Shaping water as with words

With the Oscars this Sunday, I thought it would be fitting to muse about The Shape of Water.

My immediate thoughts were conflicted: gorgeous, yes, lyrical, yes, but it also felt too closed. Like a perfect circle that doesn’t hold a mirror to anything we could ever experience. 

Argue fantasy and fairy tales, and that’s true with this film, but I am a constant critic.

Why escape to the 1950’s? Who is nostalgic and warm and safe here? I’ve grown uncomfortable in these clothes, these roles. 

On the other hand, I loved that it ended with a poem, one which left me thinking, Wait, who wrote that?

"Unable to perceive the shape of you,
I find you all around me.
Your presence fills my eyes with your love,
It humbles my heart,
For you are everywhere.”

The state of poetry is thriving. Online it’s easy to find vibrant debate, dissection, and dedication to a craft that is (truly) old as dirt. And I love it. 

Just asking the question “who” can open a discussion and wealth of new knowledge for novice poetry readers.

I immediately searched online, trying to find who wrote the poem at the end of The Shape of Water. While I didn’t find any definitive answers per say, what I did unearth was a forum full of discussions over this very topic. 

Some suggested the poet was Saint Symeon. Others were adamant it was Rumi. (And at first their enthusiasm and confidence convinced me the most.) Others mentioned poetic origins hailing from different worldly corners and traditions, from Islam to Greek mythology. And others thought it was original, a poem written by del Toro himself.

I think it's special that a poem spoke to so many, and in a film with that massive of an audience. The poetic tradition is full of different lineages and the concluding poem in The Shape of Water speaks to that layered, interwoven identity.

When I write, I also feel like I'm making shapes. Language is so malleable, both soft like clay and hard like brick. It can become so much and soak up what you let it soak. The shape of words isn't so singular as it is possibilities—an infinite polyphony, as water also flows into whatever contains it.


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.)


"Rose Hips" now live in MUSH/MUM #4

Super super stoked about <<this one>> going live for all you folks to read online

I've admired MUSH/MUM's roster for a while now, how they're deliciously pushing and subverting form in every which way. Reading that emailed acceptance as I touched down in JFK was exhilarating. I've often said this last batch of poems were like my babies, and if I had to chose one (like all bad mothers inevitably do) "Rose Hips" would be my favorite. This poem comes from a fraught (and ongoing) relation and exploration of my body, identity, and orientation as well as a long-distilled retrospect on a shitty illicit 3-time hookup. It's also a personal beloved Fuck The Captalist Imperialist Patriarchy manifesto. And like all recent poems of mine, this features a Composite Fuckboy: the combined cesspool of deceit and late night texts. Oh, and where would this poem (or I for that matter) be rn were it not for reading Karyna McGlynn's "I Can't Stop Being Performative" in the Kenyon Review summer of 2015. That piece had me thinking about narration and levels in a whole new light, a light which bathed and nurtured my own lines. 

"Rose Hips" took its own slow time to bloom and I'm so happy to share it now with y'all alongside some amazing writers in MUSH/MUM #4.

hope you enjoy🌹