Saturday, May 21, 2016

Publication Alert: Barking Sycamores

Dear Reader,

It sounds utterly bonkers, but my first year of the MFA is officially completed! I can honestly say that this past semester has been one of the best I've ever had in my entire college career, and what's more is that I'm humbled and grateful by the growth I've seen in my writing in the past year. Mind you, those are very meager sentences to try to summarize what I've learned -- about writing and about myself -- but I think only a longer post about my MFA experience can do it justice. With a finals-free schedule, such a post shouldn't be too far away.

On to "business" matters (though everything feels like fun these days)... To kick off the celebration of summer, I'm happy to announce the publication of my poem "What You Must (Not) Do" in Issue 9 of Barking Sycamores. Of all the venues that have accepted my work, I must say that I'm particularly enthralled with this one. Barking Sycamores is a part-online, part-print magazine of neurodiversity: it celebrates the works of neurodivergent writers and artists, from the autistic to bipolar patients to those with synesthesia. Dedicating a whole literary magazine to neurodiversity is a beautiful step toward raising awareness about mental illness and neurodevelopmental disorders, but also toward humanizing these experiences. The works in this publication are stunning, and together they are one more reminder that we each have a unique way of looking at the world. Please take the time to look through!

You can find my poem "What You Must (Not) Do" here. (Note: for each new issue, Barking Sycamores posts one piece per every couple of days, until all the works in that issue have been posted. So if you want to explore the other pieces in Issue 9, be sure to check back frequently!)

About the work:
So, what am I doing in a publication for neurodivergent writers? Well, like all things in this world, it's complicated.

I may someday explore this more in my creative writing, I may not, but I've always been fascinated by the fact that mental illness runs in both sides of my family. Fascinated (haunted?), because while I have gone through life unofficially diagnosed, there is plenty of evidence that this mental illness runs a little in me. Since my late teens -- and most potently as an 18-year-old -- there has been a sadness and a spaciness for which only the words "depression" (minor, seasonal?) and "ADD" (mild, moderate?) makes sense. Living unmedicated and therapy-less means dealing with the raw forms of these in a strange combination; it means perceiving the world as fragmented, frayed, and with a dark cloud over it. I may someday explore the whole story of my mental struggles with readers, I may not. But for now I will simply say that I've come to appreciate my depressed-inattentive life most most strongly (albeit inexplicitly) through my writing, which allows me to make something productive out of this messy, melancholy daydream.

"What You Must (Not) Do" is one small, quiet way of being productive, I suppose. It's possibly among my most honest poems. I wrote this last summer on my own, not for a class assignment, not with the aim to write anything earth-shattering; I wrote it for me, as a way of appreciating beauty amid sad memories. I hope you're able to take something meaningful from it.

Enjoy and share away. Grace and peace to you.

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