CityLit is pleased to announce its newest member of the organization’s Board of Directors, poet Tracy Dimond. To fully welcome her to CityLit and to introduce this literary champion to our network, we invited her to answer a few questions. At a time when CityLit strives to build its capacity and footprint in innovative ways, we welcome Tracy with wide-open arms. For those who don’t know her, please meet Tracy:
CLP: What do you hope to do to help shape CityLit and put your stamp on it?
TD: When I work (and am doing most things to be honest), I think of this quote from Lia Purpura: “A thing grows in the light available to it. This is not a metaphor.”
I was blown away when I first moved to Baltimore in September 2010 and encountered the CityLit Project Stage at the Baltimore Book Festival, then experienced my first CityLit Festival in 2011. The events were like a warm hug to writers. I am honored to be a part of the organization. A huge part of working in an organization is listening, then executing.
One of my core values is to create connections that facilitate access. Shining light on what is available leads to possibilities like skill sharing and paid opportunities. From my work with Ink Press Productions and the Pratt Library, I’ve had the chance to work on events that intersect multiple communities. I am excited to continue to bring people together to learn from and support each other.
Light also means accessibility. Is there captioning, is there ASL? What does the event roster say about who is welcome at an event?
CLP: What’s the one thing you believe the literary arts community in this region needs?
TD: One thing—what a difficult question. To put it broadly, the community needs support and continued paid opportunities to be sustainable.
I had the privilege of hearing many writers’ stories in my previous role at the Pratt Library. A common thread was that someone helped them on a first step. It was usually a connection to an editor, a paid opportunity on a large platform, or a writing retreat experience that gave them time to work—we can do this more and continue to dismantle gatekeeping.
A commitment to bringing together emerging and established writers gets to the heart of supporting the community. I want to do that as much as possible and to continue the background work for paid opportunities to become the norm.
CLP: What are you reading now?
TD: I am the kind of person that loves to be in the middle of multiple books—nonfiction, audiobooks, fiction, poetry—a book on hand to fit my mood. I’m currently in the middle of:
· I’m Telling the Truth But I’m Lying by Bassey Ikpi. I’ve been slowly reading this for months. I can’t get over how Bassey Ikpi writes memory and trauma.
· Helen Or My Hunger by Gale Marie Thompson—one of my favorite poets that combines the personal and historical.
· The Passion Paradox by Brad Stulberg and Steve Magness. I heard Stulberg on a running podcast recently and was interested in diving into his research on passion and burnout.
CLP: What are you – Tracy the poet/writer – working on that’s got your attention?
TD: I’m always working on writing about illness and the experience of body. There are many writers that have broken down walls in this space—Tressie McMillan Cottom and Jane Kenyon are two I return to often. I finally had some time to start drafting an essay, and I’m always working on poems. Very short and compact poems have been calling me lately. I am interested in the tension of the compact and expansive elements 10-14 line poems can hold.
Tracy Dimond is a 2016 Baker Artist Award finalist. She is the author of four chapbooks, most recently: TO TRACY LIKE / TO LIKE / LIKE from akinoga press. She holds her MFA in Creative Writing & Publishing Arts from the University of Baltimore. Find her online at https://poetsthatsweat.com/