Writers for Migrant Justice

I know, I know, it's been far too long since I've updated this blog. I'm guilty.

Summer wasn't even incredibly busy, so I don't have a great excuse other than the fact that sometimes I just don't have a whole lot to share in terms of my writing progress. That's not even true. During the summer, I completed a brand new poetry manuscript (Benzene Benedictions), found a publisher for my collaborative project (yay!), presented at Gemini Ink, and taught a poetic analysis class for the first time. It was a good summer overall--a little stressful because B was furloughed from his work, but he's since found a new job, so we're found a new sort of normal. His new job is in Beaumont, so we're waiting for our lease to finish, and once that does come the new year, I hope we're moved to Beaumont so we can both ditch this nasty commute from Houston (but damn, I really love Houston's poetry scene!).

The fall semester has begun, and it's off to a fine start. I'm teaching my first graduate poetry workshop on Wednesday evenings. I'm also teaching a survey of American lit course for our general ed students. I like both classes for different reasons. So begins my third year at Lamar on the tenure- track.

So, this last week, I actually came out of my hermitage for two separate events. On Wednesday, I read at the Writers for Migrant Justice event at the Holocaust Museum of Houston. Wow! Just, wow. What an event this was! There were over forty readers and at least twice that in audience members, which made for a very full house. It was wonderful to see everyone come together in support of this vital cause of our time--the unlawful detention of migrants (especially migrant families) at the southern border. Being from the Rio Grande Valley in such close proximity to the border, I grew up around immigrants and immigrant families. I've taught them in schools, both k-12 and at the university. So many of them are my friends. Even my family. So this injustice hits close to home for me. Here in Houston, it was wonderful to see so many writers telling truth to power and using poetry as a tool for resistance. My own poem was about how we, as Houstonians, understand what it feels like to have to flee your home, in fear of your life from a hurricane, so it asked why can't we extend that empathy to the families at the southern border who, too, flee a different kind of monster? That's one of my methods for writing so-called "political" poetry and poetry of witness--it feels cheap to appropriate the tragedy of others, but if you can find a way that you, personally, intersect with it, that's the place to start. So that's where I began. Other poems were angry. Others more meditative. Some read nature poems. Some read slam poems. Others read stories. Some even read essays. It was good. It was cleansing. It was exactly what I needed to feel empowered to speak up. Daniel Pena, one of the event organizers and an amazing writer in his own right, opened the reading with a discussion about how words, how poetry, inspires others to stand up for what's right, to speak out, and that's what we were doing together that evening. We also raised money and had a silent auction of signed books. It was wonderful, and I was honored to have played a small part in the evening.

Then, yesterday, I went to a Public Poetry reading at the Bracewell Library in south Houston. It was the perfect way to spend the afternoon! The featured poets were Matty Glasgow, Choonwha Moon, and Dulcie Veluthukaran. What great talent we have in Houston! Matty read eco-poetry that intermixed queer issues into environmental landscapes. Choonwha read an incredibly powerful poem about overcoming depression. Dulcie's poetry was kind of a mix between spoken word and page poetry that interrogated gender violence and the immigrant experience. All were fantastic. I read a poem at the open mic, and even the open mic was all really good quality poetry. I am really going to miss living in such close proximity to wonderful, diverse poetry. Kudos to Fran Sanders for all her work in putting together a fantastic reading series.

Afterwards, B, who was such a trooper, found a German beer garden nearby, and of course we had to spend the rest of the afternoon there together. That night, we fired up the grill. It was a pretty damn near perfect Saturday. I can't recall a better one in a long, long time.

Anywho. That's what I've been up to lately. I'm trying to get back into the groove of writing by following along with my students' writing assignments with them. It's never easy to do, but I'm doing my best. Life right now is pretty good.

I'll come back and update more often...err... or at least I'll try :)