Can I call myself a poet if I haven’t poem’d in days?
Yesterday, I sat in a room full of young writers / readers / learners / secret poets in a college classroom in Long Island, NY. I shifted in my seat as they asked me questions about identity and gender, body and trauma. We created a circle of language, deepened by a writing exercise of questions and answers:How often do you yawn at night? It never mattered. But I will gather up moss and spit fire from beneath my fingernails because of it.
There is such beauty in these questions that do not relate and yet find a way toward each other and in, regardless.
I was spending time with a human who dripped question marks from forearms and tongue. This human asked questions in a different way than what I was used to: they waited for my answer.
How often do we do this? How often do we question and then bask in the waiting room of answers.
After we questioned and answered, we spoke about poetry. We dissected the vulgarity and discomfort. We talked about pornography and its implication(s). We formulated hypotheses on memory and queerness, gender roles/expectations and the power of putting it down.
I explained myself in ways that I had never articulated before. When asked why I no longer identify as lesbian, but feel far more entranced with queer, I said:
When I first came out, I didn’t realize there were options. I chose the only word I knew. Then I moved around inside the language of it. Calling myself a lesbian felt like being inside a NYC studio apartment. When I finally arrived at queer, it felt more like a big, open loft. There was so much more room to move around.
At the end of it all, they asked me to read. I felt nervous, even though our space was now full of each other’s scars (not just mine). Even though the space had been translated in each one of our languages/dialects.
I looked over at the Professor, who is a poet I admire more than most. This Professor whose language has leaked into mine and we have poem’d together and we have engaged in an autopsy of thought process. He suggested: let’s remix together.
So, we sewed our lines together, improvisation’ally. He extracted words from various poems and I followed along with mine and together, we created something new.
Post-visit, I sit in a dark cafe full of communal wooden tables and I write. I allow myself this gift of un-interrupted gathering.
Yesterday, I finally found a home. Today, I walk back toward the words that have always been inside me. I just needed to keep on the path.