Writing with a Mental Illness

Lately I’ve been asking myself two questions:

  1. Why can’t I get in to see a doctor sooner?


  1. How does my mental illness affect my writing?

I usually ask these questions from my bed, staring out my window at the leaves turning up their bellies from a strong wind. I’ve been having a bit of a hard time pals, and it affects my writing exponentially. However, I’ve been reading from a collection of poems by and about physical disabilities recommended by Lytton titled, Beauty is a Verb. I’ve been finding a lot of solace in the book and I’m starting to understand ways in which disability can become generative for writing and translating the world uniquely into poetry. For instance, I found a lot of hope in an essay by Alex Lemon, “And Now I See” in which he describes developing nystagmus and double-vision after a brain surgery. He writes, “But as I’ve learned to accept this changed body, I’ve realized that visual changes have played a significant role in my poetic development. They’ve destabilized me, helped me embrace the unruliness of the world and accelerated the broadening of my imagination. Without sight, I felt the world had become an unknowable place. But the idea that I knew the world because I could see it was an illusion—an illusion of control. This destabilization was bewildering and beautiful and pivotal. The act of tearing everything down helped me become more open to the possibility of everything, and that openness is a crucial element of writing.”


As someone suffering from mental illness and waiting for the doctors to diagnose me and prescribe me this is helpful for a number of reasons. Lemon uses his disability to uniquely shape the images in his poetry and in reading this, I felt that I could do something similar. It’s harder because if I was being honest I would say that the biggest way my mental illness shapes my writing is by keeping me from it. Day after day I feel as though I approach my journal or my laptop with a motivation that is being locked away and sometimes this causes intrusive thoughts and I tend to react emotionally or sometimes I fall into a dissociative state in which I feel like my memories are imagined and makes it difficult for my mind to sort out what I want to write. As I continue to read this book which is focused on disability writing and or language and how disabilities can affect the poetics, I will be keeping in mind a few questions for myself and my writing:


Do I have or need a sort of language to match my life experience with a mental illness?

What kind of writing helps me cope with my mental illness?

What are some mechanisms I can use to keep myself writing when my mental illness makes me feel I am an imposter?

What truths, if any, about the world have I learned that I feel are directly connected with the way my mental illness affects my life and how can I share them in my poetry?

More to come, folks.

Word Play with Harryette Mullen

So I’ve talked about it before, but when I was in my first workshop we read Sleeping with the Dictionary  by Harryette Mullen and it opened my world! First, I love that Mullen writes about her experience of being a black woman and yet the way she writes about it isn’t really what people would expect. This really helped me as a Latinx writer because I felt for a long time that when I said “I’m a writer” to someone looking at me I immediately introduced an elephant into the room, an elephant that asks where the Spanish and horchatas are in my writing. But now I’m more comfortable identifying as a Latinx writer without writing about those things, maybe someday I will, and Hispanic writers that do are awesome too! We just write about different things or we write about our experiences in different ways.

Image result for harryette mullen

Anyway, I really loved Mullen because of the intense wordplay she does in her work. She would most likely say the word “recycling” as her volume of poetry collections titled Recylcopedia, which is perfect titling. To give you guys a good idea of her writing I’m providing links to the poems “Any Lit” and “Sleeping with the Dictionary.”

Image result for harryette mullen sleeping with the dictionary

But for the sake of the blog post, I’ll just touch on why I love her writing in “Any Lit;” in this poem she turns the phrase, many ways to say the same thing on its head. For example, here is a quote,

“You are a ukulele beyond my microphone/You are a Yukon beyond my Micronesia/ You are a union beyond my meiosis/You are a unicycle beyond my migration/You are a universe beyond my mitochondria/ You are a Eucharist beyond my Miles Davis”

Image result for eucharist        Image result for miles davis

So, at first this feels very just repetitive, but this is only a small portion of the poem and every line functions similarly. The you is something beyond the I’s possession. The terms seem so far apart sometimes but Mullen makes you think about how these differing terms could be related. For instance, Eucharist and Miles Davis, Eucharist is a Catholic sacrament and Miles Davis is a Black American jazz musician, Eucharist is the body and blood of Christ and Miles Davis was an extremely influential figure in many stylistic jazz developments; in a way these are “essentials” of their respective literacies and can be linked with white western culture and Black American culture, though they are not particularly defining of either. But that also doesn’t understand why the you is qualified by Eucharist and the I is comparing the two. As the poem goes on the you feels very gendered and is often qualified as what we would consider important figures of white, male, and Eurocentric spaces (Yuletide, urinal, youth, euphemism, U-boat). But what is the most compelling is that the poem ends with the line “You are a uselessness beyond my myopia.”

When I google myopia I get this:

Myopia n.


  • Lack of imagination, foresight, or intellectual insight.
    • “historians have been censured for their myopia in treating modern science as a western phenomenon.”

Mullen exits the poem with a mic drop that essentially is saying, you, as someone who does not treat my culture with as much reverence as your own and others me, are useless. But the I is calling herself “nearsighted” but the you is so useless that it cant compare to her nearsightedness. Her writing really helped me think about the importance of words and their implications/connotations as a beginning poet.



Poetic Source with Richard Simmons: Podcasts as Poetic Source

Lately I’ve been trying to control my anxiety with podcasts and it’s been very helpful. It’s like this friend buzzing in your ear but you control the buzz, whenever you need it, you can turn it back on. Apart from them helping me feel less lonely at times, I started thinking about how podcasts are also really helpful poetic sources. The podcast I’ve been addicted to has been Missing Richard Simmons because it is this careful excavation of a character and who he has been to his close friends and people who don’t even know him. To give you context without spoilers, I will say the podcast is about Richard Simmon’s decision to withdraw from society as a weight loss icon. It’s interesting because the podcast has really moved me to check in on my own emotional health and put myself first in a complicated time in my life.

Looking at the above pictures, I don’t know how anyone couldn’t automatically love Richard (or at least intrigued at his life story), a boisterous and colorful personality which has been known for being an extremely complicated and empathetic person. I love it. I can’t express to you guys how much I love him. But this is why he’s a good source for me. I’ve been listening to interview clips with him and people he knows, intently learning about a character sketch that has been put together through multimedia, letters, videos, personal accounts, hearsay, his own words and many more. This is wonderful because there are all these different kinds of rhetoric and opinions and it’s almost overwhelming what kinds of poems I could write about Richard. I could write a found poem from all the interviews with people he’s helped aiming it to help a reader understand how he most likely over exerted himself, or I could write a personal poem about the impact his story has had on me or many other kinds of poems. It’s endless. So here I am recommending that you go and find a podcast you love or share your favorites  with us! It’s “share a podcast month” anyway. Podcasts are wonderful because they usually have an aesthetic which can be parallel to yours or something new, they have a defined voice with very open opinions and intent, they have a focused subject matter oftentimes opening you up to things you thought you would have never cared about (I never thought I would be thinking endlessly about Richard Simmons, but here I am writing a letter to him and writing this blog post), and podcasts aren’t hard to access, you don’t even have to read them. I think they are also incredible for stimulating an obsession when we feel like we have over exerted our ability to obsess over something enough to write about it. Feel free to talk about your fave podcasts in the comments and how they help you write! <3

At the very least, know that wherever Richard is, he most likely believes in you and your ability to succeed. <3

Sometimes to be Great at Writing You Have to Suck at it Too

Today I was watching one of my favorite YouTube series, The What’s Underneath Project, which is a mother daughter project that interviews many people, usually women and usually artists, about what makes them themselves. During the interview the guests take off their clothes, an article per question. The interviews begin with questions about style and what the subject thinks other people think of them based on their style and then ends with the same question, “why is your body a good place to be?” The project is aimed at body positivity and does its best to include people of all body shapes and ethnicity, though sometimes I feel that they get more interviews from people who are more “in shape” just because of the nature of the interviews. Well the interview I watched today was not from one of my favorite artists, she stars on HBOs Girls which is a very white and middle to upper class show. Though I watch the damn show I know that it is not representative of many people and that bothers me. Anyway, so Jemima Kirke was interviewed and I found something she said to be very inspiring, though I don’t think it was meant to be.

Of her own art and her struggles with artistic self-pressure she said, “It’s resistance and ego, which are the same thing, like everything I make is gonna be great or has to be great, like who are you that you are so special and great that you don’t have to do shitty work and practice and get on the floor and make things that no one cares about and throw them out.”

I know this sounds pretty negative and not really helpful, but I found this to be incredibly helpful because I often have such a hard FUCKING time getting my pen onto paper. Like I’m sorry but I want to be a writer with all my might, except sometimes the might it takes me to think of something to write. People close to me know that I put an incredible amount of pressure on myself to succeed as a writer and what they probably don’t know is that some of the times this is coming from beating myself up and from seeing myself as great, as special and trying to absolutely fit this persona. And so, I’m a slow writer. I know, logically, that I’m allowed to write things that are not great and I would definitely remind any of you that you don’t need to be great now or this morning before breakfast or tonight before bed or in a field or listening to ambient music. You need to be practicing. And I think that I come back to this realization time and time again, this time through the words of a successful actress and artist. I’ve actually had professors who have their class read an essay about the “shitty first draft” and remind their students that good writing comes from practice, but today I just kind of needed this reminder and wondered if any of you also needed it.

So long story short, this semester I’m daring myself, yet again, to suck at writing so I can get better and I’m letting my ego deal with it.

PLEASE: If anyone does respond to this post I think it would be most constructive to write a love note about your writing or creative insight. You should think about the times you felt you sucked and also think to yourself that it’s okay and you were just practicing and every time you write you are getting closer and closer to yourself and honing your craft. But don’t write that part down, that’s for you! Cherish it! Unless you feel super comfortable. I want this to really come from a place of self-love because you are all great! <3

Here is the vid.

Collaborating With Other Artists: My Struggles and Thought

So I’ve been dating a person, as it happens, and since we’re like besties we often just sit and work on our art together. Them being more of a visual and musical artist and I’m just words, we’ve been thinking about collaborating a lot together. I guess I just wonder what you guys think about collaborating? I’ve always felt it’s so important and that I can’t imagine a world where people just keep their work to themselves, but I’m starting to see the difficulties. For instance, I feel like collaborating is a skill and that without practicing it you can end up with some pretty shallow Banksy kind of art work that you’re just grateful you got an end product. But at the same time I’ve seen really great pieces. I think what’s hardest for me is that being the kind of writer I am, it takes a lot of trust and revising for me to be able to feel okay presenting my work to anyone, even my boy. BUT I do really want to collaborate with everyone all the time.

So I guess I wonder if any of you would ever want to collaborate? If so with other writers? Or with other kinds of artists? What is your dream collaboration? If you do collaborations what are the biggest challenges?

I know one of my challenges is getting across what I want. I’m usually pretty good at deciphering but I have trouble telling someone the apple goes on top of the orange for this and this reason.

I think the reason I wanted to share this with you guys and see your thoughts is because my end goal for all my writing has always been to consider that everyone’s experience is important and different. I know this is probably communicated just by getting my perspective out in a world filled with perspectives, but I’ve always wanted to create collages of different perspectives, maybe even a whole book of poetry which uses the same words but arranged differently to portray different viewpoints, but this is getting off topic.

Tell me your collaboration dreams, your horror stories, and your challenges!

My Sources

It’s so funny because I’ve been thinking a lot about my own poetry and where it comes from a lot lately in light of losing ideas stored on not one, but two laptops. I feel like I’ve been really searching for the reasons I want to write and the places I feel I really write from. Lately I’d say I’m trying environmental poetry and not the Raph Waldo kind, I think, but also I think I’m starting to uncover many places within myself where my poetry comes from.

#1. Misunderstandings, misconceptions, mistakes. I oftentimes find myself dwelling on these kinds of thoughts, the mis’s, a prefix which can mean anything from badly, wrongly, unfavorably, in a suspicious manner, opposite or lack of, or just not. I think there are many instances in life where I find a situation, a word, or space has taken on one or more of these characteristics whether I have started to stare at the grocery store ceiling long enough to become chilled by its warehouse attributes or someone I have admired for a long time has just said something I do not know why I cannot agree with. (wowwww I sound pretentious)

  1. My funny bone/ego. I think that I often write to make people laugh and maybe to seem like a comic who has something to say about the world. I often just like the boost. It’s nice to feel funny. I get much of my imagery from alternative comedy which often becomes uncomfortable for the sake of being uncomfortable and I think that says something in itself.
  2. Words. Last spring semester I fell in love with Sleeping With the Dictionary by Harryette Mullen and her word style, how the words stole sounds from each other how they played with each other with rhyme and rhythm with long and short with funny and grave. On the opposite end of the spectrum, when I decided to finally work up the courage to apply for a poetry workshop I was reading and rereading a poem by Charles Olsen and I found that his words were also striking, but in a much different way. His words seemed to come from nowhere but with purpose and every time I read I felt like I had discovered a new language. To summarize, I think collecting styles empowers me to explore my own style and what that means to me.
  3. A hairy past and present and ???. I do believe that everyone has their own struggles and I do believe that adversity motivates a need to understand and connect. This is where much writing comes from, especially for me.
  4. The human body is just so weird and I love to think of where I can put it, how I can contort it, where does it go?
  5. People watching.
  6. Women, because women are so cool and there needs to be more and more writing on them. I also feel as a woman I have struggled with my sexuality and how that is critiqued because I am a woman.
  7. My own struggles with gender, the stereotypes, the binary.
  8. I wasn’t going to add this, but probably from the copious amounts of television I watch, political, comedic, dramatic, etc.

<3 Sorry I am so late to the game <3

I Finally Wrote a Form Poem and Understood

So I submitted my poetry portfolio, like all have or are in the process of doing, and I submitted a form poem. I didn’t think I was any good at form, but I found that the reason I liked this poem was because I discovered that it worked best in this form. I had a stanza of poetry that I really loved and then when it didn’t fit into another poem I was frustrated, because I really loved this one stanza. So I tried it in a few forms and found that the prose and style of it dictated exactly how it was going to be written. I started with this stanza:

emotional collateral collects

excess balls of fabric

under the arms : between the thighs

in secret

I found that there were obsessive, repetitive syllables and a condensed feeling that maybe I needed to work out. So I decided that a good way to do that would be the Pantoum. I felt that the “under the arms : between the thighs” felt like a chant and that to repeat it over and over would be effective for the poem. I also found that this chant-like line when standing next to itself could gather a momentum. I really liked the idea of this so I ended up with this Pantoum.


emotional collateral collects

excess balls of fabric

under the arms : between the thighs

in secret

excess balls of fabric

mote coated throat

vein eye carousel-mare jolt

mote coated throat

paralysis of pedagogy

gray eye carousel mare slows

under the arms between the thighs


under the : between the

under the arms : between the thighs

under the : between the

under the arms : between the thighs

under the arms : between the thighs

under the arms : between the thighs

under the arms : between the thighs

under my arms : between my thighs

silent lady-like etiquette

under my arms between my thighs

where emotional collateral collects

and now I’m starting to understand how these forms can be generative and helpful!

I’ve never thought of Australian Poetry as a Subset Genre

S0 I was on Poetry Foundation and I found this interesting article about Australian poetry and I found some interesting points and facts that I had never known. So Australian Aboriginal poetry is definitely a type of poetry and it is known for creating what is called “songpoetry.”

While I didn’t have time to read the many, many books the article recommended I found that the excerpts of poetry were extremely interesting because I had never thought of putting snipes in my poetry, or roos for that matter. And it made me think about how many cultures have certain animals or slang terms for animals that we don’t think about just because we aren’t from that culture. I just found it an interesting moment and you guys can read the article here!


Alice Moore Dunbar-Nelson

So in one of my classes this semester I was introduced to Alice Moore Dunbar-Nelson. She lived 1875-1935 and was an African American, Anglo, Native American, and Creole woman who wrote poetry and short stories. She was mostly known for her prose, having published her first book Violets and Other Tales when she was only twenty. She was also married to Paul Dunbar for a while. I wanted to bring her up as a poet because I really love her poem You! Inez! which is definitely a poem about a woman lover. I think that because she is writing about a woman lover, even though from what I’ve learned this poem was not really meant to reach anyone’s eyes except maybe her lovers, it’s hard to know if this poem would be read the same way.

I always feel that looking back on the writing of the generation that they wouldn’t have understood even what I would consider blatant homosexuality in writing because it wasn’t really represented at that time. I think that there is a complexity of being distant for the intended audience, her lover, the situation, and being a modern reader now.

So this is the poem:

You! Inez!
Orange gleams athwart a crimson soul
Lambent flames; purple passion lurks
In your dusk eyes.
Red mouth; flower soft,
Your soul leaps up—and flashes
Star-like, white, flame-hot.
Curving arms, encircling a world of love,
You! Stirring the depths of passionate desire!
To me the striking exclamation marks are an obvious rebellion against the times and the expectations of whom a woman should love. If this is a poem to Inez her love than I believe that the act of being this blatant is meant to get that reaction out of the lover. Also the obviously feminine images such as the “red mouth; flower soft” and the “curving arms.” Read and see what you think guys!

Poetry and Politics


So I was reading this article a while ago and I thought there were some interesting things that it broached that maybe we never got to in our class debate of poetry and politics. I personally feel that there are politics attached to words and there is no escaping the political readings that certain words or images might issue. I believe this is because we are political beings just by being people. I feel that even though your intention was to write a beautiful poem about a landscape you might be read as an environmentalist poet with an agenda and there is no escaping that.

So this article is mainly about how poetry and politics can stand together, urging that any previous ideas about poesy being “not in the business of doing things” is wrong and that there are ways poetry does work in politics. The article urges that already we have seen political poets part of movements, such as Percy Bysshe Shelle, and that in the past people have seen poets as untrustworthy in any sort of political power. David Orr, the writer of the article, points out that politicians are different kinds of poets, persuading people with their rhetoric. He recalls how our country’s highest points of politics are described as poetic (“I had a dream”) while other times calling poetic language empty and without real logic. This article, though not giving us any answers as to if politics is escapable offers how poetry can be linked to politics and how that affects views of poetry.