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About this poet

Cristin O’Keefe Aptowicz was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, in 1978. She received a BFA from New York University, where she cofounded the NYC-Urbana Poetry Slam.

She is the author of several poetry collections, including How to Love the Empty Air (Write Bloody Publishing, 2018); The Year of No Mistakes (Write Bloody Publishing, 2013), winner of a Book of the Year Award from the Writers’ League of Texas; Everything Is Everything (Write Bloody Publishing, 2010); Hot Teen Slut (The Wordsmith Press, 2001); and Dear Future Boyfriend (The Wordsmith Press, 2000).

She is also the author of two books of nonfiction, including Words in Your Face: A Guided Tour through Twenty Years of the New York City Poetry Slam (Soft Skull, 2007), which, Billy Collins writes, “leaves no doubt that the slam poetry scene has achieved legitimacy and taken its rightful place on the map of contemporary literature.”

Aptowicz has received an Amy Clampitt Residency and a fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts.


Selected Bibliography

Poetry
How to Love the Empty Air (Write Bloody Publishing, 2018)
The Year of No Mistakes (Write Bloody Publishing, 2013)
Everything Is Everything (Write Bloody Publishing, 2010)
Oh, Terrible Youth (The Wordsmith Press, 2007)
Working Class Represent (The Wordsmith Press, 2003)
Hot Teen Slut (The Wordsmith Press, 2001)
Dear Future Boyfriend (The Wordsmith Press, 2000)

Prose
Dr. Mutter’s Marvels: A True Tale of Intrigue and Innovation at the Dawn of Modern Medicine (Penguin, 2014)
Words in Your Face: A Guided Tour through Twenty Years of the New York City Poetry Slam (Soft Skull, 2007)

Not Doing Something Wrong Isn't the Same as Doing Something Right

In my defense, my forgotten breasts. In my defense, the hair
no one brushed from my face. In my defense, my hips.

Months earlier, I remember thinking that sex was a ship retreating
on the horizon. I could do nothing but shove my feet in the sand.

I missed all the things loneliness taught me: eyes that follow you
crossing a room, hands that find their home on you. To be noticed, even.

In my defense, his hands. In my defense, his arms. In my defense,
how when we just sat listening to each other breathe, he said, This is enough.

My body was a house I had closed for the winter. It shouldn’t have been
that difficult, empty as it was. Still, I stared hard as I snapped off the lights.

My body was a specter that haunted me, appearing when I stripped
in the bathroom, when I crawled into empty beds, when it rained.

My body was abandoned construction, restoration scaffolding
that became permanent. My body’s unfinished became its finished.

So in my defense, when he touched me, the lights of my body came on.
In my defense, the windows were thrown open. In my defense, spring.

Copyright © 2013 by Cristin O’Keefe Aptowicz. “Not Doing Something Wrong Isn’t the Same as Doing Something Right” originally appeared in The Year of No Mistakes (Write Bloody Publishing, 2013). Used with permission of the author.

Copyright © 2013 by Cristin O’Keefe Aptowicz. “Not Doing Something Wrong Isn’t the Same as Doing Something Right” originally appeared in The Year of No Mistakes (Write Bloody Publishing, 2013). Used with permission of the author.

Cristin O'Keefe Aptowicz

Cristin O'Keefe Aptowicz

Cristin O'Keefe Aptowicz  is the author of several poetry collections, including How to Love the Empty Air (Write Bloody Publishing, 2018).

by this poet

poem

ARE YOU DEAD? is the subject line of her email.
The text outlines the numerous ways she thinks
I could have died: slain by an axe-murderer, lifeless
on the side of a highway, choked to death by smoke
since I’m a city girl and likely didn’t realize you needed
to open the chimney

poem

Turns out things aren’t going that well.
Turns out you wake up and you’re thirty,
and the clothes you are wearing aren’t ironic
anymore. They are the clothes you wear.

One day you wake up, and look in your closet
and realize it is every terrible thing your mother
ever said to you, all

poem

Holding your mother’s hand
while she is dying is like trying to love
the very thing that will kill you.

Loving the thing that can kill you
is like hating your fingers
because of how they can feel.

Hating your fingers
because of how they can feel
is like hating the