Upcoming reading

NEURONAUTIC INSTITUTE PRESENTS…….

Poetry in Zoomland…..April 22nd at 7pm EST

featuring:

Aimee Herman

Nicca Ray

Mike Topp

Hosting and curated by Matthew Hupert

I am looking forward to reading poems I haven’t written yet. I hope you join me. There is also an open mic!

This is a great monthly reading series that used to be housed at KGB bar in NYC. Due to the pandemic KGB and so many other venues that have supported and encouraged poetry over the years is really struggling. Below is a link to donate (if you are able):


https://fundly.com/literary-landmark-kgb-bar-nyc-aid

This reading will be streaming live on FB LIVE the NeuroNautic Institute / NeuroNautic Press page
(https://www.facebook.com/NeuroNautic-Institute-Neuronautic-Press-109548260772346/)

this is how to remove yourself from a body

Thank you to Kendra Allen and The Boiler for choosing my poetic essay for runner-up for The Boiler Prize. The Boiler is a great, online journal that celebrates creative work that “turns up the heat, whistles, and stands up to pressure.”

A little about this poem. I keep going back to a moment in a classroom with a teacher who told me to move on from writing about the body. Clearly I must have other things to write about, no? What I tell my students is that sometimes we have to keep writing about the same thing until it feels like it has said all it needs to say. We never tell people to stop writing about love. I mean, aren’t there enough love poems to last us another few centuries? Love takes on all sorts of shapes, smells, attitudes, textures, after-tastes. There is no ONE WAY of love.

So here is my body. It is over forty years old and I barely know it. I know I have mistreated it. I know I forget to ask it what it needs, wants. I have difficulty forgiving it. That is to say, I have difficulty forgiving myself. My body and I are strangers, therefore, the writing of it continues. By writing about my body, I am learning it as it is forgiving me.

There are stories inside my body I am afraid of. They are impolite and not exactly appropriate as conversational interludes. Sometimes I think about cutting up the years off my body, but I’ve got enough potholes, and even what haunts me makes me me. No?

So as my therapist has been suggesting and encouraging me: let go of metaphors and just say it. But I’ve still got retraining to do.

For instance, I am sad most days. This pandemic has given me an excuse to play hide n-go seek with myself. Wait. That looks like a metaphor. Let me try again. This pandemic has given me an excuse to be alone, to isolate. Most days, I wait for the clock to tell me the day is over.

I digress. If you are still reading, what I am trying to say is: there is no story inside the body that doesn’t deserve a voice, a notebook to scream into, a place to exhale all its blood and shiver. I am still forming. I am still deciding who I am. I am still removing myself from this body, sometimes. I am still learning how to survive being in it.

Read more here: THE BOILER

Love=Love=Love

The marvelous co-editor/co-director of Three Rooms Press, Kat Georges, will be hosting a discussion and reading in celebration of queer love and sex in literature today. I’m looking forward to joining other great Three Rooms Press writers, Meagan Brothers, Alvin Orloff, Aaron Hamburger, and Julia Watts.

You don’t even need to leave your home! Make some popcorn or dip your largest spoon into a container of peanut butter (my favorite snack!) and celebrate love love love and books books books with me!

The discussion will explore: How love in literature has become more inclusive during recent decades; How each author addresses love in their writing and opens doors to acceptance of love without boundaries; Why literature can provide inspiration in times of loneliness and heartbreak; Different levels of love: from friendship to red-hot lust.
Following the discussion, authors will field questions from the livestream audience.  The event will be livestreamed via Youtube at bit.ly/feb13-lovelovelove-youtube and Facebook via Three Rooms Press Group page at facebook.com/groups/threeroomspresss.

SATURDAY, FEBRUARY 13th at 7pm 

 

Splitting

Thank you to Impossible Archetype for publishing my poem, splitting in their latest issue.

Recently, I have been writing one sentence a day (often more) toward, into, from behind, from within my body. It is a way through.

When we are taught how to read, we begin with simplicity. The vocabulary of others. Oftentimes, the language of us, our innards, our guts are overshadowed and forgotten.

I am reaching toward the alphabetics of my innards. It is painful. It is queer. It is changing my mind about things. It is political. It is overdramatic and gutsy. It fidgets and fondles. But it is time.

 

 

Three Generations

There are three generations in a room. The room is white. The people are white. The food is white. The first generation has rippled skin, says the third generation.

What is wrong with rippled skin? says the second generation.

It’s gross, says the third.

The second generation has rippled (wrinkled) skin and tattooed skin. The second generation has undeclared skin and skin that has been re-declared. The second generation has skin that they try to tear apart on a daily basis and skin they try to tend to. It is a daily struggle.

Why do you have so many scars, asks the third generation to the second.

Because I have lived, the second replies. But what they do not add is that each scar is from a different war within the body and mind. Some truths are not able to be told until. Until. When?

The first generation watches the third generation play. They do not play with imagination and paper. Their play is made up of wires and screens.

I can only concentrate on one thing at a time, says the second generation to the third. Can we unplug, at least while we eat breakfast? At least while we complete our sentences?

The third generation does not know what this means.

The second generation understands all about the ripples, the thinning of pockets and hair, the fear of government as rights are removed or excluded. They do not have extra food in their pantry. They cannot afford to throw that meat away.

The third generation wears t-shirts advertising liberalism and feminism and gay rights and trans rights and human rights and Black lives mattering, but when you ask them a question: What does dissent mean? They ask Google.

Cotton and flags have become the new voice of the movement.

The second generation listens to the stories reiterated by the first generation. They need to remember so that no one forgets.

The third generation wants to play with other third generations while the second and first watches.

This is youth, the first generation says. They can request what they want and the second generation will give it to them.

There will be a time, though, says the first generation, that they, too will run out. And we will be gone. And they will have the ripples and empty pockets they never thought would come to them. The outlets will be stuffed by the dissenters, and they will have no way to understand the answers. They will not know how to approach paper, because all they know are screens. The first generation will be just a page in their photo albums, if they ever get around to making one. The second generation will be lost somewhere in the woods, hoping to escape all the wires. And the third generation will become someone else’s first, ignored for lack of relevance, ignored for too many ripples, ignored for not enough incentives in their pockets. 

Thank you to Golden Crown Literary Society

Today, my novel, “Everything Grows” published by Three Rooms Press won two awards presented by the Golden Crown Literary Society: Debut Novel and Young Adult.

Thank you for honoring me with two Goldie awards! Thank you to Three Rooms Press for believing in my words! This book is for all the queer ones who are still searching for the shape and language of their queerness, of their wild, of their magnificence. And thank you to the writers out there who inspire me to write: Audre Lorde, Kathy Acker, June Jordan, Lidia Yuknavitch, Carmen Maria Machado, and so many more who live on my bookshelf.

Out there, somewhere, is a book that will change your life.

Sister Outsider by Audre Lorde. And Zami too.

Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger

Blood and Guts in High School by Kathy Acker

I could keep going but then I would be taking up your time that you could be reading books! I believe there is a book out there (I’d argue many) that are written just for YOU. Books which lead you to see yourself and others in illuminating ways, that help you to find your language, that lead you to question and feel and perhaps even want to write your story down.

My novel, Everything Grows, was recently awarded a FOREWORD Review INDIES Silver Winner for Young Adult Fiction. Thank you to Foreword Review and Three Rooms Press for believing in this story!

Maybe THIS is the book that will…….gasp……too much?……change your life. Or at least, make you think, make you feel, make you smile.

 

Add Title

Before I even begin writing, I am approached with Add Title and I don’t quite know what to title the language inside me now. Yesterday, sharing coffee with my spouse, I said: I don’t know what to say right now, so I am listening. And I am reading. I want to make space for the voices that get trampled.

I walk toward the park I usually walk to with my dog. This is the first time I am here without her. This is the first time I am getting close to hundreds of other humans since March. A community meditation for Black lives. A breathing in and out for Black lives. A call for action, reaction, response for Black lives. So, I close my eyes and sit with these strangers. I cry into my mask. I think about what George Floyd liked to eat for breakfast. I think about what book made George weep or laugh or wonder. I inhale. I sit. My body aches and I am angry at myself for focusing on my discomfort. I exhale. I peek one eye open and see a dog laying beside its human in front of me. I smile at this dog.

“We come to understand who we are by understanding who we are not.” In White Fragility, Robin DiAngelo confronts and questions why white people need to talk about racism, why we need to be uncomfortable, why it is time to be uncomfortable. “Though white fragility is triggered by discomfort and anxiety, it is born of superiority and entitlement.” When I tell my mother that we must defund the police, she said: Aimee, we need the police. You can’t just eliminate them. I said: Black and brown people have never had a system of safety, of protection by the police, so whom are we protecting? To defund is not to suggest complete elimination. To defund is to disassemble. Reallocate funds to communities that have been completely left behind, to offer mental health services, health services, social programs to rebuild what we have crumbled.

I travel on the subway for the first time in three months for a root canal. I hold onto my favorite rock as though it contains every poem by Audre Lorde. It calms me as I try to move through the many layers of my anxiety. I pass by boarded restaurants, cafes, an empty jewelry store. Everyone in masks. I smile at those who pass me by, but my mask hides my friendliness. I ask the dentist if she can explain to me every part of what she will be doing, so I can understand. I ask questions, just like I tell my students. Every question deserves an answer. The dentist is kind, gentle, communicative. At the end of the procedure, I cry. Not because of pain, but because of gratitude.

I walk to Fulton Street, just a few blocks from my apartment and stand beside others carrying signs of protest, signs of solidarity, signs which demand Black Lives Matter. I cannot hear what is being said because there are layers and layers of people, but I clap because I know that I agree. Martin Luther King said, “a riot is the language of the unheard.” Are we listening? When the protests fade and the signs get recycled, will we continue to listen? The moment we stop listening is the moment we become part of the problem.

While playing cards with my spouse last night, we talk about this month of pride. LGBTQ folks are given one whole month to see rainbows everywhere, purchase over-priced pride clothing from Target and other box stores. I say to him: When you designate a month for people (women, Black people, queer people), you are acknowledging that every other month leaves them behind.

Last year, I let go of the largest story inside me, which was published by an independent press here in NYC. It’s a little book with a big, queer heart. It’s currently on sale at Three Rooms Press through June 30th. Code: PRIDE2020. But if you can’t afford it right now, email me directly and I will mail you one for free.

Love,

Aimee

One year ago…..

One year ago, my best friend Rebecca arrived from Colorado to celebrate the release of my new novel, “Everything Grows”. It was a very different time then and perhaps I didn’t appreciate the ease of which we had to walk around together, browsing in the local thrift shop for something to wear and sharing a meal of crepes together at the place across the street from where I live.

We will forever live in BEFORE and AFTER now, but that is life, right? These BEFOREs and AFTERs have marked us in ways we don’t always have words for. Before I was sober. Before I fell in love. Before I really fell in love. After I came out. After I moved away. Before I joined the workforce. Before I lost my job. After I graduated. After we fell out of love. Before I got married. Before I moved to Brooklyn. Before I relapsed. Before that panic attack. After I finished my novel. Before after before before before.

Ten (and some) years of writing inclusive of many starts and stops, and many, many rejections until a YES from an independent press called Three Rooms Press and suddenly dreams were coming true.

With Rebecca here, we adventured and caught up, reminding each other the magnificence of friendship.

On the evening of my book release, I draped myself in polyester and mismatching colors, and tried to combat the immense anxiety of letting go of this story that was just mine for so many years.

These days, my words arrive much slower. Sometimes, barely a sentence. Other days, I can write pages. I do my best to be kind to my brain, my thinning imagination, knowing that these are times of great grief and uncertainty. Just getting through a day feels like a triumph. I tell my students that we must accept–without judgement–who we are now and what we are capable of, even if it feels so small, or not enough. I took a shower. I changed my socks. I read an article in the newspaper. I walked my dog. I slept through the night. I graded a student’s paper. I smiled.

On this anniversary of the publication of my novel, I celebrate all that grow from sadness, from death, from mourning, from loss, from uncertainty. It is beautiful and it is tragic and it is magnificent and it is exhausting. If you haven’t read this book yet, what better time to lose yourself in someone’s else’s words? Purchase it HEREOr I can mail you a copy as well. If you can’t afford one, privately email me (aimeeherman@gmail.com), and I will make sure you get one.