This is your receipt
(and is not your ticket for travel)
During my last semester of undergrad, I spent an independent study working on my gay little transit poems. I had been writing them for a few years at that point, frequenting the MetroNorth line from Stamford to Grand Central. My professor and now-friend Pamela Allen Brown and I workshopped what became a collection titled This is your receipt and is not a ticket for travel, words taken from the slips printed from the ticket machines. I was always struck by the all-caps, red-letter insistence of those machines to clarify that the slip of paper you were holding—one with the same indents as the tickets—was not going to be pierced by the conductor’s puncher; was not going to get you to your destination.
I moved to Brooklyn a year later, now riding the subway almost every day—not as a tourist, but as a (so-called) resident. Some of the novelty wore off, but I kept writing poems. In 2020, I stopped riding the subway completely, privileged with the ability to work from home. My transit for a while was traveling from Zoom link to Zoom link, from bedroom to kitchen, and—gratefully—walking the neighborhood with the dog or with a friend.
I still think of this meme:
Eventually, I returned the subway, often reluctantly and often aware of my masked body in new ways.
In 2021, my friend Alan called as they were organizing a virtual panel at UC Berkeley around migration and transit. They remembered my poems from when we met in Connecticut, almost ten years prior, and invited me to be part of a conversation with Angel and Keish, who host the podcast A Revolutionary Love Letter: To All Migrants, Past, Present and Future. In preparation for that conversation, I returned to my Google Drive archive of poems and was re-envigored to return to the project. Shortly after, I began conversation with Jason Lipeles about publishing this collection, and kept writing new poems.
Now, I am so proud to announce the publication of This is your receipt and is not a ticket for travel with Faint Line Press.
As I spin in this “it’s-all-happening” moment, I’ve been thinking about what is under this collection. I often reflect on the ways that my obsession with commutes stems from a desire to unpack my migration experience. Under many of these poems is a longing and an in-betweeness that is—for me, and perhaps for some of you—part of queer, diasporic existence.
The poems are a result of—and in some ways an ode to—the ways writing can be a place of slowness, of close-looking, and of groundedness in a spinning world. They are in awe at the ways transit warps time and allows for both deep embodiment and disembodiment. They are a part of a desire to keep the ephemeral, or at least retain the receipts.
Here is a first look at the front and back cover, with brilliant design by Rodrigo Moreira and some very sweet blurbs:
It is available for pre-order here and will be available next month, when I will be doing a mini-launch tour:
I hope to see some of you there. If not, let’s share a subway, ferry, or sidewalk soon?
Thank you for your support and community, as always.
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