Many of the readers may know Samuel Alexander for his competitive gaming, or amazing piano skills, or simply because he goes by “Catfish”, but after a semester in Seth Tuckers Creative Writing Class, he is now an excellent poet as well.
Catfish grew up in rural Texas but was drawn to more modern culture, particularly gaming. His poetry debuted at the National Poetry Month Celebratory reading in Arthur Lakes Library on April 8th.
At the beginning of the reading, Toni Lefton, who organized the event, asked where Catfish was. Someone replied “Catfish is at the piano!” This sums up a lot of how Catfish approaches his art. He is not where you expect him to be and yet he excels. His poetry tackles important and diverse issues.
One of his poems, Girls Play for Free on Wednesday Nights!, speaks to controversial gender issues in competitive gaming. In Catfish’s words, “The Competitive gamer community is a diverse group, and we all get along. But there is the weird outsider effect to women. People say they are just there for attention. In a way they are, but also everyone who competes is. There is a strange gamer gender gap.”
Catfish’s perspective and honesty is both refreshing and profound when he applies it to poetry. The way in which he presented and wrote allowed those who are not involved with this community to understand the complicated and confusing dynamics at play. Here is an excerpt:
“relaxing yourself to the hacking away at sticks and buttons from
controllers controlled by their controllers
fackling and old sounds mixed with new lingo
“something something attention”
sadly you overhear, that word again
ratching itself onto the back of your mind again
words crack through the now-silent soundscape”
To see a poem that hits home and attacks a very specific issue is quite impressive. Catfish credits his success in poetry and gaming to hard work. Catfish said, “Anyone can be good be at gaming and writing if they work at it. I guess this is where the two connect for me.”
He then went on to explain why there are so many good artists, gamers and students at Mines. “Mines students are hard workers in general, so it is not surprising that there are so many good writers and artists.”
Catfish has been inspired by the artistic community at school. “I think that there are many amazing artists at Mines. We are disconnected in that art is not really a group effort at Mines. That said High Grade is phenomenal. People use art as a healthy outlet that gives themselves hope.”
Catfish is just one of the many hidden talents here at Mines. It is easy to forget that there is a world of art and poetry at Mines, but it is thriving.
Photo by Ronald Kem