welcome to the wonderful world of misfits

Dear Lidia Yuknavitch,

Thank you. Thank you for unraveling your articulated vocabulary for all the weirdos and queers and freaks and marvelous misfits, reminding us how we are the superheroes. We are the ones who have books and beauties inside us. We are ones who remain, amidst all that scar tissue and cracked bodies. Amidst the punches (from others and ourselves).

We go to a store to purchase an article of clothing. We gather up hangers full of cotton/poly blend threads with buttons and zippers and pockets and itchy tags. We try them on, bullying our reflections in the mirrors, which seem to show angles that (maybe) aren’t supposed to be seen. But we see them. Then, we choose whatever “fits”. Whatever feels less itchy, whatever has enough room for extra meals, doesn’t wrinkle or stain too easily, whatever will last long.

When I read your books, when I hear you speak, I am reminded that we are these articles we wear. Yet, we arrive not always fitting into ourselves. So, we sew some patches on or rip ourselves up in order to find a better shape. Some spend their entire lives trying themselves on. I think I still am. I think. I still search for the parts of me that do not itch. Ripping labels off, smoothing myself out amidst the crumpled bits.

Lidia, you tell us of the “Misfits myth…even at the moment of your failure…you are beautiful…you don’t know this yet…you have the ability to reinvent yourself. That’s your beauty.” And I want to ask you to call me up, so I can hear your voice tickle my hearing as you say this.

As you tell of  “..weird-ass portals to something beautiful. All I had to do was give voice to the story.”  And yes, of course. These stories grow as we do. It’s just that it takes time to gather up enough ink and paper and time and words.

So, thank you, Lidia, Misfit Teacher Mother Writer Badass.

I’m working on my story too.

Oh, and if you are reading this, then click below and listen to Lidia blow your mind too at a recent TED talk

Tonight! A Celebration of Across State Lines Poetics.


Tonight. See  over fifteen poets. Two artists create art right in front of you. Music. Projected language. Collaboration. Remix’d Poetics.

Poetry Teachers NYC is excited to host a night where language and art comes alive.

Where? Pomegranate Gallery  137 Green St. NYC  

When? What Time? Saturday, 16 November, 2013/ 7pm FREE!!!

Who will be performing? Travis Cebula, Sara Suzor, Peter Rugh, Thomas Fucaloro, Aimee Herman, Sara Nolan, Sam Jablon, Daniel Dissinger, Megan DiBello, Moira Williams, Todd Anderson, Nichole Acosta , Jane LeCroy , Selina Josephs (artist), Nikhil Melnechuk, Angelo Daniel, Ngoma Hill, and Oded Halah.

what all this means is what does all this mean.

The woman from the radio sings about her brain being picked at like a chicken bone and I think about the last time I was gnawed on by another. She fears insanity as the range in her voice reaches raspy or the kind of holler that only dedicated nicotine inhalers receive. I once dated a Human who started smoking to strip layers off throat. I want to sound affected. I want to appear bothered and broke. When I was nineteen I learned how to forget myself in chemicals and imbalance. Sometimes it is necessary to recall an evening when books replaced clothing and you wore Cisneros and she wore Hafiz and somehow Sexton and Neruda joined in. There will be a vow taken today between sunrise and star patterns and it is difficult not to think of that afternoon I lied about peach trees in an alley below the mountains. What has happened to the moments below your clavicle and when you find someone who calls your hipbone a rainforest or lightening whelk, remain beyond the fear of its end.

when it rains, sleep beneath the fall and call it love

I do not excuse myself as I pop pills of poetry beneath my tongue. No one is watching or everyone is and does it matter now. In a perfect square room with exposed brick and wine, it rains drunk shards of split open metaphors and memoir’d memories. Outside, the rain reminds us how we appear from within.

When poets flirt, they get louder or announce masturbation preferences or they drizzle their drunk against listeners’ lips. A woman licks the left side of my neck and calls it a poem. The rain washes her off of me as Brooklyn is mopped clean by the leaking sky.

Call it perspective. How easy to float away as puddles form like flattened kayaks offering to take you away take you away. The poems end and umbrellas fail us, so we put pages in pockets and thrust waterproof protection toward the wind and traffic. Is this love or inebriation from words and rhythm. How lustful is Lorca. How brash is Bukowski. I gather my goods of ink and bloodied notebook, with petals picked from Prospect Park hiding in the middle. Those petals are poems too for the one in need of less paper and more skin.

An evening with carrots and collaboration

Last night, I savored time with Poets. We took over a bar where one wall hid behind old books and the other had local artists’s paintings and photography climbing every inch. The room was dark, lit by the swirl of red in wine glasses and flicker of miniature flame from tea light candles. We mingled and marched our words all over each other.

The wall of art represented the diversity of young minds. A photographer reveals the eloquence of graffiti interrupted by a man walking his large dog. A mixed-media artist splices images of a woman with vibrant colors and a camera lens peeking out of her panties. And then my eyes grow wide when I notice….

Two carrots intertwined like lovers.

Most of the artists were present and when I asked about this one, I learned he was from out of town and wasn’t able to attend this event. An hour later, however, he arrives.

A young man with tiny hairs erratically smeared on his lower face comes up to me. He is shy and I let go of my own shyness to allow room for his to spread out.

“I was told you like my painting. I really liked your poem,” he said.

Earlier, I had performed with two phenomenal minds: a true activist and a Poet/Professor. With many of our poems staged in the palms on our hands, we moved back and forth in an unplanned but smooth rhythm, splicing our poems into each other. I would read a line or stanza and one of them would interject with their own. It was honest and moving to be a part of.

“Well, thank you,” I said to Shy Artist. “Umm…I really like your work, especially that painting of carrots.”

He smiled, but only with half of his mouth. The rest was still a bit timid. “Cause of your hair?”

I believe he was relating the bright orange of the carrots to the bright red of my hair.

“No, I have a thing for vegetables. I go to the farmer’s market very Saturday.”

“Which one?”

“Grand Army Plaza.”

He continued to tell me that he felt uncomfortable taking full responsibility for his art. There were other factors.

“You have a muse.” I stated this more as an assertion rather than a question.

“No, well, sometimes.” He explained that it’s everything around him that helps him to create.

I completely understand. My poems come out of affairs, out of weather disruptions, out of so many things outside of myself that I, too, was starting to wonder if maybe I couldn’t take responsibility for my craft either.

Later on in the evening, a dark haired beauty with cherry-cordial-drenched lips played piano while two poets played out their improvisational relationship to the beat of her keys.

An Irishman who is now a Brooklyn local played guitar and we all drank our chosen beverages, toasting to an evening of shared creativity.

* * *

If ‘you’ asked me what I really want to do, I’d say THIS. Being around other egoless Poets and Artists, talking about existence and literature. Being part of a movement, a collective of minds. Last night was the beginning of something. A declaration. A call out to those in need of an inexpensive space to experiment with language, art, thoughts. It was and is the beginning of Poetry Teachers NYC.

dear poets…

Last night, I watched a black leather-drenched, badass poet sign her poetry book with red-soaked lips. No need for pens, ink, signature. The poems were enough and her mouth, scrunched at the corners, created a shape never studied in mathematics, but should have been.

Last night, a poet no longer needed the microphone. He pushed his arms away from his body like the ocean rejecting the earth. Like clouds in need of a time-out from the sky. He became a one-act play, feature film, ballad, bounty of images.

Last night, I gathered up the histories climbed inside me like invisible spider webs. A haunt. A congestion of tangles. Threw open memories on a flat stage in the east village in a bar, dark enough to hide my shakes, my roots, my cicatricial forearms.

Last night, a poet read his query letter, screamed out the human tabs of money owed. Walked around with tin can full of coins. Do you want to give or receive? Do you want to give or receive? Do you want to give or receive? Poets scooped fingers together for change, handed out dollars saved up for booze and words. Poems can be made from linked wallets, emptied out, used as floatation devices to sail us into another stanza.

Last night, I dug toes and heels against pavement. Walked briskly from one bar to another for poetry pub crawl hosted by a man who hides poems behind his hypothalamus like cryptic whispers. Screamed HAPPY BIRTHDAY to a stranger celebrating the number of rings in his barking flesh. Screamed POEMS like ripped off warning labels against trees, against trumpet player named Demetrius, against strangers on a break from beer-slugging, against the evening, against myself.

Last night, I felt a part of something. I felt parted by something. I felt like maybe I was something. Felt like personified graffiti: real loud and impressively bold. Felt like a ghost chopping up bloody language with the precision of a top chef. Felt like maybe Poe was out there listening as we gathered by one of his haunts. Felt like maybe even Bukowski was looking down on me, offering me a beer spiked with imagery from the sky.

It is Halloween…or the days before…and humans reconstruct costumes into categories ranging from ghoulish Statue of Liberty to Edgar Alan Ho.

You should have dressed up in a costume tonight.
I am, I said.
Oh…what are you?
A girl.


What is it like to be a poet in New York City?

Like a stout infantfish, width of a pencil (.33 cm) swimming in the Pacific

Like a unidentified container of leftover supper that could be really delicious and surprisingly filling, but its lack of label is too curious and in turn, becomes neglected, untouched and therefore, moldy.

Like the trailer to a really good movie that everyone wants to see. (The movie not the trailer)

Like a rainbow in the sky after a brutal rainstorm. If noticed, it is exquisitely romantic and unexpectedly inspiring. However, a sky often goes unnoticed and cannot compete with cell phone screens…

Like there is no other place to be. To smooth out crumpled words into a microphone or into someone’s eardrum.

Like telling the truth amidst a lifetime of lying.