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The day before a book release is often an exciting time for writers. Considering my second collection of poems, Feats of Alchemy, is coming out tomorrow, this is only the second time I’ve experienced this strange mixture of euphoria and anxiety. To add to this, the pressure of releasing a second book after a successful first book ups the expectation level, which inadvertently fuels even more anxiety. Of course, despite this mounting euphoria and anxiety, another feeling is creeping from the shadows: solace.
Looking back and looking forward simultaneously (because that’s what we anxious people do), there is a peculiar comfort setting in with the knowledge that my work has finally been released into the world and that it’s being well received. Considering both of my collections deal with LGBTQ+ challenges, life experiences, successes, and trauma, having shards of my history being explored and celebrated has created the most wholesome catharsis I’ve ever felt. Thankfully, this catharsis has allowed me to set aside much of this “success-pressure anxiety” and find the joy in this process.
This new collection, Feats of Alchemy, is a book I feel even more confident about when it comes to quality. As a poet over the years, I’ve grown considerably and this collection is the culmination of that growth. Plus, with the success of Carbon Footprint, I now feel more confident in my ability to experiment in my poetry, which readers will discover.
Anyway, as I continue to ride this hype-train leading into tomorrow’s release, if you’re interested in learning more about my collection, Feats of Alchemy, feel free to visit the videos below. Thank you all for the support, and thank you to Alien Buddha Press for giving my poetry a home. Keep writing!
I am excited to announce that the Friends of Roethke foundation has invited me to perform selections from my poem collection, Carbon Footprint, during a weekend-long celebration of the Theodore Roethke House/Museum’s re-opening in Saginaw, MI. It’s an honor to be featured as the first night’s reader considering Roethke has been a significant inspiration in my own work. Additionally, this marks my first live (in person) poetry reading ever. This event is outside and on Thursday, August 12 at 8:00 p.m.
It’s hard to believe that it’s been nearly a year since my first collection, Carbon Footprint, was released by Alien Buddha Press. During this busy summer, I’ve reflectively flipped through old dusty journals I’ve kept since being a teenager. Often, my angsty past-self wrote swaths of entries pining over the thought of finally having a collection accepted and published. Unfortunately, my own self-doubts combined with frequent rejections discouraged me from putting my work out into the world for the first 15 years of my life.
Now, 15 years later, that distant dream has become a reality. In fact, this is a reality that I’m still processing. Part of the difficulty processing any success as a writer involves overcoming this subliminal conditioning many of us have ingrained within. We writers often spend much of our lives navigating spaces and conversations where we’re shamed for loving our craft and scoffed at for our hope of success. We trudge through a thick field of muck steaming with statements like: “there’s no money in writing” or “make time for more important things.” Unfortunately, I’ve allowed these statements and a smattering of rejections to extinguish my desire to write and put my work out into the world for a long time.
Recently, my therapist encouraged me to celebrate my successes because the words and bits of discouragement over the years have always made me want to reduce myself gracefully, because that’s what was always expected. The Donny of the past always believed that there was an inherent selfishness in acknowledging personal successes. If I could go back in time and tell that sad, hopeless writer that he’d have a top selling LGBTQ+ poem collection, have over 40 individual poems published, and have a poem nominated for the Pushcart Prize, I would. As miserable as 2020-2021 has been for the entire world (myself included), I’m at least grateful the standstill has given me the opportunity to break down that conditioning, re-forge myself as a writer, and use this process in my own conversations as an educator working with aspiring writers.
No more shame. No more silence. No more hesitation. This past year has been a successful one for me on the writing front and may it be the first of many. In the future, it won’t take a global pandemic to teach me how to celebrate my work. After all: celebrating our work celebrates our identities and histories.
Stay tuned for my second collection, Feats of Alchemy, scheduled for release in October. Thank you all for the endless love and support.
Special thank you to Pages Promotions LLC for facilitating a poetry reading June 8, 2021 featuring performed selections from my book, Carbon Footprint. Considering it is Pride Month, it was an incredible opportunity reading some of my poems themed around the LGBTQ+ experience. If you are interested in watching the reading, access it through the video link below. Thank you for all the support!
Watch the reading here.
I am happy to announce that my second full-length collection of poems, Feats of Alchemy, will be released by Alien Buddha Press in the Fall. We don’t have a specific date penned down yet, but it’s happening! In the meantime, check out my first collection, Carbon Footprint!
If you’re interested in learning more about my upcoming collection, check out this interview segment from my “Unpacking ‘Carbon Footprint'” series:
Donny Winter sat down last week with fellow writer (and friend), H.M. Kanicki, to discuss multiple aspects of his book of poems, Carbon Footprint. Incrementally, these episodes will be uploaded to Winter’s “DonnySpeaks” poetry YouTube channel of the course of this week. So far, two episodes feature discussions about themes of geology in the book and Winter’s love of the characters Godzilla and Mothra.
Whenever producing work, it’s always significant when the opportunity arises to collaborate with friends who are also incredibly talented. After discovering that my book, Carbon Footprint, would be published by Alien Buddha Press, I approached Tiffany Schmieder-Kups to see if she’d be interested in creating the art piece for the cover. For years, we both wanted to work together on something, so this supplied to the perfect opportunity.
Together, Tiffany and I wrapped up our successful 2020 by discussing the art process behind Carbon Footprint in an interview-style video. Check it out below!
Watch my debut poetry reading for my book, Carbon Footprint.