With the year waning, it’s that time to reflect on where we’ve been and where we’re going. My 2015 was pretty good. At the beginning of the year, I pulled myself out of a long-term relationship and have reconnected with old friends and made some new ones throughout the year. We had some beautiful experiences together. Over the summer, I hiked A LOT, biked, and traveled. I wrote poems. I gave some readings. I got to teach some different literature courses for the first time and thoroughly enjoyed it. I really had some wonderful students this year. At the end of the …year, I finished my doctorate and also signed the contract with NYQ Books for my third poetry collection, which will be out fall 2016. Yep, it was a good year, and I’m grateful for my family, friends, colleagues, and my good health.
Here are some of my favorite books/music/films from 2015:
favorite poetry books of 2015:Notes on the Assemblage by Juan Felipe Herrera. I must confess I didn’t really discover his work until more recently, but this book deserves praise for its wide range of forms, everything from prose poems, to sonnets, to collages, which, like his other work, capture the migrant worker experience. With the county still reeling from the recession, and with the continuing economic divided, coupled with the increasing xenophobia, Herrera is the poet laureate this country needs right now.
Application for Release from the Dream by Tony Hoagland: This book is Hoagland’s most biting and attacks hyper consumerism more than his last book. Still, it’s not without its humor. Oh, and there’s a dog poem!
How to Be Drawn by Terrance Hayes: Hayes’ work just feels so relevant right now, and this book is less narrative than his earlier collections and at times, even more experimental than Lighthead, while still addressing issues of race.
Nonfiction: Patti Smith’s M Train. The passages about her writing process and dreams are simply beautiful.
Fiction: Purity by Franzen. I haven’t read a novel this year that better addresses the issues we face today, everything from social media making us more isolated to Homeland Security and NSA surveillance.
Favorite films of 2015:Spotlight and The Big Short. If you see The Big Short, I guarantee you will laugh throughout the movie, but by the end, you will feel immense anger that NO ONE was thrown in jail for the economic crash/Wall Street hijinks that went on in 2007/2008. If you want to better understand the simmering anger this country is experiencing right now and some of the root causes, go see The Big Short. You will remember that countless people lost their homes, savings, and jobs, and we, the taxpayers, bailed out the banksters after their behavior crashed the world economy. And the cast…. what a cast!
Favorite album of 2015: Jeff Rosenstock’s second solo album, We Cool? which just felt really poignant to me this year and where I’m at in my life. It’s an album about “adulthood,” about being in your 30s, whatever that means.
No, I did not include The Force Awakens on the list. Yes, it earned uber positive reviews and felt like a Star Wars film, but it was also a very safe film, which walked in the footsteps of the old.
In the new year, I hope for less comic book movies. Aren’t we sick of those yet? I hope poetry will continue to address the rising race and class tensions, but more people need to read and listen. Poets need to be less insular
Here’s to 2016. Cheers, friends!