In 2007, my son’s father died after years of battling debilitating mental illness. I did not know how to deal with the aftermath of this experience, so I turned to poetry to gradually navigate my way through understanding a personal history that offered no clear lens for comprehension. Slam poetry found me first, then in 2009, I rediscovered a love for the page when taking a poetry workshop with Professor Susan Schultz (also the editor of Eulogies as founder and publisher of Tinfish Press) at the University of Hawaiʻi.
Published in 2010, Eulogies is the confluence of the processing of grief and rage and the discovery of experimental craft. The first drafts were heavy on the rage part of the equation. I felt so angry and so guilty, so my writing brimmed to overflowing with that fester. One day, Susan asked me—can you remember a time when you loved him—The answer—yes. I could remember and in that remembering I found a new way to write this story, because there was also love. You can find more about this work at Susan’s Blog and in an interview I did with Craig Santos Perez at the Poetry Foundation’s Harriet Blog. This is also the only work I have published under the name “Elizabeth.” At the time, something about this practice demanded the formality of the legal name given to me at birth. I still can’t say why.