Happy (almost) New Year!
I hope that whoever is reading this has been able to find some rest and relaxation this holiday season. It’s been quite a year in terms of politics, politically-charged vigilante violence, a continued refusal (by some) to turn around this thing called global warming, crises large and small around the world, and…what have I forgotten? Those small moments of refuge where everything seems, at least in the microcosm, to be okay.
I spent the final morning of the year, this morning, biking the fifteen-mile loop at Shark Valley in the Everglades. We saw forty-two Great Blue Herons (we counted) and seventeen alligators (perhaps some of them were crocodiles, South Florida being the only place in the world where the two coexist). “A feast for the senses” is a cliche and all, but I haven’t thought of a better way yet to describe the wild flap of wings, sweeps of red and green variegated sawgrass, shiny hulls of apple snails, fog breaking over forehead, and the very much alive smell of our freshwater source.
I want to make a list of what I’ve published this year for my friends who aren’t on social media and for my own regular posterity. Here’s my 2019 in words:
Flyway Journal published my climate-themed love poem “What’s Worth Fixing” in their first issue of the year.
April was also the month I was lucky to do a couple of projects through the O, Miami poetry festival. I helped bring the Advice Tent to Miami and wrote a chapbook’s worth of poems during my weeklong residency at Gramps Bar in Wynwood. K’in published “The Set Up” later in the year. (Stay tuned for more poems from this project forthcoming in 2020.)
The beautiful feminist literary journal Bone Bouquet published “Classroom Aquarium,” one of a series of teaching poems I’ve been working on. It appears in issue 9.2 and I see on their website that a free PDF version will soon be available. I’m also happy to announce that my review of H. Melt’s On My Way to Liberation will appear in Bone Bouquet‘s forthcoming issue!
Remember when Trump was planning that military parade for the 4th of July? killjoy zine released a special protest issue and published one of my erasure poems called “Leave Red July.”
I deepened my relationship with erasure poetry this year, in part because I taught an online class through Loft Literary Center in which I got to spend a whole week with my phenomenal students focusing on the form. (By the way, I’m teaching a political poetry class with Loft again this spring. If you’re interested in taking it, there’s still time to sign up.)
The wonderful people at South Dakota Review published two of my poems (one of them’s more of a lyric essay) in their August issue. You can grab a hard copy through this link.
Can I tell you how thrilled I was to have About Place Journal, run by the Black Earth Institute, publish “This Land Will Always Be Here for You” and “Habitat,” two poems from an in-progress chapbook project? I’ve long admired this journal and was delighted to be among such good company.
Virga published “Holy City of Walls,” another poem about cloistered lesbian nuns, city limits, and surreal architecture from the City of Honesty project.
I had the opportunity to review several books this year as a staff reviewer for South Florida Poetry Journal. They all live on the same page: click here to read my reviews of Michael Hettich’s Bluer and More Vast, giovanni singleton’s American Letters: works on paper, Joshua Whitehead’s Full-Metal Indigiqueer, and Gregg Shapiro’s Sunshine State.
I also reviewed Heidi Czerwiec’s fabulous lyric essay collection Fluid States over at Tupelo Quarterly. Stay tuned for my forthcoming review of another writer’s fantastic feminist collection in Tupelo Quarterly this spring.
A major stain on 2019 and atrocity in which all of us are implicated is the continuing existence of concentration camps in the United States, including one here in Homestead, Florida, not far from where I live. What Rough Beast published my poem “Asylum Cento,” another found piece, this time composed of protest sign language from the #LightsforLiberty protest in Homestead.
On a related note, New Mexico Review published my poem “Plantains,” a meditation on harm, writing, and South Florida.
Last year, I read an article in the New York Times about the interstitium, a previously-unacknowledged organ of the human body. What interested me most was that the interstitium wasn’t previously acknowledged largely because the it is a series of spaces. It is negative space, and of course, we always tend to look for what we already know. Naming what isn’t there in the body is a feminist act, or, I thought, at least a metaphor for one, and so I wrote a love poem about what is part of us that we do not see. I wrote the poem, and then I sent it out for over a year. I’m happy to say that “The Interstitium’s Song” found its perfect home in Tinderbox Poetry Journal as a finalist for the Brett Elizabeth Jenkins Poetry Prize.
Because it’s MFA application season right now, I also published an article on my Medium page a few weeks ago with some tips for students, friends, and other folks I’ve met in recent months. You can read “From Wild Poet to MFA Applicant: A Lyric List of What I Wish I’d Known” here.
Phew! Looking back, I am proud of what I’ve done, but there is still much to do. In 2020, I’m looking forward to publishing more creative nonfiction and poems, and I’m also hoping to find homes for some chapbook-length and book-length projects. Onward unfolds the journey of connecting with readers and placing poems, reviews, essays, and stories. I extend my gratitude to all the editors who are the interstitium between readers and writers. I feel lucky to be on both sides of the equation.
2019 was the year I formally taught creative writing for the first time, first through my university and then through the Loft Literary Center. I presented as part of a panel on chapbooks at the Outwrite Conference in D.C. I did readings and workshops with Reading Queer, the Palm Beach Poetry Festival, Nova Southeastern Student Humanities Conference, Transcon, Pallets in the Park at the Urban Oasis Project and Legion Park Farmer’s Market, The Book Cellar, and an offsite event at the AWP Conference!
I’ll be posting a write-up later this week about my journey with rejections in 2019. (Spoiler: I reached over 100!). The manuscript I rushed to finish and submit in January 2019 was rejected a bunch of times and required a reboot. I’m currently sending out an unrecognizable—but much better—version of it.
I’d love to talk more about finding a balance between submitting and writing. There is so much I want to write that I have not written. There’s something beautiful about blogging’s write-it-and-let-it-go approach, though I find myself not blogging very much. In 2020, I’d love to blog weekly, though I know that’s not something I can achieve until I graduate in the spring.
I could do a whole other post about all the great books I’ve read this year, and I could write another post about my new year’s resolutions (mostly writing- and exercise-achievement-related; what about you?), but I’ll leave here for now.
Let’s pull the good with us and leave the bad behind. I’m getting ready to go to a New Year’s Eve party.
What did you publish in 2019? What are your plans for 2020?