Aaron Coleman Recommends...

“It’s hardest for me to write when I’m too worn out by the day-to-day to slow down and sense where I am in the world. When I’m not writing it’s usually because I’m not listening deeply to what’s happening in and around me. I’ve found a practice that gives me back to my imagination: I return to images, songs, or texts that still unsettle me in some valuable way. They hone in on issues always just beneath the surface of my mind: the complications of masculinity, Americanness (whatever that is!), sexuality, empathy, vulnerability, memory. Terrance Hayes’s poem “At Pegasus” does this, and I return to it often. I’m drawn to writing that works to convey uncomfortable truth, art that just has to say, in its particular way, whatever it has to say. Because I’m a PhD student (sometimes that fact still shocks me) I’m often reading so many texts at once that it’s hard to really sink into them in a way that fuels my creative writing. Challenging myself to stay open and curious to all that surrounds me is useful. I know I need the unexpected—finding a way to surprise myself—whether by means of the art I mentioned above or going out dancing, taking a walk, meeting new people, tending my plants, and then many times, I just need to be peacefully alone. I’m also getting better at jotting down notes when there’s no time to sit and write; the little images or rhythms I write in my phone’s notepad help keep poetry at the forefront of my mind.”
—Aaron Coleman, author of Threat Come Close (Four Way Books, 2018)