A Sense of Belonging: Feeling Pride in Work & Spirit

As an LGBTQ+ author, I haven’t had a lot of opportunities to attend fairs or large-scale events until today. I was invited by Leopard Print Books as a local LGBTQ+ author to sell and sign copies of my poem collections at Great Lakes Bay Pride in Bay City, MI. The sticky, 90 degree heat did not deter anyone from getting out and taking in the scene. Wenona Park, nestled cutely next to the Saginaw River, welled with music, vendors, vibrant colors, and self-expression celebrated.

Great Lakes Bay Pride Festival Entrance

Overall, the past two years have been incredibly surreal for me as an LGBTQ+ author. During the height of the pandemic, when Carbon Footprint (2020) was released, I did not anticipate the level of response to my work I’ve had. While I never aimed for this, I had the honor of being nominated twice for the Pushcart Prize and once for Best of the Net. Having been celebrated by the humanities learning center at the college where I teach, I just received the Humanities Scholar Award for my creative work. Despite these successes, I always circulate back the question of: how do I deserve anything? Throughout my life, I’ve always struggled to take pride in success because it always felt so far away. In fact, in many ways, I still feel that I’m experiencing some sort of fever dream. Thankfully, paying heed to my mental health and attending regular therapy sessions has allowed me to unpack that deep rooted childhood trauma which conditions me to always tell myself: “Donny, you’re invisible, don’t deserve anything, and don’t belong.”

After attending Great Lakes Bay Pride today and being able to see each individual celebrating, I was reinvigorated by a synergy. I was reminded that I’m not invisible, that I’m deserving, and that I do belong. I was reminded that the reason why I wrote Carbon Footprint (2020) and Feats of Alchemy (2021) was to illustrate the various challenges LGBTQ+ people face prior and post coming out. We spend much of our lives unlearning erasure, self-deprecation, and minimization. Poetry became my vehicle for mapping out this trauma and plotting coordinates toward a sense of recovery.

#SayGay – My table, fully assembled!

One of the many highlights of Great Lakes Bay Pride for me was meeting current and reuniting with former students – talented LGBTQ+ individuals and allies reconnecting with their writing. The most wholesome moment for me happened when one of my former students, clutching a copy of a poem collection said: “You’re the reason I pursued a degree in creative writing.” As a writer and a teacher, knowing that I can infuse my passion for this artform in another person makes all the vulnerability, discouragement, and uncertainty along this journey worthwhile. If anything, it was an educational moment for me; it served as a reminder that we’re all representation for one another. Our actions and words linger in ways we often don’t imagine. Sometimes, my students teach me with the same excitement I strive to enter my classroom with and it’s a full-circle moment I’ve never quite grasped until now.

When people ask, “why is Pride important?”, I believe it’s more than us celebrating who we are or the histories of our communities. Both of those are crucial, but I also believe that it’s a celebration of the belonging we’ve all worked toward creating. It’s a celebration of the connection we strive for despite all the forces that still continue to work against us. Pride is more than flags, buttons, bandanas, and commercialism. It’s a grove, and we’re the seedings springing beneath weather-hardened trees, connected by the root systems, mycelium, and the sustaining air we share. The darkness we see doesn’t compare to how solar we are in the way we celebrate our belonging.

–Donny Winter

Upcoming Events & Readings

2022 has come in roaring for me on the creative writing front. I will be attending and featured in a number of poetry readings throughout January and February. If you’d like to attend any of these events, below is a list. All of these are scheduled in EST.


Thursday, January 13, 2022 at 5:00 p.m. – For the Love of Books Podcast Interview

Sunday, January 23, 2022 at 11:00 a.m. – Guest Appearance: Between the Lines Podcast

Wednesday, January 26, 2022 at 12:00 p.m. – Brown Bag Talk: Feats of Alchemy, HLC

Tuesday, February 1, 2022 at 7:00 p.m. – GAS Poetry Reading

Thursday, February 3, 2022 at 6:00 p.m. – Alien Buddha Press Live Reading on Twitter

Saturday, February 26, 2022 at 7:00 p.m. – Meet Michigan Poet Donny Winter! (Reading)


Thank you all for your endless support! Keep writing, friends!

Cyber Monday: Support LGBTQ+ Writers & Artists!

It’s Cyber Monday everyone! If you can, please support LGBTQ+ artists and writers during this holiday season. You can snag copies of my books Carbon Footprint and Feats of Alchemy on Amazon!

If you are wanting an alternative to Amazon, my books are also sold by Leopard Print Books!

Carbon Footprint (2020) and Feats of Alchemy (2021), available on Amazon and Leopard Print books!

ANNOUNCEMENT: Poetry Reading, Nov. 19, 2021 at 8:00 p.m. EST

Tune in on my DonnySpeaks YouTube channel for a full-length, virtual poetry reading featuring selections from my latest poem collection, Feats of Alchemy. The event starts at 8:00 p.m. and will last until 9:00 – 9:15 p.m. I’ll be reading poems, sharing tidbits about the creation process of the book, themes, and will have a Q&A toward the end. Follow the video link below to set a reminder if you’d like to attend:

Follow this link to tune in for the poetry reading on Nov. 19.

Confessions of an Anxious Writer (Pre-Book Release)

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!

–Donny Winter

Donny Winter introduces his collection, Feats of Alchemy, and discusses some of its themes.
Donny Winter performs the poem “Serizawa” from Feats of Alchemy, which is a Godzilla inspired piece.
For National Coming Out Day, Donny Winter performs the poem “Cyberpunk [Un]dead” from his collection, Feats of Alchemy.
Donny Winter performs the poem “The [Un]salvaged Body, Biotic and Broken” from his collection, Feats of Alchemy

Feats of Alchemy – Summary

Feats of Alchemy – Cover art and back cover contents.

In his sophomore collection of poems, Donny Winter takes readers on a perilous adventure through a futuristic and dystopian world. His experimental free verse poems use science fiction, natural, and pop cultural images to metaphorically illustrate his experiences as a gay man navigating the different obstacles society presents after coming out. These poems create a cyberpunk inspired, symbolic world centered around the cyborg, Solus Arcane, who seeks to understand their existence free of oppressive forces and strives to unlearn the programming given to them by their oppressive creator. Together, our bodies are welded and soldered by the forces of those seeking to silence, erase, or oppress. Feats of Alchemy acts as a circuit board connecting us with pathways toward a self-sovereignty beyond artifice. 

Feats of Alchemy – Out Oct. 22 – Alien Buddha Press

“Feats of Alchemy” – Cover Art Reveal

I’m excited to reveal the cover art of my upcoming, second collection of poems, Feats of Alchemy. This collection will be released by Alien Buddha Press on Friday, October 22, 2021. Special thank you to my artist and dear friend, Seth Stang, for creating this wonderful piece. Stay tuned for more news!

Feats of Alchemy, poems, by Donny Winter

“The Earth’s Still Breathing,” an Upcoming Poetry Reading

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.

The Earth’s Still Breathing, a poetry reading featuring Donny Winter