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Mix-Tape IV: On Sympathetic Werewolves, Transformations & Tampa

Last year, I wrote about the challenges of trying to have meaningful conversations in such a public, frantic-paced space like AWP. This year, I’m looking forward to my time in Tampa as it affords me a chance to connect with poets and writers whom I’d otherwise not see, strengthening bonds with old friends and making new connections.

All the same, I know how nerve-racking it can be to suddenly find yourself immersed in a place with thousands and thousands of other writers. I understand how anxious one can become in trying to navigate the many panels, readings and signings. Barrelhouse has tweeted some fantastic advice on general Do’s & Don’ts, while I still believe in the two golden rules— or rather, questions to ask yourself— the same ones I’d written about last year: (1) How available are you willing to be? (2) With whom do you really want to connect?

I myself identify as a “shy extrovert,” meaning that I spend a lot of time in my own head, but really do like meeting new people and having the chance to connect. So if you see me wandering about and you only know me from this space alone, don’t be afraid to say hola, shalom, or whatever greeting you’d like.

I’m not quite sure if it’s the odd weather this winter in New York City (today, for example, we had a  blow our umbrellas out as snow, sleet and rain seemed to fall simultaneously with grace notes of hail), but I’ve been so immersed in my new reading that I’ve missed my subway stop more often than usual. I bookmarked the poems and pieces that are responsible for this; I’m hoping you’ve already seen these, but in case you haven’t, here is my list:

Over at The Shallow Ends, Destiny O. Birdsong has an incredible poem “Ode to my Penis” in which the speaker proposes:

if there’s // a right way //

to stroke raw honey from the lioness’s

mouth // you stumble // but find it

every time // palm // grazing

her grizzle // how the swarm

quiets // for a moment //

In the latest issue of BOAAT, Justin Phillip Reeds opens his poem, “Every Cell in This Country Looks  like a Choice You Can Walk in and out of”, with this question: “Does a man with no intentions know he means/you only harm?” This poem is a must-read for all the places you don’t expect it to go.

The entire March issue of Glass is a gem, including Hanif Abdurraqib’s “I Would Ask You To Reconsider The Idea That Things Are As Bad As They’ve Ever Been” and Shuly Xóchitl Cawood’s “Trouble Can Be So Beautiful at the Beginning.” Teaching these two poems together would be a fantastic way to explore the themes of transformation and expectations.

I love this review of David Shyovitz’s A Remembrance of His Wonders by Dana Fishkin in Marginalia in which Shyovitz establishes in Medieval Ashkenazi culture “that Jews and Christians similarly found validity in the natural world and human body as sources of divine truths.” Also: a brief discussion of “sympathetic werewolves… whose human essence remains stable despite the physical changes he or she may experience.”

Read Tyler Tsay’s heart-wrenching “Substitutes For ‘Before My Father Was Diagnosed With Cancer,’” which begins with a striking punch to the senses:

they pushed a man
into me
when all
i wanted
was the sun
to rise

Check out this interview with André Aciman on the Film Adaptation of ‘Call Me By Your Name’ over at Lambda Literary.

Here are some poets to follow on Twitter:

Tyree Daye (@DayeTyree)

Omar Sakr (@OmarjSakr)

C. T. Salazar (@CTsalazar)

& check out their respective recent work in:

The New York Times


Matador Review