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Notes from Workshop: An Abecedarian

S. Erin Batiste

Because the poem is aggressive and angry, always aflame at some loss or another,

Because the poem is bewildering and bitchy even to witches,

Because the poem is a cyclone of syllables, impossible for most mouths to pronounce,

Because the poem is demanding readers show up for its downpour of words, disappointment darkening and depressing the white space beneath it,

Because the poem is eccentric with its loud flowering prints and rising signs, embarrassing episode, too elegiac,

Because the poem is fatalistic, it is crying over someone dying, fragile, feral, a funeral, a failure,

Because the poem is gardenless, like the poet, it refuses to cultivate, decorate, or at least prune,

Because the poem is heartbroken, so many Christophers have exited without looking back, hateful now,

Because the poem is immature, she names names, and carries her childhood around like a ratty sweater,

Because the poem is juvenile, it seems to want to indict the mother,

Because the poem is kitschy, chock-full of deranged dolls and plastic cactuses and cartoon versions of high noon, appears to know-it-all,

Because the poem is lonesome, all these poems are lonesome,

Because the poem is melodramatic, it plays out and replays the most mundane everydayness,

Because the poem is a nobody, a nothing, not-a-poem, the workshop silently turns its pages over, and moves on,

Because the poem is obsessive, it fills itself with lists and dates like adolescent diary entries, overemotional,

Because the poem is privileged, the poet too, its pretentiousness is already expected, a petty pity parade,

Because the poem is questionable, it assumes all manner of vulgar margins and quirky shapes,

Because the poem is resentful and repetitive, its refrain eventually becomes a weapon,

Because the poem is selfish, it does not consider outside its own small sad atmosphere,

Because the poem is tired, is trivial, is temperamental, talks only of old hauntings,

Because the poem is undisciplined, it does not write its morning pages, and is sluggish to revise,

Because the poem is violent, the white woman who hangs herself in it takes up too much attention,

Because the poem is weird, wild daughter nobody wished for, it tumbleweeds from town to town,

Because the poem is xerophytic, it does not require your watery platitudes, nor does it need to earn its ending,

Because the poem is yelling, and if not the next poem will, its meaning may be missed entirely,

Because the poem is zealous over extraterrestrials and laden with conspiracy, this poet should seek a professional soon.

S. ERIN BATISTE is an interdisciplinary poet, storyteller, and author of the chapbook Glory to All Fleeting Things. In 2021 this year, she is the recipient of PERIPLUS, Jack Straw Writers, and the dots between fellowships, and is a Writer in Residence at The Studios at MASS MoCA, Prairie Ronde, and the Helene Wurlitzer Foundation. Her other recent honors include fellowships and support from Cave Canem, Bread Loaf Writers' Conference-Rona Jaffe Foundation, Crosstown Arts, and Callaloo. Batiste is a reader for The Rumpus, and her own Pushcart, Best New Poets, and Best of the Net nominated poems are anthologized and appear internationally in Michigan Quarterly Review, Puerto del Sol, and wildness, among other decorated journals.

Header art: "Local Doc" by Matthew Klane.

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