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:


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

Waxwing Magazine
Gulf Coast
Electric Literature

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


Hidden Figures
Kill Your Darlings
Boy Meets Girl
Closet Monster

Get Out
Wonder Woman
Thelma & Louise

TV series:

West Wing
Bob’s Burgers
Full Frontal with Samantha Bee

Stranger Things
Neo Yokio

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

Video games:

Persona 5
Pokemon Trading Card Game Online
LittleBigPlanet 3
Injustice 2
Ever Oasis
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

Fall Fragments

  1. The cool, dry air pays a visit like an old friend. My skin is glowing but my eyes are tearing.
  2. I have a short prose poem in the fall issue of Unbroken Journal. It is ominous, as most writing is these days.
  3. Someone asks me, “What do you write?” I freeze. You’d think I’d be able to answer this by now.
  4. I finished writing a story told in fragments. It features potions and a garden. My stories always seem to feature a garden.
  5. I finished reading Cruddy by Lynda Barry. Brutal and beautiful. I wrote a micro review about it. Easily one of my favorite reads this year.
  6. I’ve updated my list of literary journals for LGBTQ writers, women, and writers of color. People still seem to use it as a resource and I’m glad it’s been so helpful. Unfortunately, I’ve had to remove quite a few journals that have gone defunct or no longer appear online.
  7. I’m getting married soon. Since there’s no bride, we’ve had to write a ceremony ourselves. There are no real traditions to inherit yet, no set rules. We are setting them down. I should write about this eventually.
  8. The cool spell will be gone tomorrow, I’m sure.

On Prose Poetry

Not too long ago, I didn’t know exactly what prose poems were, but I suspected I’d been writing them for a while. I just assumed they were hybrid poems that emphasized the narrative over the lyrical. Apparently I was both right and wrong. In order to better understand what I was doing or what I could do, I read A Field Guide to Prose Poetry, published by Rose Metal Press. As it turns out, I still don’t know exactly what prose poetry is, but that may be the point–this is a kind of literature that resists category. The book is a good starting point nonetheless, as it introduced me to writers who were doing it their own way. One thing that did surprise me here: prose poems tend to be unlineated. They tend to be poems that look like prose on the page, and not vice versa. Many cite Charles Baudelaire and Arthur Rimbaud as early experimenters. I also went away loving Nin Andrews’ writing, and now I have to get my hands on her books too.

Writing that stretches and defies category has always interested me. Lyrical flashes, collaged fragments, memoir disguised as theory, criticism in poetry. It’s often brave and full of surprises. It dismantles and disrupts. It’s inherently queer. Intertextuality as identity, as a reflection of real life.

After reading, I wanted to find more related texts that could expand the possibilities. I searched online for journals that seek to publish prose poetry, which I will share with you here:

Unbroken Journal
Pithead Chapel
Ghost Ocean
Contemporary Haibun Online

There used to be more, like Sentence, Double Room, and Prose Poem: An International Journal, but all these seem to be defunct now. Let me know if you have any other suggested readings to contribute.