Letter 88

June 19, 2022

On waiting

I’ve been waiting for a lot of things lately—warm weather, a camping trip with friends, the new Fire Emblem game, fun stuff in the mail, etc. Every day I wake up with something to wait for. Sometimes waiting is nice; it gives me something to look forward to, something to plan for. Other times, it sucks and drives me out of my mind. Even those moments when the anticipation feels unbearable can be nice, though. It feels good (and very human) to want something so bad it hurts, to need something so much that you’re counting down the days until it arrives. I would never give up the waiting if it meant less joy.


I’ve applied to a lot of things lately; fellowships, submitted to lit mags, chapbook prizes, etc, and let me tell you—the waiting is agonizing? I don’t think I’ve ever had my name sitting in the inboxes of this many decision-makers at once before. I find myself refreshing my e-mail way more obsessively than normal, checking at the “In progress” box on Submittable way more than is normal. I’m kind of anxious always! It sucks. I am impatient, by nature, too, so it’s no wonder the waiting-game part of writing and writing community kind of kills me. I’m impatient to know what happens but also don’t want time to pass? It’s a recipe for disaster and keeps me from trying, sometimes. It’s good to know what we can handle and what to take on vs not take on, of course, but wow! I wish waiting wasn’t something I struggled with so much, considering it will always happen, no matter what.


We recommend

📖 Thirty Names of Night by Zeyn Joukhadar

I just finished this book about a half hour ago as I am typing this and oh my god!!!!! I think I was near-tears the entirety of it and then sobbed at the end. This is an ACHINGLY beautiful book that alternates between the story of a Syrian American trans boy who is mourning his mother, taking care of his grandmother, and generally navigating the world; he stumbles upon a notebook by the artist Laila Z, a Syrian American painter who mysteriously disappeared decades again. His mother, an ornithologist, had been obsessed with her art. Laila Z’s journal details the life of Syrian immigrants in Little Syria, a neighborhood of Manhattan that would ultimately be destroyed; it’s such a special, special book. I feel lucky to be alive at the same time as Zeyn. Check it out!


📖 & I was so young when I behaved 25: poems

This is my newsletter so I get to use it to promote my friends!!! Also this is a real, actual recommendation because I got my copy of Summer’s birthday chapbook last week and loved it—I texted her my reactions the entire time I was reading it. If you haven’t already gotten yourself a copy of Summer’s Mitski-inspired poetry chapbook (available either digital or printed!), please do that right now.


📖 frank: sonnets by Diane Seuss

I try not to recommend the same type of thing twice in one letter but I’ve really only been reading the past few weeks, so here we go! This book won the Pulitzer Prize, the National Book Critics Circle Award, and the LA Times Book Prize so I thought weeeellll maybe I should just check it out. I’d seen poems by Diane Seuss before and loved every single one of them, so I’m not sure why it took me so long to read one of her collections? But holy shit! This book fucking rules! I love her sonnets; they have the energy of a prose poem (my poetic home!)—a rush of energy, urgent, scattered, passionate—I felt like I needed to take a picture of every page and show everyone I knew just how ridiculously each poem was. The retrospective-childhood-narrative poems are spectacular, the conversations with writers and artists are spectacular, my goodness. It’s just all so good. I think, too, this is a book I would recommend for someone who isn’t necessarily into poetry; the consistent sonnet-length keeps the prose poems from becoming dense, instead creates a really steady rhythm in the collection itself. Her language is accessible, the images vivid. Ugh. Awards committees really got it right this time.


🎙 Absolutely Crushed

A new podcast co-hosted by my friend @mb debuted this week! In each ep, the two hosts talk to a guest about their fictional or celebrity crushes—maybe someday Summer and I will join them to talk about our video game crushes? You can listen to the first episode here.