Letters to Our Mamis y Papis

LETTERS TO OUR MAMIS Y PAPIS: LOVE FOR QUEER MENTORS

why a wraithy doomchild like me would be asked to participate in this survey eludes me, but it was nice when Loma asked me to recognize some of the poets who have helped me on my path.

I may not have articulated it well in the blurb I sent him, but I think it is equally as important to unlearn the wisdoms of our mentors. Immediately upon receiving my MFA, I told the boos, “after accumulating $70,000 of debt, I have to unlearn everything I’ve been taught the past 2 years.”

While I love all of my mentors and teachers from my graduate and undergraduate experiences, I fear our generation of writers hugs too closely to their praise. Acknowledgment lists in the backs of books, back-channel connections to presses and journals–these all teach us that without some assistance from an older guard, our work will never get out. There has to be an alternative. We need to be more skeptical of the mentors we love in order to innovate our craft.

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