2019 was an odd year of writing for me. I launched a non-profit performing arts venue, so that sucked up almost all of the bandwidth I was already struggling to reserve for writing this year. My poetry suffered even as I released a not-small book of other people’s poems. My essay work ratcheted up. My novels were dabbled at, but not afforded the attention they needed to move the needle. The ideas piled up. At the same time, the biweekly column I was doing for a local paper went weekly, and I was afforded great opportunities to write for other platforms as well. I got a couple of awesome lectures in. A couple of side projects are still percolating in the lab.
All in all, an interesting year. These are the ten things I wrote this year that I liked the most as I can recall. (I also didn’t track my writing very well this year.) It’s unranked. Let’s go:
1. My Toni Morrison obituary
Toni Morrison was everything. You could write for a year about what her loss represents.
2. A Definitive Guide to the Modern Bro, From Ironic Rap to Woker-Than-Thouness
My first essay for LEVEL, a branch of the uber-popular Medium. I’m excited to do more work for them, and already have a second piece with them available now (the recent Afrofuturism joint), so things are awesome so far.
3. Prince and Anthony Bourdain walk in a bistro: The food music of Prince, the wisdom of Bourdain
(Scott Woods Makes Lists)
So much of what I do and the way I do it comes out of the work of these two giants. I miss them both every day, still.
4. The Other Columbus: 45 minutes in a hot car with Malcolm Gladwell
The struggle was real, but not as real as it is for the students of my city’s schools.
5. Speech for the Columbus Foundation after unveiling my video project
This wasn’t published publicly, but I wrote the speech, delivered it, and it got spread around their organization afterwards, which is like getting a score of five straight 10s in a poetry slam.
6. The Other Columbus: My mayoral concession speech
I didn’t technically run for mayor (which you can tell because I’m not currently the mayor of Columbus), but I did launch a little bit of a write-in campaign/suggestion. The day after the elections I did this speech as a video, then as a Columbus Alive column.
7. Facebook post May 1, 2019
It’s the 8-line post that starts with “The poet must take care of the musician” and goes from there. It was basically my mantra this year.
8. #MyPurpleRain100 thread
On June 25, I celebrated the 35th anniversary of the release of Prince’s “Purple Rain” album by tweeting 100 instances in which my life intersected the music on that record. #MyPurpleRain100
9. The Other Columbus: Gentrification – The Monopoly Version
If you know how I feel about board games you also know that I could have easily extended this column out to twice the length.
10. We’re not having the race conversation you think we are and Liam Neeson isn’t helping
(Scott Woods Makes Lists)
This is the kind of essay on racism that I used to do a lot of a few years ago, and this piece is part remix, part revamp. It comes full circle on aspects of race conversations I’ve written about before, and apparently will always need to to. The incident mentioned in the title was so ridiculous that it made me and my boy dust off our podcast “Race Against the Machine” and talk about it.