Recommended Reading #8

  1. “What I Miss Most About Hell” by Eugenia Leigh
  2. “When I Was Straight” by Julie Marie Wade
  3. “American Sonnet for My Past and Future Assassin” by Terrance Hayes
  4. “Ellen West” by Frank Bidart
  5. “St Zelda’s” by Allison Pinkerton
  6. “Woman of the Century” by Claire Polders
  7. “The Falling” by Michael Schmeltzer
  8. “Saudade” by Traci Brimhall
  9. “Self-Portrait as Vessel for Debris” by Heather Cox
  10. “In Which Athena Designs a Video Game with the Express Purpose of Trolling Her Father” by Amber Sparks
  11. “Girl” by Alexander Chee
  12. Poetry, April 2018 issue

New Look, New Writing

I’ve changed the look of the site so that it’s more focused on my writing and less just like a personal blog. The blog will still remain for updates and the occasional anecdote I’d like to share, but I don’t want it to be the focus. I’ve updated my list of publications since many of the journals that published my writing have closed. I used to joke that I was the grim reaper of literary magazines—since so many journals seem to go defunct right after they publish me. But I guess that’s just the nature of publishing, whether online or print.

But here are some newer publications:

  • I have a flash in Fanzine that was inspired by an article I read online about gay people being more haunted than straight people. Yes, it was a real article and not a parody.
  • I have a short coming-of-age story told in fragments in the newest issue of Gone Lawn. I’m very proud of this one.

I’m currently in the brainstorming stage of a novel, sort of. I’ve never written a novel before, apart from a godawful fantasy when I was in high school that was really more like fan fiction. I’m starting with the characters since some of them have been in my mind for many years. I’m just letting them wander and interact now. Let’s see where this goes.

In Memoriam: Zach Doss

I’m devastated and heartbroken to learn of the sudden passing of writer Zach Doss. Although we never got to meet in person, I got to know Zach online through his tweets and his writing. We corresponded through email throughout the years, sharing works-in-progress with each other and offering feedback and support. I loved his fabulist fiction with a queer bent and quickly found him to be a comrade-in-quills. I vicariously lived through his MFA experience and was looking forward to reading his story collection someday. When he graduated and was looking for work, I suggested he apply to my workplace. We had an open position in my department at the time. He had a phone interview with my boss and she said he was an absolute delight. She was almost ready to offer him the job but he ultimately decided Florida was not for him and went to pursue a PhD in writing in California. I have to admit, in hindsight, my recommendation for him to move here was mostly selfish – I imagined us hanging out at bookstores, becoming better friends, yelling at people to read each other’s books. We had planned on meeting eventually at the AWP conference, but I was unfortunately unable to attend this year.

Zach was an original talent and absolutely unapologetic in his love for the literary community. His passing is a huge loss. My thoughts are with his family during this time. Although he is gone now, he will continue to live on through the hearts of his loved ones and friends, and of course, through his stellar writing.

Here are some of my favorite stories he had published:

The 2017 Memory Jar Project

Contents:

  • Ticket stubs for Garbage & Blondie concert
  • Ticket stubs for the Birch Aquarium
  • Ticket stub for Wonder Woman movie
  • Receipts and tickets to see Roxane Gay at Books & Books
  • Anonymous suggestion from my workplace for improving productivity: “Fire [redacted]”
  • Ticket bracelet for Supercon
  • Play die and game card from GameRoom
  • Cross with rainbow pin
  • Animal Crossing “Pelly” keychain
  • Wrapper from Pokemon trading cards booster pack
  • Bottle cap item from Pokemon event
  • Ticket stub and photo for special screening of Kiki’s Delivery Service
  • Our wedding invitation
  • “J&D” wedding centerpiece item
  • Map for Point Loma and the Cabrillo National Monument in San Diego
  • “Happy 1st Anniversary!” taped on my cubicle from my workplace
  • Cork keychain wedding favor from friend’s wedding
  • Flyer for South Florida Poetry Journal reading

2017: The Retrospective

It seems as if this was a year most people would like to erase or do over, much like last year. There was more political turmoil, disappointment and horror caused by the U.S. government, the public outing of sexual harassers (and worse), racist/fascist awfulness, devastating hurricanes, and the crushing feeling of powerlessness. I can see why people are sharing images of literal garbage fires with text of “2017” edited over them.

Despite the ugliness of the outside world, I personally had a wonderful year. I got married to my better half and we had a beautiful celebration. The planning was stressful, but our special day was well worth it. I will do a post about it in the future that will include photos. There’s probably a lot to say.

We went to San Diego, California for our honeymoon. The weather was 70 degrees the whole time and the skies were completely blue. We walked Balboa Park, went to the Birch Aquarium, visited the San Diego Museum of Art, and dined at Hillcrest. We took naps in the middle of the afternoon. It was wonderful.

My husband formed an 80s rock band this year and they’re quite good. They recorded a demo and had their first gig. The living room has been transformed into a music studio. I love how we both have our creative outlets–his music and my writing. It allows us to have space when we need it.

We’ve continued going to concerts together. This year we saw Garbage, Blondie, Toad the Wet Sprocket, and others. We don’t have the same tastes in music, but it’s always nice being introduced to new artists and sharing the experience of a live musical performance.

Speaking of rock stars, I also met Roxane Gay this year. She was on tour for her book Hunger. The room was completely packed and hot, but filled with positive energy and a diverse group of readers. And of course, Roxane herself was a delight. I’m excited to read more of her work in the future.

This was the first year I kept track of my submissions to literary journals with a spreadsheet. I was afraid to do so previously because of how discouraging I thought it would be. Instead, it has managed to keep me organized and pressures me into sending more things out into the world. I sent out around 75 submissions this year, which were mostly rejections, but included a lot of encouraging remarks from editors. I hope to reach over 100 rejections next year, which was inspired by this essay at Lit Hub. The rejections still sting, but it’s become more like quickly ripping off a band-aid. You enter it in, make note of the comments (if any), and move on.

I had a few pieces published, including a poem at South Florida Poetry Journal, whose editors invited me to give my first ever poetry reading. I read essays about prose poetry to dispel my misconceptions of the form and published a prose poem of my own in Unbroken Journal. Most surprisingly, I was named a finalist for the Lascaux Prize for Poetry. My poem will be published in their 2018 anthology.

Aside from the anthology, I already know I am starting off 2018 with a few of my pieces forthcoming from Gone Lawn and The Fanzine. Stay tuned.

Here are my obligatory lists that helped define this year:

Books:

Our Dead Behind Us by Audre Lorde
Scald by Denise Duhamel
My Life on the Road by Gloria Steinem
Rookery by Traci Brimhall
The New Essential Guide to Gay and Lesbian Weddings by Tess Ayers
The Red Parts by Maggie Nelson
Hunger by Roxane Gay
The Field Guide to Prose Poetry, edited by Gary McDowell
The Big Book of Exit Strategies by Jamaal May
Book of Mutter by Kate Zambreno
Drawing Blood by Molly Crabapple
Krik? Krak! by Edwidge Danticat
Avatar: The Last Airbender: The Promise by Gene Luen Yang
Avatar: The Last Airbender: The Search by Gene Luen Yang
A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara
The First White President by Ta-Nehisi Coates
Dept. by Speculation by Jenny Offill
Help by Simon Amstell
Cruddy by Lynda Barry
It Devours! by Joseph Fink
The Buried Giant by Kazuo Ishiguro

Literary journals:

The Adroit Journal
Memorious
Boulevard

Waxwing Magazine
Gulf Coast
Electric Literature
TriQuarterly

The Shallow Ends
Paper Darts
Blueshift Journal
South Florida Poetry Journal
wigleaf
Unbroken Journal

Movies:

Moonlight
Hidden Figures
Kill Your Darlings
Loving
Boy Meets Girl
Closet Monster

Get Out
Wonder Woman
Moana
Thelma & Louise

TV series:

Mom
West Wing
Bob’s Burgers
Full Frontal with Samantha Bee

Stranger Things
Neo Yokio

When We Rise
The Handmaid’s Tale
Sense8
Grace and Frankie
Take My Wife
Avatar: The Last Airbender (rewatch)
Legend of Korra
Atypical
Glow

Video games:

Persona 5
Pokemon Trading Card Game Online
LittleBigPlanet 3
Injustice 2
Ever Oasis
ABZU
Children of Zodiarcs
The Arcana
Earthlock: Festival of Magic
Animal Crossing: Pocket Camp

Music albums:

Future Politics by Austra
I See You by The xx
Ibeyi by Ibeyi
Pleasure by Feist
Silver Eye by Goldfrapp
Season High by Little Dragon
Bleed Like Me by Garbage
Debut by Bjork
Something to Tell You by HAIM
It’s Immaterial by Black Marble
Melodrama by Lorde
Master of My Make-Believe by Santigold