my name is samari zysk (sam for short!) and i’m a student at Mills College in the MFA in Creative Writing program (Spring 2022). i also run a poetry zine called Maw: Poetry Magazine! in my free time, i enjoy reading critical theory, watching dumb sitcoms, making messy art, and/or contemplating global affairs over very strong coffee.
i grew up between rural Oregon and Salt Lake City, Utah – a weird juxtaposition, especially for a Jewish kid! i was obsessed with dragons, vampires, and other monsters from a very young age, and spent hours upon hours at our small-town library with my brother.
these two topics – monster and books – have not once lost my interest, even as i grew and moved to Olympia, Washington to earn my Bachelor in Arts degree from The Evergreen State College. i used to exclusively want to write stories, and even managed to finish writing a fantasy novel called Forget Me Not while attending Evergreen.
however, upon taking a class with Tara Hardy, i found that my goals had changed. like me, Tara was a survivor of child sexual abuse, and wrote poetry in order to create a manifesta of her recovery. i’d had a history of writing poetry, but until Tara, i had never dreamed of sharing it. this class (actually, Tara Hardy) changed my life.
oh, but i am still very much obsessed with dragons, vampires, yōkai, golems, demons, and all the beasties! for the past two years of my residency at Mills College’s MFA in Creative Writing program, i have been writing and collecting my poems for my thesis, monster parts.
monster parts is a dissection of the roles in a traumatic event, those being the survivor, the perpetrator of violence, and the event of trauma itself. this thesis uses monsters as an idea to unite those roles in their shared taboo.
i intend to follow my fascination with poetry and language as a medium by pursuing a PhD program in English, with a focus in the rhetoric of poetry. to quote Mark Doty: “Poetry’s project is to use every aspect of language to its maximum effectiveness, finding within it nuances and powers we otherwise could not hear.” (The Art of Description: World Into Word, p. 76)
i am particularly interested in the boundaries that poetry build and deconstructs simultaneously between poet, reader, and subject; in its chaos, poetry becomes its own language of proximity. my main influences in the study of poetic rhetoric (if anyone is interested) are Edmond Jabés, Gertrude Stein, Paul Celan, Mark Doty, M. NourbeSe Philip, and Rosmarie Waldrop, among others. my goal in hopefully earning this degree is teaching English at a college level. i’ve found my investigation of language can’t be idle, and isn’t distinguishable to me from participating in the exploration of others.
so, my obsession is less like the solitary mania that is often attributed to artists, and more like a fire, or contagion! i don’t just want to speak, i want to have a conversation – no, i need to. how else should i engage with the world once i have discovered this language? it has set me on fire.
so here i am 🙂 while the above are certainly my greatest passions, i am interested in design and beauty, as well as less artistic/academic things, among them video games and fantasy novels (Dragon Quest IX: Sentinels of the Starry Skies, Hollow Knight, The Witcher III, Every Heart a Doorway by Seanan McGuire, The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller, East by Edith Pattou, and The Poppy War by R. F. Kuang being my among my favorites, respectively). i also do enjoy making new friends and talking about things like Peter Jackson’s murder of The Lord of the Rings trilogy and The Hobbit and humanity’s concept of consciousness in correlation with the development and distribution of caffeine.
i am absolutely awkward and painfully quiet, but if you would like to say hi, please feel free to look me up on the platforms below. it would honestly make my day 🙂
thank you for reading, i’m so happy and honestly impressed that you made it this far down! see you around~!