May 18

Becoming a Poet

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Poems and letters and little jokes, from me to you
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Becoming a Poet

Back then I was all hat and no cattle.
One ten-gallon Stetson but no stench

of barn on my coat,
no shit on my boots, no sense

of how to raise my arms and halt
a herd intent on getting out.

I hadn’t yet refilled a trough in winter, 
the smell of fermented hay filtering in

through the loop of my scarf,
the hot puffs of cow breath rising up

like passing bouts of mist. 
I was no farmer then,

not even a cowgirl,
yet I was desperate for the latch

of the gate, the outswinging screech 
of metal, the rush of cattle soaring forth

into the springtime pasture
in a famished blaze of weight.

Irony of ironies, I did not send out a newsletter during April, also known as Poetry Month. Oh, well! I hope you got a few extra doses of poetry in your bod last month. I know I did.

What I’m Reading:
1. On Freedom by Maggie Nelson: Maggie’s book The Argonauts is very important to me, as is Bluets. This newest book of hers is essentially four academic essays, but since I rarely get to read those these days, I enjoy existing for a while in their intellectual land. Although I initially started this book and then put it down due to reading a negative review of it, enough months have now passed that the cloud of that review is pouring rain on some other continent, and the weather here is sunny.

2. The 100 Million Dollar Offer by Alex Hormozi: A self-published business book written by a guy who is a little douchey but ***I am open to finding wisdom in all people, even those with whom I appear to have nothing in common with***. Plus, I have a lot to learn when it comes to Being a Savvy Business Person. Beginner’s mind always.

What I Just Read:
1. Brown Girl Dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson: This novel is not even YA—it’s in the “Juvenile” section (younger than YA), and it’s written in free verse poetry. It has THREE shiny medals on the front. It tells the story of the author’s early life and it is beautiful.

2. The Carrying by Ada Limón: Ada only came into my life recently and I am mad it wasn’t sooner because we are truly kindred and my poems live in a gardenbed near her poems and for that reason alone I know that we would have a ball drinking a gin & tonic and weeding together in August. Read Ada. Read Ada. Read Ada.

3. The Poet X by Elizabeth Acevedo: This YA novel is written in verse and tells the story of Xiomara, a budding poet who is also in high school and has a very religious mom, a twin brother, a best friend, relatable conflicts of interest, oh and also, the guy she has a crush on smells sooooo good (remember that?!). Previously I read Acevedo’s other book, With the Fire On High, and liked it a lot, but this one is even better (and not just because it’s about a poet!).

Children’s Book Reviews:
(This is a new section, which began as a joke in a text thread [shoutout to my Ladyfairy Crü], but is now real. Beware: this section, in the future, may get sassy. You have been warned! But today I’m starting out with some kids’ books I love.)

1. What Makes a Baby by Cory Silverberg & Fiona Smyth: This book blew my mind by being extremely respectful, clear, and precise, without actually giving very much information about like, penis going into vagina. Somehow the authors were able to provide the exact right amount of information that small kids (probably like 5 and under) need on this topic. It is also completely gender-inclusive and even mentions c-sections. 10/10 would recommend

2. The Blue House by Phoebe Wahl: I have been a Phoebe Wahl fan since when she was still in college and making art on Tumblr. This book tells the story of a boy who lives with his dad whose house goes up for sale (because it’s going to be demolished) and they have to move. Things I love about this book, besides the pictures: the way the kid and dad sing and play music loudly together to get their feelings out; the way the kid’s upset feelings are treated as something that upsets the dad but are also normal; the way the house is given the weight of a family member. 10/10


Postscripts & Shoutouts:

  • Shoutout to farming season because now I’m outside all the time and my hands are tan and sitting down at the computer feels like an easy relief as opposed to The Thing I Am Always Doing.

  • Does anyone else think of their day in beverage increments, something like:

    Coffee—Water—Water—Water—Wine


    or is it just me???

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