About this time, I name the upcoming year. This is not news to many of you. I name everything. My last three houses have been named: Clementine, Persimmon & Clover. My car is named Sir Lady Heartbeat the Millionth Millionth (an homage to a Shira Erlichman poem). I like to say,
If you name things, they are less scary.
Here is a running tally of the names of my most recent years:
2012- Quit The Dumb Shit
2013- Fuck It, We Made It, Let's Have Sex On the Roof and Eat The Moon Slow (also a title of a chapbook I made that year)
2014- Just Be Intentional About It
2015- True Refuge, Small Fortunes
2016- Everyday Sorcery & Radical Nourishment
Maybe back in 2012, I was just trying to be practical. Over the years, I've started casting a bigger vision. I spend most of December reflecting on what I learned in the year and what I hope to work on in the next one.
Sometimes it's helpful to sit down and write about the year to reflect on it. Here are my vision questions and the wheel of the year that I like to use to look at my growth and future planting.
2016 wasn't completely a shit year. Between the continued killing of unarmed black folks and the mass tragedies like The Pulse shooting and the Election, it sure feels like it some days.
But it was also the year of Hamilton and America choosing to replace Andrew Jackson with Harriet Tubman on the $20 bill. Here is a more thorough list of good things that happened this year.
For me personally, I feel proud of a few things that happened for me and/or my community.
1. I WROTE A MUSICAL
Well it was a script to a musical called King of Queen about a trans guy who sees Freddie Mercury as his guardian angel. SET TO QUEEN SONGS. It was a collaboration with Balthazar and a bunch of incredible musicians like my bestie, LaRissa Conn. BALTHAZAR WAS FREDDIE MERCURY. We got to encore the show at OKC Pride in front of thousands of people so that was definitely a dream come true.
2. CORE ALIGN IS THE COOLEST THING SINCE ROE V WADE
I finished a Generative Fellowship with Core Align. Y'all this organization is everything you want to exist in the world. It is about using practices of innovation like design thinking and user centered development, things used in the tech and corporate worlds, in SOCIAL JUSTICE FRAMEWORKS.
Specifically reproductive justice work. They also do a Speaking Race to Power Fellowship that works through issues of racism and white supremacy. Critical work y'all. I met so many rad folks doing good work in the world. It gave me hope. If you or someone you know, might be interested in a fellowship you should peep the Core Align website for dates and app requirements. PS. I am so excited that Candace Liger is going to be a fellow! Bad ass Oklahoma poet.
3. LOVE, SEX, FAMILY, COMMUNITY
Core Align also asked me to help with some poetry and art work at the Innovation Convening which was an incredible gathering of people who are working in social justice where we furiously created solutions to problems centered on the theme of Love, Sex, Family and Community. Basically, this is part of an effort to try framing Repro Justice with this language. Everyone deserves to have as much or little love, sex, family & communityas they want, however they want it. I'm really geeked about this organization and the people I met through these events, in case you couldn't tell.
4. YOUNG, QUEER, BLACK WOMAN ELECTED TO GEORGIA HOUSE
Park Cannon was elected to State House this year and spoke a the DNC and I played MASH with her on the Core Align bus. (Read about her on CNN) A Gen Fellow from my cohort, it was so neat to see my friend get elected to office and then at our retreat we got to brainstorm legislation for the next session. She is the second black queer woman to be elected to that seat but she is the youngest in the House. Everything is not bad. Plus, look at these women of color elected to Congress this year.
5. INDIGENOUS FOLKS ARE LEADING A MOVEMENT THAT WILL CHANGE THE WORLD
I know you know but shit, can we acknowledge Standing Rock and #noadapl for a moment? I can't talk about the good things of this year without shouting out this resistance movement. Yes, it is terrible that they have to do this. Terrible that while we were celebrating Thanksgiving, they were being shot at with rubber bullets and sprayed with hoses in below freezing temperatures. But this prayerful resistance has the attention of the world. It is the most inspiring movement since the Anti-War & Civil Rights protests of the sixties and Black Lives Matter. The activists I know that have been there say it is like nothing they have ever seen. It will go down in history. Possibly as the year we finally realized we can't keep shoving our greed and sludge into the earths pockets and expect the planet to keep going. We have to protect our water, our earth, our people. One of the most inspiring things about it, is that it is not white people. White people are asked to be allies and stay in prayer while at camp. They are not the saviors. This is not burning man. This is a great lesson in how to sit back and listen to the people who have been leading real culture change since the beginning of time.
6. ICAH IS SEX ED THAT IS LIKE LEGIT AND SHIT
They have been existing for a while but I just discovered ICAH, Illinois Caucus for Adolescent Health so that basically means they just started this year. JK but their performance based Sex Ed inspired a musical that Kavi and I are working on. ICAH is everything you want Sex Ed to be. It breaks down stigma, focuses on reducing risk, and is queer inclusive. I want Oklahoma to have something like it. I also learned about Nikki Zaleski who is such a bad ass. You should follow her. I am going to say bad ass a lot in this post and in life.
7. YOUNG, GIFTED, BLACK POETS ARE DOMINATING THE GAME
I mean, this is life and always but I am so proud that every time I log into FB, my feed is filled with folks winning awards and taking names. I want to talk about everyone but I am just gonna name a few.
Angel Nafis won the Ruth Lilly. THE RUTH LILLY AND DOROTHY SERGEANT ROSENBURG POETRY FELLOWSHIP. That's a big deal. You should know about her and how she was on the cover of Brooklyn Magazine and how she is the grandest of grand. One of my top five favorite poets.
Danez Smith is still the champion of all things literary. Technically [Insert]boy came out at the end of last year but I am still in it. He has a new book out on Button called Black Movie and he has gotten all the prizes. Watch his video Dinosaurs in the Hood like right now.
We don't deserve Hanif but he exists. Hanif Willis-Abdurriqib is writing for MTV now. I mean, he wrote the MTV Awards this year, folks. His new book, The Crown Ain't Worth Much is everything. Every time he has something to say about something, I listen, I share, because it is what needed to be said.
Here are more poets of color that doing incredible things. Like Fatimah Ashgar, Jamila Woods (singer on Macklemore's White Privilege II has a new album, OMG.I support these artists because they are incredible artists but also they are doing important work and they need to be lifted up higher than ever now.
8. SUBTLE CREATURE EXISTS
Every year that Shira Erlichman continues to let us be on the same planet as her and continues to make poems and music is a year that is good. This year she made a new album called Subtle Creature that everyone loves and some new videos and I can't get enough.
9. ALIGNING AND CONVERGING
This year my love, Kai Ridge who is FTM and has been aligning for two years now, got top surgery and had his name legally changed. When the judge asked why he chose the name, Kai, he said, "Kai has several meanings. One is unbreakable. I thought that fit."
I am so proud of him. Also, in our aligning, he asked me to be his wifey partner. And gave me a fancy ring and everything. Here's to folks aligning with their true self and finding the one who will converge with their realest shit & potential majesty.
10. MOOSEY MARBLE CAME INTO OUR LIVES
Kai found our sweet Moose when she was only six weeks old. She was in a busy intersection and had some kind of green paint all over her. We took her home and became her forever family. We took her on a 5,000 mile road trip. A month ago, SHE GOT HIT BY A CAR BUT SHE IS STILL ALIVE. It was terrifying but the picture above was taken after she was hit and was banged up but just kept on trucking. #miracles You can see her life in pictures on my instagram or the hashtag #mooseymarble
11. THE CHILDREN, Y'ALL. THE CHILDREN ARE THE FUTURE
I am unapologetic about my adoration of my own offspring. I can't get enough of them. They are doing this theater thing like whoa. They have been in 5 productions this year and Briam is starting on his first grown up production this month. They have been at the theater sometimes for 11 hours at a time. They are professionals. They have blown my gourd with their growth and talent.
Also, I've taught poetry in schools from elementary to high school this year. I've been from Alaska to Iowa this year, and it never stops amazing me how the young people on this planet get it. If it was up to them everyone would love each other and we could have as much sparkling juice as we could drink.