Because it’s been a year of transition for me, a year spent writing a book-length poem instead of individual poems, a year of questions, I’ve felt like not much has happened in my life. But it’s also been a year of a lot of great moments. Here’s my Best Of:
Best Romance: Serenading my first book, THE DEAD EAT EVERYTHING, with “Juicy” when I first received it.
Best Star-Treatment: The Wick Poetry Center treating me like a boss for a week in Kent, Ohio, while I taught a week-long workshop on the long poem and gave a reading with Dorianne Laux. Comped meals, fancy hotel room, a limo driver holding my name up at the airport.
Best Discount at Friend’s Job: My fam Ryan & Naama gave me 4 tattoos.
Best ‘Huh, I Guess I’m a Capitalist Now, Technically’ Moment: Publishing Aziza Barnes’s chapbook, ME AUNT JEMIMA AND THE NAILGUN., the first chapbook from Button Poetry / Exploding Pinecone Press.
Best ‘Huh, I Guess I’m a Sort-Of Successful Capitalist Now’ Moment: Realizing Aziza Barnes’s chapbook is sold out and ordering a second print run.
Best ‘Capitalist or Not, This Shit Can Change the World’ Moment: Publishing VIRAL, an ebook anthology of the poems and poets who went viral for Button in 2013, which is full of radical work.
Best Day at a Coffee Shop: Finding out that Rachel McKibbens chose HIGHWAY OR BELIEF (by J. Scott Brownlee) as the winner of the second Button / E.P. chapbook contest, and that we’d also publish our runners-up A GUIDE TO UNDRESSING YOUR MONSTERS (by Sam Sax) and BLOOD PERCUSSION (by Nate Marshall)—all forthcoming in 2014.
Best College National Poetry Slam Moment: Not the amazing team practices I had with Sophia & Harlan & Ellie & Susie, not bringing the first-ever Indiana University team to CUPSI, not even seeing those folks share their beautiful & optimistic poems with a national audience. It was, rather, seeing the intimate friendships my team members have built with each other. To quote my own slam coach, Riley Lang, “You build…whatever it is that you build. We build communities.”
Best National Poetry Slam Moment (poetry-related): The second Minneapolis prelim bout, where the team I coached—two CUPSI Champs, two NPS rookies—absolutely handled themselves, their poems, and their competition like pros.
Best National Poetry Slam Moment (non-poetry-related): Stealing away from the kids to spend time with Sam Cook and Sierra DeMulder, my first and realest poetry team.
Best Silver Lining: Though I’m still waiting to any good news at all from academic job applications, putting together my application materials has enabled me to articulate my aesthetic and ethical positions with regards to writing, teaching, and editing, which has been really great.
Best Sports Victory: I won my fantasy football league for the first time, defeating internet sensation Neil Hilborn for the Iron Throne.
Best Alcohol-Related Adventure: I went all of September without drinking.
Team the Best Team: I’m so thankful to have had the opportunity to cheer on so many friends, students, & teachers as they accomplished huge things—Hieu found a publisher for his first book, THIS WAY TO THE SUGAR; Matejka was a finalist for the National Book Award for THE BIG SMOKE; Ross Gay won a Guggenheim; Ryan & Naama started their own tattoo business; Danez, Jamaal, Corey, Neil, Keith, Jen, Oliver, Khary, Katie, Zach, David, etc., etc. all made big moves. I’m proud to be part of such wonderful communities.
Best New Experience: Eating oysters.
Best Movie: THE HUNGER GAMES: CATCHING FIRE
Best Concert: Ghostface Killah at The Bluebird (Bloomington, IN)
Best Record: RUN THE JEWELS, Run the Jewels
Best Book (published in 2013): THE BIG SMOKE, Adrian Matejka
Best Book (I read in 2013): ELEGY FOR THE SOUTHERN DRAWL, Rodney Jones