About a year ago, Michael Torres, one of my favorite students, came to my office and told me that he wasn’t going to be transferring for at least a year. It was a kick in the teeth. He’d been accepted to UCR’s creative writing program, which is a tremendously good program, and as a community college professor, my great joy is to see students transfer to places like that.
The problem was that he hadn’t finished the last math class he’d need to transfer. It’s a common problem for creative writing students, but that didn’t make it any more palatable for him. I think the first instinct for both of us was to cast about looking for someone to blame, but of course that’s futile.
Instead, he decided that instead of taking this as a moment of anger, he was going to use that year to work on his poetry. He was going to have a lot of free time, after all, with only one class to take in an entire year, and he figured that he might as well use that time well.
I don’t think I’ve ever seen anyone use his or her time better. Michael started working on his poetry and fiction constantly, relentlessly, until he’d built up an incredible portfolio, and then he started to send his work out to magazines.
It’s difficult to try to publish at first. The nature of the business is that every poet is rejected again and again. This rejection often kills a young poet’s spirit. All that a lot us can see is the rejection, but this wasn’t Michael. He kept up at it.
I don’t know how much Michael published in magazines, but it was a lot, and within the space of a year, he had his first chapbook accepted. There’s talk that he’s going to have a book possibly published too.
Michael’s going to be reading his work several times this weekend throughout the San Gabriel Valley. On Thursday, he’s going to be at the Dim Lights Reading in Pomona. At 6pm on Saturday, he’ll be reading at Glendora’s Village Book Shop, and there are some others.
I’ll be there. I’m one of his biggest fans, but I’m not his only fan. The group of people following Michael’s career is growing, and it’s bound to get only larger. He’s approaching art and life the way that we all should.