a new-and-improved newsletter :~)
Hope you’re all doing well.
Here’s what I have for you today:
A lil announcement
What I’m reading
I want to try a ~slightly different format~ for this newsletter. Nothing, really, will change—but I want to include a tiny doable call-to-action in each email. Something that you can easily do to help foster community, put yourself out there, and engage with your/other writing. We’ll start with an easy one—you can locate it following the tweets listed below.
More Europe pics!
Have I told you guys lately that I wrote a fiction collection? Because I wrote a fiction collection. Did I not tell you?
In sadder news:
I just learned of Jay Hopler’s death & am so sad. He was a tremendous poet. Read one of my favorites of his here. & buy his books, if you want. I highly recommend them.
What I’m reading:
Field Study, Chet’la Sebree (I’ve been such a fan of hers since reading her debut poetry collection & I’m happy to say that her prose is great, too.)
A and B and Also Nothing, Chris Campanioni
Light as a Feather, Zoe Aarsen (don’t judge me; I loved the show & am sad it was cancelled & it’s a very decent beach read & YA novelists deserve more applause for their craft, me thinks—because her language & descriptions are really quite good.)
To be clear, here, I won’t bear the weight of white legibility.
Sometimes we avoid speaking a violence.
Our pussies do not unite us.
I am just one woman working toward climax.
Everyone hates a Black woman.
But it isn’t.
Women of Color in America have grown up within a symphony of anger, at being silenced, at being unchosen, at knowing that when we survive, it is in spite of a world that […] hates our very existence outside of its service.
I want to be palm raw and hip-bone sore.
I remember the serrated edge of breath and jut of jaw, when I heavy-panted over your fresh-licked earlobe.
I’m not sure if monsters are born or made.
I refuse to be made monster of circumstances.
I want to do things differently: night-blooming jasmine, downward-facing trumpet of a tiger lily.
You called it a car accident when my thighs collapsed together in pleasure.
Was I the most beautiful wreck you’d ever been in?
I’m made anxious when rhyme feels easy.
With you, I was seven hundred and thirty-three shards of smashed glass, how many times we had sex according to my math.
But really, we were both trying to mosaic—drawing blood on each other’s sharp edges.
I was a fresh scab I kept letting you pick—
Am I a grief monster splicing sutures, bloodletting to regulate my humors?
I want the water of our first bath together—baptismal font in which I hoped to be reborn into someone who felt worthy of love.
Here I am razor-ripped, asking for forgiveness.
Perhaps we were always ending.
What happens when you itemize things in a list? They become ordered and measured and accounted for. They become accountable. They become exact.
I tell students my practice is to write on the subway or the bus, in the spare moments between floors or the opening of doors, against the window of a cruising jet, in the pause of light shifting. May I suggest we only ever discover ourselves when we’re moving.
To speak can be a political act. To listen is always a political act.
I want to associate my hips with the tilt of your mouth.
All history is redaction.
Does the writer-child become themselves except upon inscribing themselves in a new language?
Dream landscape vs. real landscape. The space one is living in vs. the space one remembers.
my otherwise really great three and a half year relationship ended after about two weeks of fighting that was world-crushing. there was a lot of anger from what i came to understand as the clashing of attachment trauma. any emotional response from me was met with a freeze response from my girlfriend. i was being honest about my needs and asking her to be more emotionally supportive of me when the worst case scenario happened—she admitted that she couldn’t be what i needed, she told me she had been lying to me about her feelings, and said that i was asking for too much (words most feared by those of us who never ask for anything). the experience of thinking you are on the same page as someone and then finding out you aren’t is uniquely devastating to me because of the concealment of truth, a foundational upheaval.
when i say that trust is very important to me, it’s like “right, for whom isn’t trust important?” but i’m very interested in honesty as a way to build something better. i use the phrase “radical honesty” even though i do not believe that honesty should be radical—i think the telling of our truths should be woven into our fiber. that’s really fucking hard when there’s a lot in this world that dulls us and keeps us from knowing ourselves and sharing it with others, which is where the problems with honesty arise. my personal hurdles with honesty stem from childhood trauma about taking up space and scarcity, so believe me when i say i have so much compassion for all of us healing from the ways the world teaches us to shrink.
in horror film pet sematary (1989, one of my favorite childhood movies), there’s a creepy burial ground in the woods where the dead come back to life. when a child dies tragically, the father buries him in the mystical graveyard just beyond the pet cemetery. the elderly neighbor who showed him the spot warns him with a line i will always remember—“they come back wrong.” the buried child, gage, soon returns to the family as promised, very wrong. he comes back to life but now he’s evil, the classic tradeoff. horror ensues. for some reason this movie has had a lasting impression on me, stephen king taught me my first of many lessons on the dangers of necromancy. things that die should stay dead. you get one try and any attempt at resurrection is just damned.
the spell for lesbian relationship necromancy would have us write down our grievances in blood, bury them deep in the dirt on the full moon, then lock ourselves inside for seven days having makeup sex. by the time we reemerge our orgasm energy will have risen our relationship from the dead. but i knew the dangers of necromancy, how things come back wrong. we needed the opposite of a burial, we needed an excavation.
self-accountability is kind of hard to describe, and that’s probably why i like it. the model of accountability we’re used to hearing about is much more tangible—the person harmed sets terms for how the person who did the harm can make things better. there might even be other people involved to make sure the person is doing the things on the list. i’m not an expert, but what i’ve learned so far is that self-accountability is an ongoing practice that gets integrated into everything you do. you check yourself to make sure your actions align with your values. you check your friends to make sure they’re checking you on if your actions align with your values. if you’re misaligned, you change your actions or you do everything you can to get the help to change them.
The weather turned bad and I got happy.
That’s wrong—I mean the morning sky
was ash blue, birds on the ground.
Send an email to a writer you’ve recently encountered for the first time—one whose work you came across in a literary journal, or at random on Twitter, or from a friend.
Here’s an email I’ve written, just as an example:
Hi! I just wanted to reach out and express how much I loved haunt; I just finished it, texted photos of poems to my friends throughout, and wrote "SCREECHING" in the margins multiple times. I'm so grateful that you share your talent with the world, and I'm so happy to hear that you have two more books coming out this year! (Otherwise, it would've been really, really hard to wait for more from you.)
Anyway, I hope you're having a lovely Sunday, and please know that I'll be following your career forever. I'll preorder your forthcoming books as soon as I can!
Also: buy haunt. You’ll love it.
Reaching out to express your admiration for someone’s work not only can improve another writer’s day, but it can also help to initiate longer-term relationships—it’s not the initial goal; it’s just kind of a side effect that often comes from talking with someone with whom you share major interests.