I admit – I miss the days of Teen Sequins. I was in junior high at a magnet art school, but as much fun as I had writing short stories to share with my classmates, my true, secret passion was for poetry. At that age I was privately discovering the possibilities of unrhymed poetry for the first time, constantly both dazzled and bewildered by the strangeness of the work I ran into on The Poetry Foundation. The only way I knew how to deal with this feeling of fervent engagement was to write my own poems. I would read, be stricken with an idea, and run with it – not because I wanted recognition or publication or a book deal, but out of necessity. I didn’t know how else to deal with my excitement about words.
I submitted to Teen Sequins at my friend Katy Hargett’s suggestion, expecting no result. When I found out that my work would be featured, I honestly didn’t know quite what that meant. I Googled my judges and read their work, and then I read the work of my fellow winners, and then I read the other poems published in Gigantic Sequins. I found new poets to admire — not the famous and established PoetryFoundation.org authors, not the “top ten experimental poets” search results, not the 8th grade English class curriculum classics, but fresh voices like mine finding their own ideas and running wild with them. The recognition Gigantic Sequins exposed me to was delightfully validating, but the way it influenced me most was by exposing me to all the presses, zines, chapbooks, and poets I’m still exploring.
When I say I miss Teen Sequins, I mean I miss that leap. I miss the realization that I’m not alone, like walking around a beautiful but overgrown path all alone and suddenly emerging from the brush to encounter a huge crowd of friendly travelers walking the same road, inviting me to join them. I miss that sudden understanding that my work was wanted, that poetry was wanted. When I realized that, I found my notebook, bought a new pen, and I wrote and wrote for years.
- Daniel Blokh is an 18-year-old American-Jewish writer with Russian immigrant parents, currently attending Yale University. He was one of the 5 National Student Poets for 2018, representing the Southeast region. He is the author of the memoir In Migration (BAM! Publishing 2016), the chapbook Grimmening (forthcoming from Diode Editions), and the chapbook Holding Myself Hostage In The Kitchen (Lit City Press 2017). His work has won 1st in the Princeton High School Poetry Competition and has appeared in The Kenyon Review, The Adroit Journal, Cosmonauts Avenue, Permafrost, Blueshift, Cleaver, Gigantic Sequins, and more. He’s bad at taking naps, which sucks, because he really needs a nap right now.