I knew eventually I’d only end up writing once a year, and here we are. I have plans to go out “celebrating” with one of my closest friends tonight, but I woke up with some kind of stomach bug, and she also isn’t feeling well. Either we’ll rally or I’ll spend the evening in bed with a book. I have no one to kiss at midnight.
I began 2016 optimistically, imagining that finally this was the year things would start happening to me. By “things” I seem always to mean “a book deal, a boyfriend, and professional direction.” And while I love the job I’ve got, “things” didn’t even begin to happen this year. I’ve been feeling unmoored. This, I am learning, is fine. As I mentioned last year: I do not need a book deal to be a poet.
There’s small comfort in my being neither alone nor the worst affected: 2016 was disastrous for so many people I know, and I don’t think it’s ridiculous to say that 2016 itself killed a lot of celebrities too soon. There was something in the air. I think it’s important to grieve for celebrities as one would a friend. Regardless of physical access, people spent hours upon hours of their lives with Prince, David Bowie, and George Michael in their ears. Knowing they won’t bring additional joy to our lives is worthy of grief.
There’s little to say about the injustice of the election that hasn’t been said better elsewhere, except I was surprised by how personally attacked I felt by those who voted for Trump. Time will tell what his administration actually does with the all-but-unlimited power it’s been given, but in the meantime I’m finding it incredibly difficult to even talk on the phone with those who voted for him. Horrible, horrible things have become possible.
This video nicely sums all that up: https://youtu.be/YpSOtX4S4zo
In 2016 I read 81 books. I don’t know why I compulsively enumerate my reading, but it’s been a habit for half a decade now. My favorites (in order of reading them):
- Joy Harjo’s How We Became Human
- Garth Greenwell’s What Belongs to You
- Catherine Bowman’s Can I Finish, Please?
- Blas Falconer’s The Foundling Wheel
- Derrick Austin’s Trouble the Water
- Lily Hoang’s A Bestiary
- Tommy Pico’s IRL
- Aaron Smith’s Primer
- Amy Fusselman’s The Pharmacists’s Mate / 8
- Elisa Gabbert’s L’Heure Bleue, or The Judy Poems
I also guiltily read a few Star Trek pulps. One , L.A. Graf’s Ice Trap, was a very interesting / unique look at climate change, and if I ever get the chance to teach an ecological literature course I will for sure assign it.
In 2016 my essay “On Locker Rooms and Looking” was listed as ‘notable’ in Best American Essays 2016.
In 2016 I landed an essay in Salon, “Love, Loss, and What I Would Sing.” Talk about dream publication…I even got my first haters in the comments!
In 2016 I had my second solo photo show, Draping and Motion Studies, in the Treasurer’s Gallery at the Ivy Tech John Waldron Arts Center. It was worth all the work just to see several straight men walk into the gallery, see a few male nudes, and turn right back around. “There’s nothing in there for me,” one said to his wife.
In 2016 dozens of people trusted me to take their photograph. I am still growing and learning how to do this properly, and I am very grateful for their time and energy.
In 2016 I started writing a novel. I have no idea how long it will take me to finish, but it feels nice to have something brewing.
In 2016 I spent a lot of time thinking about déjà vu and how to manipulate my experience of it for the sake of art.
In 2017 I will practice that a bit more.
In 2017 I will work a little harder and hopefully work some things out.