Monophobia: Fear of Being Alone

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Here is a poem of mine that was taken at NPS this year. Its in the voice of a serial killer, Gordon Northcott. I wrote it because it was a story that I didn’t understand, but one I couldn’t shake from myself. I wanted to write this poem to try and take a look at the darker side of humanity a bit more, to try and stare something I found fearful (but is ever present in our society) in the face.

Writing Prompt: Animals!!

Hey Guys!

I just got back from the University of Wisconsin in Madison, where I had an amazing time with their First Wave program. We talked a lot about strategies about writing about traumatic events that have happened in your life. One of the main things that I think is really freeing in writing about trauma is being able to be self reflective through writing, and then being able to create a certain amount of distance between yourself and what you are writing. One of the best ways of doing that is through elements of humor, self-mockery, or personification.

Here is the writing prompt that we did:

 

1. Make a list of your weaknesses. Make a list of your strengths

2. Make a list of animals, be as descriptive as you possibly can be.

3. Assign each animal a furniture. Describe the furniture object, giving it animal descriptions.

6. Your planet has been moved to Mars. Make it evolve due  to environment. Assign it a new trait that it needs in order to survive. What does it look like now?

7. Assign your animal to one of your weaknesses.

8. Read The Hindsight Octopus by Franny Choi:

9. Write your own poem personifying your weakness as an animal, building off the furniture or Mars descriptors.

 

Happy Writing!

Nikky Finney Prompt

Hey all! It’s been a long time since I’ve given you a prompt, so I wanted to put one up here. I read this book a while ago  and loved it so much. I decided to base this prompt off the first poem in this book, because I loved it so much. If you don’t have this book, you should buy it- its a must read.

1. Make a list of the things that have been split from you. the things that you have had to cut away or disregard because of outside pressure.

2. Pick two of these events and locate them. Write a few words/ ideas on each one of them, trying to aim for situating the texture of each event. What did the place feel like? Smell like? Taste like? Bring us there.

3. Make another short list: What are time in your life that have demanded your whole self be present? Why? When were times that you decided to make space for your whole self?

4. Read Nikky Finney’s  poem Errand Girl

5. Write for 10 minutes: What does it feel like, to be deboned? To be split from the rest of yourself?

6. Now, write for another 10 minutes: Reclaim yourself. Go back into those places of split and demand the whole of you back. What does that feel like?

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xo

For Jonylah Watkins Video

Hey All,

A couple of months ago I wrote a poem for Jonylah Watkins, a 6-month old baby who was shot and murdered in Chicago while her father was changing her diaper. I read about the story while I was on tour in New York and just felt completely stunned- how could that happen anywhere in the world? Do we value life so little that our society can barely blink when a child is murdered in cold blood?

Button Poetry, an amazing spoken word poetry organization, recorded me performing this poem at Rustbelt. I’m putting it up here for you all to watch:

 

Photo Essay by Jason Riker

Hey All!

 

I had the amazing fortune of being able to work with an extremely talented photographer named Jason Riker this week. He is an incredible artist and made me feel really at ease- I loved working with him and felt really inspired after.  Check out these photos and let me know what you think! Also, anyone who is looking for a photographer should hire him because he is just so unbelievably talented. 

http://stream.rikerproductions.com/

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Book 7: Ocean Vuong

Hello Everyone! Sorry for the delay, I’ve been traveling and at this fantastic writing retreat and haven’t had much time to get to a computer at all.  The last book of the week that I want to highlight is a book a friend recommended me to read called Burnings by Ocean Vuong. 

The writing in this book is some of the best writing I’ve seen coming out of a young writer. Every poem felt like a punch to the gut for me.  Vuong’s writing is SO incredibly tight and masterful in the way that it explores loss, family, sexuality, and identity. I’m really impressed by the way that Ocean balances economy of language and imagery and how each poem seems to linger in your body, seems to want to haunt you. 

“There are men who carry dreams

over moutains, the dead

on their backs.

But only our mothers

can walk with the weight

of a second beating heart.”

-from My Mother Remembers Her Mother

These poems feel incredibly honest.  Also, Voung has such a unique story, he covers terrain I feel like I rarely find in writing. It was really refreshing for me to read not only the way that he writes his story and the stories of the people around him, but the stories themselves.

“Sing of the sisters who held hands

while soldiers took turns,

who fled by closing their eyes,

only to find their bodies

too cold to return to.”

- from Song of My Mothers

I really hope you all check out this book.  Its ridiculously good.

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