For the last several years I’ve been working on a manuscript that tells the story of my time in the U.S. military through a collection of essays, some straightforward, others more experimental.
I am excited to announce that that manuscript, Out of Step, has won the Non/Fiction Prize from The Journal/The Ohio State University Press. In addition to a small cash prize, I’ve been offered a contract with Mad Creek Books, the literary imprint of OSU Press.
Out of Step is a memoir about a working-class bisexual boy running off to join the army during two wars and the era of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.” It’s a queer coming-of-age story set against the backdrop of masculinity and secrecy. I was a lot of things when I joined: punk, nerdy, left-leaning, poor, but never patriotic. So what makes a pink-haired queer raise his right hand to enlist just as the nation is charging into war? This isn’t a flag-waving memoir, or a classic war novel — it’s the stories of me figuring out who I am as I figure out where I fit.
I am absolutely honored to be selected, especially with how talented and brilliant the other finalists are. I just want to say thank you to the contest’s judge, Michael Kardos, for selecting the work and for seeing its value. I also want to thank everyone at The Journal and OSU Press, as well as any early readers who found and reviewed the work.
The book is expected to be released to the Fall 2018 catalog, so stay tuned for updates about the process and release dates.
I just got word that I’ll be presenting at the 2017 Creative Writing Studies Conference in Black Mountain, North Carolina. The conference is hosted by the Creative Writing Studies Organization, which aims to elevate discourse and pedagogy on creative writing that is well-researched and theoretically grounded.
The theme this year is “Creative Writing Studies in Trump’s USA,” and I’ll be presenting on how womanist and feminist epistemologies can and should transform the way we think about and teach creative nonfiction. Really, I want writers and scholars to think about the way we define ‘nonfiction,’ and how an idea like ‘alternative facts’ is one that the can be deployed for transformative and social-justice-minded aims.
I look forward to hearing what other scholars are saying on this theme, and I hope that you are too. If you’re free November 10-13th, come catch the conference.
In case you missed it, I recently shared some of my thoughts on George W. Bush’s new book, Portraits of Courage: A Commander in Chief’s Tribute to America’s Warriors. The work shares a collection of oil paintings Bush has created of injured military veterans of the U.S. wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. As a military veteran myself, I feel pretty strongly about the 43rd president and his role in the war, so as a book reviewer, I found myself feeling almost obligated to check this one out.
Here’s what I wrote for Baltimore City Paper:
I recently presented at the Northeast Modern Language Association annual conference here in Baltimore. The conference is an annual event from NeMLA, a professional organization for a variety of scholars of language. I presented as part of a panel on Social Identity, Affect and the First-Year Classroom. My presentation was on Queer Across the Curriculum, a model for how Queer Studies might repurpose the model used by Writing Across the Curriculum to spread composition writing across the university over the last 40 years.
The conference was a great opportunity to meet scholars across a variety of fields and to hear the research they are working on. One highlight from another speaker on my panel was the way in which educators can use StoryCorps in writing classrooms.
Another panel that caught my attention was Transgender Theories of Voice, which presented a variety of papers that blended gender studies, transgender theory, musicology and media technology.
NeMLA was also an opportunity to engage on social media. I tweeted highlights of many of the panels I attended and was able to continue my conversation about the conference and the ideas being shared there to other attendees on Twitter as well as my followers who weren’t there.
I’m putting together my proposal now for the 2018 conference in Buffalo. If you want to connect with me there (or on Twitter), or if you’d like to work with me to create a panel or paper, don’t hesitate to reach out.
So far I have two upcoming conferences in 2017 at which I’ll be presenting. Feel free to drop in and say hi if you can.
Find me at the Northeast Modern Language Association Conference (here in Baltimore) on Saturday, 25 March at 11:45, where I will be presenting “Queer Across the Curriculum” for a panel on “Social Identity, Affect and the First-Year Writing Classroom.”
I also just got word that I’ll be presenting and moderating two panels at this year’s OutWriteDC conference. During the first weekend in August, I’ll be talking “Bent Lecterns: Queer, Trans and Same-Gender-Loving Writers in Front of the Classroom” and reading poetry for “Queer as in F*ck You: Poems of Anger and Resistance” along with other great writers and educators from around the region.
Hopefully, this is just the start of another great year of writing and teaching. If you have a reading or panel discussion at which you’d like for me to join you, feel free to reach out to discuss it. I’m always up for talking about writing, queerness or teaching.
Even as it proved to be an ugly year for politics, LGBTQ+ people and celebrities we will miss, 2016 didn’t destroy us. For my work, it was actually a pretty decent year.
Reading and writing made a lot happen for me, from publishing my first chapbook of poems to expanding my MFA thesis to a book-length manuscript that I will be trying to get in front of agents and small publishers early this year. I continued to write, revise and submit poems for publication, and I also turned an occasional writing gig with Baltimore City Paper into a semi-regular column on LGBTQ+ life.
Here’s a full roundup of 2016:
- In 2015 I began writing an occasional column for Baltimore City Paper, and I continued to expand Wide Stance – my column on LGBTQ+ life, politics and culture in Baltimore – in 2016. As I did so, I found also found myself in the alt-weekly newspaper’s pool on regularly contributing writers.
- For some reason, late 2015 also saw me returning to graduate school. Though I have an MFA in creative writing & publishing arts (ostensibly a terminal degree), I decided to pursue a PhD in English at Morgan State University too. There, I am focusing on poetry, Queer studies and popular culture.
- I published my first chapbook of poems, Go to the Ant, O Sluggard. It’s a “concept album” of fib poems about the modern workplace, and it’s available now from Akinoga Press.
- I was featured in Incoming: Veterans Writing on Coming Home, an anthology of veterans’ work.
- As part of the promotional push for Incoming, I read one of my stories on KPBS San Diego.
- I was accepted to present at my first academic conference, the NeMLA conference. I will present briefly on a paper I wrote about Queering the academy.
- I taught a course on ekphrastic poetry at the National Portrait Gallery for Knowledge Commons DC.
- I appeared on the poetry podcast “So… Poetry?” with Mychael Zulauf.
- I published some poems in the Avenue and the Minetta Review. (In print, which makes it impossible to share them here.)
- Hosted the second installment of Literary Roulette, and judged two Slam Competitions.
- I continued to teach at the university of Baltimore, meeting and working with amazing students of all ages and backgrounds.
I’m sure that I missed some stuff, but that seems like a strong roundup for what turned out to be an incredible year. Here’s to hoping that 2017 proves even bigger, and somewhat less ugly.
To anyone who has read or listened to my work in the last year, and to all of my current and former students, thanks for all your support!
Did you catch me on episode 2 of Mychael Zulauf’s poetry podcast, So… Poetry?
Listen to me and Mychael talk about poetry and poems for an hour or so, then check out the rest of his episodes and hear all about what Baltimore poets think.