A little over two years ago, I got the call that I’d been accepted into The New School’s MFA program. I left my lovely life in Texas behind to come to New York and follow a dream I’d had over half my life. Now, after so many trials and so many successes (and so many damn hours at the kitchen table writing poetry) I am a Master of Fine Arts!
The New School threw me for some loops, and I don’t know if I’ll ever pay back my student loans– but dammit if I didn’t end up with the finest teachers I could have asked for. Catherine Barnett changed my life as a writer by making me more aware of the dimensions and choices I had in moving through poetry. Mark Bibbins assigned readings and led discussions that broadened my mind in ways I could have never predicted pre-NY. And Robert Polito came in clutch my last semester of classes– his incomparable genius inspired me to sit down and put more time into my work every day. All these forces combined with my own work ethic have left me feeling like a thousand times the poet I was when I arrived.
And the real stars of the show are my fellow MFA candidates, the friends I’ve made who have wowed me with their brilliance and growth, supported me, cooked for me, joined me at poetry readings, shared nips from their flasks with me, kissed me, edited my poems with love, honesty, and a desire to make the finest art we can make. These friends, these talented people that The New School brought into my life, they made it all worth it.
So anyways, here I am. A master of poetry. And what’s next? Exactly what I’ve been doing all this time– I’ll keep writing. Because poetry has value. I’ve spent the last couple years of my life walking around with a shit-eating grin because devoting myself to poetry makes me feel like the kind of person I am meant to be.
Mary Ruefle suspects a poet is “someone who is moved by everything, who just stands in front of the world and weeps and laughs and laughs and weeps.” So here’s to a long life of laughing and weeping and weeping and laughing– and writing it all down.
My critical thesis for my MFA discusses the work of C.D. Wright, Maggie Nelson, Claudia Rankine, Anne Carson, and a few other incredible poets. As I’ve been exploring the idea of a queerer canon, I find myself drawn to writers who honor their unique perspectives and create wild open art that meshes genres and makes literature feel larger. Yesterday, feeling deeply in communion with their spirits, I went on a portrait drawing bender that will likely continue today–
There’s a portrait of me in there too, because I’m also a poet who works to queer the canon.
We also have another Say Yes Rooftop Artshare next Saturday if you’re around Brooklyn and feeling froggy. We have a brilliant line up + Ben Clark and Emily Rose Kahn-Sheahan will be stopping by on their Thoughtcrime book tour.
Now back to the grind of writing a critical essay while also editing 50 poems and trying to create a few more along the way. Send coffee!
The brilliant Ty Douglas just launched a new podcast called UNIQUEER and I was his very first guest! We drank quadruple whiskeys and talked about queerness, art, and relationships. I also read a few poems.
Here’s the manifesto: “UNIQUEER! The title is inspired by my love for unicorns, rainbows, and glitter. It’s an ode to all of the beautiful Queer people in our thriving and diverse New York community. The mission of Uniqueer is to highlight and promote artists who have a unique(haha) take on how Queer Visibility is represented both in their art and in art in general. We also talk personal things like cute butts, and bad tinder dates.” Check it out and subscribe!
^I also did a little reading this week at Hi-Fi in the East Village. Big thanks to Amanda Miller and her series, Lyrics, Lit and Liquor.
The other (TALENTED!) readers & musicians were:
2016 started out rough, but February has been kind to me lately. I am thrilled to announce that I won Crosswinds Poetry Journal’s Annual Poetry Contest! I’ll post a link to the winning poem once the Spring issue is printed.
Also, I will be reading tomorrow at Lamprophonic’s Emerging Writers Series at Bar Thalia on the Upper West Side. Find event info here if you’d like to come.
^Yesterday I went had the pleasure of recording a portion of Jess Irish’s lyric essay for her New School thesis work. I really enjoyed the process of recording, and am planning to go back and record readings of some of my poetry. I had a blast wearing those headphones- I’m a little in love with the sound of my own voice.
And, last but not least, if you’re looking for a lot of fun on Saturday night, Say Yes Electric Collective is throwing a warehouse party in Bushwick off the Morgan L. There will be poetry, music, comedy, hula hoopers, and a dance party! Get more details here.
I rang in the New Year in my hometown, Denton, Texas. Here’s a shot from a reading I did with my partner, Walker Smart, at the Spiderweb Salon Winter Formal at Dan’s Silverleaf on January 2nd.
^photo cred to Courtney Marie
I got new books from two of the other performers, Ben Clark and R. Flowers Rivera, and their work is phenomenal. Check it out if you haven’t.
The Spiderweb Salon Co-Founder, Courtney Marie, also littered the venue with a collection of New Year’s Resolutions. I don’t particularly have any of my own this year, but I am happy to say I’ve already completed at least two of the resolutions I saw at Dan’s that night.
Here’s a few shots from our gorgeous Say Yes showcase at the Bowery Poetry Club this week. I also read at The New School’s student reading yesterday, and was absolutely wowed by the massive talent of my peers. I’ll be reading next Friday at Sam O’Hana’s Poet’s Country Club. Click here for more info.
Clockwise from top left: me, Jerron Herman, Revi Roza and Hayden Eager, and Ty Douglas. Thank you to Pacha Nukanchik for the photographs.
On another note, I always celebrate when I get a rejection letter, because it’s proof I’m trying. But yesterday, I received my all-time favorite rejection letter:
And with that, I’m off to write the day away.