Epilogue: Personal Notes to My Fellow Poets

Of course I am aware that this blog is on a public domain, but more importantly, I know that the members of Lytton’s Spring 2018 poetry class read it. And I wanted to recognize the incredible work we all have done this semester which was reflected in our final portfolios. I am so proud of us for the hours and hours spent reading, writing, revising, recasting, and reconsidering ways to write poetry–stretching how we think about form in general and sound in particular. I can say that I’ve learned so much this semester, and I am grateful for the feedback you all have provided for me. Being a part of a community is so important, and my vision and hope for all of us as writers (and authors) is that we are part of not only a visual/word-oriented community but also one in which we care for each other as human beings who are inherently and incredibly valuable. This vision was reflected in earlier blog posts, in my portfolio, which was all about relationships, and in the way I live my life (I hope). I love people, and I love being a part of a community, and I am so grateful for all of you. TC Tolbert and Shara McCallum, while they were here, both impressed upon me the importance of community and helping others, and Lytton Smith did this every week we met together, every time he introduced a visiting poet, and really, every time I saw him.

To conclude this semester, I would like to leave you all personally with a final note, based on your portfolios and what I know about you all as writers. Don’t worry; again, I know this as a public domain, so I won’t be too personal. Email me if you want to get more personal and I will give you my mailing address to be a penpal/postcard buddy (shameless plug–I <3 snail mail).

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As you might’ve noticed, I bailed on Geneseo. I have grappled with feelings of depression every year I’ve been a college student, but after this past spring break I found myself lower than ever before more frequently than ever before, and thoughts of suicide were all too prevalent. So I got out. But before I did, those emotions defined much of my poetry. Poetry, for me, is all about the present, and is therefore dominated by my mental state. I’m seeking to convey the thoughts or feelings or scene of a current moment, by recreating them on paper. And the thoughts or feelings or scenes of my recent moments have been largely defined by disillusionment or depression. I self-medicated my way through a lot of it, living by the mantra that ‘beer n weed is all you need’ and that has also appeared plenty in my poetry. (yeah, I know it’s not doing me any good in the long-term)

For the past few years I have felt myself always waking up in the same, sober, forlorn mental space, having let another day slip by, and yearning for a release from the life I reckon I must live. Gotta go to classes I don’t care about to keep my grades up to stay in honors, gotta get a summer internship to put on my resume, gotta keep taking classes I don’t care about to get a degree, gotta take the GRE and look into grad schools if I want to make decent money–all integral parts of our world’s preordained path to success, yet none of which I am quite passionate about. There are classes or moments here or there where I feel purpose, and fulfillment, but I largely feel powerless, locked into this track that I don’t care for. But my fear of failure propels me to stick with it, and the substances subdue my depression enough for me to feel like I can keep going.

But recently weed has stopped doing what it used to for me, and I hate to nurture alcoholism before I can even legally drink. (once I’m 21 all bets are off) (jokes) I’m tapering off my once-horrific reliance on these substances as an emotional crutch, and as I do I am finding more pure sensations joy, but also much worse episodes of depression. At any rate I feel like I’m coming into myself as less of a one-sided emotional being, and I think it’ll prove a new chapter in my poetry, at least for the portfolio I’ll be submitting. Still ambivalent about getting any of my poems published, or continuing to work on them beyond this class. We’ll see though. At any rate, thanks for reading, it’s been a pleasure to share a workshop with all of you this semester.