The Anatomy of a Poet




  • These divisions sometimes prove useful, but are more often used as a distraction, a byproduct of what I like to call The Flattening. Under capitalism, the mechanism that birthed genre and continues to uphold it as a marketing tool, we are encouraged to undergo a flattening of every aspect of our lives: to make flat the body, to drive dull the senses, to lay still the spirit, to wipe blank the mind. Genre is a flattening of literary expression, yes, but it is also a diminishment of the vastness of language: to Aristotle, and to many others in the West, if language does not fit into these arbitrary categories, then it has no right to exist at all. (View Highlight)
  • poetry is not defined by words alone but by the poet’s relationship to language. “Writers are obliged, at some point, to realize they are involved in a language which they must change,” writer and poet James Baldwin once said.&text=He%20begins%2C%20as%20all%20writers,which%20he%20has%20to%20change.) in 1979. “And for a Black writer in this country to be born into the English language is to realize the assumptions on which the language operates are his enemy.” Poetry destroys language, undoes it completely. Places the unchanging, unforgiving rigor of English under a hot sun until stone melts away to reveal a liquid softness that is warm to the touch. A poem splits language wide open. (View Highlight)
  • This usually requires a demonization of things considered more feminine: sensitivity, care, emotions, and by doing so we gaslight someone’s own intuition, and self-knowledge, to make them question themselves at the very foundation of their being. The violence done is so innocuous, what’s left is just an unsettling feeling, like the remnants of an invisible hand on one’s throat.” This hand on my throat––that bastardized my earnestness, turned my softness into lead––was invisible, was another’s, and was my own. (View Highlight)
  • To write for profit in America is to entertain the false narrative that culture can’t be politics and politics can’t be art and poetry can’t be fiction and fiction can’t be culture. It requires an embrace of genre as a legitimate rubric, as a numbing machine for the masses. Poetry, meanwhile, cannot be distinguished by structure, form, or sound. It is instead defined by mission. “The white fathers told us: I think, therefore I am,” wrote Lorde. “The Black mother within each of us - the poet - whispers: I feel, therefore I can be free.” (View Highlight)
  • To me writing is contemplatively physical: I am pacing, I am humming, I tap my fingers on cool wood, and I put pen to page. Every sentence is a poem when you breathe deep enough. If my chest is full, my work is done. (View Highlight)
  • “all my friends are artists. Making art is our destiny.” I keep this print close to remind myself that even though I paint with words, I am making art, I am making poetry, because I want to write things that make people feel, that make their chest full, that undoes the Flattening we’ve been forced to accept as inevitable. The truth is, I could never publish the type of things I write here in a real magazine; no one would pay me for it, because it doesn’t fit into “genre.” Because it prioritizes feeling over form. Because there is no logic to the words on this page, and I never know the truth until I’ve written it down. And yet this work, this poetry, sustains me. May we make art that feels true even if people cringe. May bad poems be louder than silence. (View Highlight)