Nearly a decade has passed since my first college writing teacher encouraged me to write beyond his class. In the interim between then and now I have filled up notebooks and read at open mics trying to explain my experience with mental health, which has been compounded by familial histories of perceptual disorders and neurodivergence. To be honest I am stunned that I am here today; mental illness has periodically taken months and years away from progressing in school and my career. In the last three years, however, I have moved from crisis to diagnosis and have made the first movements toward a life in writing.

Writing is that connective tissue which has given me this momentum and the clarity with which to grasp for new life. I see attending the MFA program at CSU as a culminating step on my journey through recovery to actualization. Indeed, though all of us are struggling with the uncertainties of living in a pandemic, I have not found a community more nurturing. My peers and teachers are kind, thoughtful, and their poetry challenges and inspires me; the contours of my poetics are becoming sharper. That I’ve been granted this gift, these years to write and talk and teach, is extraordinary.

I have found an outlook near my home off Spring Creek Trail where I can sit. Foothills fade into their taller cousins, mountains. There are yellow plains of grass and small furrows I imagine could be creeks if someone were to pry away the earth. The trees are salient and light. This place is not like where I have lived before but it is becoming home. I’m writing about writing. About poetry and becoming. I’m managing responsibilities and finding ways to practice self-care. I’m watching, waiting while the day turns over minutes. I’m thinking about that which air hardens into light: sound and texture and space.

Translating somehow those quirks of experience into words.

I listen and wonder what my words will say. The account is porous; it is told in so many breaths.


C Culbertson (they/them/theirs) is a first-year MFA candidate in poetry at Colorado State University.