Paraphrasing my Academic Advisor’s Review of Grimoire

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If you are just getting to know me and my craft, it is important to note that I am currently a graduate student at Southern New Hampshire University. I am pursuing a Masters in English and Creative Writing with a concentration in Poetry. My academic advisor, Colin McGahan, gave me input on his favorite poems from Grimoire…so far. I just got off the phone with him and he offered the following feedback. These are poems which stood out to him and I will paraphrase what he told me.

Landmark of Light

Colin told me that this struck a chord with him based on him knowing my backstory as a poet. I started writing poetry a year and a day after 9/11. This poem was written about the 20th anniversary of said tragedy and how I was riding home on the Staten Island Ferry on 9/11/2019 as the lights representing the Twin Towers were glowing. Given that he knows I’m a New Yorker and got to know my backstory, this poem may not have hit him the same if he didn’t know me from Adam. I’m glad that he mentioned this particular one, as it is a sentimental favorite.

VISION QUEST

This poem stood out to Colin because it reminded him of his wife’s grandfather. I wrote this as a tribute to my father; as I recalled a memory of us releasing two catfish into Martling’s Pond in Clove Lakes Park (Staten Island). As the poem progresses, I mention two fishermen talking about finding catfish in the pond and thought about how they must have spawned and repopulated the pond. Colin reminisced about his father-in-law and looked at his soul and memory both fondly and wistfully.

WILLOW IN THE WIND

Colin’s daughter is fond of weeping willows, so this immediately stood out to him. In this poem, I was inspired by a quote from Bruce Lee (“Notice that the stiffest tree is most easily cracked, while the bamboo or willow survives by bending with the wind.”) Many know that my title is Wizard of Willow. This is because I practice magick and frequent Willowbrook Park (Staten Island) on a regular basis. Naturally, I connect to this particular tree for this reason. Also, I relate to the resilience of the tree. I have been through a lot of adversity in my life and weeping willows represent how I’ve moved at times where I could have been broken. Colin read this piece to his daughter and she loved it. This is especially profound since his family is moving and there is a weeping willow near their future property.

WHEN YOU CAN’T DREAM

This poem reminded Colin of his issues with sleep paralysis. This is one condition I certainly do not wish upon anybody. I wrote this poem in relation to the uncomfortable sleep I was having during the very beginnings of the COVID-19 pandemic in April of 2020. It also relates to having a mental health diagnosis (bipolar disorder) and trying to maintain balance during a time where the planet is greatly unbalanced. Colin mentioned he was afflicted with the aforementioned condition and how much of a struggle it can be to sleep and even more of a struggle to dream. I was really glad he related to this, especially since I am in a group on Facebook called Quarantine Dreams.

More to come…

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