Writing round-up, 2016: Six non-horrible things that happened this year

Writing round-up, 2016: Six non-horrible things that happened this year

I’m not really sure what to say about the year 2016. “At least we didn’t all die in a nuclear blast” is one good thing I could mention, I guess.

On a personal level, it was a year of disappointments and setbacks, fears and frustrations, but also the year in which I sat in a taxi coming back to Chelsea from Broadway after a dinner with great talents whom I also simply admire as people, and the very dear friend and great talent sitting next to me turned and said, “You’re doing it right, you know.” I surprised myself by believing her. There are people in my life who burn very brightly, you see, and I’ve learned to let their light in, and for that I am grateful.

In light of that, in light of them, here are the six things I definitely did right this year: Continue reading “Writing round-up, 2016: Six non-horrible things that happened this year”

November, depression, and the illusion of another world

November, depression, and the illusion of another world

“This is so depressing.”

It’s a common expression. I don’t begrudge it to people and frequently use it myself. I don’t like the self-righteous condemnation some people will heap on you if you use “depressing” or “depression” as throw-away words in casual conversation. If you get horribly offended by that, you may need to get over yourself.

Language evolves constantly, and our language has evolved in such a way that we regularly use “depression” without meaning “serious illness that can really fuck up your shit.” There is nothing wrong with that, and I think it has actually gone a long way toward normalizing the illness and people who suffer from it.

Having said that, depression is still very much a serious illness that can really fuck up your shit.

I am most prone to it in the month of November, and, as I have discovered from living in sunny places like Dubai and Greece, lack of sunlight may not be the main culprit. Maybe it’s due to the tilt of the earth. To the days getting shorter. To red leaves framed by a blue sky. To something.

I would love to write a buddy-cop-like parody novella about November and depression. Here they are, on yet another adventure together, barrelling through the mind, fucking it up like regular buddy cops fuck up city blocks. Here they are, making the lights go out behind the eyes while tossing comic insults at each other.

A lot has been written on the dangers of depression, but there is one particular danger I think is seriously overlooked:  Continue reading “November, depression, and the illusion of another world”

NEW: poetry and essays archive

NEW: poetry and essays archive

Dear friends, subscribers, and people who take offense at my Guns n’ Roses references,

I wanted to point out that the new poetry and essays archive is now available on this site. It doesn’t contain all of my poetry and essays. Just the stuff that I like most.

Yeah, yeah, it’s presumptuous to self-publish poetry. With rare exceptions, it’s presumptuous to force one’s poetry on the world at all.

Of course I also sometimes think that all writing, both good and bad, is presumptuous to an extent. In in the meantime, I keep hearing from you about how much you like the stuff I publish here and have made the archive with that in mind.

By the way, a long time ago, when I was still a high school student, I noticed that the Norton Anthology of Poetry we used in English classes included the work of Bob Dylan. Norton was ahead of its time with this one. His inclusion, which forced me hard to think about the definition of poetry, in a way prepared me for his Nobel Prize (a lot of the writers I know seemed very surprised when he won, which in turn surprised me).

It also made me think about how genre and mediums and methods of delivery overlap in this world that we live in. In that sense, poetry isn’t something that has to be born on the page. Sometimes, in fact, a poem has to travel a certain path in order to be recognized as such. I think that’s curious and wonderful.

The world being what it is right now, curiosity and wonder should be multiplied. I’m trying to do my part, in whatever small, confused, confusing way that is available to me. Good luck with doing yours.

Love thy neighbor: in Trump’s America, some of your neighbors need it more than ever

Love thy neighbor: in Trump’s America, some of your neighbors need it more than ever

I’m going to share with you guys two stories sent in to me since the election. Two events that occurred in a country that has elected Donald J. Trump.

The first is from a Nepalese American woman who lives in the Midwest. Let’s call her Kyrah. It’s necessary for her to keep her identity hidden. Her bosses have warned her, alongside all of the employees at her company, that “politically themed posts” on the internet “will not be allowed” following the election. They are ostensibly doing this so that the company “will not attract any negative attention.” I’ll let you be the judge as to whether or not this is responsible policy.

Although she lives in the Midwest, Kyrah grew up on the West Coast. She came to the United States as a child. She describes herself as “not very political.” She did not vote in the 2016 presidential election, having been put off by both of the major party candidates, a decision she now regrets. Here’s why she regrets the decision. I am republishing a portion of her e-mail to me, with permission, and with a couple of edits for clarity:

“A lady who was my neighbor in my hometown for 20 years sent me hate mail after Trump was elected. I am calling it hate mail because I have no other way of describing the message, although it’s hard for me to believe…that somebody could really write this to someone they know…

Here are the exact words. I am not making them up:

‘Your nice job and nice home could have been a real American’s nice job and home. Its [sic] simple math. By coming here, you are taking away from someone who has been here longer and has more of a right.’

She thinks I should leave. This is someone who knows me. She watched me grow up. Now she treats me worse than a stranger, she treats me like the enemy. My husband [and I] are upset and grieving.”

The focus now isn’t just on migrants, on people deemed “foreign.” The focus is on who is and isn’t a “real American.” As you can imagine, this issue is close to my heart. I have also frequently been compared to “real Americans” – and found wanting. The fact that Trump’s wife is an immigrant herself is completely irrelevant to the people who now demand what amounts to a witch hunt against those of us who “aren’t pure enough.”

I also had a conversation with an older friend from North Carolina. This conversation was even more shocking and upsetting.  Continue reading “Love thy neighbor: in Trump’s America, some of your neighbors need it more than ever”