How to Stay Informed

first published by great weather for MEDIA

 

Forget the headlines, translate the ink left weeping on your fingertips. It can be difficult to turn the page. They title it war as though it is different this time. You locate a run-on sentence on page nine, so you hitch a ride on one of its commas. They misspelled DEMOCRACY. Whose news is this, anyway? Afterwards, you search for an antonym for FREEDOM and all you see is red, white, blue. Just stop reading. Instead, walk outside and photograph everything that doesn’t move. You still need to stay informed, so you skip to the end and scoop out the middle. You ask the stranger beside you to read it to you. Coffee spills over the paragraphs and in the blur, you feel free again. But when it dries, your brain paralyzes from another re-run of violence.

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Upcoming Performances

I’m excited to read some new work…….hope you can make it!

Tuesday, November 21st, I will be reading poems at BIG WORDS, ETC reading series at 61 Local located at 61 Bergen St in Brooklyn. The event is from 6-8pm. Celebrate some wonderful writers exploring the theme of 5 more minutes! 

Friday, December 1st,  I get to celebrate Three Rooms Press’s Prose! Poetry! Party! at Cornelia Street Cafe located at 29 Cornelia St. in NYC from 6-8pm. This event is $10, but it includes a drink. What a great line-up of writers including Meagan Brothers, David Lawton, Jane LeCroy, Karen Hildebrand, Jane Ormerod, Robert Gibbons, and more! Hosted by the marvelous Peter Carlaftes and Kat Georges.

Dear Universe (A Manifesto)

first published by great weather for MEDIA

 

Dear Universe, I want a full-time teaching job and at least two closets in my apartment and a complete understanding of the difference between effect and affect.

That time I asked my students to stare at each other for sixty seconds (insert laughter, discomfort and a continuous need to look away) and my student, who tried so hard to share his eyes with me, kept whispering how hard it is to look at someone who isn’t speaking. And when we shared our experiences afterward, I asked him the color of my eyes; he said silver. Dear Universe, I want to see the shiny in me too.

Dear Universe, when did you tell me that none of this would end, that brains congeal and there is only so much a scalpel can remove?

Dear Universe, I haven’t quite mastered the pronunciation of marriage and have decided to live alongside the Hadza to learn the importance of telling time through the movement of sky. Maybe I prefer monogamy with things that glow like Lyra or birds with indigestion.

I used to collect ants; scooped them up like cake crumbs and spelled out prayers with their slow-moving bodies. Dear Universe, can religion be that simple?

Dear Universe, when my ribs were the only cage I climbed into. Yes, can we go back to that?

One night when I ran out of things to hold, I gulped down enough street signs to make me feel like I understood what I was doing. Cut my tongue on their sharp edges and I still got lost. Dear Universe, my belly contains a GPS but it always brings me back to where I am afraid of going.

Dear Universe, there is a mouse living inside my oven, so I haven’t cooked anything proper in months. I rolled up a poem and set it on fire hoping the ashes of words would lead it elsewhere. Like that time I read Vera Pavlova and she led me out of that mental hospital. Sometimes we just need an extra map to free ourselves from borrowed kilns or bone breaks.

I want a backyard to plant dandelions and hyaloclastite. Universe, can you give me some land to roam against?

Somehow my wrists slipped their way out of midnight and I am collecting sharps again. Like a brushfire. Like a tic-tac toe board of blood and guts. Dear Universe, I don’t need any more band-aids; it’s surgery time.

Remember when guns sprayed water instead of organs? I left the country of my body because my passport expired and I lost the code to get in. Dear Universe, can you leave the back door open?

Upcoming Performances!

My poetryband Hydrogen Junkbox featuring David Lawton, Zita Zenda, Starchilde and I will be performing on Friday, November 3rd at Cornelia Street Cafe from 6-8pm. It will be an evening of poetry and music. Come hear some of our new songs!!! The night will also be featuring Obsidian and Matthew Hupert. Plus….a limited open mic, so bring something to read if you dare! It is $10, which includes a drink.

Cornelia Street Cafe is located at 29 Cornelia St. in NYC. 

THEN…..join me the next day on Saturday, November 4th for a Brevitas reading at Parkside Lounge located at 318 E. Houston St. in NYC for a smorgasbord of poets reading short poems from 2-6pm. Two drink minimum (they have non-alcoholic beverages as well).

You are a Rarity!

first published by great weather for MEDIA

 

I am waiting for the 4 train at Fulton station. Bodies surround me like a parade of run-on sentences. We are all experiencing this madness of human congestion together. I am pressed against the wall because there is nowhere else to lean. A human walks past me wearing legs longer than Haruki Murakami’s 1Q84. Another passes me by and if I were to press adjectives shaped as boxes into their skin, they’d all combat each other. Some humans just cannot be labeled. They are rare; they are unclassifiable.

Or. Maybe I am looking at this all wrong. All humans cannot be labeled. We are all rare; we are all unclassifiable.

In a recent article by Laura Haines about the complexity of gender, “Not as Simple as XX or XY”, she wrote, “…rare is not a reason to dismiss possibility or to dismiss a real person’s humanity. Rare still exists. Rare walks around and has feelings, faith, needs, and rights. If anything at all, rare should move us to expand our horizons along the planes of love, grace, and acceptance.”

I spread this quote onto the board at school and ask my students what this means to them. We break down the various meanings hidden inside rare: unique, different, other, special.

I ask them: Are you rare? Do you want to be rare?

This conversation comes out of one that arrived a few weeks ago when we were discussing the openness of identity. Can someone choose their identity? I asked. And can it change? Or must it be static?

When we are approached by something or someone we do not understand, it can be difficult to know what to say. It may feel like a challenge to learn them. Sometimes we just walk away or we make assumptions. This just creates a further gap between us.

A student answered, “It’s confusing when I don’t know how to approach someone.”

I said, “If we judged every book by its cover, we’d be severely disappointed. The best parts are the words. You miss out when you don’t even take a moment to peer inside.”

In an interview, writer Ta-Nehisi Coates said, “You are your body” and in class we talked about all the ways we are pushed out of it. When we do not look like someone recognizable, we are isolated. Called names. Misunderstood.

In a world where we are replacing our tongues with loaded guns and speaking through them, I fear that we are forgetting the beauty of rarities. When I don’t understand something, I ask questions. A lot of them. I want to understand. I want to learn the language of as many identities as I can; in fact, I am still learning mine.

I want to be rare and I want to live in a world where oddities are celebrated, not removed.

Just think of every time you learned a new word and it brought you closer to seeing more clearly, to articulating yourself more and the world around you. People….especially the rare ones…can offer you that too.

In collaboration with my Dad….a brand new book!

When I was little, I remember my dad and I making up stories. About people who passed us by as we sat on various benches at the mall while my sister and mom shopped. About people we knew or wanted to know or characters that only lived inside our imaginations.

As I grew, I started writing poems. When I felt bold enough, I’d storm stages and read them out loud. Sometimes I wrote stories too.

Three years ago, I encouraged my dad to publish his work. He had been writing stories for years and couldn’t believe someone (who didn’t know him) would want to read his work.

Now, he has three published novels under his belt and is working on a fourth.

A year or so ago, my dad asked me if I might want to write a book with him. Of course I said yes. And many months and words later, our book is in print with an ISBN and cover and I couldn’t be prouder.

A Very Special Dress & Other Stories is an accumulation of a myriad of relationships: a daughter to her father, a dog impatiently waiting for her human to come home, a teenager figuring out their gender identity…..spanning generations and voices.

Purchase this book now:

Checks or money orders only, made payable to Martin Herman & Associates.  NO cash please.

194 Rodney Press, 521 Simsbury Road, Bloomfield, CT 06002