transcendent obsessions (or hearing reich's Drumming for the first time irl)

I’ve been turning something over in my head for a while now: Chamber works are to poems as symphonies are to novels. 

Hearing a composer’s chamber piece is to see their mind at work, the cogs churning and whirring; experimenting and exalting; wrestling and grappling and fixating on something—namely, an obsession—and turning it over and over again. 

It’s a something all writers deeply understand. 

This past Thursday, I heard Steve Reich’s Drumming in its entirety performed at House of Yes (HoY), and it was nothing short of transcendent. 

Sandbox Percussion and HoY aerial performers and vocalists [left to right]

Sandbox Percussion and HoY aerial performers and vocalists [left to right]


Synesthetic, mesmeric, meditative… Sandbox Percussion along with guest musicians and HoY performers did not disappoint. I won’t lie—I was worried that including aerial performers and dancers and large-scale digital visuals would potentially detract from the music, or distract. But rather it was additive, truly transformative.

Reich’s phasing technique is in many ways an aural exploration of obsession. Beginning in unison with a singular pattern, soon one of the performers pushes forward, incrementally faster, displacing the initial line by a beat and weaving a texture of new patterns. The result is a churning state of flux, never stagnant or stale, that is at once soothing as it is surprising. 

And this isn’t the construction of hierarchies; rather, what becomes is a meditation on what could be if you were to train your mind on one thing—one tone, one motif, one timbre. It’s no wonder I love listening to Reich's music when I write.

After the show, I was in this gooey state of awe and raw excitement. Buzzing with presence and visions about what’s to come.

My close friends know I’ve been saying this for forever, but the perception and reception of *classical music* have been shifting for a long, long time, and it’s made significant strides out of the graveyard. In the coming years, I anticipate more accessible, interdisciplinary, innovative work. Smaller works, more intimate works. More ambitious programming and staging. More of the new, without forgoing the old. (Just listen to what Modern Medieval is doing to get a taste of what I’m talking about.)

All in all, it’s an exciting time, both as active listener and creator. Perhaps sometimes we forgot the intention and deliberation that goes into both these roles. Perhaps we could be kinder on ourselves for even attempting such monumental acts. 

oh P.S. here's a shameless plug for my newsletter, which keeps ya up to date on all my blog posts and latest happenings :~)


updates_how is it 60 degrees already

  • moved into a new apt in Bushwick in July and still can’t believe how lucky I got. it’s in the heart of an incredibly creative, chill neighborhood and I feel like everyday I say "man I love this place." so much more laid back/low-key than Manhattan's constant commotion. it’s nice to know I can always pop over (under?) the water and into the city tho then come back home to quiet, empty streets and the occasional gentle sound of rain
  • got a new poem accepted in FIVE:2:ONE, should be coming out real soon!! !
  • not really sure where my head is at w grad school..... I'm still researching programs and checking back in w myself to figure out what exactly it is I want if/when I go back. my gut says to not push anything and keep going with what nonacademic life holds for me, but I also miss the classroom on the reg
Polaroid portrait at WordHack, July 2017

Polaroid portrait at WordHack, July 2017

  • went to my first WordHack @ Babycastles a couple months ago and absolutely loved it. the closing exhibition was totally up my neural alley--completely where my brain is at in terms of future projects and goals. I really want to learn the basics of code and see how to integrate it w my writings….. (likely w Processing) I feel like there’s definitely some digital threads to pull w themes of consciousness, hive minds, shared and distinct languages
  • just <<finished a short contract with a film company>> who’s producing an upcoming documentary—did some research on one of the main persons of interest in the film and had a blast
  • in the middle of a very exciting new creative project that has me revisiting old, unfinished work. it always surprises me (although it rly should less and less) how much time and distance are the stuff of progress. this especially relates to my writing. just put it away, put it out of your mind for a while, take a walk, eat some dinner, come back to it later. again and again this moves things along in ways I couldn't foresee and are so much more productive than constantly reopening and rehashing something that just isn’t working yet. I hope to share more details in the coming weeks, but for now mum’s the word ;)
  • addendum: don't know how to process the end of Twin Peaks: The Return. . . there is an absence in my Sunday night tonight </3
p.s. the beach exists in NYC and I saw for myself on Labor Day seeing is BELIEVING and believe me it's GORGEOUS

p.s. the beach exists in NYC and I saw for myself on Labor Day seeing is BELIEVING and believe me it's GORGEOUS

John Ashbery (1927-2017) : one of my early favorites and guiding voices

John Ashbery (1927-2017) : one of my early favorites and guiding voices

what I'm reading :

Alone with our madness and favorite flower
We see that there really is nothing left to write about.

R.I.P. Ashbery : "Late Echo" ^^ and a remembrance by BOMB Magazine

lots o' [short] fiction--just finished Look At Me by Jennifer Egan; almost done w The Terrible Girls by Rebecca Brown; and then onward to Intimations by Alexandra Kleeman

(Also just ordered Matthew Zapruder's Why Poetry so adding that to the docket as well :-D)

what I'm watching :

Bojack Horseman, season 4

what I'm hearing : 

LCD Soundsystem, American Dream (non. stop.)


2016 reflections:::2017 projections

I recently traversed a transcendent wormhole with my roommate and calculated my Human Design (HD) chart. I’m not sure how many of y’all are into/familiar with this, but it’s an amazing personality and design analysis that combines astrology, the I Ching, chakras, and auras. I’m a Projector type with my Ajna and Throat defined—only one defined center away from Castro's ! (whose had a fixed spleen)

hello, it's me, your friendly overthinking chatterbox :)&nbsp;

hello, it's me, your friendly overthinking chatterbox :) 

Just like delving into my full astrological star chart gave me wonderful personal insights and clarity, HD has helped me understand and become aware of my body’s natural tuning. Learning about HD, you hear lots of talk about broadcasting in regards to one's defined centers. Since my Ajna and Throat are defined they are always *broadcasting* to some extent, leaving those undefined/open centers more as windows, through which energy can pass freely and be absorbed/overcompensated/accounted for, etc. etc.

I’m a highly emotive person, which is in large part why I’ve always felt compelled to pursue the arts in several capacities. And I’m a skilled communicator, both written and spoken. With a fixed Ajna center—which encompasses that o-so-troubling-but-fascinating aspect of existence which allows us to not only think about but also question the interior of thoughts, the whys and hows and patterns of it all—I also synthesize lots of material, novel or otherwise, fairly routinely and systematically. 

But both of these fixed parts can cause trouble in my life. I’m working through that trouble, and what better (and predictable, let’s face it) way to do it, but lay it all out here in cathartic ramblings of yesteryear reflections.

2016 was a doozy—at large and on a much more micro, intimate level for me. It was the first year I’ve really been <on my own> not to mention <on the road> and far far away from my Florida hometown for a long stretch of time. I became financially independent in ways I've never been before and learned a slew of things through countless mistakes and a little too much debt on my hands. The learning curve really is steep, but I remind myself that ever step forward ultimately builds endurance. 

Maybe I grew some callouses last year. Which isn’t to say 2016 was all healing—it also had its share of tears and anxiety and larger existential questioning. Yet I grew and recovered from a very open-sore-sort-of year in 2015. The months immediately post-grad weren’t the kindest nor the happiest, but looking back now I recognize I had to interrogate a lot and break all of it down to move froward: see, (1) ego, (2) ambition, (3) aspirations, and (4) happiness. 

And then I find a moment to stop, like now, and take a big breath. Fully take in where I’m at now. Starting a new year with a job that speak to my skills and offers an open, creative, warm environment. Working on my craft and thinking more consciously about what all this art-making and feeling these teacherly feels really means. Considering grad school more seriously than ever before. Living in a thriving metropolitan city where I honestly have too much to do, all alongside one hell of a support system and close friends. 

I am incredibly thankful for last year and the countless people I’ve connected with along the way that nurtured me. Major shoutouts to the Hoyers, the staff & fellow past interns at Copper Canyon Press (here's lookin' at you VP, Janeen, & Ron) the whole Banana Leaf fam (ily, Fern) Steven, Alex, the Stuy Eye pals, my mom & dad, and all the strangers and random one-offs I’ve met and been changed by <3

I feel like I just did a shameless pseudo-acknowledgements-esque plug for my own damn year—yuck. Hell, this isn’t a novel, but if it were it would be the super messy, uncut version. As for those aforementioned major goals, re: breakdown of ego/ambition, I’m excited to dig into 2017 and work on a few (big) possibilities:

  1. Participating in some kind of workshop/summer program/retreat, DIY or otherwise
  2. Pursuing higher education for my writing, whether that means a traditional grad school MFA or otherwise attained 
  3. Completing a large collaborative project that’s been in the works for a while
  4. Interning at one of the {{zillion}} arts non-profits/presses/venues in NYC
  5. Compiling a chapbook for (maybe? eventual?) digital distribution 

And here’s another list, because this time of year you just can’t get enough of 'em.

Notable Artists Seen in 2016:

  • Mark Doty (Port Townsend, WA)
  • Ellen Bass (Port Townsend)
  • Richard Siken (Seattle, WA)
  • Ocean Vuong (Manhattan)
  • Solmaz Sharif (Manhattan)
  • Jessica Pratt (Queens)
  • Bryce Dessner (Knoxville, TN)
  • Angel Olsen (Knoxville)
  • Philip Glass (Knoxville)
  • Kamasi Washington (Knoxville)
  • Nico Jaar (Knoxville)
  • Mitski (Brooklyn)
  • Big Ups (Brooklyn)
  • Jenny Hval (Manhattan)
  • Girlpool (Brooklyn)
  • Thee Oh Sees (Manhattan)

And with that, I offer a toast I never got around to NYE because I was too busy laughing and drinking the champagne. Here’s to seeing where it all goes. Cheers to good health and meaningful connections and ambitions. May you all thrive and defy in 2017, in the face of proposed tyranny, in the face of self-doubt. Tackle all your demons and fight back. I love you all <3 <3 <3


This weekend marks my one-month anniversary with New York City. So far I’ve managed to catch the wrong train only a handful of times (and hop the turnstile only once); explore several Manhattan and Brooklyn neighborhoods; snag a job @ the restaurant/bar/venue that apparently launched Regina Spektor’s career (come say heyyyyy!); and find the best slice of pizza less than a mile away from my apt. 

I love the energy and pace of this city and I’m grateful to have a space and community that lets me breathe and regroup when it all gets to a boiling point. Speaking of which, super stoked for a genuine autumn season and ready to layer again. I’ve also applied to a couple internships (some paid, others not) and hoping to combine restaurant-serving with creative work. 

current art exhibit showing @ Silent Barn / Bushwick, BK

current art exhibit showing @ Silent Barn / Bushwick, BK

Other new(ish) things besides moving:

  1. cooking’ up projects that are probably too big to tackle publicly anytime soon, but they’ll marinate anyway
  2. corralling poems I don’t want to touch anymore and sending them off into the fall/winter publishing season deliberation abyss
  3. obsessing over newly found visual/performative artists and concocting Big Ideas To Someday See Through (see #1) Current obsession: Ed Atkins —> watch Depression and fall head over heels for his work
gorgeous multimedia installation,&nbsp; Lovers  by Teiji Furuhashi, seen on a Free Friday @ MoMA i.e. Disney World-Esque Mad House of the Art World&nbsp;

gorgeous multimedia installation, Lovers by Teiji Furuhashi, seen on a Free Friday @ MoMA i.e. Disney World-Esque Mad House of the Art World 

Currently listening to: Blonde / Frank Ocean (because who isn’t???)

Cheers to keeping fingers crossed on internship decisions and making rent for the rest of 2016 <3 <3