florida 2017

"Lightning / Hunger" (a reading for you)

Something slightly different for you today... Perhaps you recall that, earlier this year, I spent a gorgeous, softly-lit week in Miami, courtesy of the National YoungArts Foundation, with 160 other young artists, learning from today's most prestigious writers of the craft & business of creation. It was a week full of so much brilliance that it is (somewhat ironically) difficult for me to express with words.

Perhaps you also remember that, at the end of National YoungArts week, I performed one of the pieces that had brought me to Miami in the first place. A small loud swerving poem entitled "Lightning / Hunger".

I am so happy & proud to announce that the reading is on Youtube now. Watching it is rather nervewracking, but makes my chest ache in the best way to remember the magic we created in Miami this January.

I hope you enjoy this performance, loves. If you'd like to see the full text, it is right here.

Just a small note that I read under my given name rather than pen name (I promise I have not awkwardly stolen someone else's piece to read!).

Enjoy. xo

A Week in Miami (How I Am)

I am in Miami now, making magic with artists of all disciplines for YoungArts Week 2017. The weather is so beautiful that I am slightly suspicious nefarious forces are afoot. My roommate is a visual art major full of loveliness; we speak of music & books & heartache in the darker hours of night. I met my darling Christina Im in person for the first time; she is rather smaller than I had expected, but her heart is larger than words could encompass.

This is how I am.

Here is a light: I was a January 2017 featured poet for the gorgeous Moledro Magazine. I answered a few questions about mental illness & my baby music journal Half Mystic& shared a poem for lost girls. The feature is right here, if you are interested. My poem "Cherry Blossoms" was also featured in Moledro's "Empowering Poems About Otherness", which delights me.

This is how I am:

I am learning so much here it astounds me. Every day we take classes from writers I have admired for years & those who quickly become new favourites with their insight & brilliance. I am consistently in awe. My notebook is overflowing. How infinitely privileged I feel to have chosen these people as my own.

I listened to this letter from Richard Feynman & promptly turned into a blubbering mess. Then I picked up a pen & wrote letters to the people I care about most in this life for them to read & hold before they leave. It was heartbreaking & cleansing & so good.

I am grateful for so many things, but I think perhaps words may always remain at the top of the list.

(Scratch that: Hachii is at the top of the list. Then words.)

Yesterday we went to a small independent bookstore & listened to the owner speak of writing & bookselling & how intensely vital it is that both remain parts of our culture. I spoke with him afterwards of Half Mystic, my own independent literary venture, & the responsibility of the artist to keep creating in an age where truth is terrifyingly subjective. It was incisive & emotional & so real. One of those discussions where my hands forget to shake & my mind forgets to race & the world is quiet for just a few minutes.

Related: an uncertain & honest essay by Chuck Wendig on how to keep making in a time of trouble.

I was interviewed a few weeks ago by Monstering magazine about invisible disabilities & creation as healing. Since then I have received three emails from strangers who thanked me profusely for speaking about hyperacusis, as they too are sufferers. It is the first time I have ever met people with this rare disorder. I am reminded every day of how the hideously frightening act of sharing one's experiences reaps such loveliness.

Related, a reminder penned, shaking but truthful, on my arm: create dangerously. (Which is to say: create wildly, create angrily, create brilliantly, create fiercely, create stormily, create softly.)I am beginning to believe it is always worth it.

I am still mourning Gene Wilder. He truly was part of this world, part of another.

In case you missed it: I was featured in one of my favourite journals, Maudlin House, as a writer of the week (along with Joyce Chong & Shastra Deo, two writers I have endless fondness for). Here we are; what an honour.

I have never felt as immediately understood & wholeheartedly loved by a group of people as I do by the writers in this place. We have many inside jokes & have mastered the art of casually magnifying each other's strengths, which I adore to no end. They are family in the way people become after a week of work together that one can only describe as life-changing.

Something bright & exciting: tonight I am reading with them for the YoungArts writing showcase. I can think of no people I would rather share my work alongside. If you are in the Miami area, I would love to see you; it is an open reading & the public is very much invited. Stop by the YoungArts building with blue flowers & stained-glass windows at 6pm & please do say hello to me afterwards if you choose to come.

If you are not in the area but would still like to see my & everyone else's performances, there is also a livestream. It is at 6pm ET & it would be an endless joy to hear your thoughts if you choose to tune in.

There are so many dogs here. We are, alas, not allowed outside much - but when we are, I feel the irrepressible urge to pet every single one. Is this normal? I feel it may not be, but I care not at all.

Currently I am reading Danez Smith's [insert] boy, a recommendation from a dear writer friend here. Every single poem is a new definition of wonder. I have no words for how much I love it. Music on repeat is the Hamilton mixtape (are you you tired of my singing its praises? No matter; you are still reading, after all, which logically dictates you too must find as much light in it as I do).

This is how I am:

Yesterday I ate dinner with the jazz majors here, who performed for us a few days ago & reminded me what honey sounds like. They called me a "cool cat" (I must admit I am unsure what this means, but will take it as a compliment). And, in the course of conversation, one of them said to me: "tell us something you know that we don't know & we will do the same for you."

For a moment I was lost for words. I am learning so much this week that it feels simultaneously as if I hold galaxies in my pocket & as if I live in the most beautiful silence.

I said to him: "I know everything & nothing. I could tell you about that." And he smiled like sunrise. Nodded.

So: this is how I am.

And you?