I don’t consider myself a writer, or a poet.
When I travelled to Seattle in October 2021, it was largely to visit a friend, smell the ocean (I’m currently land-locked), and, ironically, to do a reading for my newly published chapbook. Late one night, over too many beers, I found myself discussing visions of an ideal life with a friend I hadn’t seen in a while. Since we went to college together to read “great books,” he’s been a welder in Alaska, a bartender, a carpenter, and most recently pivoted to being a software engineer. He told me he felt like he was betraying himself—or at least the vision he had of himself—by settling into a life of sedentary cognitive labor doing IT. “I always pictured myself working with my hands,” he said, “building things, being close to nature…” What a sensual being.
In my ideal life I’d “hunt in the morning, fish in the afternoon, rear cattle in the evening…[and] criticize after dinner.” I am privileged and supported enough to have this life, more or less, and I am able to provide myself the space to do many things with equal devotion. In addition to this internship, I am completing my PhD in Theory and Criticism, where I also teach rhetoric and communications for STEM students. I am also the editor-in-chief of The Bunker Review at Bunker Projects’ experimental artist residency and gallery, where I am also a working board member. In addition to that publication, where I inhabit a largely managerial role, I am a freelance arts writer. Visiting galleries and museums has been a continuous theme in my life, though my companions have changed, from my father to friends and partners, and often alone. My tastes in art have evolved as well, leaning towards the hyper contemporary and the digital, which are also themes in both my dissertation and my first chapbook, Donkey-girl and Other Hybrids, published in August 2021 by Really Serious Literature.
The poems in that book were six years in the making, and many of them began at the Sundress writers’ residency on Firefly Farms. That was the first time I went somewhere where everything was simplified and my life shrunk to just a few activities: I helped with the farm animals in the morning, fed peppermints to the adorable donkey, and retreated to the sun-lit office to work on poems for the rest of the day. I existed purely in a state of what philosopher Henri Lefebvre’s rhythm analysis would called cyclical rhythm, like the sun rising and setting every day. I wrote dozens of poems.
Overall, people are a combination of rhythms, cyclical and linear. Existing in only one or the other for too long is strenuous, and causes painful displacement. In my regular life I like to do many things at once—to bring in elements and aspects of all the things I like throughout my day. Doing the social media internship at Sundress Publications is a chance to reach back into that period of peaceful single-mindedness, through the organization that facilitated it. I’m excited to now be giving Sundress my time.
Anna Mirzayan is an arts writer, poet, researcher, and doctoral candidate in Theory and Criticism. She is currently based in Pittsburgh, where she is the editor-in-chief of The Bunker Review at Bunker Projects. Her poetry chapbook, Donkey-girl and Other Hybrids, was published in 2021 by Really Serious Literature. You can find some of her writing at art-agenda, Square Cylinder, and Hyperallergic (forthcoming) or check out her poetry at Metatron Press, Poetry WTF, or The Operating System.