Shaking the Rust Off

I haven’t written anything other than emails and lesson outlines in almost a week. The new semester is kicking my butt! I need to find a way to budget time into my schedule for writing so that I don’t get too out of practice and lose my edge. Luckily, today is the first meeting of a faculty writing group on campus, which should help me keep on task. There’s nothing like potential failure in front of your peers for motivation!

Anyway, the week has been an interesting one even though I haven’t had time to write about it here. I had good discussions with my classes about George Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four and Amiri Baraka’s work (Dutchman and some poems), and read Stephen Beachy’s novel Distortion. It’s not as good as his latest novel Boneyard, but it was still enjoyable and even beautiful at times. Every time I saw the cover, I thought of the South Park episode with The Cure’s Robert Smith where Stan yells at the end that “Distortion is the best album ever!” Then I realized that I was misremembering the album title, which is actually Disintegration. Ah, well. The other significant event this week was that I got a new office computer with a HUGE monitor. It is burning my eyes out as I type. But it’s much faster than the old one, which is exciting.

Published by danielshankcruz

I grew up in New York City and lived in Lancaster, Pennsylvania; Goshen, Indiana; DeKalb, Illinois; and Salt Lake City, Utah before coming to Utica, New York. My mother’s family is Swiss-German Mennonite (i.e., it’s an ethnicity, not necessarily a theological persuasion) and my father’s family is Puerto Rican. I have a Ph.D. in English and currently teach at Utica College. I have also taught at Northern Illinois University and Westminster College in Salt Lake City. My teaching and scholarship are motivated by a passion for social justice, which is why my research focuses on the literature of oppressed groups, especially LGBT persons and people of color. While I primarily read and write about fiction, I am also a devoted reader of poetry because, as William Carlos Williams writes, “It is difficult / to get the news from poems / yet [people] die miserably every day / for lack / of what is found there.” Thinkers who influence me include Marina Abramovic, Kathy Acker, Di Brandt, Ana Castillo, Samuel R. Delany, Percival Everett, Essex Hemphill, Jane Jacobs, Walt Whitman, and the New York School of poets. I am also fond of queer Mennonite writers such as Stephen Beachy, Jan Guenther Braun, Lynnette Dueck/D’anna, and Casey Plett. In my free time I’m either reading, writing the occasional poem, playing board games (especially Scrabble, backgammon, and chess), watching sports (Let’s Go, Mets!), or cooking (curries, stews, roasts…).

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