happy 2015
January 1, 2015

‘Twas the night before New Year’s, when all through the house

Not a creature was sober, not even a mouse;

The streamers were hung from the ceiling with care,

In preparation for guests who soon would be there;

The champagne was nestled all snug on its ice;

While countdowns and make-outs began to seem nice;

And bae in her bow tie, and I in my vest,

Had just begun pregaming the long winter’s fest,

When out on the street there arose such a clatter,

I sprang from the couch to see what was the matter.

Away to the side door I drunkenly tripped,

Stepped out in the snow and tried not to slip.

The moon on the trash heaps and gutters of slush

Made me pause, the wind whipping, my face growing flush,

When what to my wondering eyes did appear,

But a huge group of queermos all carrying beer,

With a swaggering leader, her style all the rage,

I knew in a moment she must be Ellen Page.

Flyer than eagles  her wingwomen they came,

And she whistled, and shouted, and called them by name:

“Hey, Kristen! now, Portia! now Ellen and Vixen!

On, Laverne! on, Riese! on, Samira and Blitzen!

To the top of the porch! to the end of the hall!

Now drink away! sing away! dance away all!”

So up to the porch the roller girls they flew

With bags full of whiskey, and rainbow cake too—

As I drew in my head, and was turning around,

Into the house Ellen Page came with a bound.

In her best Tomboy snapback, her cheeks all aglow,

her clothes were all dusted with glitter and snow;

She flipped up the collar of her frayed denim vest,

And her Canadian flannel out-gayed all the rest.

Her eyes—how they smoldered! her smirk was so dreamy!

The holes in her jeans made us all a bit steamy!

Her eyeliner game was as always mad strong,

And her skinny tie proved that she could do no wrong;

With effortless cool, she opened a beer with her teeth

when I noticed the mistletoe she was dancing beneath;

I sidled up towards her, with no ounce of stealth,

And I blushed when she smiled, in spite of myself;

A wink of her eye and a touch of her hand

were all that it took; I could barely stand;

She spoke not a word, but started dancing with me,

Robyn playing in the background, as gay as could be.

And laying her hand on the side of my face,

she kissed me, then turned with queerest of grace;

She slipped on her blazer, gave her posse a call,

And away they all ran to Times Square and the ball.

And I heard her exclaim, as she danced out of sight—

“Happy New Year to all, and to all a gay night!”

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summer canon
July 15, 2014

When it reaches 100ºF in the afternoon and the only activity that is both free and not sweat-inducing is taking the bus to the public library, it makes sense that one would spend most of the summer reading in the safety of air conditioned rooms. This is exactly what I have been doing. Despite my lack of recent posts, I have been writing, too, though I am hoarding away my new poems until I have made it past the usual all-my-writing-is-terrible phase of the revision process. In lieu, then, of posting anything original, I am very lazily offering up a list of the things I have read this summer so far. I would highly recommend all of them. 

by Anne Carson:  

Glass, Irony and God 
If Not, Winter: Fragments of Sappho
Antigonick
Autobiography of Red 

by Jeanette Winterson:

Art Objects
Why Be Happy When You Could Be Normal? 

by Virginia Woolf:

A Room of One’s Own
Mrs. Dalloway

On my desk is also Judith Butler’s Excitable Speech: A Politics of the Performative, which I have been reading only a few pages at a time when I’m in the mood for theory, and I also have a daunting stack of Derrida that I checked out last week in a moment of extreme readerly optimism. I will in all likelihood read 20-30 pages of a random chapter of Writing and Difference before losing my scholarly resolve and switching back to fiction. Woolf’s Orlando and To The Lighthouse are piled underneath Derrida’s essay collections, and they look inviting. In the course of writing this post, I have also put two of Winterson’s novels, The Passion and Written on the Body, on hold through the magic that is online cataloging. Give a bibliophile a library card…  

from Why Be Happy When You Could Be Normal?:  

“I picked up my pile of books for shelving. The library was quiet. It was busy but it was quiet and I thought it must be like this in a monastery where you had company and sympathy but your thoughts were your own. I looked up at the enormous stained-glass window and the beautiful oak staircase. I loved that building.

The librarian was explaining the benefits of the Dewey decimal system to her junior – benefits that extended to every area of life. It was orderly, like the universe. It had logic. It was dependable. Using it allowed a kind of moral uplift, as one’s own chaos was also brought under control.

‘Whenever I am troubled,’ said the librarian, ‘I think about the Dewey decimal system.’

‘Then what happens?’ asked the junior, rather overawed.

‘Then I understand that trouble is just something that has been filed in the wrong place.’”

Andrea Gibson and Slam Poetry
April 13, 2011

In case you didn’t know, we are currently in the midst of National Poetry Month.  On my own college campus, this has come to be overshadowed by the fact that it is also Carleton’s Pride Month, and though there is no shortage of poetry-related events on campus, the Gender and Sexuality Center is proving to be tough competition in the struggle for student support and recognition.

An event that I recently attended was in the spirit of both things we at Carleton are honoring this April.  Andrea Gibson, an internationally acclaimed slam poet, performed at the Cave, Carleton’s own student-run pub.  The place was packed.  Standing-room-only packed.  People-listened-from-outside packed.  You get the picture.  I suppose that when you tell a campus full of LGBTQ/poetry enthused/politically concerned students that the 2008 winner of the women’s world poetry slam is coming to campus and that her work deals with themes that “deconstruct gender norms, sexuality, class, patriarchy, and white supremest capitalist culture,” you can expect that the hearts of many students on campus will skip several beats from the sheer prospect of the joy they know will accompany her performance.  (Here‘s her bio, in case that quote sparked your interest.)

The hype is well-deserved.  Of all the events I have been to during my time in college, Gibson’s slam performance is my favorite, without question (I say this as both a poet and a budding member of the LGBTQ community).  Her poems were shockingly personal, a way of approaching poetry that I have yet to master/give in to, and as you would expect from a professional poet, her willingness to reveal to us her deepest emotions and private experiences is moving, inspiring, so many other -ings that I need not list.  But instead of asking you to take my word for it, I’ll let Andrea speak for herself:

She says that “A doctor once told me I feel too much,” and her feeling is contagious.  When she smiled as she spoke certain words, I wanted to laugh, and when she held her hands out to the audience and seemed to cry and beg for us to listen, I listened hard, with my whole being.

It’s poetry like hers that makes me want to write poetry – to write it better and read it louder.  My own poetry seems feeble next to hers, or perhaps just meeker and self-aware and quiet, so I hope that in exposing whatever readership I might have to Gibson’s work, I haven’t lost you all to her words.

And you can look forward to another post about famous slam poets in the near future.  Tomorrow, Anis Mojgani and Derrick Brown will be performing on campus, and I have high expectations…