I went into Manhattan (I live in Queens) down to the Bowery to the Acker Awards (named for the late, avant-garde writer and artist, Kathy Acker).
A dear friend of mine—Leonard Abrams— was receiving an award for his publication, The East Village Eye. The gallery where the awards were held was packed with edgy, progressive artists whom I’m lucky enough to call my friends, for it’s important to have a circle with whom you identify in New York. You’ll soon realize that New York City is just like a small town.
I’m sure you’re thinking how one goes about finding their friends, their circle in a new city. Coming from a small town in Virginia and Longwood University, one may think that it’s difficult to connect with a group of like-minded people in a strange place - but it's not.
Use everything to your advantage.
Go to free events - the city is filled with art openings every single week that are open to the public.
Talk to people - take the unpaid writing gig for the little publication on the Lower East Side. Submit your work and don’t be afraid to say “I’m a writer.” (or whatever you are)
Use the people you know in the city.
I was lucky enough to move here with my twin sister, and dragged her along to everything.
Even if the tiny reading at the NYU bookstore isn’t that stimulating at first, you’ll realize that the woman sitting behind you is Eileen Myles and she’s on fire right now. You’ll want to fit in with the lesbian poets and the older gay men because they have the best stories and are the best conversationalists. You’ll learn a lot and make a friend for life.
When you’re in school (grad school included), use the resources available to you.
Use the library and read as much as you want about the artists who speak to you.
Don’t wait for a professor or fellow classmate to point out what’s good: sometimes you have to find it for yourself. Hunch over and nurse the little flicker of light that says “read more Toni Morrison” or “watch a Fassbinder film.”
Trust me: this will all come in very handy in your life. You’ll always have something to talk about at that art opening in Chelsea on a quiet Thursday night.
After the awards we went to a Peruvian restaurant on 6th street and 1st avenue. The city will become more familiar and your friend’s friends will soon become your friends and you’ll all be sitting around a table drinking Vintage seltzer and a ten dollar bottle of wine before you know it!
Communities form fast and it’s easier when you’re young.
Use social media to connect to fellow writers and artists and, most importantly, make friends with people older than yourself. Never stop observing those around you and, whatever you do, don’t forget that whichever community you choose is lucky to have you.
About the Author
Katherine Sloan '12Katherine Sloan graduated from Longwood University in 2012 with her MA in English with a concentration in Creative Writing. She currently lives in New York City and is working on freelance projects for writers such as Rick Moody. She and her twin sister, Angela have pieces of fiction published by Three Rooms Press in a collection called Songs of My Selfie. You can follow her on Instagram at @sloankatherine or find her on LinkedIn under her name. Some of her favorite people include Nick Cave and Joan Crawford.