Monday, December 21, 2009


Dear All,

Since today is my last full day in the city in 2009, I wanted to think through some things, if you'll allow me. Wow! What a wonderful year this has been, what a ride! Some recaps:

This spring, around March, was exciting because I had what I called a "life transplant". I remember sitting in my first apartment in Harlem and trying to find a new apartment, and I received a phone call from an unknown number, and it was NYU telling me that I got in to the MFA program! The next week, I received my keys to my first studio apartment -- in Harlem. It was a dream of mine to have my own apartment, much less in Harlem. A few days after I moved in, I got a box at my door: first prints of my new book.

What follows is a whirlwind of a year: book tour with Raina Leon including readings in Chapel Hill (where I got to watch the NCAA basketball championships with some old classmates. a plus!), in Raleigh, NC, in Washington DC. And about 15 other readings in the New York City area. Summer came and I still had readings and chances to meet beautiful people along the way. Then a month in Ithaca just resting and thinking and dreaming about the projects I will write and want to write. I came back from Ithaca and hit the ground running again:

Book Launch party in Columbia, SC. This was especially great because I got to share my poems with my family -- the people that comprise 75% of the subject matter of my book. Then school started, and I was back down to SC to do the South Carolina Poet's Summit with Sharon Olds and Rosanna Warren -- a treat!

The rest of the fall was a blur with MFAing and working part time and interning at the New Yorker Magazine! I'm so grateful for solid friendships and companions that helped me stay grounded and sane in a potentially crazy period. Moreover, I'm super excited about my new poetry project, and can't wait to see what happens with it next.

So. 2010 has some big shoes to fill, but that's part of the excitement, right! Seeing what bigger and better things come around.

On the plate right now: I've been commissioned to write some poems for the Ackland Art Museum. This spring they're hosting Jacob Lawrence's "the Legend of John Brown" series. They want me to compose some original pieces and come back and give a reading and possible workshop. I'm excited for this exposure and opportunity.

other events in 2010:

Feb 21
Reading in South Brunswick NJ with Metta Sama

Feb 26-28
South Carolina Poetry Book Festival

April 16-19
Alabama Poetry Book Festival

April 23
Syracuse YMCA Reading

and sometime after that:
Reading and Workshop at the Ackland Art Museum, Chapel Hill, NC.

Hope to see you around!


Thursday, December 17, 2009

It's been a while

I've been a bit busy with life in New York to post. I would look at my blog and think: man, I haven't posted in a long time....and then go on to do the various things that someone going to grad school and working two part time jobs and internship and fellowship has to do. yes. busy.

That is also to say, save for my two pretty big readings earlier this semester in South Carolina, readings in the city of my poetry have also come to a stop.

Just some information to pass along:

Constance Saltonstall Foundation: for NY residents. A four week residency in bliss. Really.

First book prize for Asian American Writers:

Give to Soul Mountain: a residency in Connecticut, with the lovely, lovely Marilyn Nelson

And, I suppose, because I am an author, I must support giving books for Christmas presents. They're great ideas, really. You should do it. And gift my book. hehe.

Look for a better update soon. On the horizon. Also, maybe some glimpses at some writing and audio recordings!

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Radiator rattles in the corner

Today, I was sitting in my apartment by my window that overlooks Saint Nicholas Avenue. Beside the table where I do some work, I heard a hissing noise. My window is open behind me -- I'm actually not facing the window, as sometimes I get too distracted by the goings on in upper Harlem. The cars and trucks and people provide an interesting background soundtrack to my work. The noise is unfamiliar to me. I realized, my radiator started emitting heat. I moved into this apartment in Spring, so I've never experienced the radiator music. But it is saying: Fall is here. Fall is here.

I want to write a more writerly post here, since that is what I sort of started this blog for. I mentioned last blog that I started this bigger project at school, and I'm most excited about it. Books I'm reading that are inspiring me:

Lorca's Poet in New York (and indirectly, Reyes' Poeta en San Francisco)

Rita Dove's Thomas and Beulah (most of all the books)

Sanchez's Does Your House Have Lions?

I've done probably more prose writing around this project than I have poems. Here's a list of poems (titles are stand-ins, maybe. I might keep them.)

Gryphon's mother makes a promis to God

Gryphon & the flashing flames

Gryphon as a young boy

Gryphon's mother: dream one

Gryphon & Toby & Tutu

I recognize that these titles mean nothing to you right now. Who is Gryphon? He is a young boy coming of age in Charleston, South Carolina. He and his mother are fighting this battle, concurrently, against each other, with and against the world. It is about a house and a turtle and a young boy and his mother. The rest of the family is second to this storyline.

About the prose writing: I'm finding that because I sort of have a larger story that I'm trying to break into smaller poems, I do a lot of thinking. I decided to do my thinking in one journal, the same journal where the poems originate. So I have one journal that has my notes, my thoughts, my connections, my questions. It is serving very helpful to my busy lifestyle, also. This new life I've been given has forced me to stretch myself in new ways. No longer does my muse speak to me in whole poems in one sitting -- as it once has! -- rather, I am never really sitting around in one space long enough (in truth, I called out of work to have a few moments to sit down) for a poem to come. So I get glimpses and snatches and write them in this one journal. So all of my thinking that I would do in one sitting, I sort of dump into my journal and then when I sit down the night before my class to write the poem, I don't feel overwhelmed at the blank page, rather, I find I have pages and pages of notes to cull from, and starts and images. And a poem soon emerges.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Columbus Day

Today is a little bit of a holiday for me because my part-time work is so closely related to NYC Public schools. The students get the day off; I get the day off. So, I'm taking the little bit of time I have to update a bit on my life.

NYU -- I started the Master of Fine Arts Creative Writing program this fall. It's been an interesting ride. I came to the program on the heels of a month-long residency in which I sort of rested a lot, edited...and just dreamed about what I might start writing at school. I got in my workshop - working with poet Sharon Olds - and between being in her space and talking with a friend, I started this project I've been dreaming about for years. Years. I'll just say, it's about creating a family myth...and a turtle. and a little boy named Gryphon.

How God Ends Us -- the book is out in the world and circulating. Last Monday, I visited Adelphi University's Creative Writing program because one of the graduate classes read my book. It was my first time doing that sort of thing. Just the month before I flew down to South Carolina to give a talk on "The Art of Risk in Poetry" with poets Sharon Olds and Rosanna Warren. It's been interesting that my position in the poetry world is shifting: to one of teacher, to one of I have something to say, and folks want to come hear my say.

Internship -- so, as if I were not busy enough, I took an internship at a really cool New York magazine. I don't want to put my whole business out there, but it's a pretty big deal. I get to sit hours and hours and read slush and hope to "discover" a poet...although, who knows.

Gym & Life -- I am finding that the busier I get the more I need something to stabilize me. I've turned to the gym. I find a time to go at least 5 times a week, and that has been an important component to my survival -- just giving myself an hour at least to just do things for myself, where I don't really have to think about much except for maybe counting numbers of repetitions for crunches, or turning up the resistance knob on the spinning bike. Also, another mainstay for my stability is Sunday. I get up and go to the gym, then church, then come home and cook a Sunday dinner. Most times, I invite people over. Come and eat and break bread with me, and let's usher in a whole new week.

Thursday, August 13, 2009


Hello out there in TV Land....

I am currently right in the middle of my residency here. Here are some pretty cool happenings:

Here's a review of my book by the SC Poet Laureate Marjory Wentworth.

Metta Sama interviewed me for the Torch poetry blog.

ESSENCE Magazine published my poem "Lament" from _How God Ends Us_ in the September issue.

Upcoming: The State Newspaper will run a small story about me & the book & the official book party August 28 in Columbia, SC.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Forced reprieve

Last night I dodged a thunderstorm in the mountains. I heard stories from a friend who was here before I was who lost her laptop to the thunderous rains. She was trying to wade out the storm on her laptop. Her laptop is dead.

Thinking that I was smarter than that, I unplugged my laptop from the wall the two hours that the storm was passing through. You should know that my AC adaptor, for whatever reason, was already on the outs and I knew any extra electricity could possibly kill my computer or worse.

So, I tried to move my computer to a different part of my studio. This meant unplugging then re-plugging the laptop. My ac adaptor made a hissing noise then stopped working. Luckily the residency has a group computer for printing....but as of right now my computer is out of commission. I guess I am just blessed that it wasn't my hard drive.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

30 days

Today is my first full day at the residency: The Constance Saltonstall Foundation for the Arts. I left almost immediately after I finished my summer program for my regular job. It was a whirlwind, really. And a lot of debriefing that needed to be done, but I couldn't really do because I was trying to pack and clean and get ready to uproot myself for 30 days.

I have no phone reception here. That can be either good or bad.

I've decided to not stress myself out on starting new things. But I am also not closing myself off on the possibility of something new. However, I've come to the conclusion that I need to really dedicate some time to revision, to re-visioning certain things: namely my two manuscrips of poetry...and I would like to see a more solid "draft" of my novel. So I will have my editorial hat on for the next thirty days.

Look for minor updates here and there.