Once, I was asked how many years it took for grief to go by, and I responded that it had been six years between Elizabeth, my first cat, running away and adopting Timmy, our new family cat. Timmy is alive and well, but Tango, the Bengal rescue cat we loved so much, passed away a bit over a year ago. Although he was old when we adopted him, he deserved the best life we could give him, and more of it in my opinion.
Pets are a strange subject to write about because they are both an eminent commonality and very proprietary. You risk adhering to the familiar and sentimental or boring your audience. I wanted to publish work about Tango; I wanted to prove that I could memorialize him in that way.
A while back, I wrote a blog post about list poems. I was experimenting with new forms, and that's how I won an honorable mention in the Binnacle's Ultra Short Contest this year for cat: a google search. Although I marketed it for the contest as poetry, it is nonfiction: a list of terms in my search history, curated over a year of owning a wonderful Bengal cat.
Why did this idea stand out? Well, after Tango's death it was hard for me to browse the web on my computer or ipad because I had spent a year googling cat terms including a lot of items towards the end of his life. Thanks to Google's autocomplete feature, which says, "Hey, you're searching for something that starts with 'ca'--let me suggest some things!" I couldn't look up anything, and I didn't want to clear my search history either. That, right there, is what grief is.
My painting, 'In the Water,' is coming out in the New England Review online. It's been in their database for a while along with some other paintings, but after a false start with one of them, I finally have some good news.
My poem/short prose piece/list/hybrid whatever 'cat: a google search,' is coming out in the Binnacle as one of the Ultra-Short Honorable Mentions. I know it had a strange format, so I'm not surprised that it didn't place, but I'm happy that they selected it for publication nonetheless. Last week was the one-year anniversary of Tango's death, and 'cat: a google search' was my attempt at writing what is essentially nonfiction or documentary fiction that memorializes him.
I have some other pending submissions, but nothing spectacular as the summer is traditionally a slow time for submission and I'm focused on generating work right now.
I wrote a piece about adoptee identity for |tap| magazine that they published this week. It was a difficult piece to write, but I'm proud of the result. Although it's been years since I lived in South Korea, my piece helped me contextualize some of my struggles and pain around that time in my life.
I hope that you read it and comment to let me know whether you liked it!