New Blog!

A ton of things happened since I last updated this blog, here’s a recap, in chronological order:

  1. “Tamir Rice” and “Collision” were published in Encounters
  2. I worked with Priscilla Martin to edit her beautiful piece of writing, “La La’s Lungs,” which was selected for publication in Encounters.
  3. “Drown” won second place in the Harman contest, judged by Amitav Ghosh
  4. I completed my thesis
  5. “Drown” won third place in the CUNY / Labor Arts contest, fiction category
  6. My thesis was passed
  7. I presented Breach at Creative Inquiry day and won first place in the Humanities
  8. I had an amazing time at my thesis reading, during which my fellow writer friends read some of their inspiring work
  9. I graduated
  10. I founded a writing group (Again, with some of my fellow writer friends from Baruch. Who would’ve thought that a business school fosters such a close knit writers community.)
  11. I launched a new Twitter handle, separate from my work handle( which focuses on tech news)
  12. I started my blog, Two or More

Two or More

I’ll be sharing some shorter pieces of writing on my blog, while I work on my longer pieces behind the scenes. Check out Two or More and leave a comment if you like it!

Harman Writing Fellow Workshop: Morgan Parker

On Thursday, April 21, 2016, I attended the Harman Writing Fellow Workshop. Morgan Parker conducted the workshop.  I attended previous workshops with Téa Obreht and Tiphanie Yanique and loved them. Just thinking about how I will no longer be able to attend these after graduation makes me so sad.

Morgan Parker Workshop

Parker read from book and read her amazing poem “Matt.” She gave us a fun writing exercises, which resulted in my first pop culture reference poem! I look forward to continue to work on it (hint: it’s a letter to a well-known tabloid celebrity). During the workshop, Parker also answered questions and signed her book Other People’s Comforts Keep me Up at Night. She also gave out copies from Day One Year One. Can’t wait to get my summer reading started!

 

You’re Invited!

To celebrate the completion of my Honors Thesis, I’ll be hosting a reading at Baruch College. My Thesis Advisor, Professor Shipley, will be there, as well as my Thesis Readers, Professors Lang and Davis.

The event will be kicked off by some of my phenomenal writer friends, Daphne Andreades, Priscilla Martin, and Gregory Guma. I’ve been inspired by them and I’m excited you’ll be able to hear them too.

BreachReadingInvite

Event Details:

Tuesday, May 17
6:15pm – 8:00pm
Baruch College – 23rd St. Building
17 Lexington Avenue
New York, NY 10010
Honors Lounge, 9th Floor, Room 903

 

Poetry Reading at Baruch

On Tuesday, April 5, the Baruch English department had a poetry reading hosted by Profs. Schulman and Shipley. Students and faculty read, including English Profs. McClellan and Rodriguez.

I read excerpts from the most recent drafts of “Drown” and “The left Breast.”

Inspiration

I’ve been feeling bogged down with work. I’m working on a 2,000 person event that’s coming up in June and while this is the third time I’m working on this event, in addition to my regular homework, the reflection part of my thesis is ever-present in the back of my mind.

I have so much to do that sometimes I’m unsure of where to start, but I don’t want to procrastinate. So today I turned to the internet for some motivation:

JohnSteinbeck

Also, my new daily mantra is below:

I'm a writer

Colum McCann Reading at Hunter College

The spring semester is in full swing! In between getting used to a full class schedule in addition to my work schedule again, I joined my friend and former classmate Priscilla to a reading by Colum McCann.

I hadn’t read any of McCann’s work but was immediately sold when I discovered he’s an Irish writer. I love Irish authors. Partly due to Frank McCourt (I’ve read Angela’s Ashes multiple times) and partly due to growing up with Rhea, my Irish best friend from Belgium, and having traveled to Ireland with said best friend. So before attending the reading, I printed and read excerpts of his books Let the Great World Spin and Everything in This Country Must.

Rhea and I, buried in the sand in Knokke.

Rhea and I, buried in the sand in Knokke.

By the time I arrived to the reading it was standing room only. McCann read from his stories, which contain vivid images. The part that captivated me the most however, was the Q&A. McCann discussed his ideal day, which includes early morning writing and no checking emails until well in the afternoon. Finding the time to write without distractions can be so difficult. I usually write on Sundays and while I want to start early, I always get into a good flow later in the evening, no matter how early I start. Once I graduate, I hope to be able to have Sunday entirely to myself to write without any other assignments due.

ColumMcCann

Another story that struck me was when he mentioned meeting someone in a bar in Brooklyn who told him of his Irish childhood that was very different from McCann. This encounter spawned many ideas for McCann, which I believe ultimately led to his novel Dancer. When I first started writing a few semesters ago, I realized that anything can be a writing inspiration. I’d go to the doctor and think “Oh, I must write about this experience.” This withered away after a while but my goal is to revive it. I keep a running OneNote list of writing ideas and hope to add more to it as I take the time to appreciate small scenes and encounters that can be the inspiration for a good piece of writing.

I left the reading feeling inspired and excited to have discovered a new author whose books I look forward to reading.


Hunter College’s reading series is open to the public. Check out their Distinguished Writers website to see who’s coming and to RSVP.


Colum McCann has a great Letters to a Young Writer section on his website. Take a look for some weekly advice, such as “To hell with grammar, but only if you know the grammar first. To hell with formality, but only if you have learned what it means to be formal” (McCann).

First Saturdays at the Brooklyn Museum

Happy New Year! Hope you had a great holiday season and were able to create lots of memories while celebrating!

On the first Saturday of 2016, I went to my favorite recurring arts event in NYC, Target First Saturdays at the Brooklyn Museum. If you haven’t had a chance to check it out yet, you must!

Every month, the museum opens its doors for free (though if you’re a CUNY student, you get in for free year-round!). In addition to the opportunity to view the exhibitions, they also have tons of programming available, including art and musical performances.

This month, the theme was focused on social activism and other ways you can enact social change. There were performances by DISCWOMAN, an all female DJ collective, and Young Paris. The music was great and it’s always fun to see everyone, from toddlers to the elderly, dancing together to groovy beats.

Young Paris

On the 4th floor, there was an art installation complete with artists working on their craft. I enjoyed the quote pictured below, “Even when I don’t feel like painting I still paint…” It’s representative of the mindset of the most successful people. You may not be in the mood for something but you still do it, and that’s what causes you to learn and sets you above from the rest.

BK Museum

The No Eviction Zone crew was there as well, fighting against gentrification. My family’s been forced out of multiple neighborhoods in Brooklyn due to rising rents as a direct result of gentrification. While I love the new restaurants and amenities that pop up in what used to be dangerous neighborhoods, I think it’s unfair that longtime residents are pushed out because now they can no longer afford to live there. There was a sign at the museum that stated “Gentrification is the new colonialism.” (Blurry on the photo below).

BK Museum 2

CA Conrad’s Visit to the Feit Seminar Conceptual Art and Writing Class

Poet CA Conrad visited our class on the day of our final class meeting. We had read and seen some of his work previously during the semester. He was so great to meet in person! He did a reading of some older and new pieces. I loved the readings from The Book of Frank, and immediately added it to my Amazon wishlist after class.

CA Conrad

The biggest takeaways from his visit were:

  1. The way you read a piece out loud is very important to the success of your reading and how others will respond to the piece. CA Conrad’s reading was funny and witty, as well as serious. He read it as if he was talking to us, complete with fluctuations in his voice, which at times had an indignant, surprised, angry, and happy ring to it.
  2. A classmate asked him how he decided to organize and put line breaks on the page.  He said he just lets it come to him. I’ve been editing “The Wound Site” and my new short poems and read some pieces on line breaks and white space on a page. While there are a lot of rules and opinions on how to do this right, it was refreshing to see that CA Conrad just let it come to him naturally. I think I will implement this in my work as well.
  3. Automatic writing is the way to go to “push” stories and uncover things you may not have thought of writing. I’ve been thinking about this ever since learning about automatism in the beginning of this semester, and CA Conrad confirmed it’s potential value when he described how he writes as fast as he can. He also mentioned that he often teaches writers to close their eyes, place their feet flat on the floor, and  write as fast as they can.

[Update] End of Semester, Table of Contents, Title Changes & New Pieces

End of Semester

The semester is (almost) over! I’m looking forward to the winter break, even though I’ll be taking a class. This has been a great semester in terms of writing. I met with my thesis advisor weekly on Mondays and every Sunday I spent a lot of time revising one or more pieces to discuss the next day. While I tried to write different days and times, I realized that I get into my writing groove later in the evening on days that I don’t work. As excited as I am to have identified the best time for me to write, this timeframe has led to many late Sunday nights spent writing, and very tired Monday mornings.

New Pieces

This semester, I also took my first Harman class, and learned to write shorter pieces. I love how even five line stories can reveal quite a bit, usually through text that evokes emotion and through strong images. I wrote little blurbs based on my family members and even included some on my brothers, who so far I’ve mentioned in stories, but not yet in detail.

I really enjoyed creating these short stories and wanted to include the ones I had written into the final thesis. One way I thought of doing this was by creating a section of the thesis titles “Snapshots” or “Shortcuts” and presenting one little text after another, perhaps interspersed with photographs of the family members or scenes I’m referring to. Another idea I had was to add line breaks to the pieces, and include them as poems in the complete manuscript. This is the approach I have currently taken, and now I’m focusing on placing the line breaks and slightly editing the words to make them stronger.

Screen Shot 2015-12-19 at 6.33.07 PM

In addition, “Definition/Race Piece (Untitled)” has been in my table of contents for some time now and I’d like to include it in my final thesis. The thing is that it’s in a very different form from the rest of the pieces. The narrative is created through the side by side positioning of various definitions and racial slurs. I’ve been thinking of a way to merge it into the thesis and thought a transitional story might help. Recently, I wrote “Collision” a fictional piece based on the arrest of Sandra Bland by Brian Encinia. This piece might work with”Definition/Race Piece (Untitled),” but I still have to think of how this can be edited to tie together more strongly with the rest of the thesis stories.

Table of Contents & Title Changes

I’ve included an updated table of contents below, including the new additions. As always, this is a work in process.

  1. Drown (formerly “Flory”)
  2. Breach
  3. Hour of Lead (formerly “The Hour of Lead”)
  4. The Wound Site
  5. The Left Breast (formerly “As If It Were Yesterday”)
  6. Acupuncture (will change)
  7. Bompa
  8. Ark
  9. Dry
  10. Distilled/Cherry Red [formerly How To (Untitled)]
  11. Noa
  12. Young and White (Untitled)
  13. Definition/Race Piece (Untitled)
  14. Collision
  15. Shell
  16. Reflection