A few exciting updates:

  • My collection of poems entitled “Short-Shorts” was named a semi-finalist in the Gazing Grain Press Feminist Poetry Chapbook contest. I’d been feeling insecure about the work–it’s the most unusual thing I’ve ever written–but now that the collection of prose poems/flash nonfiction (or whatever you want to call it) has been honored in this way, I’m excited to keep sending it out. More information on the winners and the Press here.
  • I’ve become a contributor to the Washington City Paper. You can read my latest book review, about a former Washington Post reporter who covered D.C.’s crack epidemic while himself addicted to crack. This review is probably the first and last time I’ll ever get paid for a piece containing the words “blow job” (you’ll have to read the whole thing to find that), but an excerpt is below:

A new memoir by former WashingtonPost reporter Ruben Castaneda replays some of the lowest points in D.C.’s recent history: a time in the 1990s when cops couldn’t seem to do anything about gun violence, when drug-related turf wars led to scores of innocent victims and intimidation killings of witnesses, when my neighborhood of Edgewood was known as “Little Beirut,” and when some children in particularly stricken neighborhoods avoided gunfire by sleeping on mattresses on the floor.

Expect more from me in the City Paper over the next couple of months, and hopefully I’ll have more good news to share on the essay/poem front.

xo,

TP

That whole “shit X people say” meme trend has come and gone, but I just found some hand-written notes I must have written at some point in 2012 when I was still living in Crown Heights, Brooklyn.

Here’s my own attempt at “Shit People in Crown Heights Say:”

  • “Goddamn it car alarms”
  • “I love you Queens but the G train is just not a real train”
  • “You’re in the Bronx? Uh, I just assumed the Brooklyn Botanical Garden”
  • “Take the 3 to the S to the B/Q” (a la this SNL skit about Los Angeles freeways!)
  • “I’ll just double park on Bedford Ave. while you run in”
  • “Fucking dog shit everywhere when it snows”
  • “Are you really eating a fish sandwich on the B44 bus?”
  • “No free Jehovah’s Witness bible, thanks though”
  • “Are you Jewish?” “Yes, but no thanks”
  • “I’ll take four doubles with extra tamarind sauce”
  • “Our mouse lives behind the stove”
  • “Do you use T-Mobile or Metro PCS?”

Not even sure these are relevant anymore as the neighborhood has fully gentrified, as evidenced by the presence of a STARBUCKS.

come celebrate
with me that everyday
something has tried to kill me
and has failed

Lucille Clifton, 1936-2010

I heard this quote last night during a performance by Carlos Parada Ayala at this amazing event. Thank you, thank you, thank you.

A Facebook friend who’d moved to the U.S. from St. Petersburg in his thirties recently posted a frustrated status update in which he complained about a younger writer. This writer had immigrated from Russia as a child, and now wrote an overwrought (in my friend’s opinion) essay about her conflicted identity. His basic point was that since she’d grown up in America, she was essentially American. Her memories of the old country were childish and vague or, perhaps, even second-hand, based on photographs and stories. Not only did she speak English without an accent, she was more comfortable expressing herself in English than in her first language. The only experience of adulthood she’d had was an American experience. Most importantly, Americans didn’t perceive her as “other.” Because of this, my friend said, her identity issues, if not entirely made up for the sake of her readers, were greatly exaggerated. She didn’t face the daily oppression of being treated like a foreigner, of having to distinguish herself from a stereotype that rose like a wall in people’s minds whenever they heard accented speech. She didn’t experience the difficulty of navigating around cultural knowledge gaps that persisted in older immigrants long after they mastered the vernacular of everyday life. So why, my friend wondered, why was she being such drama queen about the difficulty of her bifurcated identity? My friend found it unseemly. Nabokov, he argued, had never made a peep about his identity troubles.

Above quote from Anya Ulinich, in her introduction to Karolina Waclawiak’s novel How to Get Into the Twin Palms (bolding my own).

If her friend is right, I guess I should just stop writing. All my stuff is about complicated identities, but as an American-born daughter of Soviet immigrants, I suppose I have no real reasons to feel such complications. LOL.

the unbearable lightness of being
the unbearable lite-ness of being
the unbearable blightness of being
the unbearable nice™ness of being
the unbearable “like”ness of being

From a recent essay by translator Sean Cotter, about translator-wonder Michael Heim. Heim passed away in 2012 (I wrote an obituary here), and Cotter and others are putting together a book about his life. Can’t wait to read it.

DC is supposedly the country’s #1 gay mecca, yet 4 gay bars closed in the city in the last year alone. Wondering what’s going on? Me too.

The header from the June issue of Washington City Paper

I wrote about it for the Washington City Paper and their annual gay-themed issue (banner above). Read the full article here.

I like this very much, this being a new poem called “Trance Notebook #15″ from Wayne Koestenbaum. An excerpt:

__________
“Sempre libera” backwards

like Paul McCartney’s death

revealed by playing

“Revolution 9” backwards—
__________
who taught

me that trick?
__________
rescued or adopted by

a queer on Mission

Street in pursuit of

his perfect éclair,

his Patricia Neal

impersonation
__________

Part of the PEN Poetry Series, which publishes work by emerging and established writers once a week.

__________

despite the taboo against
cannibalism

__________

              it depends
what fish are used
in the gefilte fish—

__________

             death’s
interpreter, I’m
a fat man leaning on
the same bannister
Kafka’s uptight
virile father
leaned on

__________

                if he’s so famous
why do I need to ask
this question?

__________

the answer is Pink Floyd

__________

- See more at: http://www.pen.org/poetry/trance-notebook-15#sthash.QnGtqn2v.dpuf

__________

despite the taboo against
cannibalism

__________

              it depends
what fish are used
in the gefilte fish—

__________

             death’s
interpreter, I’m
a fat man leaning on
the same bannister
Kafka’s uptight
virile father
leaned on

__________

                if he’s so famous
why do I need to ask
this question?

__________

the answer is Pink Floyd

__________

- See more at: http://www.pen.org/poetry/trance-notebook-15#sthash.QnGtqn2v.dpuf

__________

despite the taboo against
cannibalism

__________

              it depends
what fish are used
in the gefilte fish—

__________

             death’s
interpreter, I’m
a fat man leaning on
the same bannister
Kafka’s uptight
virile father
leaned on

__________

                if he’s so famous
why do I need to ask
this question?

__________

the answer is Pink Floyd

__________

- See more at: http://www.pen.org/poetry/trance-notebook-15#sthash.QnGtqn2v.dpuf

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