This Assignment is So Gay, Plus Also Some Notes on Disease and Mortality and Parents

This post is supposed to be about the really exciting poetry anthology that was just released, in which I have three poems. And it will be. But not in any kind of straight line. We have a bit of a tangle to get through first.

It’s time to start teaching again soon. I’ve been working on my syllabus (in fact, I should be working on my syllabus right now), making sure that my calendar is in order, and generally preparing.

It hasn’t been an easy summer. I had such clear plans for myself this summer, and had begun to get into their rhythm, when both of my parents got serious, frightening health news within a few weeks of each other. My dad has Parkinson’s disease, and my mom, breast cancer.

My dad is on some medication that seems to be helping a lot, and my mom has since had surgery and is recovering very well and rapidly. Both diseases are in early stages, and, at least for the present, things look like they are going to be ok for both of them. But still. The experience sent me for a spin, in so many ways.

When I was little, I used to deal with the idea of death, and my parents’ death in particular, by deciding the only way death would be acceptable to me was if I lived to be very old and my parents lived to be extraordinarily old, and we all died on the same day.

Much has changed since then. My parents are no longer together, and I don’t live with either of them anyway. I don’t know, if such an odd situation as I described above came about, if it would be particularly soothing to me. Charlotte and I were at the beach recently with her family, and there was a piece of art on the wall in the master bedroom that said something like, if you live to be a hundred, I want to live to be a hundred minus one day, so I never have to live a day without you. We both agreed that this sentiment seemed a bit odd to us: are you wishing your partner to have a sad last day of life, since you just died? Isn’t it a little creepy to quantify your love and decide who gets to die first based on that?  But death, disease, and vulnerability of those I love, of myself, and of my parents, particularly, whose strength of body I have counted on without even knowing I was doing it, and whose vulnerabilities seem to point in a direct but unreadable line to my waiting, seemingly so healthy flesh– which I know so intimately and yet whose significant eventual weaknesses I do not, cannot know– well, these things still have the power to stymy me completely, to leave me dizzy and disoriented in a landscape of being for which I have no map.

One thing that kept happening, in the maelstrom of my reaction to all this, was that I would think with surprising dread about the school year coming up. “Why am I doing this?” I thought, meaning the program I am in, the classes I will teach, all of it, I guess. “Does it matter to anyone?” It just seemed, I have to tell you, like a lot of stress and work that might not actually be important things to do–for me, or for anybody.

So… I didn’t quit, or anything. I traveled to see my parents. I traveled to see my friends.  I read a bunch: some my disciplined school reading, which I clung to despite my (hopefully temporary) inability to do the kind of organizational work I need at this stage of the game, and some just for desire’s sake– my old childhood standbys, a book for a book club, new books by fiercely loved authors. Finally, I began to work on my syllabus for this coming semester. Ideas for how to structure my teaching popped into my head on the subway and receded as soon as I was in front of the computer. I wrestled. I played. I counted out days– enough time between one assignment and the next? Too much?

When I visited my mom before her surgery, I kept trying to get her to drink more water to prepare for the dehydration that would result. I’ve always been a thirsty person, so I felt this was an example I could easily set, something I actually understood in the wilds of surgical language, paperwork, preparation. “It’s a skill I have,” I said, a bit facetiously,  as we walked into my grandmother’s apartment building. “Being a pain in the neck?” my mom quipped. “Well, I’ve had a good role model,” I replied, and we laughed and laughed, something in the easy teasing breaking through the fear and tension that were pressing in otherwise. Later, I heard her talking on the phone about reality TV, making the exact same complaints I had made in a separate phone call, one she had not heard, to Charlotte. I thought about apples and trees.

When I visited my dad, we went out for dinner and he told me that he is coming to realize that he is not his brain, that the threat to his brain does not have to be a mortal threat to him, himself, in the reality of himself. He doesn’t know exactly what that means yet, but he believes it. And I believe him. He has promised that the cracking of everything you thought you know does not have to be the end of growth or wisdom. And I believe him. He got a big dessert and enjoyed every bite, and then he got lost looking for where we were going next, second guessing himself and wandering too far. I thought about apples and trees some more.

I have not fallen far, in many ways. I am so far, in others. I am not far in ways I cannot see, ways that are beyond the potential of body to fail, to suffer, to falter, ways that are about the spirit and the mind and the things that make me laugh.

So I came back from this, and I came back to my syllabus. (I know– we keep lurching back and forth, but this is how it has felt, so disjointed and everything so pressing). I was going through the mountains of paper my previous students had left me, and I found their words evaluating the course for me, bright, slippery, coated in salt and spice and drips of honey. One said a story we read pulled him in “like a fish.” One said she knew that one paper she wrote was her best, even though she didn’t get her best grade on it. Many said they loved our discussions best, getting to talk about things that mattered to them. I loved our discussions best, too. I always do. One said he fell asleep in them sometimes because they were boring, but admitted that maybe this would have improved if he had said something himself. They lied to me, I’m sure, occasionally, but they also told the truth. And the truth, in the balance, was that it seemed like we’d done something worth doing. That it was better, for at least a handful of them, to have taken this course than it would have been if they had not taken it.

I began to get excited about teaching again.

We lurch through these semesters, while our outside lives fray and tatter and come together and fall apart. We do it together. I think it’s hard to understand how fully we do it together, until you have been on both sides of the classroom, slipping the mantle of anxious authority on and off your shoulders, hoping for magic, for alchemy, for honesty, for connection, for five minutes together in which you all seem to want to be there, in which everyone is learning, although it’s rarely whatever the lesson plan had laid out for the day.

So there’s this anthology, and it’s full of all queer-teacher-poets, talking about teaching and queerness. And the premise, I think, is that what we say as queer teachers is significant precisely because of our identities, of the way we are situated in the world, even if we are not talking about sexuality at all. And the premise is also that teaching is something worth singing about, worth twisting words into beauty about. Worth the time it takes to do, and also worth the time it takes to write and read about.

And I realize, writing this, that this woven-together feeling that the book values and emphasizes, the idea that my queerness matters to my teaching and my teaching to my queerness, even if they seem separate– this is why I couldn’t just write a post that said, hey, y’all, I’m in a book! Or even something that was just about teaching and/or queerness, but rather I had to talk to you about what has really been going on.

I think in some ways that’s what this book celebrates. The “really” about all of us, and the way it may feel like a detraction, something that takes us away from the work we should be doing, something that distracts– when honestly, it is what makes us teachers. The “really” of our lives, beautiful, ugly, wicked, confusing, secret, thrilling– that’s the magic word. That’s what erupts in the classroom, every now and then, in the middle of the plodding and the oversleeping and the where-the-hell-is-the-worksheet-I-printed-out and the oh-the-paper-is-due-TODAY?, and suddenly we are somewhere holy. Suddenly we are somewhere true.

Here’s the link to the book’s website: http://www.thisassignmentissogay.com/home, and here’s the link to buy it from the publisher: http://siblingrivalrypress.bigcartel.com/product/this-assignment-is-so-gay-lgbtiq-poets-on-the-art-of-teaching

I hope you enjoy– this post, the book, your families, your lives, the remainder of the summer and the start of the school year. Thanks for reading!

Anniversary

I wrote this today during the composition class I teach.  The exercise was to tell the story of your morning, from when you got up to now.  Naturally, I ran out of time.  But I thought I’d share what I wrote, since I haven’t written here in so long.  No editing, no additions, though there’s more to the story and I dearly want to continue–but–in the spirit of the assignment– hot off the presses:

I can’t believe it’s time to get up.  It’s both too early and too late.  Too early because I’m so tired and too late because I’m still marking these essays.  I meant to get up earlier–or maybe stay up later–but now it’s just time to go.  It’s chilly, so I’ll need warmer clothes–do I even have warmer teaching clothes clean?  It was so hot this summer, I thought it would be that hot forever.

I find clothes and get out the door.  My metro card has run out of money.  It seemed to go on beyond the 30 days before, and I was secretly hoping that it was magic and would never run out again.  That turns out to be a false hope.  The turnstiles–well, the part that reads the cards–at my stop are dying some kind of slow death, and everyone just stands there swiping and swiping, hoping to get lucky and get in, which most of us finally do.

On the train, I focus on this one man sitting down.  He’s a tall white guy with a tattoo on his face–wearing camo pants and with a huge camo bag in front of him.  The tattoo makes wandering lines all across his nose and forehead–a mountain range, a bird, an insect?  No idea.  He seems out of it, staring a little, eyelids fluttering from time to time.  I am imagining dangers inside his bag, and I don’t like myself doing that.  When he gets off, I see he has had a large dog with him the whole time–where was it?  How did I not notice?

At my stop, it’s already warmer than it was before.  I head towards John Jay, thinking about class and what I will write in this assignment.  The bells at St. Paul’s are ringing.  I look at my watch, surprised.  It’s not yet 9 AM– why are the bells ringing?  Then I know why, and I stop on the sidewalk.  I put my hand to my chest, over my necklace.  I feel warm now.  I keep walking.

Guest Post: Anne E. Johnson on the Queer and Loving World of “Braids”

Anne E. Johnson is my guest today, speaking about how she conceived and crafted her story in Resilience.  Tomorrow is the big day– come and see Anne, James, Emma, Bill, Eric and me at Word Up from 3-5 PM!

My story, “Braids,” is meant as a literary experiment. When you read it, you’ll notice something unusual: All of the characters are gay. Male, female, kids, adults. All of them. I did this for two reasons.

First, I’m fascinated (to put it kindly) by the many people in the world who like to pretend that LGBT people don’t exist. They look around them and see a completely straight world. They watch TV shows, go to movies, and (maybe) read books that help them sustain this fallacy.

So “Braids” is kind of a counter-attack, a world where everyone is queer, yet nobody is ignoring them, bullying them, or afraid of them. They’re living their lives within the usual spectrum of love, loss, happiness, and pain, just like characters in a story in which everyone’s straight.

Second, I wanted a level playing field. I wanted the focal point not to be the characters’ queerness and people’s reaction to it, but how they see themselves. Nobody makes a big deal about anyone being gay. Nevertheless, everyone in the story has self-doubt. The point is that it’s hard to stay confident as you navigate through life, no matter what your sexuality.

Likewise, problems of self-image don’t evaporate just because we grow up. We do have to keep working on how we view ourselves, continually convincing ourselves of our own worth. The character Lateesha learns that as she and her mother both question their value, their looks, and their potential to succeed in life and relationships.

I’d say that the central message of “Braids” is that it doesn’t matter who you love; what counts is how well you love yourself.

[Please visit me at my website, AnneEJohnson.com]

Resilience Reading and Open Mic

We’re looking forward to seeing you tomorrow, but if you can’t make and/or are far away, here’s how to get Resilience: http://www.lulu.com/product/paperback/resilience-stories-poems-essays-words-for-lgbt-teens/18926125

Guest Post: Bill Elenbark on Running, Writing, and Resilience

Today I’m pleased to welcome fellow Resilience writer Bill Elenbark, with his thoughts on the piece he wrote for the book and his writing-journey through coming out.  Come see him and the rest of us at Word Up this Saturday from 3-5 PM!  Here’s Bill’s story:

My first class in graduate school for writing required a multi-genre piece featuring pictures or music or poetry interspersed with prose and I chose to write a story about my running career, such as it was at the time, inspired by a piece in Runners’ World and thinking that I had a story to tell about the way I hated running despite being an athlete all my life but how I came to love the sport after multiple knee injuries derailed all my other athletic involvements.  At the time I wrote this story, a band called Wolf Parade had a song called “You Are a Runner and I Am My Father’s Son” on their debut album and I thought that could be the backdrop for this story, the multi-genre interspersing of the lyrics of the song with the story of my first 5K race and my knee pain and how I’d gone from hate to love of the sport of running.  The song featured references to the singer’s father, though, which proved difficult to incorporate into my story, particularly since my father wasn’t a runner himself and our relationship through sports was often contentious.  I wasn’t prepared to reveal so much in my first class back in college and I certainly wasn’t ready to talk about my sexuality, not to strangers, so I largely glossed over the difficulties between my father and myself growing up and I didn’t mention that I was gay.  The story focused mainly on running and was adequate enough to garner praise from my professor.  But it felt incomplete.

A year later in a fiction class, I wanted to share a novel that I was working on at the time, a semi-autobiographical screed that really wasn’t very good but was highly personal, about a not-so-young man who’d hidden his sexuality all his life and the difficulties he’d faced in his quest to stay hidden.  I knew if I shared an excerpt of the novel the parallels between the narrator and the author would be easily seen and these strangers in school would know some of my truth, a truth at the time that remained largely hidden.  But the writing was too important to me not to share it, to have someone else read it – finally – and not some edited version like the runner story that failed to show any real truth.

On the day that my story was being work-shopped, another student’s work was shared, and by odd coincidence or some stroke of fate, his story also dealt with gay characters, gay high school students who were trying to stay hidden.  I freaked a bit when I read his story – cursing my luck that someone else would have the same theme – but I was comforted to know that I wouldn’t be alone.  It’s always tougher to believe you’re all alone.

When we got to class, the professor made a comment about the night having a “theme” and a few students laughed, uncomfortable laughs, while I sank down in my seat.  The other student’s story went first in the workshop and although I thought it was pretty good, the professor had some harsh words about the way he’d tried to trick the reader, the way he’d hidden the reveal that the characters were both male in an obvious way with neutral pronouns and choice phrases that she felt were cheap and unnecessary, a common device that needed to be removed to elevate his writing.  Then we took a break and while half the students left the room and I tried to brace for an evaluation of my story – fearing the worst – the professor called the other student up to her desk and asked him flat-out if he was gay.

I felt my head spin around and my eyes dart to hers – I couldn’t believe what she asked him.  And I wanted to hear his answer.  It hadn’t occurred to me that he might not be gay.  But he told her he wasn’t.  And she told him she didn’t think so, not with the way he was writing the characters, and that she has some close gay friends who would probably be a little offended by a straight male writing this way about these characters.  I don’t know what she meant exactly but she turned to me, still hiding in my seat, and said those fateful words no one had dared asked me straight out before:  “Bill – are you gay?”

I nodded.  She asked if his story offended me and I said it hadn’t and I’m not entirely certain why it would but he left the room and she maybe smiled at me but I tried not to look at her, or at anyone, for I’d just been outed for the first time in my life.  And it scared the shit out of me.

The class returned to hear my story.  We had to read the opening page or two and then the other students gave their opinions followed by the professor’s opinion while the author remained silent, not responding to any criticism but merely taking notes and taking it all in.  I don’t remember the other students’ comments, but none were really negative, and I don’t remember the professor’s comments, but hers were rather positive but I do remember the end of the class, this fear that I had, that all these strangers suddenly knew something about me that many of my closest friends still didn’t know.  I grabbed my bag and I waited, I didn’t want to walk out with any others, I needed to be alone.  But I didn’t time it right – the professor stopped me for a quick chat about nothing – and I ended up walking out with the other student whose story was read and another kid in the class, also male.  They complained about the professor and I joined in but they both said they liked my story and left it at that.  Then I think we talked about the Phillies.  They didn’t mention my sexuality, it didn’t matter to them.  And for the first time in my life, I started to realize maybe it didn’t have to matter so much to me.  I finished the rest of the semester without any comments from anyone about my sexuality and a semester later, a girl from that class befriended me and eventually shared her sexuality – coming out to me at a restaurant on campus, one of the first people she’d ever told.  She was a lot younger than me and assumed I’d been through all the horror of coming-out but we ended up becoming friends and going through it together.  Which never would have happened if I hadn’t shared that story in fiction class.

A couple years later, still in grad school (with a full-time job it took a long time for my writing degree) I decided to revise “You a Runner” for a memoir class my last semester at school.  All my friends knew about me by then – at least the ones at school and many of the ones from outside – and I decided to truly tell the story of my athletic career and its relation to my father and how our relationship was strained for so long until the moment I came out to him, and from then on we never fought again.  This was the story I wanted to tell, the story that mattered to me, the one about a difficult childhood and adolescence steeped in sports and my father’s belligerent coaching, the one in which I could never be myself, where I could only survive by staying hidden, but when I finally gathered the courage, after years and years of waiting, the act of being true to myself changed the love my father had for me in a positive way and for everyone else, it didn’t really matter, it didn’t have to mean everything.  So it does get better.  Sometimes it takes a long time.  In my life it took a hell of a long time.  But it does get better.  And at some point you forget why it all seemed to matter so much.

Resilience Reading and Open Mic

For more from Bill Elenbark, check out his website here: www.vaguespace.net.   And if you can’t come to the reading, you can still get Resilience here: http://www.lulu.com/product/paperback/resilience-stories-poems-essays-words-for-lgbt-teens/18926125

Ash Wednesday Thirteen Ways

Here is a poem I wrote today.  A present, for Lent, from me, to you.

Ash Wednesday Thirteen Ways

Anger the beginning

and end

of my observance.

 

In Granada, we caramelized

sugar in our spoons over

an open flame.  Took

what remained

on the underside and crossed

each other’s foreheads, laughing

laughing.

 

Someone is running

in the subway station

along the dangerous

caution yellow, like it’s

a track, singing.  I want

them to stop.

 

Today I notice especially

the Jewish men

with beards and hats

and yarmulkes.  The choice

they are making or

not-making

every day.

 

Behold, behold,

behold, behold—

to look, to take

in fingers, to put

in mouth, to swallow

to smear on face,

Oh Lord.  I am

beholden.

 

I have never trusted

a priest with

my whole heart,

not one.

 

The priest who marks me

is an old man, but looks

strong.  Remember you are

dust and to dust

you shall return.  He smiles

with great kindness, as though

this news is welcome, as though

it is what I have been waiting for.  And it is.

It is.

 

I present myself in ice,

hoping to be melted.

Someday the sun

will eat the earth, you know,

in its death pains.

In its growing.

 

Oh, what a fool

he is, to speak

of a small church, a pure

church.  There is no small-

and-pure, O papa,

there is only your flesh

and my flesh being one

flesh that is Christ’s flesh,

and isn’t that just

the worst?  Aren’t we just

fucked by it, you and I, doesn’t it

make you

laugh?

 

On television, the whales

are having the most beautiful

hunt I have ever seen.

It is a dance.

The whales circle,

and sing the herring

right into their mouths.

 

At church I often think

that people will shout at me,

attack.  Also on the street,

sometimes, on the subway,

at night, when the door to my

room is locked.

 

Jesus,

I want you

to love me enough

to leave me alone,

and to want me enough

to bother the hell

out of me.  I present you

with a note: Do you

like me?  Check yes

or no.  I spend my evening

smudged

and scribbling.

 

Dolphins throw themselves

into the air to say things,

and whales sing all

together.  I watch.

The ash on my forehead

itches.  Gladness comes.

Resilience is Here!

Here it is!  I’m so excited about this collection of writing for queer youth, and also excited about the project it benefits.  I always feel like it’s cheating to come all the way here just to give you a brief plug, so I’ll put it on top, and then I’ll tell you a story, so no matter what you are looking for (quick?  elaborate?) you can have it.   Here’s the link to buy the book:  http://www.lulu.com/product/paperback/resilience-stories-poems-essays-words-for-lgbt-teens/18821334, and here’s the link to the info about the book: http://betterbookproject.blogspot.com/.  It’s on sale (10% off) for the next two weeks, so get it hot off the presses and your pocketbook will thank you.  I also hope your brain, heart, soul, skin, etc, will all thank you too.  Certainly the Make it Safer project and all the other authors and the editor and I will thank you!

I really, really hope you like it.  And if you are a teacher or a young person yourself, I would love to hear what you think about it as a gift to young folks, since that is what it is intended to be.  I know the poem I wrote is very grounded, not only in my experience as a teen and young adult (am I still a young adult?  I must be on a similar threshold as when I was about 16 or 17 and started thinking, “Am I an adult now?  I might be.  I’m definitely closer to being an adult than I was… I think I might be an adult!!”), but specifically in the way of engaging with and viewing that world that helped give me some of the resilience I found throughout that time.  My dad always gave me fairy tales, along with interpretation, from Clarissa Pinkola Estes’ book, Women Who Run With the Wolves.  I would sit on his couch, in his basement apartment, and he would sit in his chair, and read to me from the book, and we would talk about it.

I think this is one of many things that gave me the feeling that I could slip on mythic stories like a second skin, and look around and see what I found while wearing them.

And what I found?  Well, I promised you a story.  I’ve been thinking a lot, with the advent of this collection, about myself as a teenager– in what ways I was resilient, in what ways I was queer.  Not necessarily the ordinary ways, I think, if there are ordinary ways to be these things.  I liked boys– and just boys, or at least that’s what I thought.  And I thought about it, carefully.  I thought about the girls in class I found the prettiest, and I compared my feelings for them to feelings for the boys I found the prettiest, and I decided these were qualitatively different, and therefore I was straight.  What’s interesting is that I still find my attractions to different genders qualitatively different, in some ways, from each other– I just no longer think that makes me straight.  Also, through unfortunate happenstance (as I thought then) and/or some kind of internal protective design (as I partially suspect now), I did not really get to test these feelings on the level of flesh and blood.

But then there was the world of story, of books I read and pages I wrote, with absolute erotic attention, whether I was dealing with sex or not.

A trajectory, then, of my queer journey through books and writing.  I’m going to tell you some of my secrets:

The first sex scene I wrote was implied, in a play, between a male human and a fairy woman.

The first explicit scene I wrote was in prose, between a male bird creature and a human woman.  The language of this scene borrowed heavily from A House Like a Lotus by Madeleine L’Engle, the book to which I lost my readerly virginity.

Somewhere in this time (maybe I was fourteen now, or fifteen?) I discovered two of my intense readerly crushes: Lucius Cornelius Sulla as portrayed in Colleen McCullough’s Masters of Rome series, and Anne Rice’s Vampire Lestat.  They were violent, beautiful, rampantly bisexual men.  I was rapt with attention for sex between men.  I thought this might be kind of strange.  I analyzed it.   I did not talk about it.  I thought maybe it was that I could thus imagine what I wanted without being implicated directly, in the flesh, in the act.  I thought there was something queer about it, for sure.

I read more.  Tales of the City by Armistead Maupin and Kiss of the Fur Queen by Tomson Highway.  My economics teacher, who was rumored himself to be gay, and then to be straight, and then to be gay again, out of nebulous unfounded evidence, paused to look at the covers.  He’d read Tales but found it too soap opera-ish.  He wanted to borrow Fur Queen.  I thought to myself: Was he trying to tell me something?  Were we entering in to some kind of agreement of mutual recognition?

I haunted the gay and lesbian section of Borders.  That’s where I got my Tales, and where I looked at all the other books.  I wondered if someone would see me there.  I– this I still find queer and fascinating– I wouldn’t buy Annie on my Mind, though I looked at it, time after time, curious.  There was something about standing in the checkout line with that one that stymied me.

I began writing a saga about Pilate.  Yeah, that Pilate, the one from the Bible.  Most of what I actually wrote centered around his intense adolescent affair with his male tutor, a Greek (duh) fellow named Claudius (not so Greek-sounding, really) who resented his subservient position and eventually betrayed his youthful lover, despite his genuine feelings for the lad.  This was a problem, especially as both of Pilate’s parents were fairly sadistic and nuts, in very different ways.  I sound flippant now– but I’m protecting myself.  I can still feel what it was like to write them tumbling to the library floor.

And somewhere in there, I got out of high school.

I’m not actually sure I’ve changed much, and yet I know that I’ve changed a great deal.  I hope you like my secrets, and that you see in them, as I do, both queerness and resilience, which I was only beginning to come into then, and which I am still coming into now.

Now, please go buy the book, and, if you feel like it, leave me a comment with your own secret of resilience or queerness.  It doesn’t matter how old you are or who you actually like to have sex with.  I think maybe we all have them.

It's gonna be even more exciting to hold in your hands and read!

Resilience Galleys for your viewing pleasure

 

 

Resilience: Coming January 24th (so don’t give up yet!)

Resilience Galleys for your viewing pleasure

So, after the It Gets Better project started, I spent some time imagining the video I would make for it.  I thought about it as I was walking to work in New Jersey.  It was a bit of a long walk, and involved a short cut through this sort of overgrown parking lot, where there were lots of tall grasses and Queen Anne’s Lace growing over everything.  I always liked this part of the walk.  It was like a pause in the regular progress of the day and my mind.

I’d been thinking about It Gets Better, and thinking about how I wanted to say that it mattered that people stay alive, even if they don’t go on to have awesome careers and financial stability or a terrific love life according to legible social standards, or… anything, in particular.  I wanted to say that queer young people and everyone else are needed for reasons deeper and more mysterious than this, and also more fundamental.  I paused among all the grasses and flowers, and it occurred to me that what I wanted to say was that people are needed to see the world in the exact way that only they can see it.  It felt important, right then, that I was there looking at the life all around me, even though there would be no tangible consequence of this, probably, even though I wouldn’t describe myself at a “grass and flower and bug looker ater” when people asked me what I do.  What I thought right then is that you never know when it is that you are seeing the world as only you can see it, participating in it, in that particular moment, as only you can.  Seeing bugs and smelling flowers as they need to be seen and smelled.

I never made the video, but a little bit after that I found a call for submissions for a collection of words, stories, poems, and essays aimed at queer youth.  It was due the next day, so I sat down and wrote a poem.  I called it “To A Young Person Who Has Not Yet Realized She is Embarking on a Fairy Tale.”

So, my other response, and then one I actually put into the world, about this whole queer youth support thing, is full of fairy tale imagery and mythical frameworking.  I wonder how it relates to my first idea.  I would like them to be the same, somehow.  The grand quest and the moment of seeing in an overgrown parking lot.  God knows I love them both.

I submitted my poem, and it was accepted, and now there is a whole beautiful book, including my poem and many other poems and stories and essays and words,  called Resilience, coming out January 24th.

The money from the book is going to a project called the Make it Safe project, which provides LGBT themed books, fiction and non-fiction to schools and shelters that may not have any material representing queer folks.

I hope you all will buy the book, read it, love it, support the various projects implicated in it, and live your lives like you’re in a fairy tale and the invisible moments of looking might matter most of all.

Here’s where you can find the book:

http://betterbookproject.blogspot.com/

Also on facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/ResilienceBook and twitter:  https://twitter.com/ResilienceBook

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