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(noun): One who takes delight and is skilled at constructing, writing or saying naughty phrases or dialogue.
January 6, 2017

The Election

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I have typed out this post three or four times. Sometimes getting only a sentence down before crying and deleting it, sometimes a whole paragraph. Once I wrote the entire post and then with tears filling my eyes I held my finger on the backspace button and watched it disappear, line by line.

That’s what this election’s result feels like – like America has put its finger on the backspace button and we’re watching what we’ve worked hard for be deleted. That any strides we’ve made toward equality in gender or sexuality or race or healthcare are being erased.

I voted for Hillary Clinton. I believed in Hillary Clinton. I donated to her campaign (multiple times) and I think the country has made a horrible choice for its next president.

But here we are.

I stayed up late on election night, hoping the results would change. I cried when I finally accepted that Hillary Clinton would not be our next president. And I spent the next day crying too. I grieved. I mourned. And then I got angry. And then I decided to do something about it. Not just write a blog post or rant on Facebook but actually so something. So I’m going to start volunteering at an organization that is near and dear to me. An organization that is the target of many hateful campaigns and is now at risk of being shut down under the new administration. Of course I’m talking about Planned Parenthood. I already donate to them annually but right now that doesn’t feel like it’s enough. It doesn’t feel like action. So in addition to putting my money where my mouth is I’m going to put my body where my mouth is. I’m going to donate time and energy to support an organization I feel is very important to the health of millions of women. I think Hillary would approve.

IMG_3988

 

And tying into this theme of the election, here’s my newest poems, published by Thank You For Swallowing for the Fuck 2016 edition of their journal.

While it’s easy to bitch and complain and live in fear we can’t do that. My hope is that this election spurs people to action. That it makes people stand up and fight for what they believe in. But not just during the Presidential election season. RIGHT NOW. We must now all rise up and fight for a country we can be proud of. Here’s my theme song – won’t you join me as we rise up?

January 3, 2017

End of Year Wrap-Up

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I didn’t want to write this post – 2016 has been such a good and awful year I don’t know how to begin.

The awful – 2016 stole so many great people from us – Prince, Gene Wilder, John Glenn, Alan Rickman, George Michael, David Bowie, Mohamed Ali, Zsa Zsa Gabor, Carrie Fisher and others. And if 2016 wasn’t bad enough about stealing all these amazing and talented people from us, it also gave us Donald Trump who is one of the worst people in this country. And because he’s also President Elect I don’t have high hopes for our country’s next four years.

But there was a lot of good for me in 2016 also. I traveled to three new countries: Australia, Tunisia, and the Philippines. I completed a $15M work project. I published a chapbook of poetry for the poetry/art show my sister and I collaborated on together and my chapbook, All in the Family, was published by Bottlecap Press. (Both are still available for purchase, $10 plus shipping. Leave me a comment and I’ll send you details on purchasing.) I published a bunch of poems and I got accepted into an MFA program. I got a new tattoo. I read an absurd amount of books. I traveled and hiked and partook of good food and wine.

Overall, despite the heavy, wretched parts of 2016 — and there were a lot of them — it was a good year for me personally. I’m looking forward to what 2017 brings and I hope 2017 starts wonderfully for you too. Happy new year friends.

Happy New Year!

December 30, 2016

Best Books of 2016

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In 2015 I read 144 books and I thought that was likely the most I would ever read in one year. 2016 proved just how wrong I was because I read 179 books! That’s an average of 3.4 books per week. The only reading goal I set for 2016 was to read 52 books of poetry, one for every week of the year. Happily, I achieved and then exceeded this, reading 54 books of poetry in 2016.

Below are my favorite reads of 2016. What were yours?

Poetry

~ Flying Out With the Wounded by Anne Caston

~ Disturbance by Ivy Alvarez

~ The Big Smoke by Adrian Matejka

~ Native Guard by Natasha Trethewey

~ Racing Hummingbirds by Jeanann Verlee

~ Said the Manic to the Muse by Jeanann Verlee

~ A Door With a Voice by Katie Manning (read it here)

~ The Children’s Wars by Shaindel Beers

~ Blessing the Boats by Lucille Clifton

~ Ligatures by Denise Miller

~ Night Sky With Exit Wounds by Ocean Vuong

Fiction

~ The Girl From Everywhere by Heidi Heilig

~ Bittersweet by Colleen McCollough

~ The Son by Jo Nesbo

~ All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr

~ 11/22/63 by Stephen King

~ The Map of True Places by Brunonia Barry

~ Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng

~ The Book Thief by Markus Zusak

~ The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman

~ The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern

Non-Fiction

~ We Should All Be Feminists by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

~ My Life on the Road by Gloria Steinem

~ Your Voice in My Head by Emma Forrest

~ While the City Slept by Eli Sanders

November 29, 2016

Getting Inked

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In the beginning of September I started what would be the first of four sessions to get a new tattoo. When I was twenty I got a tribal arm band around my left bicep.

A picture of my armband. Of course I'm' drinking wine.

A picture of my armband. Of course I’m’ drinking wine.

 

It’s been a part of me for over seventeen years (yes, do the math, I’m thirty-seven) but for a while I’d been wanting something a little different. I found Hayden Abernathy at Marlowe Ink and after meeting with her I knew she was the artist for me. I explained what I wanted, what I liked, and my concern that I didn’t know how to pull it all together into a coherent design. “Don’t worry about that,” she said, “it’s my job to make it work.” And with that reassurance, I scheduled my first appointment.

I emailed her about ten or so designs I liked and when I went in for my first appointment she showed me her ideas. I loved how she pulled the things I liked together and made it into a cohesive design. My first appointment lasted three hours. During that time we chatted and I mentioned I am a poet. Hayden confessed she didn’t know any poets. Then she said, “Will you write me a poem?” Admittedly, I’m always a little nervous about agreeing to write a poem for someone because it can be a bit intimidating and they may not like what I write. Before I could say yes Hayden continued, “I even have the title for it – Nicotine Queen. Isn’t that great?” I laughed and agreed it was a pretty great title and then I agreed to writing a poem for her.

When I gave the poem to Hayden before my third session she literally shrieked with excitement, which is probably the best response to a poem ever. She was so giddy about it she texted it to her fiance and another friend, stating I was the best client. Then we got down to business of working on my tattoo. Another three hours later it was getting ever closer to being done, but it would require one final session.

My last session was the day after the election which was a very hard day for me. The session started with a hug from Hayden and tears from me. Then we got down to business.

Final session

Final session

 

Finally, after a total of about 12 hours, 10 of which were actual tattooing, my new quarter sleeve was complete. Both Hayden and I were pleased with the end result.

Hayden and I

Hayden and I

 

And of course, she’s memorialized in a poem, so she’ll always be remembered.

Nicotine Queen

                  – for Hayden

She doesn’t smoke but chews

piece after piece

of Nicorette gum – addicted

to both the drug surging

in and the snap and pop

as she chews.

She starts with three

pieces but when we take 

a break she puts down her gun

and pops another piece.

“I tried the generic stuff,”

she says as she leans forward

to inspect the fresh ink

she’s added to my skin,

“but it’s not as good.”

By the end of my three-hour

session she’s chewed her way

through a pack and my arm

is covered with ink dancing

up my skin to the beat

of her snap and pop. 

*

And finally, here’s the finished product:

My new quarter sleeve. =)

My new quarter sleeve. =)

Her name is Sughra, it means “small”, which is fitting as her head barely reaches my shoulder. She speaks softly and tells us her story. How when she tells people she’s Afghan she has to immediately follow with, “I’m not Taliban.” She says when she tells people she’s from Afghanistan she watches their eyes grow wide, “as if I’m going to explode.” She is an artist, formally trained by Turquoise Mountain, an organization aimed at transforming Afghanistan through artists.

Sughra and I

Sughra and I

 

I met her through my friend Sush, who owns and runs Studio Pause, the gallery that hosted the poetry/art show my sister and I collaborated on back in April. Sush met Sughra at Freer Sackler Gallery in DC, where Sughra’s artwork is featured. The two started talking, started bonding, and soon an idea was born – Sush would gather the poets she knew who would write poems on identity and she would send them to Sughra in Afghanistan where she would add artwork to each poem. Eventually the poems will be bound into a book and this book will be sold during National Poetry Month in April 2017.

Sush reached out to me and asked if I would be interested in joining the project. I immediately said yes. In October I was lucky enough to meet Sughra and see her beautiful art.

Sughra talking about her art

Sughra talking about her art

 

This project will be a collaboration like no other I’ve done and I cannot wait to see the finished product. The goal of the book isn’t just to share poetry and art, the goal is also educate people on the beauty that exists with such collaborations – that Afghanistan doesn’t always mean Taliban, that it can mean peace and beauty and poetry.

Sughra's art

Sughra’s art