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Nahshon Cook on Becoming

Nahshon Cook is a poet living in Denver, Colorado. His collection, The Killing Fields and Other Poems, documents his journey through Asia, and was published in 2015. His poetry is available online at Split This Rock and the Origami Poems Project.

“The poems in my book,” says Cook, “were thought up and written, for myself, to document the pieces of myself found while living and traveling and being and learning to love in another world.”

Nahshon Cook shares three good books on the topic of becoming:

The Alchemist
by Paul Coelho

This book, for me, is all about having the courage to follow your dreams when the opportunity presents itself — and what happens when you do. While I was living abroad, I imagined I was Santiago (the main character in the book). His life was a road map for mine during those years. I'm thankful for that book; it is love.

No Name in the Street
by James Baldwin

More than the historical events in 1960s and 70s America that James Baldwin considered significant, No Name in the Street — for me — is a lesson in how much more powerful and beautiful and artistic political writing can be when the pain is personal.



The Cancer Journals
by Audre Lorde

My mom is a two-time cancer survivor. The only person I know, on the page or in-person, who faced and fought cancer as fearlessly as my mom is Audre Lorde. I read The Cancer Journals on my flight home from Beijing, after my mom told me her cancer had come back. It gave me the light I needed, and the permission, also, to write, unflinchingly about my mom's chemo and hair loss and prayers and power. The Cancer Journals is the work of a Mahatma.

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