Muse 2021: Small Victories Series with José Araguz

Thank you all for attending the Muse and the Marketplace 2021! This year's conference took the form of a virtual enhanced writing residency that took place Wednesday, April 21st - Sunday, April 25th. Up next are our new Premium Workshops and the Manuscript Marttaking place Wednesday, April 28th - Sunday, May 2nd.


This year's conference theme is "Small Victories." We all know what the "big" victories are (landing an agent, snagging a book deal, or getting a flashy award), but this year we aim to celebrate the equally important, tiny, and often unseen victories of our writing lives. In anticipation of the conference, we've asked Muse 2021 presenting authors to describe one small victory they've had as a writer that nobody knows about. Our next presenter in the series is José Araguz author of An Empty Pot's Darkness. 



I struggle with the idea of “small victories.” I think of something, and then immediately worry that considering that thing a “small” victory means I consider it small, lesser; not actually a victory, or, if one, then a qualified one. A victory with the price tag still on it in case I need to return it. 

In the midst of this meticulous mincing of meaning, however, I realize there are things that reflect the spirit of what is meant by “small victories” here. 

Like how, despite a number of chapbook and book publications, it wasn’t until my third full poetry collection that I finally had a physical book with the title and my name on the spine. I mean, the victory is any publication at all; that the work was done by me to get it out, and that someone read it and gave it a chance. 

I have nothing but gratitude for the small presses and editors who have given my work a home.

Still, it wasn’t until that third book came out of its box and I set it on my bookshelf that I realized that I’d been missing something in the shape of the victory, another depth to what it means to be a writer in the world. 

I used to wonder which publication it would be; when it happened, it left me to wait for the next small thing to note, worry, and wonder about. 

It was a small victory—literally, a few centimeters—but, despite its diminutive stature, I don’t for a minute take it for granted, nor consider returning it.



José Angel Araguz is a CantoMundo fellow and the author of seven chapbooks, as well as the collections, Everything We Think We Hear, Small Fires, Until We Are Level Again, and, most recently, An Empty Pot’s Darkness. His poems, creative nonfiction, and reviews have appeared in Crab Creek Review, Prairie Schooner, New South, Poetry International, and The Bind. Born and raised in Corpus Christi, Texas, he runs the poetry blog The Friday Influence and composes erasure poems on the Instagram account @poetryamano. He is also a faculty member of the Solstice Low-Residency MFA program. With an MFA from New York University and a PhD from the University of Cincinnati, José is an Assistant Professor of English at Suffolk University in Boston where he also serves as Editor-in-Chief of Salamander Magazine.


Again, thank you all for attending the Muse and the Marketplace 2021The last day to register for the conference was April 26th but conference attendees will have access to all recorded sessions until June 25th.

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