Last week, for the entire week, I was at The Home School Claremont 2017, writing and workshopping my poems with poets from all over the country. It was exhausting. Each night, I stayed up late to generate a new poem for workshop the next day. I hardly slept, and didn’t eat too well. I got sick at the end of the week. In between it all, though, I developed a new side of my poetics. I’m truly proud of all the poems I generated. The prompts assigned took me away from the patterns and styles that I’m use to. This week proved to be a big risk.
The biggest risk I took was opening up to my student group about my Obsessive-compulsive disorder, teaching faculty included. Teaching faculty was deep: Carmen Giménez Smith, Brandon Som, Adam Fitzgerald, Robin Coste Lewis, and Dawn Lundy Martin. I didn’t get to work with Eileen Myles and Solmaz Sharif. I prepared myself well before I got to the workshop. I knew it would be a predominantly white space, and that I would need to summon a lot of fearlessness to make this week a success. So, I gave myself space to open up, and for the first time ever, drafted a thoughtful poem about my disorder.
I understand this isn’t so much an essay, but it’s a moment I’m excited, a bit nervous, to share with you. I attempted to write a poem about my OCD early in the week. But it wasn’t ready. Not until the last day when I was to research a bodily function and write a poem about the body without mentioning the research. I ended up writing a poem about Trump.
OCD is repetitive, body-claiming, so much that at times I feel like I don’t belong to myself anymore. All last year, this was heightened because of Trump’s rhetoric and the expansive images and videos of him blasted everywhere. My obsessions, sexual and otherwise, became all about him. The thing with these obsessions is that they’re unprompted, moreover, unwanted. So what I did on the last day of the workshop was write a poem reclaiming my space, my body. I wrote a poem about giving myself over sexually to Trump to illustrate how helpless and bodiless I’ve felt the last year. More so, how he claimed so much of my space. This was inspired in large part by the brilliant human being Giovannie’s piece, which you can check out by clicking here. The attention that my mind and body had to give Trump, and sometimes still do, was sickening. The poem was met with big eyes and dropped jaws. It was an amazing moment. Truly a difficult poem to read, but necessary on so many levels. I was inspired by the reception. Great feedback followed. The poem became political too. Fuck Trump, though I never used such language in the poem to offer that.
I can’t wait for you to read it. Hopefully, in a magazine soon.
I’m moving forward this week with a newfound fearlessness and belief in myself as a young poet. I’m doing the damn thing, and doing it my way. Also, Fuck Trump, always.