My name is Melina and I live in a tiny cabin in the woods just outside of Fairbanks, Alaska. I wasn’t born there, I’m a transplant from Indiana, but I always refer to Alaska as “home.” All my life, I have made sporadic, quick decisions (which is also how I ended up in Alaska in the first place) and always endeavored to try/explore new things. The result of this is a gruesome resume that screams ‘indecisive’ and a million random hobby-accessories scattered about my tiny home. The only constant in my life, the only thing I have ever consistently done, is write poetry. No matter where, when, or what I’m doing I will sooner than later be scribbling phrases and stanzas in my notebook or typing furiously into my phone to try and put ideas down before they get away. Ironically enough, this is a practice I do not share… I have been a helicopter mechanic and labored publicly in that field, I have painted and in turn taught painting classes, I have enjoyed running and entered races, and I have backpacked so many miles and always extended the invitation to others… but never, ever, until 2019 -until my 26th year- had I shared the one thing closest to my heart; poetry.

It happened earlier in the year, I shared a poem with a close friend and received a positive reaction. It surprised me and even though I felt a minor urge to show them more, I dismissed it as a fluke or nice gesture. Then, I entered a submission to my university for publishing and that was picked up, but I dismissed it as a ‘pity-entry’ saying that perhaps there weren’t many other submissions. It wasn’t until I made a friend through poetry, sharing and exchanging pieces back and forth, that I finally felt true appreciation for the reveal. For me it was the connection, not the recognition, I had been chasing. It was similar to the way that my poetry connects me to other experiences/thoughts/moments, with the same level of vulnerability involved. I liked that my pieces had resonated with her in a way that made her feel comfortable enough to showing me her own work, that exchange of vulnerability, and there was some undeniable purity in seeing that we had shared emotions and thoughts despite having entirely different experiences. That was what made me decide to dive into the decision to reveal more, with the hope of reaching out and making more of those connections.

Here is that reaching-out, that venture into the unexplored mountains where I might rummage about, trying to make connections and discover something cherished.