year 33: let it be, let it be, let it be.
This substack will be a monthly variance of pondering. Partly sharing poems (from others or from myself), partly sharing essays, partly sharing whatever it is that happens. I wish this space to be a room where you get to reflect on constant beginnings, of in-betweens, of the closings, of whatever’s on your mind whether it was sparked by something you read here or elsewhere. Come and ponder with me. Come garden some words.
Today is my birthday: 33 on the 22nd.
This past year I tried to stay committed to myself and not the self others were, or might have been, committed to. I’ve been reflecting on all the things I’ve done—no I won’t bore you with every detail—but I think it’s important to mention that my first book came out October 15th, Person, Perceived Girl with the wonderful folks over at Barrow Street Press. (I also found myself editing/reading with two of the biggest publishers in country, in back to back months.) And although those opportunities were incredible (thank you to those who advocated for me, you know who you are), those things are not the point of this first post.
I’ve been thinking of, how often, there’s a curated curiosity that society shows to creatives who are racialized and minoritized in multiplicity, like I am. This curated curiosity is designed to claustrophobe the spectated and spectator’s imagination and creativity by sowing doubt. The ones who cannot are doubting those who do and can, and those who can and surpass are often inundated with a challenged curiousness to their work: it can’t really be that good, have that depth, evoke that kind of brilliance and community, that call and response in the soul... can it? Yes, it can. So much of this past year was about trying to uncurate my curiosity—and in a broader sense, my courage—making work that was both expansive and exalting the small things; to be someone who tried without worrying about the outcome. And what I mean by “uncurating my curiosity” was that some of the things I said “yes” to were things that I thought started out somewhat daunting in my mind—does anything creative really begin in perfection? Or in 100% clarity? I’d say rarely. And although those things turned out just fine or better than I thought they would, at the beginning I had to learn to “let it be” what it turns and turned out to be. (Instead of forcing what I thought it should have looked like.) To myself, and to others to some extent, I had to repeat “Let me BE and my work BE” without the suffocating expectations of competition and fear that pervades so much of imagination, creativity, and collaboration.
And in that “let it be,” where I stepped outside my comfort and away from the ever-present curated curiosity that others looked at me with, and into more courage; where I challenged perceptions of who I was and what I was capable of by standing up for myself; where I dug deeper gardens and into deeper growth; I found greener things, opportunities and moments I would have never had the conviction to take, had I stayed in the lonely and peculiar—and ultimately unlike who I was—curation that some saw and tried to keep me in. And so the “let it be” led me to ask for more, and deeper creativity for myself; but never, ever, for permission to be myself. So I did, and I’m proud of where my curiosity led me.
Here’s to 33. Here’s to new things for us all.
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