August 21, 2020

An Unforgettable Year

Park with her dog, Georgie

This will be my last post as a blogger-in-residence for the Kingsley & Kate Tufts Poetry Awards, and I have truly enjoyed sharing space in this capacity.

In true millennial fashion, I’ve made somewhat of a listicle, chronologically going through and revisiting some of what I’ve written about and what I’ve gleaned since then.

1. That Dickinson Show

I haven’t watched the show in its entirety yet. I’ve seen episodes and clips, here and there, and well . . . let’s just say, I’ve watched/finished several shows during quarantine that I’d recommend before Dickinson. (Some of my favorite TV shows I’ve finished this year: Watchmen, The Hunters, and Dark.)

2. Interviews with Vanessa Angelica Villarreal, Tyree Daye, Charles H. Webb, and E.J. Koh.

I could listen to poets talk about poetry all day long, and it’s such a privilege for me when writers open up and share the intimate details of what goes on when they write and what they love about writing. The conversations surrounding poetry—all the things we can’t get enough of, the things that drive us mad—are more than just shop talk or craft talk for me; these conversations show me all the ways in which poetry thrives, reminding me that poetry is bigger than an individual reading or writing experience. Reading and witnessing a diverse range of poetics and approaches to writing are so critical to understanding how each poet, poem, and/or book needs to be addressed on their own terms. From each of these poets I’ve interviewed, I’ve gained something different about what poetry is, what it can do, and why it matters.

3. On Literary Awards, Foundations, and Merit

I’ve written about what constitutes literary merit, awards, and financial security in a few different ways, and my suspicions about these systems boils down to this: they will remain problematic as long as we live in a system that values whiteness, favoritism, and profit and will continue to work against traditionally marginalized writers, unless they are dismantled and remade to be more equitable. Furthermore, there are systems of recognition that will help sustain and build writers’ careers in ways that have not been imagined yet. I hope to move toward a future for literary recognition and success that strives to learn from past wrongs.

4. My Repeats

I’m a big music head, so when I find an artist/album/song I love, I listen to whatever it is on repeat incessantly. Unfortunately for my loved ones, they often have to put up with listening to the same thing over and over again for extended periods of time whenever they get into my car or come to my house. It’s the same with books and writers—I have these obsession periods when I only read a poem, a book, or a writer for weeks at a time. This year, I’ve cycled through several writers and their work, and I don’t think I would have gotten by without them. Here are a few:

Not Here by Hieu Minh Nguyen
“What Carries Us” by Emily Jungmin Yoon
I Can’t Talk About the Trees Without the Blood by Tiana Clark
“You Were Found In The Belly of a Deer Once” by Chelsea Dingman
“Demeter’s Prayer to Hades” by Rita Dove

5. Thank you

I’m so grateful to have gotten to write about what I love—it’s an opportunity I don’t take for granted. Because of this year, I have taken stock of how how poetry compels me, surprises me in the day-to-day, and I’m comforted to know that there are so many of us who simply love poems. And though there is a long, anxiety-inducing list of unforgettable things that have happened this year, I’ve gotten through it in the company of writers and their work.

Thank you for reading. Thank you for loving poetry. In the company of poets, readers, and poetry itself, I am never alone but ever fulfilled.

—Stacey Park