30 August 2021

Dear Everyone:

Just a brief message with which to welcome you to this first full week of the new year! I hope you’re finding ways to get your footing in this semester; at least for me, it takes a bit to get into the rhythms of the year, and maybe moreso these days filled with so much to attend to at the scale of the world in addition to the local. Though I never want to see summer end, I am grateful for the structured regularity of a semester, with its finite weeks and organized expectations. Years (really, decades) ago, I remember learning from an English teacher that the strictest forms of poetry — a sonnet, a haiku — could facilitate immense freedom of thought unconstrained by worry over form. Of course there are limits to this claim, and/but a certain kind of truth, too. That’s a semester, a course, isn’t it? A formal structure that affords (un)learning, which surely is, if not a synonym of, at least a foundation for freedom?

This meandering line of thought reminded me of Jenny Xie’s “Ongoing,” included below — of the steadying pages and prowling books and the ongoingness of study and making life she offers. Enormous appreciation to all of you for making yourselves companions as we go on!

One of the best markers of the start of the new year is Critical Karaoke! Hosted again and for the final time by Will Arguelles and Christian Lewis, this event is our first Friday Forum of the year — 4p, 3 September! Here’s the link to submit your entries —

https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLSfzqAi1_4Kgo52KtdvDeA9OegVqXE6ejyM2BvCuoqmh1zTf5g/viewform — and/or write to Will and Christian at will.arguell@gmail.com and christianlewis.gc@gmail.com. Zoom link to attend the event to follow.

Information on future Friday Forums to follow, too!

Finally for now, just to note that my office hours for the semester are Tuesdays, 2-4p and Thursdays, 11-1p, and otherwise by appointment. Please also keep in mind that I don’t respond to work email on weekends (really, I don’t). All well wishes, as ever — Kandice

, by Jenny Xie

Never mind the distances traveled, the companion
she made of herself. The threadbare twenties not
to be underestimated. A wild depression that ripped
from January into April. And still she sprouts an appetite.
Insisting on edges and cores, when there were none.
Relationships annealed through shared ambivalences.
Pages that steadied her. Books that prowled her
until the hard daybreak, and for months after.
Separating new vows from the old, like laundry whites.
Small losses jammed together so as to gather mass.
Stored generations of filtered quietude.
And some stubbornness. Tangles along the way
the comb-teeth of the mind had to bite through, but for what.
She had trained herself to look for answers at eye level,
but they were lower, they were changing all the time.

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