LIT 501 – Week 2 – Rhetorical Precis

Murray, Donald M. “Teach Writing as a Process Not Product.” Cross-Talk in Comp Theory: A Reader. Ed. Victor Villanueva. Second ed. United States: National Council of Teachers of English, 2003. 3-6.

In the academic journal article “Teach Writing as a Process Not a Product,” Donald M. Murray (1972) argues that English teachers should teach writing as a process instead of a product as is traditionally done. Murray uses his years of experience as a teacher as empirical evidence and examples for the benefits of this change in paradigm. Murray would like for English teachers to change how they approach teaching writing in order to inspire students to appreciate the act of writing instead of the goal of having finished something. Murray writes to English Teachers, addressing them specifically throughout the article. I found the argument convincing, as it puts emphasis on the appreciation of learning how to do something as opposed to creating a polished finished product. Murray says “once you can look at your composition program with the realization that your are teaching a process, you may be able to design a curriculum which works” (3). The desire of creating the former can be limiting and disheartening, because finished product could be judged or graded badly. Focusing on the process and enjoyment of creation means that even a poor mark is more opportunity to learn. Teaching the process as opposed to a product allows teachers to emphasize development.

Emig, Janet. “Writing as a Mode of Learning.” Cross-Talk in Comp Theory: A Reader. Ed. Victor Villanueva. Second ed. United States: National Council of Teachers of English, 2003. 7-15.

In the academic journal article “Writing as a Mode of Learning,” Janet Emig (1977) argues that writing is a unique mode of learning that possesses a “cluster of attributes that correspond uniquely to certain powerful learning strategies” (7). Enig uses her own experience and a research to support her thesis. Her goal in writing this paper is to explain the various ways that writing can be used in order to develop a person’s brain, thought processes, and creativity in those who pursue writing development. Emig’s audience is teachers, who can learn to think of writing as a tool for learning, or anybody else who might consider the different ways writing might connect various connections for advancement of thought. I thought her argument enlightening in the way she explains and details the ways that writing can enhance interdisciplinary learning.

Perl, Sondra. “The Composing Processes of Unskilled College Writers.” Cross-Talk in Comp Theory: A Reader. Ed. Victor Villanueva. Second ed. United States: National Council of Teachers of English, 2003. 17-54.

In the academic journal article “The Composing Processes of Unskilled College Writers,” answers the three questions at the root of their research. Perl supports their research through research samples and interviews taken from student volunteers. Perl’s research explores these “unskilled college writers” in order to establish the strengths, weaknesses, and habits within their own writing process. The audience for this would be college professors and, perhaps, administrators, since the data is very dense and difficult to understand, but would allow targeted development once a student’s strengths and weaknesses are understood. This stats-based research is difficult for me to understand, but framing around the development of English made it a bit easier for me to wrap my head around. Explaining the learning process, the discrepancies, and habits through this type of research was different, and enlightening to read. I am not a statistician, so cannot comment to the quality or validity of the research, but I think that the two criteria “writing samples that qualified them as unskilled writers and willingness to participate” might eschew the research a different way. In my experience, those who are willing to participate in a study, or in a class, even if they are “unskilled” have the room for the largest amount of growth.

 

Poet of the Year

The Poetry 719 “Poet of the Year” Trophy
This trophy is dope af, ya’ll.

Some true facts about me:

1. I hid my smile by placing a hand over my mouth until I was in my mid-20s.

2. I have trouble looking at myself in the mirror. It feels the same way it does when somebody reads something I’ve written while I’m there; like they have cut under a piece of my skin and have a finger under my flesh, poking at anything below.

3. A not small part of me tells me that everybody is lying when they compliment my writing. A not small part of me is ashamed at any praise, and wants to run away as soon as it starts. People have called me humble, but really, it’s a defense mechanism as I try to divest myself from the trauma of being around people who think I have any small amount of talent.

I don’t say any of this to fish for complements because, as I’ve said, it would mortify me, but to explain what this process of embracing poetry and the spoken word has meant to me.  As I’ve gone through all of my writing, as far back as I have saved, has dealt with race.  My first story was of some “dark” elves trying to fit in with the “light” elves, and what that social construct meant.  My first poem is about my grandfather and how he and I speak different vernaculars.  My identity as a black man has been in the back of my mind for a long time. 

All of this is a long way to say how appreciative I am to have been voted “Poet of the Year” for Poetry719 (We do stuff!). It has been an intensely uncomfortable experience to have Ashely cheer me on and call me out whenever my name is brought up. I don’t think a lot of my poetry. I have only been writing poetry in earnest for three years, and I consider every one of the poets on the list better than I am. I would have been happy and more comfortable if any of my friends had won. But, what this experience has done for me, is help me solidify my voice. My first poets are written from rage and sadness. As I’ve learned, grown, heard so many other voices in this community, and changed through these experiences, I think the poems I’m writing now are coming from a more wholesome place. Not that there’s anything wrong with writing specifically from any particular mindset or emotion; it’s just that, as I grew as a poet, my emotions kept me writing very similar material.

I’m learning to be proud of myself. Of my achievements. I think, for everybody out there getting on stage, writing poems that bare your soul, and then share them with a group of strangers, should take a second to acknowledge just how difficult it is. I’m very fast to complement my friends for extraordinary things that I’m also doing, while not giving myself credit. So, this is me, taking a very rare moment to say that I’m proud of myself. The poetry that I’ve written in this past year is pretty dope. I’ve learned more about myself, more about my voice, and more about my goals very recently, and so going forward, it’s only going to get better. I’m definitely going to work on a book of poetry, and it’s definitely going to be great.

I want to take this moment to say thank you to some of the people who gave me space to own this realization:

As always, thank you to my wife, Dr. Sandy Ho, who helped me find my new tribe, who constantly supports my creative and educational endeavors, and helping find the resources to help me grow.

Thank you to Ashley, Chris Beas, and Phillip Curtis, for Poetry719 (We do stuff!) and everything you do in the community. I’m sure you know the work you’re doing is important, but I’m saying it here again. The work you’re doing is important. Not only that, but immensely appreciated.

To the Hotcomb Poets: Rosegold, Sipho, Rogue Scholar, Tyescha, Ashley, Beas, and Midnight. My tribe, my friends, and an endless source of joy, laughter, and poetry. You’ve all helped me grow so much since I met each of you.

Chris Jones: (https://www.shotbytherobot.com) My longtime friend, and dope ass photographer. Thank you for taking the picture I’ll undoubtedly use in the sleeve jacket of whatever book I eventually publish.

To everybody who voted: It means more to me than you’ll ever know. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.

That’s more than enough from me for now.

See ya’ll at the next open mic.

-Skillzilla

Happy birthday, gramma.

My grandmother’s birthday is today.  She would have been 77.

I haven’t been able to write much since she died.  I’m a different person now, I connect to the world differently, and I guess I’m trying to figure out what that means for me, for my creative process, for my art.  I just know that, no matter what else, there’s one less person in the world from whom I had unconditional love, and for whom that is also true.  It feels a little bit like a safety net has been whisked away.   I think of all the time we had, and how it seems after anybody has passed away, it was never enough.

I take solace in the knowledge that she was happy and comfortable her last days.  She was surrounded by love, and she didn’t want for anything.

I tried, though.  The first day or two from the hospital, she was out of cigarettes, and I didn’t want to get her any.  My thought was that if she smoked, I wouldn’t have as much time with her.  Everything in her body was shutting down, and adding nicotine to that couldn’t have helped.  So when she asked for cigarettes, I selfishly said no.  But my gramma has been smoking at least a pack a day for as far back as I can remember.  She was okay those first couple days, but that third morning with no cigarettes was a bridge too far.

“If you ain’t gonna get me some,” she said, “I’ll go find them myself.”

The entire time I was in Pittsburgh, my gramma didn’t move from the spot behind the kitchen counter where she held court for everybody who came to visit.  Except when she wanted those cigarettes.

She got herself dressed, because Judy Ellen would never leave the house if she wasn’t presentable, wrapped herself up in a winter coat big enough for me, she looked like a kid trying on her parent’s clothes, and wheeled herself outside and down the hall of the apartment complex.  When she came back several minutes later she was wheezing, but she had a smile on her face that said victory.  She laughed, a brief, “Ha ha!” and waved the cigarettes at me.  Then she went behind the kitchen counter, lit up a cigarette, told me to switch the TV to Blue Bloods (she always knew when it would be on), and made herself a coffee (fill the cup half way, two creams, one sugar).

After that, I went and bought her cigarettes.  And I got her some of those sugar covered orange jelly candies to boot.  She always wanted those candies, my diabetic grandmother.  I’d ask how many and she’d say, “Just get me two or three.”

I asked her what she would have wanted for her birthday.  She said immediately, “I don’t need anything since you’re here.”  To which I responded, “But I am here, so what else?”

“Just some chocolate cake, then.”

So that’s what I’ll be doing tonight.  Eating some chocolate cake and some sugar covered orange jelly candies.

Happy birthday, gramma.  I miss you so much.

 

 

 

 

For Gramma on her birthday

In the end
she faced death
a warrior
hair braided
jeans pressed
determined to look ready
for anybody
in the end
she woke each morning
when she could count
her days
on two hands
then one
with only fingers
she still took her coffee
the way she liked
with lots of cream
spent her day
talking with friends
as she sat in the kitchen
in the end
when she expected death’s call
she did not hide
she turned to faced the end
with a smile on her face
a cigarette in her hand
and laughter
always eager
to escape her mouth
and where others might tremble
she laughed
where others might cry
she sang
where others would choose
to remain in bed
she woke each morning
a smile on her face
a song on her lips
with love in her heart
in the end
when death came
she did not cower
she greeted it
on her terms
upright in her home
no longer an adversary
but the homecoming
of an old friend
in the end
she would pass
on her own terms
a smile on her face
laughter in her throat
surrounded by love
the same way she lived

A response to some wypipo complaints about black open mics

Every other month a couple of friends organize a poetry event called Black Voices Matter.  It’s been going on for over a year and its intent is to lift up and put a spotlight on black poets and performers that might not have a space they feel they can share their art.  As a black man who has been going to A LOT of open mics, I have often felt the need to censor myself.  Something like 8% of the population of Colorado Springs is black.  Something like 13% of the population in America is black.  What this usually means is that it’s not uncommon to go to an event and feel like you’re an island.  What this means to me specifically is that I feel like I have to censor myself.  Speaking just for me, the content of most of my poetry is directly related to how I navigate my life as a black man.  This, very often, makes white people uncomfortable.  This, very often, can make me seem like I’m a spokesman for black people and this poem is speaking for all of us.  This, very often, can lead to conversations that I really don’t want to have.  Some from spaces of empathy, some from spaces that make me want to cry and avoid opening up.

So every other month, we have an event specifically for black voices.  All people are welcome, of course, this is not a segregated event.  There is a workshop for the first hour where anybody can write from the prompt given and share what they’ve created.  Anybody.  White, Black, Asian, Latinx…anybody.  After that is the open mic for black performers only.  It is a space where, speaking for myself, I have felt the most comfortable sharing my poetry.  It is a space where, hopefully, other people (white, black, Asian, latinx…anybody) can come to hear, learn, empathize, and grow with the pain inherent in being black in America, since that is often the topic of poetry the artists share.

As I said, there are many open mics throughout Colorado Springs, and since there are so few black people in Colorado, they are almost by default white open mics.  But white people have a way to get all up in their feelings when they see spaces marked for black people.  And they always have something to say.  These are a few real things people have said and a response to them.

  1.  “Sorry. I’m white. I’ll just throw the room off. I’ll leave it to the included.”

I see this one all the time and there’s just so much wrong with it that I’m going to have a bulleted list within my numbered list.

  • Black people are used to seeing white people, Mark.  Your presence doesn’t throw us off.  On the contrary, you could be like the woke af white dude at a barbershop.   Your presence in a space dominated with black bodies would let us know that you are at least interested in hearing us, learning about us.  In a space where black voices are given priority, it would make us think that there are white people out there that might give a fuck about what’s going on in this country, in this state, in this city, and in this county.  In short, this is projection of the highest order where the white person in question is actually thinking about how THEY would feel in a situation surrounded by blackness and thinking that the black people in the room would feel the same.  But, you know, that’s our lives every. single. moment.    But that you’re saying these things, Mark, says you haven’t thought about it.
  • “The included” is very problematic.  Do you need to be part of a demographic to attend an event?  Do you not have black friends that you’d want to support?  I don’t have cancer, but I support Susan G. Komen.  I’m not gay or bi, but I support Queer open mics and spaces.  The thing people don’t realize is that when you’re a straight white dude (or woman) you are expected to be in places.  These are the default.  They are the norm.  This in itself creates stress on marginalized people’s lives.  So when you say something like, “Pumpkin Spice Latte Day” at Starbucks, that is going to be an inherently white space.  Straight white people don’t need spaces dedicated specifically for them.  It’s why America has History and Literature and in order to learn about people who look like me, I need to take specific classes about us like African American Literature and Black History.  Saying that you need to feel included in every event is the very height of privilege.  Not everything is for you, and when language puts a spotlight on others, instead of thinking about the circumstances that might arise that create such an event, you jump to, “Welp, not for me.”
  • All of this ignores the fact that this open mic DOES have a space for other voices within the workshop.  It ignores that there are often many white people who are apparently comfortable with being “excluded” for one or two hours during an open mic because when they leave, they’re probably at least a bit cognizant of the fact that they are included everywhere else.

2. “I will just find other events that won’t judge me by the color of my skin.”

We ain’t thinking about you. We don’t care that you’re there.  We got other shit to worry about than some white dude or woman that’s at a coffee shop trying to get something to drink or hear poetry while we’re dropping that fire.  Again, stop projecting.  I often walk into a place and think, “Damn, I’m the only black person in here…” because it can be a matter of survival.  Just look at the news with white people calling the cops on black people for existing in a space with white people.

3.  “Having a space for black voices only is retaliation for discrimination.  The goal should be to not need these spaces and having them is stooping to the level of ignorant people and disregarding the ‘good people.'”

I almost can’t even with this.  I actually couldn’t even, and then I gave myself a couple days.  I still couldn’t.  This ties into what a lot of liberal and moderate white people are telling many people of color.  That we have to be civil, because if we are not civil, then we will run allies off into the hands of our enemies.   These people will often quote the late and great Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.  Probably this picture here:

QS_0351c5b888f44a8687c0ae734338c766.jpg

White people love to throw MLK around, as if he wasn’t a radical.  As if he wasn’t upsetting the peace.  As if everybody during the Civil Rights Era loved this man.  As if he didn’t have approval ratings with white people about the same as Trump does with black people.  People love to forget that he died.  Not that he died.  That he was assassinated.  People forget that what he was doing for black people was so reviled, so disgusting, that it was worth his life.  They were so angry that they killed him for it.  Shot him until his life and blood seeped from him to be cleaned up by the (no doubt by a black employee) housekeepers of the hotel he died the next day.  Leaving black people with a legacy, a memory, and loss.  But most importantly, a reminder.  No matter how much love you throw around, no matter how well-spoken, how articulate, how well reasoned our arguments.  No matter how much we know we’re human, deserving of love, happiness, and equality, there will be white people out there who disagree.  I think it’s guilt.  I think it’s because deep down almost all of them know how wrong white people have done black people, and to acknowledge those wrongs would be like dominos.  It’s like a big game of Jenga.  You take out that piece and you’re left with unstable ground, you’re left with shitty logic, and poking at it all is just going to make it all fall.  And once it falls, I think those white people wouldn’t be able to stand with it all.  They wouldn’t know how to rebuild.

So you can miss me with that. Because we have so many reasons, every day to be angry.  But it’s not us shooting up schools and voting racist people into office who destroy legacies and separate families.  We don’t have time for your misplaced guilt and projection.

I’ll see you all at the next open mic.

Well, some of you.

Blog Post

I’ve taken a break from Facebook.  It wasn’t a particularly difficult decision since I’m on there almost exclusively because of my wife.  When I’m old, Facebook photos will tell stories of our lives since we met, and I think that’s pretty amazing.  After the election, my feed blew up with all types of arguments for and against Donald Trump. And then they’d blow up with arguments whenever a black person got shot by the police.  My opinion on both of these topics is:

  1. If you support Donald Trump, you’re racist.  You might not think you are, but you’re okay with ignoring it and supporting a racist for whatever personal reasons you might have, and as such are enabling racism.  So, ya racist.
  2. Cops in America are a gang with too much power and kill way too many people.  Nine out of ten times, there’s no excuse for it.

I weeded out the people with these opinions on Facebook by unfriending and ignoring them (on facebook, so that I wouldn’t see their comments). But recently more arguments have been popping up.  It probably has something to do with the new concentration camps popping up.  I don’t know.  Anyway, that’s not what I’m trying to write about here.  I’ve also taken a break from poetry.  These two things are related.  And because I’m an academic, I feel like I have to have some sort of flow and purpose to the blog even though it’s just a blog and I can really do anything I want.

Anyway…I’ve been doing writing poetry and attending open mics for a year and a half.  I have met many amazing people, several people I’m proud to call my friend.  For a year and a half I’ve put my pain on paper and listened actively as other poets shared theirs.  For a year and a half, I’ve been a sponge for the trauma I’ve witnessed.  The poetry I produced would wring some of it out, but not enough, and recently I’ve reached the saturation point.  I can’t hold anymore, and when I try to write, all I can think about is how terrible everything is.  And you know, lots of shit is terrible.  You can just look at the news and see that.  But my life is pretty great.  My wife is amazing, my kids are whole and healthy.  I’ve got a black panther shirt for every day of the week.  It’s awesome.  I realize I’m privileged, even if being a black man induces stress on the daily.

But the only poetry I’ve written has been based on this trauma, so lately when I try to write, it’s just made me immensely sad.  The feeling goes away as soon as I stop trying to write.  Because of this, with facebook, I’m taking a break from writing poetry and I’m going to scale back on attending open mics.  I’m still going to go out, but I’ve been attending 4-5 open mics a month for over a year.  My mental health needs to draw back.  One thing that I did constantly while writing fiction and nonfiction is take note of my writing, where I’m excelling, where I could improve.  I would note things I liked and didn’t like about my writing.  I have never done that for my poetry.  I have grown and changed as a person and a writer over the past year.  I’m going to take a few months to think about why I still want to write poetry (because I do), and how I can grow from here.

Facebook and the arguments were contributing to the general malaise I’d felt, so I felt a need to draw back.  See, it’s all connected.

I’m still writing in the interim.  I’ve gone back to some fiction stuff that’s been brewing.  It feels really, really good.  I’m reading a lot more.  I’ve finished TWO books in the past couple weeks (The new Stephen King book Outside (not my favorite) and a fantasy book by a black woman fantasy author NK Jemesin…the first book in The Inheritance Trilogy (pretty good!)).

Right now as I write this, I’m in the Youtube pigeonhole of listening to a bunch of spoken word poets.  This is also enjoyable.

It makes me want to write poems…which is how I know I’m okay and that I will heal.

PS.  I made myself not correct the different punctuations of facebook because it’s a blog and not a paper.

PPS.  A blog post titled blog post is fucking funny.  We can’t be friends if you disagree.

 

 

 

 

 

Diabeetus

Back in August, I went to the doctor for a routine checkup.  I told the doctor that sometimes after eating cereal or bread, things like that, my stomach felt like it was going to burst.  He asked me, almost in passing, if there was any diabetes in my family.  There is: my grandmother has it.  Maybe other people in my family.  We’re black.  I’m told that’s a thing.  I’m not sure; I only know my gramma does.  So after hearing this, he said we should do some bloodwork.  We did.   The results came back, and I had type-2 diabetes.  More than that, my blood was terrible.  Pretty much the the way I make kool-aid.  1 part blood, 4 parts sugar.   My a1c was 12.7, when around 6 is a good and healthy level.  My blood sugar was 387 when it should be between 80-120.

My doctor told me that I had to make some life changes.  Seeing what could happen to people that didn’t take care of themselves, hearing horror stories of going blind and losing appendages, I took this very seriously.  I immediately cut out all types of carbs from my diet.  I started running 4-5 times a week.  I completed the couch to 5k program.  From August to November, I lost about 40lbs.  It was extremely difficult for me.  You see, I enjoy eating cereal.  I don’t even eat “unhealthy” cereal.  I like what my wife calls old man cereal.  I like Wheaties and Life.  But, I’ve learned, carbs pretty much turn to sugar once it hits your blood.  So, I cut out cereal.  I cut out bread.  Sandy had me start drinking Bitter Melon Tea, which tastes like you boiled sailor’s feet and used the water for a beverage.  I almost threw up the first time I tried it.  It’s awful.

Seriously awful.

Sandy thinks this is what saved my life.

The change in diet and exercise worked.  My a1c last time dropped to a 4.7.  My blood sugar, which I would take by pricking my finger every morning, hovers between 90-100 now.  I had another follow-up appointment last week and my doctor told me to stop taking the diabeetus medication he’d prescribed.  And I was like, “I already did, dawg.  I stopped taking that ish after Thanksgiving.”  So, my takeaway from that is that my bloodwork looked so fantabulous that my doctor thought it was drug assisted.

Also, when I say dawg, in my head, it sounds the way Key and Peele say it in some of their skits.  Like Doiwg.

Anyway,  after losing so much weight, pretty much cutting carbs out of my life.  My doctor told me I need to start eating “regularly” again.  This has been more difficult than I thought.  I’m now terrified of diabetes coming back.  I’ll eat the occasional slice of thin-crust pizza.  But more than that now makes me sick.  I’ve had to slowly work carbs back in.  Mostly through fruit.  I had a piece of cake the other day and felt as if I’d betrayed something.  What? I don’t know.  Just…something.

Also with this fear of diabetes coming back has me wanting to workout a lot more than just the cardio I’ve been doing.  So, I started a workout program.  My goal, I think I said before, is to look like Michael B. Jordan in Black Panther.  Ya’ll think I’m playing, but I’m fully intending to show up to Black Panther 2 in a tribal mask and some tattoos talking about how I have listened from de mountains.  As of Saturday, a coupole days ago, I’ve completed my first full 4 weeks of going to the gym at least 5 times a week.  I had one of my fitness friends check out the routine I’m doing and got the okay, so that I know I’m working out in a way that’s conducive to building muscles.

Getting them gains, in bro-talk.

I feel better than I have in a long time, but I’ve actually gained weight.  I’ve been very weight conscious since getting diagnosed because weight is actually one of the factors of diabetes.  The less I weight, the better my body processes glucose.  I’m not trying to be a twig, though.  I’m at the point where I feel guilty if I miss the gym, so I think the fear of losing my sight and feet has worked.  It feels like this time, trying to get muscles is going to stick.

Friend of mine told me to take lots of pictures so I can track my process.  I’m not confident enough to post pictures now, but as soon as I have abs, I’m going to be one of those assholes posting pictures of myself, at the gym, in front of a mirror, shirtless, with a pair of huge beats earbuds on.  I’m going to have obnoxious hashtags that are all nerd-related, like #rippedlikePiotr and #howyoutraininWakanda.

 

 

Keyboards

I don’t type much on my iPad. But that’s because I didn’t have this amazing device.

My wife bought it for me from an indiegogo. It was kind of a pain getting it. They said they’d ship it in December, then January, then february. Finally shipped it the last couple days of February, got it yesterday. I’ve been trying to go out of my way to use it since I got it. I just love the wonderful clickety-clack it makes. It’s just so fun to type on this thing. And it looks amazing.

I want to put it through its paces, use it on multiple devices (you’re supposed to be able to sync up to 5 devices), and see how it works. Right now, I’m having tons of fun.

Gonna go write (I spelled that wright for some reason…I’m tired af).

So, yeah. Just posting to post. Because I want to type. Stuff. On this device.

Huzzah.

Okay, I’ll stop now.

Now.

…now.

An Interview (with myself)

Stephen King does this all the time.  I do it with my characters.  So, I’m doing it with myself right now.

Michael:  So, Michael.  DarkCat.  Skillzilla?  What do you go by these days?

Answering Michael:  Mostly Michael.  Most people just call me Skillz because of Sandy.

Michael (M):  I see.  What are you doing now.

Answering Michael (AM): Watching The Good Doctor with Sandy.  Plotting out a few poems I have to write for class.

M:  What are the poems about?

AM: I’ve got an assignment coming up that asks me to write a poem about a historical event from three different perspectives.  I chose Trump’s election:  POV of a white moderate, a black person, and America.  I’ve also got an idea of a series of poems written based on “The Talk” series.  Things a black parent would tell their children.  I’m trying to build a portfolio, but more than that, I’m discovering myself as I write.  Finding out more about me.  Wading through this world of whiteness in which I live.

M:  It’s been exactly a year since your first open-mic experience.  How do you feel about yourself now, about your poetry and writing?

AM:  I’ve still got imposter syndrome going on.  It’s hard for me to accept complements.  It’s always been hard.  I’ve learned to trust the people I surround myself with over my own opinions.  So, in that way, I feel better.  I’ve got a really solid group of writing friends who are supportive and offer great feedback.  My wife will always call me on bullshit.  It’s getting to the point where I can’t deny that I’ve got something going on, but that feels

Last year, I’d written about 4 poems.   I’m up to around 15 now, with several that I’m really comfortable performing.  Poetry is coming easier to me now, the ideas for them.  I’m getting to a point where I want to memorize and start playing with different forms of poetry.  I want to write all of the poetry.

AM:  Where are you on your prose writing?

M:  Tons of ideas.  Using my notebook more to jot down ideas, but I haven’t written much prose lately.  I want to, but right now, I’m doing the poet thing.

AM: How do you feel about that?

M: I don’t feel any way, I guess.  Right now, I’m exploring poetry.  Sometime soon, I’ll write prose.  What’s important to me is that I’m writing.

AM: Reading anything?

M: June Jordan, Audre Lorde, Langston Hughes, Ta-Nehisi Coates.  Black Power, pretty much.  Lots of James Baldwin.  Reading an amazing book by Ibram X. Kendi titled “Stamped from the Beginning: The Definitive History of Racist Ideas in America.”  It’s what the title says, an extensive study on racist thoughts in America.

AM: Sounds interesting.  Sounds intense.  You write a bunch of serious stuff.  You’re working through your own emotional drama and traumas.  How are you relaxing?

M: I think I mentioned I’m watching The Good Doctor with my wife?

AM: You did.  What else?

M: Lots of that.  Lots of relaxing at the end of the day with Sandy.  Reading comic books, working through Chris Priest’s Black Panther run now.  Thinking of doing a type of “Read Through” on the blog.  Playing games.  Trying to learn Dragonball FighterZ.  Starting to go to the gym a lot more.  Trying not to get diabeetus again.

AM: Oh, right, that happened?  How are you feeling?

M:  Better than I have in a long time.  It was rough the first couple of months, but I’ve got a handle on it now.  Weight down, blood sugar is great, and building good lifestyle habits.  The new goal is to be super swole and wearing this thing for Black Panther 2’s premier:

Capture.png

AM: That’d be pretty dope.

M: Wakanda forever.

AM:  You don’t think this is weird?

M: What?

AM:  Talking to yourself like this?
M: Nope.

AM:  Well, it was good talking to you.

M: You, too.  We’ll do this again.

AM: If you say so.

M: I do.