Tonight, my household will be ringing out this year in a low-key and safe way at home. Despite everything, I was able to continue my practice of writing and publishing. This post is a review of what I accomplished. I’ll start with a timely poem called “NYE,” published by Stirring this summer.
I also want to note that I clocked 108 rejections this year, including 26 rejections of a book manuscript, seven rejections of a poetry chapbook, and eight rejections of a nonfiction chapbook. Publication is hard-won, so if you are reading this and are out there submitting your own work (or thinking about doing so), I commend you.
Last January, Small Orange printed my poem “Detour of War” about art, the city of memory, and Milwaukee’s underground tunnels. One of my favorite zines, Ethel, printed “Bathroom Graffiti Centos, pts. 1 & 2” that I wrote in 2019 as part of my Poet in Decadence residency at Gramps Bar in Miami’s Wynwood.
My poem “Saddle” appeared in The Hollins Critic, a readable, cozy, and smart print magazine. In May, Plume printed my long poem “The One Crying in English Class.” My mentor Denise Duhamel write a generous introduction to the poem, which appears in an issue devoted to mentees and mentors appearing together.
In May, a poem called “Body Politic” from my unpublished chapbook was published by Zone 3, a funky magazine I recommend checking out. Also in hardcopy, the Canadian publication The Antigonish Review published “On the Rise,” an erasure of an email about active shooter protocol sent by the City of North Miami.
With work by many other friends and writers I admire, two of my poems, “What We Did This Year” and “Date Grape,” appeared in The Grabbed Anthology, a collection about sexual assault, empowerment, and healing featuring an afterword by Anita Hill (!). Check out an interview I did on my contributions here and a writing prompt I crafted specifically for readers of the anthology here.
My last poetry publications of the year, “Whole Walk the Run” and a golden shovel called “Movement Song,” appeared in Fjords. The entire digital issue is available for free on their website.
I also published more prose this year. Assay: A Journal of Creative Nonfiction Studies published my critical essay “Feedback as Fan Letter: A Few Notes on What We Write to Students.” The essay is addressed to writing teachers and anyone else who responds to writers in writing.
One of this year’s pieces I’m most proud of is “Social Distancing, A Return Home, and Bishop’s ‘Questions of Travel’” in The Florida Book Review. It was one of my first writings about the pandemic. I also published a series of short-shorts called “Eleven Micro-Memoirs from the Pandemic” in Cleaver Magazine and an extended narrative essay called “Crucial Connections” on my friend Erin Pringle’s blog as a part of the Pandemic Meditations series.
I published two lyric essays, “Teaching Commute” (Birdcoat Quarterly) and “The Red Dot That Ends The Sentence (A Micro-Memoir Moon Cycle)” (The Maine Review). During the election season, I wrote two timely pieces for GO Magazine and a guest blog post for ALL Review on keeping a diary during the pandemic.
I published book reviews at TQ Reviews, Bone Bouquet, and Glass Poetry in addition to a number of reviews through my regular gig at South Florida Poetry Journal. I also became essays editor at South Florida Poetry Journal. I recommend checking out two recent, beautiful essays we published by Bryon Cherry and Margaret Rozga.
There were some other highlights in my writing life as well:
- Attending the Eckerd College Writers in Paradise Conference in January through a Sterling Watson MFA Scholarship. Our workshop group has kept in touch through email. It’s been a really valuable community be a part of this year.
- Having the support at FIU to quickly pivot to online learning this spring. I admire the students from that class so much, and their end-of-semester reflections about this pivoting were one of the highlights of the class. The English Department also did a genuine job supporting us.
- Teaching micro-memoir to more than 60 students online and learning so much about short-form nonfiction from them.
- Teaching an epistolary poetry class through the Loft Literary Center to an also warm and instructive group of students.
- Teaching Introduction to Creative Writing online at the university. Through Zoom and voice-recorded feedback, I think we were able to craft a classroom culture and get a lot of good work done.
- Working one-on-one with writers, independent study-style, on individual pieces and book projects has been some of the most worthwhile work I have ever had the pleasure of doing.
- Moving across the country to Indiana!
- Facilitating a poetry workshop for youth leaders at the Wisconsin ACLU in the same program I was a part of as a high school student.
- Reading poetry online with Naoko Fujimoto through The Betsy Hotel’s online literary programming, the Bridgewater Poetry Festival hosted on YouTube, New Orleans’s Words & Music Conference in a livestream with the Peauxdunque Review, and the FIU Alumni Reading with Books & Books, which took place virtually.
- Finding out that I will be a regular contributor to The Ploughshares Blog in 2021.
There’s much more to share about the ups and downs of 2020, but I will leave it here for now. I hope we can make our way into 2021 healthy, justice-loving, fresh-minded, and hopeful.