I'm midway through teaching a new Creative Writing course that takes its title from Judith Halberstam's The Queer Art of Failure. We're exploring new and better ways to fail as writers and artists. Other texts include Frank Ocean's Channel Orange, CA Conrad's The Book of Frank, and Eva Heisler's Reading Emily Dickinson in Icelandic. Right now my students are presenting to the class on a significant failure of their choice; soon they'll be crafting their very own Book of Failures. I'm loving this alternative to traditional workshop. Next quarter: Creative Writing meets Critical Animal Studies. Tips from fellow teachers welcome!
Sunday, February 16, 2014
Saturday, February 15, 2014
Like most artists, I've led several lives. In one of those lives I went to a Great Books school that had gone co-ed only three years earlier. Columbia was my first choice only because it was in New York, and New York meant Balanchine, my aesthetic ideal.
The place didn't speak to me back then, but in awarding me something the place is asking me to speak to it. Which I didn't have much opportunity to do back then. And so I'm grateful to have the chance to try now. I'm honored and happy to be recognized, to have a chance to reconcile that past self with current and future selves. Poetry, for me, has always taken precedence over identity; yet my search for beauty turned out to be my entrance to politics. I have to write an acceptance speech, something I've never done before, and maybe when I've given it I will post it here. It means something significant to be honored by an institution where back then I didn't feel wanted. It means someone is paying attention to the past and the present, holding them side-by-side. That's what I try to do in my work, plus throwing in future touches for risk. So thanks Philo, and Tom Vinciguerra, and hello to 2014. Also thanks to Brandi Wells for her insightful review of X Marks The Dress: A Registry in The Lit Pub; and stay tuned for a list of book signings and offsite readings at the 2014 AWP Conference in Seattle. Maybe I'll see you there.
|design: Jamie Keenan|