Publishing is a lot like the lottery in that you can't win if you don't play. I'm luckier with poems than I am with scratch tickets: I've had work in so many great magazines publishing work that I truly admire & I'm so happy I even get to play. The added layer to the lottery of "who will want this weird bit of my brain anyway?" comes when nomination deadlines turn up. It's an honor just to have folks read my work, & doubly thrilling when playing one lottery gets me access to another.
That being said, nominations for "best of" anthologies are a sneaky, nebulous thing & every editorial board is different when imaging their criteria for greatness. In spite of that, I somehow managed to rack up seven different nominations for this year's Best of the Net anthology. I'm floored & proud & honored my work got this kind of love even once, so to have it happen seven damn times. It's like the internet knew it was just recently my birthday.
Here are the nominated poems in question & a little biography of each of them:
FLAPPERHOUSE --- "Street Music"
I hate being yelled at more than anything & I hate it even more when it happens in the street. If I had my way I wouldn't get catcalled. I would be able to change shape at will, to move through a safety of objects until I was away from the person forcing their way into my day. This poem is a what if. What if I could transform into anything but a person the moment someone decides I do not deserve the respect of acknowledged personhood.
FreezeRay Poetry --- "It Isn't Hell If Everybody Knows My Name"
When you're a Catholic slut you're just a woman. The unmarried women in the Bible that spent time with Jesus are not called revolutionaries, which is what they were. They are labeled prostitutes because they were unmarried. There's ministry in the body & in the bodies of others. There are ways to fold God stories to make them more true, to give the women in them the power they deserve.
Harpoon Review --- "Dead Star"
Sometimes someone calls you the moon when they mean that you're dirt. This poem was the first honest thing I wrote after breaking an engagement & taking my life & writing back from someone who wanted me to believe myself worthy only of being covered in footprints.
Maps for Teeth --- "PGH"
A love song for Pittsburgh, the city of my heart, & for my dear friend Justin Nixon. We've been praying together in one way or another since meeting 5 years ago. Growing into awkward, accomplished adults: praying. Falling away from any church & into art instead: praying.
Noble / Gas Qtrly --- "Work"
Boston is a rich (wealthy) city & I often feel frowned at here. Money doesn't make me chase certain kinds of work. I like work I can feel in my body at the end of the day, work that makes me feel physically exhausted. That impulse is inherited. No one in my family knows how to sleep unless they've done some work you can measure first. It makes me feel close to my dad to be on my feet all day, sore, but accomplishing something that I can point to.
Sundog Lit --- "Proof"
This poem is one of the last I wrote for Pelican & set off a chain reaction in my writing where philosophy now can't disentangle itself from the way I remember certain moments. If my heart holds onto something, there must be a reason, even if that reason never speaks up & tells me its name.
Synaesthesia Magazine --- "Orioles"
We use robots to let us love people across impossible distances. To collapse time & space & end up in rooms with people we've never properly met. Isn't that a kind of warmth? Doesn't it make spring feel closer to know you can move your voice thousands of miles to the middle of a field you've never stood in? The telephone reminds me of those seeds that fly plants to new places. How soft they are. How not every seed finds a place where growth is possible.
Thank you to the editorial staffs at all seven journals for making me feel like the girl with the most cake. This truly was the best birthday surprise I could've asked for (besides winning scratch tickets, of course.)