Writing Activity, January 2021

When I was on sabbatical in the first half of 2020 (which feels like “a million centuries ago,” to borrow a phrase from Colonel Kurtz in Apocalypse Now, an apt title for our present times), I kept a monthly list of what I accomplished. In the new year, I’ve decided to do something similar with my writing activities. I will do so partly as a form of encouragement for myself–to show that I am still able to do some writing despite the energy-sucking terrors of the pandemic–and partly as an archive that I can look back on in the future. As such, I will include negative happenings (e.g., receiving rejections), not just positive ones.

I think that it is important for me to share my list publicly as a queer writer of color because mainstream discourse tries to either pretend voices such as mine do not exist or actively tries to suppress them. Whether one is part of a marginalized group or not, writing is an essential act of resistance in these terrible times, so I hope that my list offers encouragement to others.

I got a lot done this month because the semester hadn’t started yet. I doubt I will be able to keep up this level of productivity in February, and that is okay.

Without further adieu, the list, which is basically in chronological order:

1. Wrote at least one senryu or haiku per day in my journal.

2. Attended the January virtual meeting of the Haiku Society of America (HSA) Social Club.

3. Typed up a bunch of senryu/haiku from a notebook that I got to the end of.

4. Added some work to a book manuscript about theapoetics that I am working on.

5. Researched some haiku presses.

6. Filled out an information form for the HSA Mentorship Program.

7. Attended the Modern Language Association (MLA) annual convention (a virtual meeting this year), and co-chaired a panel.

8. Updated the Mennonite/s Writing Bibliographies website.

9. Had a senryu published in the December 2020 issue of Kingfisher, which arrived mid-January.

10. Updated the Selected Publications page of my website with information about my MLA panel and my Kingfisher poem.

11. Worked on revisions to another book manuscript I am working on.

12. Got a rejection for an essay I had submitted to an anthology.

13. Gave a friend feedback on a short story draft.

14. Checked in with a publisher about the status of a book proposal I had submitted and heard back that they were not interested.

15. Revised the above-mentioned book proposal and sent it to another publisher.

16. Got asked by a prominent journal in one of my fields to review a book and said yes.

17. Began reading submissions for an anthology I am co-editing. We are accepting submissions until June 15!

18. Had my first meeting with my mentor and fellow mentees as part of the HSA Mentorship Program.

19. Typed up all of my senryu/haiku for January.

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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