That Time A Documentary Was Made About Me

Short narrative about Doug Swift’s work.

A video documentary. The first shot is me and Allen Schwartz talking to Nancy at Newark Homeless Outreach before a table of food and condiments. I was still using Kratom and you can tell by my hair and fit.

In 2019, I took a Creative Writing course at Denison with visiting professor Doug Swift. It was a blast, and I made one of my closest writing friends (hi Sarah!). What was also dope is that Doug enjoyed my sonnet “Newark Homeless Outreach” a great deal, and wanted to shoot a documentary of me similar to another literary janitor story he saw (can’t find the source).

There’s not much else to detail here that’s not in the video. Some thoughts almost two years later:

  • After what happened between me and Denison, I do not believe in eight hours of work a day. It’s abusive, leads to less productivity because it drains your soul, keeps parents away from children or stressing about where they can safely be while away at work, etc. 40 hours of work a week is utter bullshit designed to extract more labor from the working class. For what it’s worth, when I work on writing, it’s never less than an hour a day, or no more than five hours when I’m hot, hot, hot with the pen, barring any mental health crises. Currently, I work part-time as a janitor (four hours every weekday), part-time as a writer (1 to 5 hours a day), game about one hour a day, take care of my parents and their home between all that, and get eight hours of rest (lately, only four as I battle Kratom/weed). Life is still rough with the Kratom and weed and bankruptcy, but this schedule arrangement has been successful in giving me time to heal.
  • As I mentioned in the caption, I was still using Kratom. We filmed early in the morning, and I remember having to buy cheap shit at a gas station because all the other Kratom stores were closed. I wasn’t high per se, not sober either.
  • Same goes for the reading at Denison in the end.
  • There was another poem I wrote and shared after “Newark Homeless Outreach” about my alcoholism. It wasn’t good, no one responded, hence why it got cut to focus on the sonnet, I think.
  • The cover shot for writer and professor Jack Shuler’s latest book, This is Ohio, was taken at this same shooting. I was originally on the cover, but because I am not in the text (as far as I know, haven’t read it), they cut me out. No hard feelings, I understood and found it funny.
  • Speaking of janitors and writing, you should read this story. A janitor, Caitríona Ms. Lally, won one of Ireland’s most prestigious prizes, the Rooney Prize for Irish Literature, awarded to her by the people who teach at the university she cleans. That story inspired me to enter Denison’s writing competition with my piece “The Second Arrangement.” Never heard back.

In closing, I’d like to thank Doug Swift for the opportunity, and for the class. It’s the only reason my Medium publication is up and running. Now that I’ve done the on-camera interview thing, I never want to do it again. Not because it was a bad experience, but at this point in my craft, I’m more interested in the non-white works of justice fighters and fiction writers, and consuming media that features masters I’ve never encountered in my youth as a result of my own implicit biases (Baldwin, Morrison, Butler for example).

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