Hello again. It’s still Sunday. We’re both clearly still at, or perhaps revisiting, the screens of our computers. How modern, how trendy of us.
This is a post I’ve been meaning to do for quite sometime, but was derailed by an Italian. While the trip itself is a Big Scary Thing, I fell into a bit of complacency and wanted to push myself further out of my comfort zone. Which brings us back to the Brooklyn Poets’ YAWP I attended last month.
I was terrified to do a workshop. I consider myself a competent writer. But I’m a sensitive little asshole and have to cement my feet to the floorboards to stick around for feedback. Do the thing that scares you, I kept telling myself. I repeated that and Paul’s Fear litany from Dune to keep myself in the room. The beer I was sipping on helped.
I was surprised by the diversity of people. A lot more middle aged people than I anticipated in Brooklyn on a Monday night. Then again, it was a Monday night.
I was also surprised by how nothing is different from High School onward. Everyone was still afraid to respond to the prompts, still afraid to talk back to emcee. You chose to be here, why are you so afraid of talking? A question of both me, and everyone else in the room.
The workshop was more of a teaser for their longer, x-amount of dollars weekly classes. We read poems in the “How-To” genre, as they were categorized by the emcee. The workshop then involved us producing poems in the same vein. The poems were beautiful, if I can find them I’ll share them here.
Below are two scans of my notes from the YAWP.
The emcee, Jason Koo, asked us who we typically write to–evidenced below (also the parenthetical about this exact blog post, is this too much navel gazing?)–and then asked us to write three things we consider ourselves experts on. So many people said they primarily write to their mothers, which surprised me, and God, which didn’t. The way people ordered their three areas of expertise was funny. People are precious. The parameters of the poems we produced are laid out below, but I’ll restate them: use imperatives, and absolutely no “I”s. Simple.
Anyway, below is the rest of the actual poem, which I’ll also type as my handwriting is largely chicken scratch. I included the papers themselves because I always like seeing how people develop their work, and maybe you do too. If not, roll your eyes and send me a selfie of it. I love selfies.
How To Find Home
You start with your own two feet,
you have not yet mastered
someone else’s and
One foot in front of the other will do.
Do this, this procession of left
right, until arriving
facing the street at Jefferson Market Garden. You know,
the one by the church.
If the universe allows, it’s
There is a large patch of
perennials. Your mother will tell you later
These are gardenias.
They represent folly and
Witches plant them as warning,
and boil them to catch a lover.
Often, it is both.
As you stand, inhale.
This is the smell of your
grammy’s back porch.
This is the smell.
In a place in Brooklyn you
have never been,
an unexpected meeting.
You are home.
Your own two feet,
your blue dress,
a memory you unwittingly released
until this very moment you are
There is no instruction for exhalation, as you are trying to
hold it back. Can you get it back?
Can you get it back?
Your aunt is dead you are in
Brooklyn the only home you have
is your own two feet planted
firmly in boots on the soil next
to a large patch of gardenias.
This seems unnecessarily risky.
Now I’ve done a scary thing twice. I’ve gone to a workshop, where I did read my poem aloud. The emcee asked me what it was about, I said grief. He said home. And I’ve shared it with you. It’s funny to me, the things that are scary to share. But if I share it, if I name it, maybe it will manifest and grow. Maybe I can grow.
Wouldn’t that be nice?