Author: Jordi Alonso

“‘Passion Without Flesh, Love Without Climax’”

Image: Reji For the last few weeks, I had not gone to sleep before 4 a.m. on most nights. A poet going to bed late is, of course, no big deal. Edna St. Vincent Millay once left a note for her housekeeper saying not to wake her because she’d been up working until 5 a.m.;  Emily Dickinson routinely wrote during her “morning hours,” which is to say at 3 in the morning. The trouble is, I’m not writing; I’m not memorizing modern Greek or Arabic conjugations (though I should be;) I’m not studying something about which I’m so passionate that time melts like the interval between kisses. No, for the last few weeks, I have been kept awake by the fact that it’s what anyone, with the briefest glance at the calendar, might call “late August.” “Early September,” even, by the time you read this . Grad school, though it was something I was looking forward to so much during the spring of last year as I was completing my Senior year at Kenyon, has …

Performing Poets

Imagine you’re a young chef, about to leave Le Cordon Bleu after having studied under some of the best gastronomers the world has to offer, and, just as you’re sent off to practice your art, you realize that nobody taught you the proper way to set a table. Sure, it’s not essential to know whether the fork goes on the left or the right side of the plate to be able to craft a devilishly decadent dinner, but having a good place-setting is essential to the atmosphere you’re trying to create around the experience of your cooking. That’s how I felt when, a year ago, almost to the day, I walked across the stage at Kenyon in my cap and gown, where I was hooded by one of the senior administrators and received my diploma from the president of the college. I, at that moment, had an AB in English with an emphasis in poetry, but nobody had ever taught me across four years filled to the brim with English classes, how to give a …

So You’re Waiting to Hear Back from MFA Programs: Post Application Advice With Jordi Alonso

What did you do to get through the post application period? Applications (mostly due in January and February) happened right in the middle of the busiest weeks of my semester at Kenyon, as the senior creative project that would let me graduate with this lovely clause appended to my English Major: with an emphasis in creative writing was due at the end of February. When I wasn’t spreading out groups of poems on my floor, and doubting if graduating with an English major (with or without emphases) was a good idea––I had just discovered comparative literature studies––there was a substantial amount of Netflix (Parks and Rec, as many films about writers as I could find, and the occasional Shakespeare adaptation) and a decent amount of Merlot. What’s the best piece of advice you received about applying? To have faith in my abilities as a poet. I had done all I could to make my application perfect. My letters of recommendation came from three well-known poets whose work I love and who were familiar with my …

First Semester: A Villain Poet, A Panic Attack, and Two Days at the Beach

I came to the Southampton MFA through their summer conference. When it came time to apply to programs last winter, during my senior year at Kenyon, applying to the program that hosted a week-long festival where I’d met life-long friends and mentors and was so close to the beach, made perfect sense. I knew, of course, that summer camp and school couldn’t ever be the same. However, I thought that spending two years among writers, not two miles away from the beach, and in a lovely town where I’ve summered lately, would make almost every day feel like a continuation of the accelerated intimacy of the Conference. I was mistaken––grad school, even in the Hamptons, is still school, and since not everyone lives together, I found organizing social gatherings much more difficult than I had expected. I did go to the beach twice in the fall semester. Once with Lauren who visited me for a weekend before going off to school in California (see: life-long conference friends, above) and another time with some other first …

“And now, to delight my friends, I shall sing beautifully.”

Eros has informed, propelled, and guided my poems, my literary ambitions and my life up to this point. It has influenced the languages I’ve studied for the past five years, the poets I’ve read, the people I’ve pursued, and the MFA programs I applied to during my last year at Kenyon College. As writers, we try to keep clear of cliché phrases like “life-changing” or “transformative,” and yet, I can trace the bulk of what I’ve written and studied, particularly in the last two and a half years, to one poem I encountered in a Modern American Poetry seminar I took in the spring of my sophomore year. Not only can I trace it back to one poem (“Fragment 116” by HD) but to the five words that formed the epigraph to that one poem, which came from Sappho––a poet I had vaguely encountered, mostly in name and reputation only, before April of 2011. Those five words, μήτε μοι μέλι μήτε μέλισσα neither the honey nor the bee for me, deceptive in their alliterative simplicity, …