open language // mar '23
monthly poetry micro-review & micro-ritual
I’m really glad you’re here. Up until recently, I’d send occasional email newsletters to friends about poetry announcements. Of course I want people to know what’s going on with me, but I also want to offer you something more. Open Language is an offering of two things that get me through: poetry & ritual.
My favorite book of the year so far is Nico Vela Page’s beautiful debut poetry collection, Americón, just launched by Wendy’s Subway Passage Series. These are intuitive, intelligent poems of ancestry, land, and intersecting histories and languages, all held tenderly by the poet. The work centers on northern New Mexico. Even though it was composed many miles from there, the immediacy of the land’s impact and history is palpable. Awareness of liminality (“I want / the way porch is between”) and colonization (“Country is cleft, no ves?”) pervade. The book itself is a gorgeous object, peppered with silver interior pages and Nico Vela Page’s haunting photographs (beginning with a person walking out into the land, ending with an image of land uninhabited). Americón is part docu-poetics (“its glib / conclusion that the current / route might lead to the cultural / extinction of the Cuna / and Chocó”), part prayer to the body and dirt (“algae blooms silt/swirls / can’t mar this bubbling / up from soil itself”). I loved every moment. Read this book. Gift this book.
Let’s start real simple. My mother often used to have me run around the house and open all the windows. Didn’t matter the weather. She likes to say, “when the spirit moves me,” and the spirit often moves her to let the air in. The air element brings fresh insight, clears stale spaces (“cambiare l’aria” or “change the air”). Sometimes, when I feel the terror of everything, that claustrophobic clench of a feeling (I’m sure you know a version too), when it hits me hard, I realize I haven’t opened the windows in weeks. So I open them to the cold or the unseasonably warm winter air. Maybe to the quiet of night, or to mid-afternoon recess screams. Whatever is there, let it pass through all the space in the space where you dwell, and all the space in you. It’s a gesture as old as windows, a powerful ritual with cleansing capacity.
poem/contemplation prompt: open a window wide and feel the air. mentally trace it through space as the air moves around and within you. what is it bringing in? what is it moving out? what might it be saying?
I’ve got a poem called “Low Level Dancing” in the first issue of Sarka - a journal which features writing of the flesh, edited by Francesca Kritikos, Ourania Frangea & Will Carey. Check out the full issue - it’s a special one, including some gems by Niina Pollari. Also, folx from the issue, including me, will be reading on March 26 for Club Wonder x SARKA at Mood Ring in Brooklyn @ 7pm
I’m really excited to introduce a new series of poems I wrote in collaboration with la smorfia, a southern Italian dream interpretation system. You can read some in the forthcoming issue of Fence. More soon!
On March 20, I’ll be sharing a new poem (along with several other poets and artists) at an equinox vespers service in Ridgewood, Queens. If that appeals, DM me for details.
I’m offering a limited number of spring/summer manuscript consultations to poets at any stage of project development. I’d love to hear about what you’re working on. In addition to providing editorial feedback, I offer the option for tarot consultations in relation to your project.
NYC folx!: I teach a 30-minute meditation class every Wednesday at 4:45pm at Sparsa in Greenpoint. It’s free and a great option for beginners, as well as those with a steady practice. We begin each session with gentle movement, so wear something comfy. If you sign up online, please select $0 in the payment box.
The continuous wave of laws aiming to legislate our human bodies is wildly enraging. There are sweeping anti-trans bills being proposed and adopted across the U.S., including one in Oklahoma that would ban gender-affirming care for both adults and minors. Follow @them on Instagram to stay updated and engaged. In Texas, there’s a proposal to outlaw websites about abortion! Follow jessica.substack.com to stay up-to-date on all abortion rights news. I invite you to voice your response to issues of bodily autonomy @9.words_ on Instagram. DM your nine words for inclusion.
sending thanks & love,
so wonderful and cool!