My dearest, most precious snow angels,

It’s January! How was your holiday?! How was your New Years? Did you make a snowperson in your yard then wished them to life and then it became your very best friend?!?!?! Did you eat all the fudge in the land?! Did you watch Elf and cry?! Did you hug a nice cat or a friend or a friend’s cat?!


On the real real babes, I had one of the best holidays ever. I went horseback riding in the snow with my family, had snuggles with our cat, sang Christmas songs in a sleigh, started BOXING, ate delicious food, wrote music, bought flannel sheets LIKE AN ADULT, went skiing, WROTE A NEW SONG WITH MY GIRLFRIEND, looked at Christmas lights, listened to Christina Aguilara’s Christmas album, and most importantly, spent quality time with the people I love. And most most importantly, ate pie.


-Just in time for the Winter season: CROP TOPS on my website. I also released T-shirts in the same style in case you want to stay warmer.

– I’m working on the next album! I’ve been brushing up on my classical composition chops, as I am composing string quartets for some songs! It’s thrilling to put my degree to work, after primarily focusing on performing the last year.

– I’m working on my next collection of poetry! I’m 60 pages in! It is scary! It is a lot of work! I have trouble making myself sit down and write. I wonder if you writers out there have any tricks for becoming more prolific?

Now the foremost excitingest:

THE RIBCAGE MUSIC VIDEO IS OUT NOW! FADER debuted it today, and I couldn’t be more proud of what we’ve made. So many people selflessly devoted their talents, resources, and time in making Ribcage happen.

You may recall that we have been working on this video for a hella long time, and that’s because we ran into a few snags along the way. Partly because I funded this project by myself and I don’t even own a car, so that was an adventure in finances! But mostly because I wanted this video to be a piece of art, and that ended up taking a lot more time than I expected. Working on this project felt pretty symbolic for me; I can’t remember the last time I worked on anything creative simply for art’s sake- so much of my life has become about promo, about social media, about making the right career move, or writing songs with the sole intention of having people like them, to the point where I almost feel paralyzed to create. It’s becoming increasingly difficult to sit at the piano and not think “OK. GOTTA WRITE A HIT” “IS THIS CHORD PROGRESSION A HIT CHORD PROGRESSION?!” “WILL PEOPLE LIKE THIS OR WILL THEY HEAR IT AND WANT TO SEND ME ONE OF THOSE GLITTER ENVELOPES AND SAY MEAN THINGS?!” Rather than thinking “Do I even like what I’m creating?” “Is this fulfilling?”Ribcage is a dark song. I wrote it because something dark happened to me. The full explanation of why wrote the song is here, in this editorial I wrote for FADER, but the idea for the music video, though related, is a little bit different. You can watch it here.

Mary Lambert Ribcage Press Shot 1 Photo credit Zoe Rain

Ribcage is about the unintentional (or intentional) voyeurism of being a fan. My art is an extension of my innermost thoughts, and because I’m a (sometimes involuntarily) vulnerable soul and choose to tell my story (or cry it in a song), I put myself in a precarious trust fall into the audience every night. Most of the time, it is the most gratifying experience an artist could ever dream of. I am able to freely talk about trauma, body image, sexual abuse, being bi-polar, and the audience (read: YOU, YOU GORGEOUS ANGEL CUPCAKE) looks at me and says “I see you. I feel you. Me too.”

The beauty of being vulnerable is that there is an incredible opportunity to connect on a metaphysical level with other human beings. I believe that vulnerability is what makes humanity so moving. When you are vulnerable, you take a leap of faith that the person you are attempting to connect with will reciprocate your openness. If the energy or openness is not returned or sometimes worse, feigned or made fun of, it can feel like the walls are caving in. I took a big break from touring this year after I realized I was having too many grisly panic attacks post-show. Being a vulnerable artist can be so rewarding when you connect with an audience, but when the vulnerability is non-reciprocated or devoid of compassion, it can crush you, your spirit, and your art.

What do I mean by non-reciprocated vulnerability?
I mean reciting ‘Body Love’ and watching people laugh/look skeptically/talk loudly/take selfies
I mean getting messages that say “I self-harmed today because you didn’t tweet me back”
I mean the difference between connection and collection

I mean being asked about my sexual abuse on a live television show without any warning or relevance.You, you scrumptious little cookie, might be thinking- WOAH MARY CHILL OUT. Protect yourself! Why do you have to show everyone your naked self all the time? And you would be right! I’m working on that. The problem is, it doesn’t come naturally. You know how a lot of people have to learn how to be vulnerable? I have to learn how to not be vulnerable when it’s unsafe, without changing my identity to fit into this lifestyle. That’s one of the scarier things I’ve noticed about this industry, and largely in the world- how frequently and easily we adapt to harmful situations. I had some people in my life suggest going on anxiety medication, but I realized that these panic attacks had only started this year, and I didn’t want to adapt to this lifestyle. The same thing happened when I was losing my voice and about to start a tour. I was urged to get on vocal steroids, but steroids are a quick fix and can seriously harm your vocal chords with extended use. If my voice is giving out, then I need to change my schedule. If my brain is having these minute combustions, then I need to figure out where it came from, and address it. That said, I took some media training last year specifically to learn how to deflect when a writer is trying to be exploitive with my story. At the moment, I am trying to figure out how to retract safely when I feel unsafe on stage without shaking, running off and crying into chocolate bars.

ANYWHOOZLE. That is the Ribcage story. No kitten mentions in those paragraphs, so HERE, HERE’S A KITTEN:

I also released a video called “Lay Your Head Down” which is a song poem in which I talk about ALL MY FEELINGS. I have so many feelings.

You can watch it here:

As always, babes. Stay true. I love you.


First of all, you guys made me cry and I’m so happy and I had so much fun reading your writing!! I got 200 submissions! SICK! It was so fun picking favorites! Thank you for your bravery and vulnerability. One little reminder: these prompts are about writing NEW work. It is very cool to have a collection of old pieces of writing in your catalog that are not related to the prompt, but let’s write new stuff! It’s fun! I promise!

Here are my picks for favorite submissions:

-Amanda Hawk (she juxtaposed her name with her body which I thought was super cool and original)

-Salla Junetunen (broke down their name with the feelings of each syllable. Sounds have connotations! COOL!)

-Donny Winter  (his poem was multi-layered, but one of my favorite layers was about seeing his name published as a writer, which stuck out to me because names are also tied to recognition! Like when you win an award, they don’t call you by your moon-child-spirit-self, they call you by your name.

-Troy Osaki (Just read this: “America has taught me to be less foreign- an unmarked atlas of where I am from. A Japanese accent pronounced like a small war in my mouth conquered in english”. LIKE SHUT UP AMAZING UGH)

-Annabelle Zaluski (Journey she had with her name from first as a little girl, to teachers in school, to then hearing her partner say it- names grow with us- they evolve and we evolve with them. Neat direction!)

Now to this week’s poem and prompt!

ONION-VISION by Shira Erlichman


A man who forgets himself is poor at making bread.
That is a cookie fortune I never got.

Three virgins in the sack are like three happy vowels: aoe!
That is also a cookie fortune I never got.

The mountains have really big hands.
Once more folks, a cookie fortune I never got.

Don’t turn around – there are babies being made.
That is, again, a cookie fortune I never got.


The bubble bath was filled with lemons when I kissed her.
A secret, just nobody’s secret.

The extra pillow is to hump.
Somebody’s secret, someone close by, maybe right here.

I lick every scented marker in the set.
Gregory “Long-legs”s not-so-secret in fourth grade.

Every bad thing that ever happens to you
is either a thermometer or barometer.
A secret I wish someone had told me sooner.

I am not brave.
The heart’s secret.

I am too brave.
The heart’s secret.


A dishwasher that plays the dishes as notes.
Uninvented Invention #23

A holidiary where everyone shares entries
in a highly ritualized public format.
Uninvented Invention #68

“Burn the water” – a blues song revealing
the impossibility of abandoning those that abandon us.
Uninvented Invention #104

A miniature movie-theater suspended above the forehead
during sleep to, of course, project movies to a loved one.
Uninvented Invention #19

Walking campfire: built small and safe enough to store
in the breast pocket and familiar to all, so all may sing along.
Uninvented Invention #859

Onion-vision, so we may see sadness as it is, artichokes
as they are, sound, muscle, the truth as it is.
Uninvented Invention #44

Word-kites: you tie them to what you say
and they go wherever they want to go,
like, a tree-tangle or your mouth, some hot moon like that.
Uninvented Invention #960

So here is my challenge to you:

What is your uninvented invention? I want you to avoid the literal type of invention, like a different kind of soap dispenser- BORING- though I myself have tons of inventions! my drummer, Heather and I came up with something called “Shoe Party” and I would tell you what it’s about but I can’t because it’s genius and we’re going to go on Shark Tank someday and Lori Grienier is going to put it on QVC and we’re going to be bagillionaires and everyone will have “Shoe Party”.

INSTEAD- Everyone knows that the best inventions solve problems or make things easier, so I’m asking you to write a metaphysical invention for a metaphysical problem. Are you having a problem in your life? Are you going through grief? Are you having trouble communicating? Is there someone else in your life that could use a metaphysical solution? You can even think bigger- go global! What could solve world issues? Go magic! Go surreal! But I want you to think really carefully- spend your whole day observing people, observing yourself and think about this issue you would love to magically fix- and think about the name! Naming your uninvented metaphysical invention is half the fun.

Just like last week, you can submit your writing to marylambertsing@gmail.com.

Love you guys. You are inspiring.




Today is our inaugural weekly FEELINGS FRIDAY where we write about our feelings in poetry and it’s Friday and I love you and your beautiful feelings.

My first poetry prompt for you is based on a poem by Tasbeeh Herwees.


“Your name is Tasbeeh. Don’t let them call you by anything else.”

My mother speaks to me in Arabic; the command sounds more forceful in her mother tongue, a Libyan dialect that is all sharp edges and hard, guttural sounds. I am seven years old and it has never occurred to me to disobey my mother. Until twelve years old, I would believe God gave her the supernatural ability to tell when I’m lying.

“Don’t let them give you an English nickname,” my mother insists once again, “I didn’t raise amreekan.”

My mother spits out this last word with venom. Amreekan. Americans. It sounds like a curse coming out of her mouth. Eight years in this country and she’s still not convinced she lives here. She wears her headscarf tightly around her neck, wades across the school lawn in long, floor-skimming skirts. Eight years in this country and her tongue refuses to bend and soften for the English language. It embarrasses me, her heavy Arab tongue, wrapping itself so forcefully around the clumsy syllables of English, strangling them out of their meaning.

But she is fierce and fearless. I have never heard her apologize to anyone. She will hold up long grocery lines checking and double-checking the receipt in case they’re trying to cheat us. My humiliation is heavy enough for the both of us. My English is not. Sometimes I step away, so people don’t know we’re together but my dark hair and skin betray me as a member of her tribe.

On my first day of school, my mother presses a kiss to my cheek.

“Your name is Tasbeeh,” she says again, like I’ve forgotten. “Tasbeeh.”


Roll call is the worst part of my day. After a long list of Brittanys, Jonathans, Ashleys, and Yen-but-call-me-Jens, the teacher rests on my name in silence. She squints. She has never seen this combination of letters strung together in this order before. They are incomprehensible. What is this h doing at the end? Maybe it is a typo.


“Tasbeeh,” I mutter, with my hand half up in the air. “Tasbeeh.”

A pause.

“Do you go by anything else?”

“No,” I say. “Just Tasbeeh. Tas-beeh.”

“Tazbee. All right. Alex?”

She moves on before I can correct her. She said it wrong. She said it so wrong. I have never heard my name said so ugly before, like it’s a burden. Her entire face contorts as she says it, like she is expelling a distasteful thing from her mouth. She avoids saying it for the rest of the day, but she has already baptized me with this new name. It is the name everyone knows me by, now, for the next six years I am in elementary school. “Tazbee,” a name with no grace, no meaning, no history; it belongs in no language.

“Tazbee,” says one of the students on the playground, later. “Like Tazmanian Devil?” Everyone laughs. I laugh too. It is funny, if you think about it.


I do not correct anyone for years. One day, in third grade, a plane flies above our school.

“Your dad up there, Bin Laden?” The voice comes from behind. It is dripping in derision.

“My name is Tazbee,” I say. I said it in this heavy English accent, so he may know who I am. I am American. But when I turn around they are gone.


I go to middle school far, far away. It is a 30-minute drive from our house. It’s a beautiful set of buildings located a few blocks off the beach. I have never in my life seen so many blond people, so many colored irises. This is a school full of Ashtons and Penelopes, Patricks and Sophias. Beautiful names that belong to beautiful faces. The kind of names that promise a lifetime of social triumph.

I am one of two headscarved girls at this new school. We are assigned the same gym class. We are the only ones in sweatpants and long-sleeved undershirts. We are both dreading roll call. When the gym teacher pauses at my name, I am already red with humiliation.

“How do I say your name?” she asks.

“Tazbee,” I say.

“Can I just call you Tess?”

I want to say yes. Call me Tess. But my mother will know, somehow. She will see it written in my eyes. God will whisper it in her ear. Her disappointment will overwhelm me.

“No,” I say, “Please call me Tazbee.”

I don’t hear her say it for the rest of the year.


My history teacher calls me Tashbah for the entire year. It does not matter how often I correct her, she reverts to that misshapen sneeze of a word. It is the ugliest conglomeration of sounds I have ever heard.

When my mother comes to parents’ night, she corrects her angrily, “Tasbeeh. Her name is Tasbeeh.” My history teacher grimaces. I want the world to swallow me up.


My college professors don’t even bother. I will only know them for a few months of the year. They smother my name in their mouths. It is a hindrance for their tongues. They hand me papers silently. One of them mumbles it unintelligibly whenever he calls on my hand. Another just calls me “T.”

My name is a burden. My name is a burden. My name is a burden. I am a burden.


On the radio I hear a story about a tribe in some remote, rural place that has no name for the color blue. They do not know what the color blue is. It has no name so it does not exist. It does not exist because it has no name.


At the start of a new semester, I walk into a math class. My teacher is blond and blue-eyed. I don’t remember his name. When he comes to mine on the roll call, he takes the requisite pause. I hold my breath.

“How do I pronounce your name?” he asks.

I say, “Just call me Tess.”

“Is that how it’s pronounced?”

I say, “No one’s ever been able to pronounce it.”

“That’s probably because they didn’t want to try,” he said. “What is your name?”

When I say my name, it feels like redemption. I have never said it this way before. Tasbeeh. He repeats it back to me several times until he’s got it. It is difficult for his American tongue. His has none of the strength, none of the force of my mother’s. But he gets it, eventually, and it sounds beautiful. I have never heard it sound so beautiful. I have never felt so deserving of a name. My name feels like a crown.


“Thank you for my name, mama.”


When the barista asks me my name, sharpie poised above the coffee cup, I tell him: “My name is Tasbeeh. It’s a tough t clinging to a soft a, which melts into a silky ssss, which loosely hugs the b, and the rest of my name is a hard whisper — eeh. Tasbeeh. My name is Tasbeeh. Hold it in your mouth until it becomes a prayer. My name is a valuable undertaking. My name requires your rapt attention. Say my name in one swift note – Tasbeeeeeeeh – sand let the h heat your throat like cinnamon. Tasbeeh. My name is an endeavor. My name is a song. Tasbeeh. It means giving glory to God. Tasbeeh. Wrap your tongue around my name, unravel it with the music of your voice, and give God what he is due.”

Tasbeeh Herwees, The Names They Gave Me

via Rachel Mckibbens

I love this poem. It feels like an instruction manual of how to honor yourself, starting with your own name. Do you like your name? Do you like it when other people say it? How does it roll off your tongue? Is there another name you’ve always wanted to go by?

If you want to share your poem with me, send it here: marylambertsing@gmail.com. I’ll pick and post my favorites next week!


-Follow your instincts.
-Freewrite first and then edit later. Let the critics in your head take a backseat today- nothing is off limits, nothing is wrong, nothing is stupid.
-This is simply a jumping off point! Sometimes I end up so far from the prompt itself, I can’t even remember what it was! Though I also never remember where I parked the car when there are only two other vehicles in the Stop & Shop parking lot, I find that when I stray from a prompt, it is often my inner-self hungry to process an issue. If I end up writing a soliloquy to a sandwich, I may just be hungry. To me, free-writing is as much poetry as it is therapy. Go there, boo boo.