an ode to the flatlands

photo by Raluca Albu

photo by Raluca Albu

Dear Nebraska,

I coveted your squares. They were unshaky and so green. And brown. And itchy. In New York, I notice the bricks and windows that shield the sky from full-frontal nudity. But your sky was a true nudist.

I inquired about your routine. How you got to be so…flat. I have been pushing myself down for quite awhile now, training my body to be like you (even before I knew you) and when I remove my clothes at night, my curves always come back. How do you keep yourself so smooth, Nebraska?

I wanted to lay in your grassland, but there were the chiggers. And ticks. So I fantasized about your blades of green against my back, tickling my ankles, which I always had covered because….well…..the chiggers & the ticks.

I wanted to tell you that I didn’t think we’d get along, but by the time I left, I wanted to ask if we could be exclusive. I was ready to try monogamy with you. But I never said this because I knew New York would always slip its way into my mind.

I wanted to tell you that I stopped being so afraid of your mites and insects. I stopped fearing heights and loneliness. I gave away some of my secrets. I even let you see me naked. That night in the water with several other planets watching without judgment.

There is still so much I want to say to you. So I write them down and float them toward your flatlands. Toward your birdsongs. Toward the artists.

Onward: Nebraska to Art Farm Writing residency!

With large blue backpack packed, I head to Nebraska for two week long writing residency.

When I first decided to be a writer (does one actually decide this?), I never thought I’d be awarded with the biggest gift a writer could get (besides a large box of black-ink extra fine pilot pens!):  TIME. Time to write. Uninterrupted time. An expanse of land to wander, to work, to gather, to meditate.

I began applying to residencies a few years ago. I didn’t know much about how; I just tried to follow the guidelines, submit my poems and hope for the best. It’s definitely a challenge for me to explain what I write or even how I write.

I found myself dressing in the rejection letters, replacing shirts and jeans with printed out form letters, kindly saying thank you, but no.

But a few months ago, I got my first yes. I immediately sent a message to my friend/accountability partner/mentor to tell him of this news. He was excited and also cautious. He wanted me to make sure this was what I wanted and how I wanted it to be. He told me to sit on it and give it a day or two before answering.

I walked around. I imagined myself writing in a state I’ve never been before. I imagined working on a farm, doing various forms of construction/carpentry/gardening/upkeep. I imagined sitting in front of my computer (INTERNET OFF!) and just writing. Working on poems and neglected prose.

Then, a little over twenty-four hours later, I made my decision.

YES. Of course! This has been my dream. And such validation as a writer to be granted this. YES. YES. YES!

So, here I go. Off to the 37th state admitted into this country in 1867. A state known for its tornadoes and thunderstorms. Major producer of beef and corn and writers!

My goal is to……well, write. But also to meditate on life and this existence and this privilege to go to a place specifically for writers and artists.

My goal is to poem and to sentence and to edit and hike and create and share and nourish and soak in this beautiful new (to me) land.

Thank you, Art Farm, for this amazing opportunity.

And writers, artists, creators of various sorts, you can do this too!

Do your research and find out residencies that are a good fit for you. Make goals. Search out deadlines. Find some land to spread your art on!