Alexis Smith on Alexis Almeida

Please let me be clear about something. Alexis Almeida and I were not supposed to be friends. Nope. It’s terrifying when you discover that out of the five incoming poets in your new MFA program, one of them shares your somewhat-unique-certainly-not-Stephanie name. I remember scheming to be the better ‘Alexis’ the summer before both of us actually met. Of course at CU’s first Welcome New MFA’s event, we classically collided at the name-tag table. None of this matters. Except maybe to point out that initially I didn’t want to like her too much. But I did like her. I think most people do. Alexis has a way of actually listening when others speak. As in, her presence makes you feel heard. She is always well spoken, presenting insightful ideas that are genuine and complex. But I think it is her gift of truly listening that draws me to her time and time again. You can shout at the walls for hours and they still won’t carry some of your burden. So often we let a breath of words dissipate emptily and I’m telling you it’s much better if someone’s there to catch them. Alexis catches them. She is strong enough to care about hearing. I think I would go so far as to say that you can sense the listening in Alexis’ work. Her poems unfurl a world that has heard even the tiniest things. And without realizing it before, the reader becomes stricken like a bell over the significance of these small happenings. They begin to resonate a larger sound. I hope it comes as no surprise that I no longer mind sharing a name with Alexis. Rather I feel terribly lucky to call such a good individual my friend. When I say ‘good’ here, you must imagine the word stretching through to its tips. am Alexis Almeida teaches creative writing at the University of Colorado, where she is at work on an MFA in poetry. Recent poems, translations, and essays have appeared or are forthcoming in TYPO, Vinyl Poetry, DREGINALD, Heavy Feather Review, Aufgabe, Cloud Rodeo, Tupelo Quarterly, and elsewhere. She performs with the poets’ theater group GASP, and lives in Denver.

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