Last night, I met my classmate’s significant other, let’s call him L, at a Ghostface concert. Waiting for the opening act to finish, four of us (my classmate, L, and another friend of mine—all grad students) sat in a booth and did the…
Ok, so I know this sounds really weird, but I saw you at Glam Doll Donuts today. I was one of the lindy hoppers there, and I wanted to tell you how big of a fan that I am of your poetry but by the time I worked up the courage, you had disappeared. I guess what I am trying to say is keep up the awesome work. You are an amazing poet.
Only slightly weird, but totally in line with the year that is 2013 :P Thank you so much for the kind words and encouragement, I really appreciate it. Also, had no idea they have dancing there on Saturdays. Some other poets and I were trying to find a quiet space to edit work, Glam Doll was not that haha. Perhaps I’ll be back for the music some time. Stay up!
I realized that on my artist page, apart from sparse political and social commentary, I mostly post positive things, publications, shows, grants, gratitude and excitement for the future, and there is something to be said for that. For me, seeing people doing well and succeeding inspires me to work harder, but at the same time in a world where we are always expected to show our best sides all the time we can be faced with hugely internalized self doubt and depression when it seems things are coming easily to everyone but us. Here’s the deal, I did get the biggest literary award of my career yesterday, but here’s what you haven’t seen. I have been consistently applying for grants and and residencies since I was twenty.
I have received two. Between June of 2012 and August of 2013 I was rejected by every literary journal, grant, fellowship, residency that I applied for. 30+ journals, 10+ grants and fellowships. Of the booking emails I sent I probably booked at less than 15%. There were days I “quit” writing. There were days I didn’t want to get out of bed. There were weeks I didn’t touch a pen or open a book, times I looked in the mirror and told myself “I should quit” as many times as I looked in the mirror and told myself “I can do it”. I spoke badly about another writer’s work solely because I felt poorly about my own. I talked badly about a literary journal because that was easier than heading back to the drawing board after another rejection. I projected by anger centered in my own shortcomings and self doubt towards friends and family who have done nothing but support me. I have talked poorly about myself. I have felt insecure in my own skin and with my body. I have broken someones heart and had mine broken. I have believed love did not exist and I have believed that it does though I am unworthy of receiving it. I have wanted to die. I have wanted to leave and never come back. It might be a more pleasant experience to read the good news and the successes, but its also not human.
I am not extraordinary. I am a normal ass dude who falls short often and then admits it. I like being alone. Sometimes I wish I had been able to pursue a life as a track athlete. This does not speak to any sort of personal resiliency, it speaks to the human experience. My senior thesis professor was rejected 500 times before his first publication and now has more than 10 books. My story, which is hardly at its beginning, is not about being extraordinary, its about failing 100 times so that you may succeed once before failing 100 more times after that. Its about realizing that nothing is wasted, that every time you miss the mark you can learn something, you can better yourself and your process, whatever it is.
I am a human. I fall short. I get angry. I cry. I say hurtful things. I admit when I’m wrong, but not always as often as I should. Sometimes I want things to happen without working for them, sometimes I feel owed. We aren’t owed anything. We are responsible for the input and not the outcome, we are responsible to ask for help when we need it and give help when it is requested of us, we are responsible for being honest in our humanity and vulnerable in our honesty, we are responsible for giving the world the most real versions of ourselves as we can at any given moment. The work never stops. The most extraordinary thing about humans is that we are are not extraordinary at all, god how beautiful is that? What a curse it would be if everything came easy.
I plan on making an epic epic length erasure poem of the entirety of C.S. Lewis’ “Chronicles of Narnia”. I will be posting a section/stanza a day to this tumblr for…well like two years, because there are a lot of pages in the Chronicles of Narnia. Hope y’all are down with that.
Today while driving to Trondheim, Norway with friends I was talking about wanting to cuddle a sheep before leaving Norway and then a sheep appeared in the middle of the road dodging traffic. I saved said sheep, brought it to its corral, was bum rushed by 20 of it’s sheep friends baaahing and nuzzling me and licking my hands. Sometimes wishes happen immediately?
As white allies we have to acknowledge when the best thing we can do is put ourselves in the background. If your yelling about justice silences the already silenced voices, you are a part of the problem. Just because you fight against oppression does not mean you are not an oppressor.
Some days it feels like the universe is telling me I shouldn’t be a writer, other days it feels like its asking how badly I want to be one. The problem is that these things look the same. It comes down to my attitude and perception.
“In the end, we should be able to prevent another Sandy Hook school tragedy—and the $7.7 million dollars that poured into Newtown on behalf of the victims suggests a real will to do all we can to protect the innocent. But, sadly, the trial of Travyon Martin reminds us, once again, that our black and brown children must prove their innocence every day. We cannot change the situation by simply finding the right legal strategy. Unless we challenge the entire criminal justice system and mass incarceration, there will be many more Trayvon Martins and a constant dread that one of our children might be next. As long as we continue to uphold and defend a system designed to protect white privilege, property and personhood, and render black and brown people predators, criminals, illegals, and terrorists, we will continue to attend funerals and rallies; watch in stunned silence as another police officer or vigilante is acquitted after taking another young life; allow our government to kill civilians in our name; and inherit a society in which our prisons and jails become the largest, most diverse institutions in the country.”—Robin D.G. Kelley
Hey, fellow white people rallying for Trayvon, remember that when you throw your hoodie up tonight or tomorrow, or any other day, YOU ARE NOT Trayvon Martin. If you had been walking that night in your hoodie you would not have been stopped, Zimmerman probably wouldn’t have even looked at you twice. Be an ally and in solidarity, but do not appropriate this tragedy, this crime, this oppression. Its not yours. Furthermore, don’t riot. You throw a bottle at a cop and a person of color gets shot. Know your privilege. Know your place. Know who you are and are not. You are not Trayvon Martin, you are white in America.