Journal

The Undoing: 2017 Reflection

Photo Credit: Joanna Keilson

Photo Credit: Joanna Keilson

Last December I stated that this year will be a year of undoing and doing by a means of faith and writing and with much reflection this year has been beautifully and painfully, exactly, that.

Through my writing, I have undone much fear and at the same time, many treasured comforts that have kept new horizons at bay. In my faith, God has used many of mistakes and failures to undo faulty thinking patterns, undone my constant need to get it all right, undone several habits and sins that have easily beset me and much more. God has shown me His love for me in ways I never could have imagined, he’s brought me out of strongholds and belted his truth around my waist.

Honestly, much of what has been done and undone is beyond explication. It has been an excruciating process, yet in all, my heart beats in joy. Even in the struggles and heavy pain, God was in that place with me, and truly it took losing nearly everything to see His greatness and my failure in clarity. I can even say, in honesty that, in the last couple months of this year, within my refining fire furnace, I have smiled so much more and felt so much joy than the year in total. And that simple thing alone excites me for what is to come. 

Although much of this year has been of loss, I did have several blessings and moments that I will cherish for years to come. I completed graduate school, completed a thesis, and had several poems published. I began and am working on my manuscript in which I hope to have published, if God willing, sometime in this coming year.  

ICYMI: Check out these poems that I have been graced to have published this year: 

The Building With the Scaffolding (The Rising Phoenix Review, November 30, 2017) 

Our Crooked Teeth (The Rising Phoenix Review, November 20, 2017)

The Lazarus Inside (The Rising Phoenix Review, November 7, 2017)

Making Boardwalks Out of Borders (The Deaf Poets Society, Issue 5, 2017)

At First, It Was Just a Game (Downtown Brooklyn, Issue 26, 2017)

If I Die Tomorrow [W/ Daniel Vidal Soto] (Visceral Brooklyn, Issue 3.2, 2017)

 

Photo Credit: Joanna Keilson 

Photo Credit: Joanna Keilson 

As the saying goes, I lost and I loved. If 8 is symbolic of new beginnings, 2018 will certainly be a new beginning for me in more ways that I can express. I know that the act of undoing will continue on into this coming year because to undo and do is the cycle of life and is a necessity of my heart to be continually undone by God’s amazing grace, the process of sanctification, continual repentance, and the blade and shears of his living word.

As the year undoes itself in the night, I have prayed, declared and decreed that 2018 will not just simply be new beginnings but that, it will be a year of awakening.  2018 will be a year of spiritual awakening, gift awakening, vision awakening, mind awakening, and much more. It is my declaration that everything that was closed off, unknown, buried, asleep, unrevealed to me in twenty-seventeen will be awakened to me in this coming year. So here's to new beginnings in writing, love, friendships, relationships, spirituality, and every facet of my personhood and life.

2016 Reflection: In the Rearview Mirror of Writing

This year began as a journey of dismantlement and discovery and as this year comes to a close it ends with an uprooting through forgiveness. In terms of my writing, this year, I discovered many new ways of expressing myself, discovered great things about writing, faith, and myself in general. I learned how to dismantle fear, conventions, judgements and self-sabotage as well as discover poems that I never knew I could write. This year I learned to uproot many bad behaviors, uproot anger, hurt, and all the things I was suppressing and refusing to acknowledge and through that process, I learned and began to let forgiveness in my wounds, in my poems, and in my heart.

Even though this year is ending and a new one is beginning, the journey of dismantlement, discovery, uprooting and forgiveness will continue. This journey has brought me far from where I used to be but also stretches hope out and allows me to see myself differently and see beyond myself. It helped me to see how limitless I am through the power of a limitless God as he shines his light and truth on and through my writing. I say with peace and thanksgiving that I am not where I used to be and this year has pushed me farther and harder than my previous years have.

It helped me to see how limitless I am through the power of a limitless God as he shines his light and truth on and through my writing.

 

It’s simple to say that I am at a different place now, in my writing, artistry, and personhood, then I was when this year began, but this change, this movement, this growth was not all neat nor simple. There was a lot of vulnerability, tears, refusing to write, denial, and refusing to try, there was a lot of praying, workshop, revision, rejection, frustrations, tragedy, fear-facing, drafts, torn sheets of paper, deleted Microsoft Word files, and more. Even in all the mess, this year has been great and I can honestly count it all joy. 

Where I am in my writing now versus where I was in January, is an unbounded space beneath the sky full of stars. In the book of Genesis, a vision of the Lord came to Abraham, ‘And he brought him outside and said, “Look toward heaven, and number the stars if you are able to” (Genesis 15:5) That is where I am in writing. I am outside my tent—outside my comfort, safety, self, familiarity—and I am looking toward heaven, toward the blank page speckled in stars that I can’t count and with my pen taut, I am believing in myself but greater in him when he tells me. . . “So shall your offspring be."  (Genesis 15:6) --Many poems, much writing (in whatever genre is meant to be) shall be as the many stars.

 

If I could recap the many great and significant moments of this year as it relates to my writing there would be a long list but here are the few that truly made an impact:

 

  • Trying my hand in the genre of Non-Fiction:

I took my first Non-Fiction course and got to work with an awesome professor who helped me to branch out of my comfort zone of poetry. In the course, I wrote three essays that explored language and silence-it’s constraining and freeing usages- through the art of personal narrative anchored in place, history and memory.  

  • Meeting, poet and author, Idra Novey:

She was a visiting writer for my course, Writers on Writing. In that course, I was chosen to submit my own work to her, as part of her visit, and having her workshop; give feedback/critique my piece. For that day, she workshopped my poem “From the Melting Pot” in which I explored what it felt like for me to be Puerto Rican and Trinidadian and not feel completely part of either nationality/culture.

I also got to take a full poetry workshop with her on, "The Art of the Line Break, or of No Break, and Other Lyrical Pursuits in Search of Meaning and Surprise", which was a very amazing experience because I wrote many poems that I never thought I would. I really got out of my comfort zone and my classmates, as well as Idra, were very encouraging and effective in their workshopping.

  • “From the Melting Pot” poem published in Snapdragon Journal

you can view that poem as well as view the other publications I received this year by viewing the "Publications" tab below in the navigation bar.

  • The Loss of my mother:

Although this seems a bit weird to put on this list, it is here because it was a very significant moment of this year. With all the ache and sorrow, I wouldn’t be where I am today without going through that hardship, in which I am still going through. Through this I learned to hold on to hope through grief. I learned to write through it, I learned to love and accept love through it, and I learned to lean not on my own understanding. I learned to be strong for others, namely my family, to pray with and for others boldly and in confidence. I also wrote a poem, for my mother, which appeared on her funeral program, titled “The Morning in Mourning” And it is through this loss I learned to look to the morning in mourning.

  • Winning the Esther Hyneman Award in Poetry:

The awards were named for Professor Esther Hyneman, in recognition of her creative engird and her years of dedicated service to the English Department (at Long Island University Brooklyn).

  • Getting a scholarship to attend the Slice Literary Conference

Honestly, at first I really didn't feel like going to the confrence and I also felt a bit unsure about it because it focused more on fiction and non-fiction rather than poetry. However I had a really great time and  attended some awesome panels. 

  • Poetry collaboration with Danial Vidal Soto:

I have a passion for collaborative work, especially poems, so this year I got to work with a dear friend of mine. We wrote and performed this poem, “IF I Die Tomorrow” at LIU Brooklyn ‘s Fall MFA Reading. It was truly an awesome experience and an audio version of this poem is now published in Visceral Brooklyn’s current issue, you can view/listen to it by visiting the publications tab below and clicking the link. 

 

The new year always comes with the hope and attempt at resolutions in which many fail to keep but I always work hard to keep mine. Instead of looking toward resolutions as something to resolve I look to them as realistic, attainable, specific goals. Yet, If I had to say what my writing resolution is for 2017 it is this: to complete a collection of poems and get that bad boy out in the world. Are you ready for it? because I am. 

I look forward to all that this next year has in store. If this year was a year of dismantlement, discovery, uprooting and forgiveness, 2017 will be a year of undoing and doing, through the means of writing and faith. There will be much more discoveries and more forgiveness. More writing, more rejections, more revisions, more hurt, more failures, more workshopping, more pushing myself to work and write when I don’t feel like it, more prayer, more vulnerability, more drafts, more no’s, more yes's and trusting the creator with his ways and miracles that shall manifest through my writing. There will be a whole lot more looking up at the heavens, at all the stars that I am unable to count outside of my tent and counting Him righteous for as many stars are as many as my offspring—my poems, writing, influence, and his glory through me and these things that I write and do.

 

Adios 2016, Hello 2017. Heres to louder, softer, fiercer, kinder, sweeter, more honest, more truth-filled, out of the box, out of this word poems, essays, journals, collaborations, mixed-media, Instagram captions, blurbs, tweets, stories--or whatever may writing have it!