry was conveying and it made me feel things. And once I was properly introduced, I naturally branched out. Now, I pick up classic literature that requires several close-reads for me to fully grasp it and I truly enjoy it in a way I never thought I would. The classics are classics for a reason. It feels good to read a non-straightforward poem and dissect it till you “get it.” And then realize that there are a million ways to “get it.” Poetry is a gorgeous art form that takes so many different shapes. 

So fast-forward to today. This new wave of “simplified” poetry garners a lot of intense disapproval from other writers. And to be honest, I understand where they are coming from.  There are people who spend years and years formally learning about poetry (which, by the way, many “IG poets” have studied poetry formally as well! They’re not mutually exclusive), only to see others finding success apart from all of the rules and guidelines they’ve been taught. It doesn’t make sense to them, so they write long, hateful articles disguised as “criticism,” but not once have I seen any of these opinionated pieces offer anything constructive. And rarely have they attempted to read more than one or two poems by a particular artist. They just pick and choose pieces that fit their narrative. It seems a lot like they just want a pat on the back for being “a true poet” (or lover of “true poetry.”) Divisiveness and invalidation do nothing but feed egos. (I could rant forever about this)

There are people who genuinely love writing and there are people who want to achieve success instantly without effort, so they mimic. It’s naïve to think those people don’t exist. But that makes up a relatively small percentage and should not discount the community as a whole. The “Instagram poets” I love and support put their whole hearts into writing and while many of their poems (and most of mine) do not require deep contemplation to understand their message, they’re still so valuable. And vulnerable. And fucking artistic. The bottom line is—people are reading these poems and feeling seen. Feeling understood. Feeling. And if something can make you feel something, there is something to it. People debate all the time what the definition of poetry is, and I think that’s how I would define it. If it makes you feel something, it’s poetry. 

Hearts don’t all look the same. We’re not all going to connect with the same poetry, but that doesn’t make one lesser than the other. Just different. Ultimately, a younger generation is opening their eyes to poetry again. That is no small feat. And it’s in huge part due to the poets who got their start online and are continuously invalidated. This sub-genre really didn’t even exist a few years ago (although, the aforementioned and highly-acclaimed Mary Oliver kind of walked so IG poets could run), and now Rupi Kaur has been on Jimmy freaking Fallon and Lang Leav is attracting thousands to her worldwide signings. And they (and I!) started off self-published. It’s fucking impressive. I’m so proud to sit on shelves next to them.

Okay, I didn’t have the intention of writing all of that when I began this email, but I guess I had to let it out, haha. What I really came here to say is that I’ve been working hard as hell on my third book, and I get to tell you more so so so soon. My past two books were written leisurely and without a deadline. This one is my most intentional piece of work yet. I had to sit down and write when I didn’t want to, and holy shit, did I discover so much about myself through that process. I went deeper than I ever have. Wrote about things I didn’t even know I felt until the words were in front of me. I’m so eager (and a little scared) to share this with you. Keep an eye on my Instagram and Twitter because I will be revealing some more information soon. And wait till you hear who is illustrating it. (!!!)

My whole heart explodes when I look back at the little girl who wanted to be a writer like her grandmother, to the teenager who hated poetry, to the teenager who sucked at poetry but kept writing anyway—and then, in the mirror, at the very much still a work-in-progress woman who has now written three books. It’s surreal. And I owe so much to your support. I don’t know if I would’ve had the courage to keep doing this thing without your constant encouragement. But now I am here and so in love and dedicated to what I do and I can’t imagine doing anything else. Thank you for helping me believe in myself in my dreams. I love you so much.

Enough mushiness. I hope the rest of your week is dreamy. Listen to Bea Miller’s new song and go conquer the world. I can’t wait for what is to come.

xo,

Madisen

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the love club // mostly about journaling
 
 
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Hey, you.

 My therapist pointed out to me during a session that I hold my breath and become very still when I feel tense. It’s like, I’m so focused on whatever is burdening me that I forget to breathe. After she brought this to my attention, I began to notice it all the time. Now that I know that this is a Thing that I do, I also know to take a few deep breaths as soon as I’m aware of it. I feel my body relax. My heart slows a little. My shoulders lower away from my ears. It’s an easy fix.

The same way I hold my breath, I also hold in what I’m feeling. I let it whirl in my head on a loop. It feels heavy in my chest. I get so caught up in the painful feeling of confinement that I forget that it doesn’t have to be this way. I can let it out. I can breathe as soon as I notice I haven’t been.

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Journaling is my tried and true ritual for purging weighty thought and emotion. I can look back on my life and see that the seasons in which I was regularly journaling brought more peace and clarity. Simply taking time each day to focus on YOU is a rewarding act of self-love in itself, but the revelations that come with thinking “out-loud” (on paper) are invaluable. When you give yourself the opportunity to follow a train of thought without judgment or a sense of urgency, you find so much more in your head and your heart that could’ve sat idly—full of potential, but neglected.

I try to journal at the same time every day to reinforce the habit, which used to be before bed, but I’ve switched to in the morning (around 8 or 9) and like that much more. I can unload and move on with my day feeling lighter. I’ll often go to a café and really milk the “self-care” stereotypes just to make it fun for myself. And this may go without saying, but it’s also important to me that I really like my journal. I’ve bought a few impulsively that I never finished because I got tired of the journal itself. They were either too big or too small or too eccentric (textured parchment is nice, in theory, but annoying to actually write on.) One time I decided to buy a yellow journal. I only got maybe ten pages in because I began to hate the shade. Sounds silly, but when you get a journal, make sure it meets your aesthetic and practical needs. I just began an unlined one for the first time and love it, but in the past I always made sure my journals were lined because I really cared about them looking neat and tidy. (I’ve grown to embrace the mess.)

 
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I love journals that are minimal in design. My favorite, easy, go-to journal is Moleskine or Leuchtturm1917 (in black, of course.) The one I just started I found in a little shop (7115 by Szeki) on Rivington St. in New York. It comes in a standard size and a pocket size. I bought the pocket size to easier carry it around in my purse. There’s a space behind the binding that fits a pen perfectly. I also care a lot about my pens. My favorite are the gel pens from Muji. I’ve found that journaling in pencil is messier (I’m a lefty) and begins to fade overtime, which makes saving them kind of pointless (isn’t it everyone’s hope that our journals will be admired post-mortem, like Sylvia Plath or Eliss Grey? Just kidding. I save mine for sentimental value, to have an accessible timeline of my mental health, and to hopefully show my children one day.) 

When I finished my Moleskine, and switched to my 7115 journal, there was a shift in my journaling patterns. I had been recounting my days in detail and writing down my plans for the immediate future, almost like writing in an agenda, but when I started this new journal, I began to write more introspectively about life-themes and feelings, rather than events. That’s what reminded me of Sunday Love Letters. It often feels like journaling when I write these emails.  

I want to get back into the habit of writing emails, but this time with less structure. They may not come weekly or on Sunday’s. I might send out three in one week and none the next. I think the conformity is what has tripped me up in the past. I’m a perfectionist. It’s exhausting. I want to let myself exist with less self-imposed limitations. 

Something feels more intimate and personal about these emails than sharing thoughts on social media. There’s less pressure for them to appear a certain way because it’s not displayed on a (semi-)permanent, public feed. I think it’ll be a good way for me to tap into some creativity. To embrace a more uninhibited mode of expression. I probably won’t edit them either.

I hope you stay subbed. And please, feel free to reply to these emails whenever you have something to say. I would love to hear your thoughts on whatever I’ve written. I would love for this to be a conversation, not just a shout in to the void.

Love you, mean it.

Madisen

PS.

Here’s a playlist of songs I’ve been digging lately (I’ll be adding to it throughout the month.)


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a forever favorite
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period-proof underwear that works

i got my period when i was 12, a month before my 13th birthday, and went on birth control when i was in high school because my symptoms were so severe that no amount of advil or time with the heating pad would help. some days i couldn’t even make it to school. the only thing i could to to escape the pain was sleep, and sometimes it was so painful i couldn’t even do that.

i’ve been wearing THINX period panties for close to 5 years now and every month when i pull them out of my drawer, i am so happy they exist. periods suck, but these make them suck less. instead of feeling gross with a pad or in bloodstained granny panties reserved specifically for my time of the month (did anyone else do this too?), i actually feel sexy in my THINX!! what! I love being able to cuddle with my boyfriend at night and not feel like i’m wearing a diaper.

srsly feel so cute and comfortable and confident in them that i was able to do a photoshoot in my undies to show ‘em off! (these are the organic cotton briefs.)

owning THINX feels like an act of self love. while i’m still attracted to minimalism, there is still a lot of excess in my closet, but these are not one of them. these are essential. i have six pairs and zero buyers remorse. and extra brownie points for them being good for the planet as well.

and because my friends at THINX are sooo amazing, they’ve gifted us with a $5 off coupon code (cue angels singing in perfect harmony) Use MADISEN5 at checkout to save on your panties. you also save more the more you buy! And if you want even more info about why I love them, check out my previous blog post that includes a Q&A and #menstruatingfacts.

customize a cycle set

10% OFF when you buy 3 pairs or more
15% OFF when you buy 5 pairs or more
20% OFF when you buy 7 pairs or more

love you & love THINX.
& i hope you love both of those things as much as i do!

xoxo,

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to make monsters out of girls
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this morning, i sat in bed while the rain dripped outside and devoured an iced latte and amanda’s newest book in one sitting.

'to make monsters out of girls' is a darkly whimsical narrative of a person who, despite past abuse, is able to cultivate a self-love that blooms and welcome in a romantic-love that nurtures. she learns that there is intimacy in the world that heals instead of destroys, and conveys the importance of portraying mistreatment candidly so that others are validated in their own, messy chronicles. 

it’s so easy to look back at chapters of our lives and tell them with the hindsight bias we have now. i appreciate the way amanda thoughtfully inspects the monstrous relationship and acknowledges her own faults while still holding the abuser completely accountable. no one is perfect. but no one deserves cruel manipulation disguised as love.

my favorite pieces/quotes:

i can’t tell the difference between you & the dead of winter. - at least winter makes way for spring.
— amanda lovelace, to make monsters out of girls
in the spring, the thawing began. with a hand clutched to my chest, i stumbled down that overgrown path, dug through the softened dirt, & took that beatless thing back into my hands. i leaned in & whispered to it, “please don’t give up. not yet. there’s still someone you should be beating for—me.” somewhere in that darkness, the faintest sparkle of light bloomed.
— amanda lovelace, to make monsters out of girls
my new love— he’s got a green thumb. where you neglected me & let the weeds overtake, he’s always so very nurturing. & you’ll never guess what— he made for damn sure he repotted me where i could stretch towards the light & finally outgrow you.
— amanda lovelace, to make monsters out of girls
that girl belongs to the coffee shops & the bookstores & the treetops— but mostly she just belongs to herself
— amanda lovelace, to make monsters out of girls

the vulnerability + honesty in this collection inspires me. amanda's brutal, unapologetic poetry makes me want to harness my own power and boldly declare my strength + my truth. i will be waiting impatiently until march for 'the mermaid's voice returns in this one'

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