A Kick-Ass Moment? Nah. A Kick-Ass Year.

When I was a teenager, I kept a journal, and at the end of each year, I’d designate one event from the previous twelve months as “Most Kick-Ass Moment of the Year.”  I no longer keep a journal, but each December, I silently designate a new “Kick-Ass Moment.” Last year it was easy. What can compare to launching your first book in New York City? This year, though? It ain’t so cut and dry. I look back on 2011 with my head spinning. 

  • We launched Assaracus through Sibling Rivalry Press and schools from the Ivy League to community colleges subscribed, not to mention readers from around the world. (England! Hong Kong! Italy! Australia!)
  • My Life as Adam was included on the American Library Association’s  Over the Rainbow list of noteworthy LGBT titles, one of only five collections of poetry named.
  • I had a poem published in one of my “dream” pubs, The Gay & Lesbian Review Worldwide.
  • I was named one of eight young Arkansans “for the future” by the Arkansas Times.
  • I closed the Arkansas Literary Festival’s Pub or Perish and read poems from the forthcoming Less Fortunate Pirates: Poems from the First Year Without My Father in public for the first time. (Next December, folks. That’s when my second full-length book will be released, and this one is something special to me. Just last week I scored the perfect artwork for the front cover.)
  • I stood in the back of a beautiful room at this year’s Rainbow Book Fair and watched Raymond Luczak absolutely hold a crowd in the palm of his hand as he read from Road Work Ahead.
  • Theresa Senato Edwards broke SRP’s glass ceiling and became our first female author. 
  • We reissued one of my favorite books from the previous year, Steven Reigns’ Inheritance, under the SRP label. 
  • I chased Jessie Carty, caught her, wrestled her to the ground and made her sign a contract to bring Fat Girl to SRP.
  • One of my best friends, Loria Taylor, became contractually obligated to sing my praises.
  • Kevin Simmonds took Collective Brightness: LGBTIQ Poets on Faith, Religion & Spirituality (the first anthology of its kind) around the world, holding readings in New York, New Jersey, San Francisco, South Carolina, Minneapolis, Washington DC, and London.
  • Gavin Dillard and Eric Norris gave me enough behind-the-scenes material from Nocturnal Omissions: A Tale of Two Poets to write my own tell-all memoir, then they made Richard Labonte’s Favorite Books of 2011 list.
  • Saeed Jones’ When the Only Light Is Fire sold like, well, it was on fire, occupying Amazon’s #1 spot in Gay Poetry for weeks. 
  • I delivered half of the keynote address at the Atlanta Queer Literary Festival and drove away from Georgia with three new authors in the works… Megan Volpert, Collin Kelley, and Theresa Davis… a trio of talent that can take over the world. Megan knocked it out of the park with Sonics in Warholia, and Collin and Theresa  will do the same in 2013. 
  • Our list of eBooks grew. I tested the waters of prose with an eBook short story (only 99 cents!) and we’ll end the year ready to jump into fiction with both feet thanks to Leigh Binder’s How to Kill Harry and Donnelle McGee’s Shine.
  • Another poet I’d long courted, Stephen S. Mills, signed a contract to debut his first collection with SRP.
  • Philip F. Clark was officially named Art Editor for SRP. Brent Calderwood became the Associate Editor of Assaracus. Brian Gryphon was named Associate Editor of Marketing. It’s not a one-man show anymore!
  • Matthew Hittinger, Jane Cassady, Virginia Bell, and Brad Richard (pronounced Reessssh-ARD, FYI) were selected out of hundreds of poets who submitted manuscripts during our open-submission period. You’ll see their work come to fruition in 2012.
  • Columbia University used Ocean Vuong’s Burnings as course material, Gallaudet University is slated to use Road Work Ahead as course material, and just today, a friend and fellow writer emailed to let me know that My Life as Adam will be used as course material in an upcoming Queer Lit class at the Rhode Island School of Design.

It’s pretty clear to me, looking back, that I have no ability to separate myself from SRP at this point. SRP’s best days are my best days. When an SRP author is happy… man, I’m happy. I’m living it and breathing it, folks. This is the life I wanted. So yeah. Kick-ass moment?  I don’t think so. Kick-ass year. The moral of the story: Don’t wait for anyone to hand you anything. Figure out what you want, and then just fucking go for it. It’s RIGHT there. It’s waiting on YOU.