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.

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

Learning How to Jump

Every bridge I have ever jumped from has talked back to me.

The story of my body has seven alternate endings and a fold-out atlas stapled to the middle. It’s like a choose-your-own-adventure novel, but when I turn to the page I want, it is missing.

The first time I jumped, it was several hours past midnight. Somehow the sun had confused itself again with the stars. The sun fractured into neon confetti and fell from the sky. As I jumped, what appeared to be illuminated starfish stuck to my skin. I survived with two scraped knees and a cracked tooth.

Have you ever spent an afternoon weeping over the dismemberment of Pluto?            I have.

The story of my body can be unwrapped in chapters, but they are disordered, of course.

The second time I jumped, the cables and bolts from the Brooklyn Bridge came undone. I slid down, down into the water and climbed toward the ocean’s floor. I ate lunch with a mermaid with braided buildings in her hair. She begged me to stay forever; her voice sounded like smoke and hummingbirds in love. When I ran out of oxygen and conversation topics, I floated back up dripping a trail of salt and sandwich crumbs.