Welcome to the other side (EP)

Spoken Word Poetry Album Written to Speak WELCOME TO THE OTHER SIDE-6.png

Welcome to the other side


Welcome to the Other Side was never supposed to be created.

The love of writing will never die, but after releasing All Things, my second album, I was ready to be finished with releasing spoken word tracks.

And then I wrote the poem “Side”, the final track on the album and something within me ignited.

The first brick was laid in a new direction.

And it was worth exploring.

Welcome to the Other Side was written while I was facing questions of identity, regret, and direction. Each poem embraces struggle, while trying to hold on to the truth deep within the wrestle.

After writing ‘Side’ I wrote pages of poems, finally whittling it down to a final four to create the five track EP.

1. Welcome

2. To

3. The

4. Other

5. Side

I hope you enjoy the EP. 

If you don't, please don't tell me. 

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Welcome to the Other Side is now available on Spotify, Amazon, iTunes, and Bandcamp.

If you would like to purchase the EP you can do so at Bandcamp or iTunes.

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Welcome to the Other Side was recorded and mixed by Steve Zank in Austin, Texas. 
All the music for Welcome to the Other Side was written and performed by Matthew Doering.
All lyrics written by Tanner Olson
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Listen to past albums 'All Things' and 'honest thoughts.' on Spotify or iTunes


all words written by tanner olson


I’m aware this is most likely your first time hearing me.


I grew up down south among the palm trees with Mickey Mouse and a basketball hoop in front of our house.

I wanted to be Michael Jordan until I was 13 and to this day Space Jam is the greatest movie these blue eyes have ever seen.

I’d rather have a cheeseburger than fame and most days I’m called the wrong name.


I’m the second son of my father, I stand four inches taller than my mother, my hero is my brother.


Late one December I said, “I do,” to a grace-filled goddess with eyes so beautiful they could shrink giants.

And late last night I was sent a gif or a gif while half asleep next to the other whole of me.

She couldn’t see me giggling under the sheets as I watched a dog run into a glass door over and over and over and over. We’ve talk about getting a dog of our own.

And we will name him Pancake.

And I still have a hard time being present, because I’m stuck in the past and fixed on the future.

I don’t know what it’s like to live with no regrets or without dreams.

And I write poetry because I can’t sing and when I dance it looks like I’m trying to kill a bee without getting stung.

I read these words from a notebook, because I cannot memorize,

but I have become mesmerized by how ink changes a page.

I’m no Whitman or Poe, Dickinson or Angelou, Weezy or Swift.

But I write to remain, putting the pen to the paper to keep from causing a ripple and rift.

Writing: the cheapest form of therapy.

Saving my pockets singles and dimes so I can buy coffee to fuel this dream, sipping myself closer to clarity.

And I’m chasing the heels of 30 and I thought I’d have life figured out by now, but

I’ve got more questions than answers.

And all my answers create fresh questions, a constant give and take, a swirling surrounding the pounding within.

Yet, locked within, faith outweighs both, stretching me closer to forever, a restful peace growing beyond the deep.

And deep down inside, hope pumps through my veins, coursing creativity, causing a landslide of possibilities, reminding me it is better to be here together than to leave alone.

And I’ve been someone I haven’t liked, but for all I don’t know,

I know grace kills guilt, grabbing my hand, leading me to a blank page to write with freedom and New Found Glory.

I don’t have all the right words to write or say, but I’ve got a lot of words to say.

Some days I think I say too much, but most days I think I think too much.


A constant moving within, the shaking and shifting of thoughts, getting myself lost within what if’s, mixing myself up with mix-tapes of mess ups, replaying the wreckage of memories i’ve tried to lay to rest.

And I'm second guessing what I know to be true, and I know I don't know much but i've come to know kindness isn’t overrated and telling you donuts are delicious is an understatement.

I know I don’t want to die with my eyes on a screen or get stuck somewhere in between hate and greed.

I know our greatest response is often silence, and if you’re quiet enough, you might be able to spread it.

But I also know if something is beautiful we should speak it.

I know weird and wonderful have more in common than just the W.
And I know learning takes patience and patience takes learning
I know there is no shame in surrendering and I believe humility requires community.
And community is why we push through to the other side.
And I know two of the sweetest words are “welcome home”.


Well, come home and we will welcome you with arms and smiles wide.
Well, come home and we will wash the dust from your feet and give you something to eat.
Well, come home, we’ve been waiting for you.

Welcome home.


Somewhere is everywhere to someone.

And someone is somewhere to someone else.

And I've been someone somewhere for too long,

And everywhere seems to be where I've been lately.

I'm all over the place, confusing myself as I drift in and out of space, stretching to put some space between the place I’ve left to leave behind.

Sometimes growth feels like two steps back and sometimes flourishing feels like failing.

And I feel like I'm always falling, complicated and calling, trying to take two steps away from failing.

And something more is out there.
And that’s where I am going.

I'll escape to explore,
retreat to restore,
be to belong,

And reach the other side of all that is going wrong.

I will continue to wander and wonder within all that is His.

To seek the silence in the solitude.

To create in the chaos and give grace to the grave places in my life.

I'm beginning to see more clearly.

Like, in all that is heavy there is hope.

And as I go

I will lock hand and hand with knees to the floor, faith to continue, wake to walk through the front door.

I will keep going to arrive.

I'll crawl out from underneath these concrete sheets and step beyond this bed into the uncertain and unknown.

Life is calling and I'm answering and I want to respond with peace in a world shouting dark, cold winds.

I'll sing and lift a sail high and I'll adventure to find out why.

And I’ll reach the other side.

You'll find me beyond the swollen smoke sharing secrets and stories of life and death and what failed to get the best.

You'll find me where it's clear and cloudy with the change I left behind and all my rough draft letters home.

You’ll find me surrounded.
Shoulder to shoulder with the souls who stood close as we stepped together.
We go together to the other side.
Always together.
Never alone.


I don’t remember how the last line of this poem goes,
But the end cannot find us if we never begin.
Written from the same hand,
You and I are living stories of a different kind,
Each day offering life to stain a white page,
breathings from our heart to move beyond the start.

And I’ve got a little something left to live,
For the ink to dry a line at a time.

I’m folding down the corners of the memories that burned and meant the most.
Like losing her at the end chapter 2 and stumbling upon solace in the midst of the thunder storms I tried to undo.

I’ve underlined stories to go back and read,
Crossed out what I can’t erase,
Found your polaroid tucked between chapters 7 and 8.

It’s the words that paint the picture as proof, bringing me back to spring in the south,
Outside her brick house
Where the wild flowers stretched north,
Blooming without a doubt like we did at the end of chapter 9.

It’s all been written down with swords and pens,
Blood and ink
reminding us of the narratives of how we used to act and think.

Living, like writing, drives us home,
Leading us down roads of mile marker memories and cable line collections.
We’re all a constant work in progress, stuck under construction, slowing to another detour never planned.

Foot on the gas, it reminds me of the past -
of what was,
of who I’ve become.

I drive to keep from becoming numb,
Like writing, it’s how I deal with how I feel.

Pen stained palms,
Hands on the wheel,
I’m checking my rearview mirror once more, wondering what it’d be like to rewrite chapters three and four.  
If I had made a right where I went left, would I be left feeling like everything is right?
The quiet things no one knows are trapped in chapter five,
and I’ve torn out those six senseless pages so many times I’ve got papercut battle scars and new memories on both hands.

But i won’t ever forget how good it felt to scribble down chapter ten,
And I can’t help but think it wouldn’t feel this way if it wasn’t for way back when -
Back when I was writing with faded ink from a chewed up pen,
Misspelling with passion, living inside present time instead of tracing over what’s been.

It’s the chapters we can’t erase ... and the ones we want to frame,
The days you tried to keep up and the ones that let you down.  
It’s the silent moments no one will ever hear,
And the days your lungs shout to disappear.

It’s about learning how to come alive when you’re bored to death,
And how to write in a comma when you need to catch your breath.
Having written through the rain and fear, it’s all becoming more clear.
Living isn’t about the last line, but continuing to write the story to the end.

We’re all living notes from the past,

Sliding smiles and secrets beneath the surface
Hoping our story will last,
Passing questions and confessions with looks and glances
For our lives to be read again by future writers and poets,
To be known beyond what we understand.

Write it well, let the ink of each piece dry in peace.
Scribble in grace where the darkness seeks a turn.
Re-write hope, etch in forgiveness, and
Replace hate with love.

Write it well, let the ink dry in peace.
For the end cannot find us if we never begin.



Give it time. 

You'll make it to the other side, but for now -

For now - you are here

Where uncertainty and questions and truth and dad jokes collide and live side by side

Where everything is visible and out of sight;

wild & calm.

Here, where there isn't enough coffee or smiles or tacos

Where 7 billion of us stand together and alone beneath the sun and moon;

storms and stars

But give it time.
You'll make it to the other side
and for now
come alive.
Throw a pizza party.
Order a milkshake, order two milkshakes, order everyone a milkshake .
Get lost within the beauty of daydreaming only to wake to chase them down
Listen like every sentence is a secret and it's third grade again and they are asking: “do you want to know who likes you?”
Check yes when you can.
Respond with kindness.
Replace hate with love.
Spread hope like Nutella, because we can never have enough of both.
Search for answers with humility,
Live with palms face up,
give grace to the dark places of your life,
and when you dance,
because you were made to dance,
dance like no one’s watching
and if they are, give them something to see.


Seek a forever beyond the heavy chaos of living and evening traffic and grocery stores full of hard avocados and broken smiles.

Find magic and don't let it go

the weird
peace in the escaping present

And like Grandma said, 
“Count your blessings” and when you get to a million and one don't be done, start again.
Hold on to compassion and curiosity as you step and stumble to where you are going
and when you stumble get up and keep going.

Keep going like it's going to be okay
Face fear

Pray on bent and broken knee

Stand up and step again

And when you stand to step

Step to stand up for what is right

stand up against what is wrong

stand up for those who have gone on -


in the presence of beauty and

photograph the memory with your own.

Risk everything even if you’re the only one who sees why
Chase a sunset and take a bite out of the cotton candy sky
Stay for tomorrow,
Live with more love than yesterday

Walk with the weary
and learn their songs and sing them with your soul

Write + speak honest words of love

Shout a song of celebration and
celebrate good news.

Scream beneath the rain until your mouth fills with a sip and let that sip turn into a smile.
Create art and nachos and sandcastles and share them with our world.

Tell your story,
the one you're living, the one that is changing our world, because you are changing our world.

And watch.

Watch it continue to spin and change.

Invite others to join the change

Take root and hold each other up

Call patience close and push comparison far, far away

and be the awaken.

Remain the awaken.

Go North to South, East to west

Sit on a front porch and be.

Just be.

Be present.

Give it time
we will get to the other side.



I desire to write new words down;

to see something that flows left to right across this smudged screen.

I'm trying to get past writer's block, but find myself running straight into brick wall after brick wall after brick wall.

I'm looking for a door to walk through; to escape where I am; to step out of the storm.

I want to clutch the doorknob, twist, and push my way through to the promised land other side, but this brick wall doesn't have a door.

Or a window.

I feel enclosed; blind to the outside – stuck alone on the inside.

Hope seems far, while weariness and frustration grow quick like weeds.

Maybe I should close my computer and walk away.

Or sit on the couch within eyesight and read a book.

Or watch Back To The Future II on Netflix.

But I think I'll save that for tonight.

Coffee always helps,

but these teeth are moving further from ideal pearly whites.

Giving up isn't an option.

I'll get past this brick wall, i’ll make it to the other side.

Maybe I'll grab a ladder or a shovel

But I want to work to get to the other side.

I want the hammer.

A big hammer.

A hammer that needs two hands.

Not Thor's, but my own.

Rage and frustration will propel me to pound straight into the brick wall.

Vibrations will shake these arms, but I will not be stopped.

I will chip, crack, and break that wall,
but I will not chip, crack, or break at all.

Shock will meet sweat, but I will not stop.

I'll shatter the bricks to see to the other side.

I'll close my eyes and grit my teeth and wipe my brow.

I'll grip tight and rip my skin and I won't get woozy when the blood mixes with the dirt.

I'll curse and spit and ask for forgiveness and repeat.

I'll ignore the lies inside my mind that tell me to go lay down inside.

I'll wave off the pain in my back.

I'm moving forward.

The wrinkles are growing deep around my eyes with every hit, every wince.

And maybe I should give up.

Maybe I should have just climbed the wall.

And maybe the hammer isn't my tool of choice.

It isn't.

I prefer the spork.

You know, the spoon shaped utensil with tines at the tip to scoop and stab.

But I will not give up.

I will knock this brick wall down.

I will see the other side.

And I will write something that matters.

The screen will hold new words and

these words will act like a hammer in these calloused hands.

These words will tear down the brick walls within the mind of the writer and reader.

I will write something that someone, somewhere can relate to.



And Somewhere someone will see this isn't about writer’s block.

Somewhere someone will nod their head and see though the brick wall.

They'll see this brick wall isn't really a brick wall, but it is fear.

It is uncertainty.

It is depression.

It is the questions that swarm.

It is wondering if I am taking steps in the right direction or if I am just taking steps.

It is a crossroads, a tossing and turning all night, an unshakeable thought.

It is regret and anxiety and waking to another Monday that should be Saturday or at the earliest Sunday.

It is the constant battle between love and pain and I'm growing weary from fighting.

They'll see the hammer as tears.

Or confession.

Or prayer.

Or another cup of coffee.

Or an honest conversation.

Or a hug that lasts too long, but not long enough.

They'll see through the line about a spork as a poor attempt to distract from speaking openly.

From saying what needs to be said.

The shifting of the rudder to steer the conversation off course so you'll stop looking at me as a crazy person.

I'm not a crazy person.

And they'll know this wasn't about writer's block.


But this is about living.
This is about continuing.

This is about waking up and saying okay.

Saying i'm okay.

Saying we're okay.

Saying it's going to be okay.

Even when there is a brick wall.

Even when it's Monday.

Even when fear.

And depression.

And regret.

Tell you it isn't going to be okay,
it will be okay.

Every day.

I'm okay.

We're okay.

It's going to be okay.

Welcome to the other side.


tanner olson of Written to Speak

tanner olson of Written to Speak

All Spoken Word Poems were written by Tanner Olson of Written to Speak

Written to Speak is a spoken word and writing project that seeks to
spread hope
announce love
through written and spoken word.

Tanner Olson currently resides in Austin, Texas