I posted it on facebook and a few other places as is my habit, forgot about it and went on to work on some other shit.
Then THIS MOTHER FUCKING HAPPENED OVER THE WEEKEND:
HOLY FUCKING SHIT TOP 20. A lot of people have read it. A lot of people have expressed thanks and gratitude and appreciation and shit.
And I had a panic attack.
I should confess that on the rare occasion I write something that garners a whole lot of positive feedback from people I don’t know, I freak out. I did not have a complete meltdown. I am feeling overwhelmed and super anxious. Growing pains but I did declare to my best friend that I didn’t throw up nor did I get the shits so semi win?
I have been listening to the Feelin Myself track from the Nicki Minaj Pink Print album a lot. Gotta cheer myself on you know.
So the next thing to happen was that I pitched for the first time. Like an adult. And it got accepted. Over at Witty Bitches (a new and rad site) I wrote a piece about race and feminism. Not for free and It feels pretty damn good. Lookit here:
This is a battle cry.
For my fellow nerds, this is me calling the horde.
These people, who wouldn’t know intersectional feminism if it farted in their faces, are ruining it for all of us.
As I saw on a t-shirt, they look like just enough XP for us to level up.
I could also title this, “The Sad Barbaric Yawp of the Sweaty angry Writer”.
Shouts for help from the author.
Apparently when I’m working on something that feels right, I just start sweating. Awesome. It would be fine if I was working at home I could just take my clothes off (I am pretty sure Jerry Stahl said something about writing at 4 am fucked up and naked) but I am at my dayjob and I can’t just take my pants off.
I almost got in a fight with an older White dude on my way to work today because he didn’t approve of my conversation with a young Black Poet about #blackpoetsspeak and how vital it is that he a.) write that shit and b.) hustle that shit.
I am 99% sure nobody told him ever that his voice, his hood voice matters. Even though he couldn’t get my phone number i gave him ideas and resources. I told him explicitly that he has to work, write and grind. That it is possible to do this without being educated or fancy. I told him HE FUCKING MATTERS and some piece of shit crusty ass old White dude tried to start a fight with me about it. He had that look in his eye and I’m pretty sure if I didn’t look fucking insane (I was going to hit him in the face with my phone gripped in my fist) he would have swung on me.
I almost yelled “the fucking bell is tolling for you asshole” but I restrained myself to just saying “fuck you, fuck your feelings and keep your racist views to yourself”.
Aside from sweating while writing I’m sweating while reading some tasty things.
First impressions. It is a strong collection. I’m familiar with a lot of the authors already. The writing is across the board so far tight and great. The intro bits were very endearing.
I’m enjoying it a lot and yet I’m yearning for some hood in the noir.
I keep wondering as I read more neo noir, am I really the only person thinking about/writing noir in the hood?
We know I feel the same way about horror and most everything.
Now I’m not talking Hood Lit. That is a whole other thing.
I’m hungry for stories that are yes well written and yes dark as fuck and yes are firmly rooted in the Hood.
This is the same hunger I always have.
I’m pretty sure I need to accept that I will always have this hunger unless I stop reading so widely and that just isn’t gonna happen.
I do write the stories as much as I can but that does not satisfy.
Part of the problem is also that because I have this need that is not satisfied ever, I find I have a disconnect with the lit world at large that I am unwilling to quite let go of.
Above the education of White people I need to keep myself, okay enough to make my own art.
That has been something I’ve struggled with a lot in the past year. My self care related work has been really a huge part of me figuring out how to balance the gut wrenching bloody things with the not so bloody things.
I’m not all the way there. Sometimes I write things that fuck me up for days and I can’t write anything else.
I’m still struggling with myself to put up my crocheted shawls (in spite of a LOT of interest) and having the confidence to do art related things without shame or bad feelings.
Shit y’all that bit is hard. As hard as I find it to call myself a poet with seriousness.
Okay I have shit to do and I’m starving.
Another new thing is that writing does shit to my body lately. I’ll talk about that in a whole other post.
Tomorrow I am doing something super special and going out for a fancy super fancy dinner with Milcah and my partner. We are going to be a trio of romantic hot ass looking mother fuckers up in there.
I was just looking at used books and had a little chuckle. I remembered randomly a time when I went to some community something or other, I had wanted to talk to some folks in the Black community about the outreach/sex education work I was doing at the time.
I got someone one on one and started giving my spiel.
I was interrupted and told that they weren’t interested. And as a snide aside, the person walked away and stopped to inform me I’d pronounced diaspora wrong.
This is often what I think of when I try to talk about gate keeping in literature. So often especially right now I see people essentially doing this you’re not as educated as me so wahwah.
Once upon a time I had a real and very serious complex about not being traditionally educated. I studied so I could keep up with academic jargon, I worked very hard on not code switching in front of educated folks.
And then I stopped doing that.
Now the whole reason I’m thinking about this is because of my current relationship with my poetry. I’ve mentioned before that I often use writing poetry the way I use flash fiction. I like to use it to stretch my muscles so to speak, explore certain feelings or themes.
I set myself the task of posting something at Ink Node daily this week. You can see it all here. As I’ve been looking through old work and the rejections of most of it (I don’t get poetry published often) I am feeling vaguely soothed by the poems I like the most.
For the past few years all my poetry is about women. Poisonous women, dangerous women, thoughts, sluts, archetypical Kali type mothers who destroy as they love etc. I know some editors have read them as autobiographical, which bothers me on one hand, but on the other I sort of get it.
There is sex and violence with the women not posited as victims but as the victors.
I’ve had bits and notes for a novella thing around for ages and a lot of the poetry I’ve been writing seems to be notes as poems for that.
I feel like I am working out something about women that I need for further fiction work. What is the thing? I haven’t got a shiny clue.
So the rage fueled thing I wrote about the Paris Review the other day has grown some wings. Mentioned in a Huffpo article by Annie Finch.
I am a tad overwhelmed. I’m very tired of clearing messages (fifteener twenty today) telling me how racist I am and what a shitty poet etc etc. The best though was the accusation that I am bullying the Paris Review.
Because obviously a relatively unknown Black writer from Seattle has the power to bully the Paris Review.
Okay so here’s the thing and I want this to be absolutely clear because I think some folks have got it twisted.
I don’t actually give a hot shit about Seidel’s work. After I read the piece on PR I read some of his other work and frankly it is just not my jam. I don’t give a shit.
The thing I care about is the usual response to Black people’s pain. White people running us over to make their own pain the focal point. I care about a publication I have read for most of my life when I have been able to, doing the same shit again.
My hope that a highly visible publication would take the opportunity to say to everyone these are the voices we need right now has just been dashed. No fuck that. My hopes that the mainstream literary community would step up in a time of such great need has been shit on, set on fire and tossed.
This was a chance for an organization to say loudly and without qualification, Black Voices Matter right now and we are here for it.
Now is the moment.
Now is not the time to make White voices the voices. That is how everything is all the time. Literature is now and has been the outlet for every White opinion ever about everything.
And yet, people keep telling me that those are the voices to be given primacy right now.
Because that’s how it always is.
I’m tired. I’m tired of hearing that if we damn loud ass Negroes want to be heard to do it ourselves. And when we do that, White people run in to make sure they get their piece. Or when we have the audacity to hint that maybe we know a little something something about an issue, we’re “reverse racists” and oppressing the White Voice.
This is me and I am fucking exhausted.
Why at this point in time, in 2014 when so many White people want to claim to be anti-racist is it so goddamn hard to admit that sometimes, their voices are not the ones that need to be heard?
That maybe Black Lives Matter is a.) something being said, because clearly culturally America doesn’t believe it and b.) such a controversial thought, that Black people specifically matter.
And before anyone busts in here with that “all people” bullshit let me shut it down.
If you would not walk into a Breast cancer awareness event saying, ALL CANCERS. If you would not walk into a stranger’s funeral and say, BUT I KNOW DEAD PEOPLE TOO, shut the fuck up and work it the fuck out. If you cannot abide the idea that Black people need and want to make it clear that we matter, you have some racist shit to deal with and I am not here for that.
We live in the fucking future. It is 2014. Even a publication as old as the Paris Review knows this. They have a social media person I’ve followed them (I have unfollowed).
It took me approximately two minutes on google to find over a thousand amazing poems written by Black people young and old, known and unknown. THOUSANDS.
And they chose Seidel.
I took to facebook and searched the hashtag #BlackPoetsSpeakOut.
THOUSANDS OF POEMS.
How is it that while working my dayjob, writing a fiction piece and eating I could find current amazing poetry by Black people that could fill forty five Paris Reviews and they picked an old White Man.
That is what this is about.
It’s not about the quality of the poem. He can write whatever he wants to.
It is about the gatekeepers of the literary canon in this case the Paris Review isn’t coming through.
It is about how disgusting it is to me that organizations that wield power in the lit world in a real big way, didn’t do shit.
This happens over and over again.
Don’t get it twisted.
I don’t care about how that crusty ass old man writes his poems or what he writes about.
I don’t care if EVERYONE writes about Ferguson.
I care about representation and the missed opportunity to show that that Black lives and Black voices matter.
Understand that White folks you can write a million poems about Ferguson, Eric Garner, lynching, racism whatever. Just remember that when you prioritize your own voices over the voices of those of us living this shit, you are upholding White Supremacy and taking the easy way out of owning your own racism.
And we see you.
We. See. You.
For those of you who want to see what Black poets are saying I’ll make it easy for you. Check out this tumblr project and listen to every single poem.
Well I’m not physically face down ass up weeping into my pillow. It’s more of a metaphorical state.
I made it through my important deadline without stroking out.
I will tell you that it was non fiction and writing it gave me the shits. And then I threw up after sending it to my editor and had a meltdown thinking I had done the absolute wrong thing. I hadn’t. She loved it and more details when it is going down.
Since then I have written the most hateful/sex/death/war poetry. I don’t necessarily consider myself a real poet but I do like to write it when the fancy strikes. Lately it’s all very dark, and that’s fine.
Another word about poetry. Because my poems tend to be quite personal, submitting them to places is entirely nerve wracking to me and I feel like a stressed out poseur. I do it anyway.
I have little else to report. I am sitting at 99 rejections in my race to 100. It has taken longer than I thought it would and I am impatient to get to it and get to more rejections. This is good in that my publication rate is good but I don’t have as much material to submit as I’d like. Per usual I will take off Nov/Dec to restock my word larder.
And likely in Dec I might make my end of the year swing for the fences submissions. Or not, I may meet these people at AWP and I don’t want to do that while thinking HOLY FUCK YOU HATE MY WRITING.
My dark erotic/art thing is still going to happen. I’m taking my time with it so it is exactly the way I want it to be.
I’m a bit unhappy with my pace and output right now. Not that I’m not writing I am- I suppose I’m just greedy as fuck. Not having a good size backlog of stuff to fling into the ether is weird. Weirder still when I realize that I’ve had a lot of stuff published. Do other people actually do that? Does it astonish other authors that people like their shit?
I’m just getting over a cold, it’s 2 AM and I have more work to do.
To quote Ms. Badu They Sleep We Grind.
OH PS I’m posting in my extra words blog again. Go here and read some shit.
First let’s look at the book. I really like the design.
So pretty right?
Now the poems.
Dena’s poetry has a pulse, it has flesh and is salty and sweaty and human. Occasionally I read poetry that is fine and nice to read but there can be a lack of physicality to it. I like my poems fleshy and grabby handed. I love reading poems that insist I feel things in my body.
What’s that phrase I love?
I can’t recall but Dena writes poems that even when quite brief have tactile awareness. I love that, especially from women writers. Often women are not encouraged to write in our bodies, not about motherhood or periods or anything beyond what titillates the male gaze. There is no consciousness of the male gaze in her work in that way and I love that.
Dena’s body is present in her work in a very beautiful way.
One of the pleasures of reading poetry for me are the moments when I have to put the book down and think about something I’ve just read. The moment in this book came for me at these two lines:
dare not to die, not today
consider the audacity
That fucking floored me. It’s very in line with how I have survived myself and life in general. It is quietly rebellious and resonated with me so much I spent a good while thinking about those two lines before I started reading again.
As is my habit with small elegant books I read it twice in a row and stopped in different places each time. That is one of the beautiful things about poetry that moves me. Each reading I have something different happen and that is a beautiful thing.
Overall I highly suggest buying your copy. To get a copy head here and get it.
This has been your review. Next week I will review Billion-Dollar Kiss: The Kiss That Saved Dawson’s Creek, and Other Adventures in TV Writing by Jeffrey Stepakoff. With my review I’ll talk about some of my suspicions about TV being confirmed and why I tend to not support TV in general.
Last week I was digging around in a box of junk and happened on a notebook full of poems and words. I have no recollection of writing any of the things in this notebook. I have no idea when I might have written any of these things. I will say it was within the last 6 years because prior to that I did not use this sort of notepad.
Most of the poems I can’t read my handwriting so I can’t transcribe them but here are a few.
After so many shady summers
I still feel suspect.
Wrung out and empty.
This is the liminal aspect
of my absurd ego.
I wanted to be hard
-aloof and beautiful.
Sturdy, implacable steel
with tart lips.
I wanted to leave you
bruised and spent.
My secrets will eat themselves.
Devour each other
Along with my tender heart.
Until I am little but glass.
My sight is broken-
perfect mosaic that hides
my secrets odd heart.
The needle did not
penetrate my virgin skin.
But I paid- I paid.
He laments for me
silent tears and ghostly touch
In death he feels all.
Take your time
Tread slowly over
the dessicated terrain
This is no nature walk.
We- are going to war.
I want to be Inanna.
Blessing the solemn with
the joy of my glorious cunt.
I want to birth sun and moon
earth and stars.
Contain all the answers to the great mysteries.
Covet those secrets tight between my thighs.
I want them all to sing in praise of my cunt.
I want to rule the world with wetness and grace.
If my mania can’t be forgiven
Please remember in this moment
Ozone in my mouth and lightening between my teeth.
Before I fall like Icarus-
flaming and insane.
I will know what is sacred.
There is murder on my tongue.
Vengeance- heat lightening in my fingers.
Yes these eyes are calm and smooth.
No one will know my rage.
I will lay in wait.
Smile and sweetness.,
Until you are blind as you are dumb.
She sings in summer
Sun kissed gleaming lusty salt sweet.
She is joy
But she is not me.
I am greedy
Groaning gaping avarice
insatiable with my mouth wide open
Until there is nothing left
If I feed my roses blood, will they bloom red hot and salty to perfume my garden with murder?