A new poem on the longing to write more poems.Read More
Even though I already have 1 million things to do, I am so excited about this new project. Almost exactly, 1 month from today, I will be coming out with my first collection of poetry in over 10 years!
I got a call today from someone I met last Friday at the poetry event for YellowJacket Press. He has his own independent local press and is hosting an event next month. One of the featured poets is not going to be able to make it and so he thought of me. Part of the deal is they will publish my book!
I have never been a writer seeking publication; my craft is performance. But I have thought in the past few years that it would be good to get some of my work out there on paper, that it would help expose my words to more readers. I just don't take the initiative. I've even had the editors of an literary magazines, upon hearing me recite somewhere (no doubt at a YellowJacket Press event) request me to submit work to their magazines. Have I, ever? NO.
So I take this opportunity as a divine request to get my literary ass in gear and put some work on paper. I write because I want to share and as much as I talk about how we need to share at open mic, blah, blah, blah, I need not to be myopic in my sharing. Yes, poetry is powerful when read out loud, but it can be just as powerful in the hands of another while they ponder your words in the silence of their heart. I see now that I need not to deny my words their power.
One day while I was working at Sam Ash, many years ago, a guy came in to buy some things and we got to talking. He told me about this open mic near USF at what used to be Holiday Cafe. That guy probably has no idea that tip changed my life forever.
I started attending this regular Sunday night open mic and met my first poetry mentor, Charles Kory. Charles was in his first few years at USF and had graduated from the creative writing program at Blake High School. Having listened to my poems for a few weeks, he said to me, "You know, you should go to Blake." I was already in my sophomore year at my neighborhood high school, but he told me that I can still get in my remaining years. So I took his advise and applied, a few months later I got accepted.
My last two years of high school, I studied poetry with the teacher there, Gianna Russo. Gianna has been a staple of the poetry scene in Tampa for probably longer than I have been alive. She helped me to write more, to write better, to help others become better writers through workshops. She took us to the Writer's Conference and guided us in the creation of chapbooks (small collections of poetry) our senior year. My life was ever changed by those two years with her. I understood how the application of techniques to my self-expression created well-crafted poems, which often contained more truth than I was even aware of. It was through this process of creation that I felt a connection to something deeper. I would say in a small way, I felt like a mystic. Gianna was my experienced guide through these inner realms; she gave me the map to the intersection of my individual and the collective unconscious. She may not see herself this way, but for me, she was a shaman.
Lucky for me, our relationship continued after high school. Almost 10 years later, I am a longstanding board member in her non-profit
. YJP publishes new chapbooks by Florida poets every year through two annual contests as well as hosts some of the best poetry events in Tampa.
Though Gianna admirably hands credit over to her poets and students for their part in their creative work, but I will state right here that our love for our craft is no doubt infused with her belief in us. Though Gianna is not officially in the role of teacher for me, she still teaches me about community, dedication, and love of the arts. It is because of her the I KNOW that poetry can make the world a better place because I experience it. She is just following her heart, but look at what beauty emerges from that. It's something that we all can learn from.
The fox you lug over your shoulder
in a dark sack
has cut a hole with a knife
The sudden lightness makes you think
you are stronger
as you walk back to your small cottage
through a forest that covers the world.