first round game
(1) guns n' roses, "paradise city"
(1) guns n' roses, "welcome to the jungle"
Read the essays, watch the videos, listen to the songs, feel free to argue below in the comments or tweet at us, and consider. Winner is the aggregate of the poll below and the @marchshredness twitter poll. Polls close @ 9am Arizona time on 3/8.
john melillo: Notes on the phrase “welcome to the jungle” in the song “Welcome to the Jungle” by the band Guns N’ Roses
“Do you know where the fuck you are? You’re in the jungle baby. Wake up! Time to dieeeeeeee.” (Axl Rose’s live preamble to “Welcome to the Jungle”)
Welcome [1a] [1b] [1c] [1d] [1e] to the jungle [2a] [2b] [2c] [2d] [2e] [2f].
The phrase “welcome to the jungle” is also the title of the song, “Welcome to the Jungle” by Guns N’ Roses, released as the first single from their 1987 debut album, Appetite for Destruction.
The phrase “welcome to the jungle” is written 10 times in the transcription of the song on genius.com.
The phrase “welcome to the jungle” is repeated 10 times according to my count.
The words “welcome to the jungle” are the first words sung in this song.
The words “welcome to the jungle” are the first words of each verse of the song.
The words “welcome to the jungle” follow “in the jungle” in each chorus of the song.
Notes on "Welcome"
[1a] There is a reason “Welcome to the Jungle” is used at the beginning of every sporting event for all time forever: the song is about antagonism through and through. It is about “versus” as such. The “welcome” we receive is ironic—a perversion of an actual “welcome.” In this perverse “welcome,” the host is actually a parasite and an enemy, and the guest is fresh meat, ready to be bloodily consumed. I particularly remember every high school football and basketball game extending this paradoxical/ironic welcome. “You’re on our home turf. We’re going to destroy you.” The song is now about territory, possession, and the paranoid hatred and distrust of others who step onto your territory. “Welcome” is a lie through and through. The knives are out. Compete or die.
[1b] Yet “to welcome” is still to acknowledge an other. A “welcome” is an opening, an address, a beginning. The phrase “Welcome to the jungle!” specifically foregrounds itself as an address in a way that, say, declarative sentences do not. Sentences like: “I have three rocks.” “The name of that constellation is Ursa Major.” “Two minus two equals zero.” Etc. (Of course, there’s always someone else lurking in all of our sentences, but they are deliberately excluded in the “constative” declarations like above. That other is seemingly not essential to the operation of the sentence.) The speaker in this song is addressing some more or less specific “you,” and more or less promising them something. The verb phrase “welcome to” implies not only a “you” (like: “(Hey you,) welcome to the jungle” or “Welcome (you), to the jungle!”) but also a pleasant arrival. To be welcome is to arrive, to have come, and to have that voyage / arrival / coming be looked upon well. The word itself embeds a positive approach to human relations: “I see you here, and that is good. It goes well with my will, my desire.” Or, even more: I see you and now you see me. We see each other and are seen by each other. That seeing together, that co-seeing brings “you” and “I” together. I see you; you see me. We are equal and in common.
[1c] Of course, this song is about no such politics or poetics of encounter. The song is about paranoid domination. Why? Couldn’t the song also be a friendly warning? “Wake up! Be wary. Here is what to watch out for.” Is the speaker trying to help in some way? Who is the speaker anyways? The legend (and with hair metal, why deal in facts): one day in 1980s Axl Rose stepped off a bus in New York City, and a homeless Black man yelled these now famous words at him: “Do you know where the fuck you are? You’re in the jungle baby. Time to die!” Tied up in the antagonism must also have been a kind of worry, too. Axl Rose—country boy, choirboy, white boy, dropout Pentecostal, rock-star-wannabe—must have looked like an easy target. The words stuck with and to him. This legend is essential, because it positions Axl Rose as the vulnerable, feminine listener, the “honey,” the “sexy girl” of the song.
The answer to the question of “who” is speaking from the perspective of the lyrics is in the third line: “We are the people that can find whatever you may need.” The welcomer is really a kind of glorified store clerk. I hear the Walmart greeter inside of it. “Welcome to Walmart. (As long as you’re here to buy our shit.)” Here again “welcome” is backwards; you are welcome, listener / honey, because now you have entered a space in which I can manipulate you. You’re in the jungle. You’re going to die / buy. The listener is taken to be a dope and the greeting is the beginning of a path toward disruption, death, loss of innocence, fulfillment of desires never imagined. Of course, the person being welcomed into the city wants these things, too. That is why they are there. So there is a connection between a romanticized self-fashioning and the mundane world of buying that new thing you never knew you needed. “If you got the money, honey, we got your disease.”
[1d] There is a kind of Willie Wonka-ish tour guide quality to our jungle greeter. Here are all the vices of the city! Come, enjoy! Lights! Highs! Lows!
[1e] This song’s “welcome” undoes our faith in language. The answer? Scream in agony: the long, unending, Edvard Munch-on-acid scream that opens the song after a few tentative echoes on the guitar. This scream dissipates into the general atmosphere and ambience of the song. It literally “sets the tone” because we can hear the rest of the song as nested inside that initial scream. The scream cuts two ways: it’s both a primal howl and a synthesized electronic image of fear. It is both an incarnation of immediacy and a calculated, theatrical manipulation. The song, this “welcoming,” is a fantasy space for the play between sadism and masochism, mastery and domination. The scream works in the unknowable space that toggles between these two polls. What can I say? I don’t know. I will scream.
notes on "jungle"
[2a] Jungle: There has been a tension between city life and country life for as long as there has been “civilization,” which is a word that comes from the Latin word for city, civitas. The innocent girl/boy coming to the city to be corrupted is a story told over and over. The British cultural critic Raymond Williams sums up the binary on the first page of The Country and the City:
On the country has gathered the idea of a natural way of life: of peace, innocence, and simple virtue. On the city has gathered the idea of an achieved centre: of learning, communication, light. Powerful hostile associations have also developed: on the city as a place of noise, worldliness and ambition; on the country as a place of backwardness, ignorance, limitation. A contrast between country and city, as fundamental ways of life, reaches back into classical times.
Noise, worldliness, ambition—the negative or “hostile associations” with city life—structure the song. Everything is calculated to be aggressive, spiky, and filled with dread: the iconic, choppy chromatic guitar riff itself, and the cutting, bright timbres of the instruments, and the tone of Axl’s near-strangulated, nasal, stuttering voice. It all says, “The city life is all desire, craven self-interest, and self-destruction, but—if you become world-wise and kill your idealisms very quickly—you, too, can achieve mastery, get high, see the bright lights, and be in the position of power over the next sucker who comes along.” Punk anarchy becomes generalized (and mystified) as graft and the search for pleasure / fame. The subcultural angst of punk is turned into a show of noise, worldliness and ambition.
[2b] But the “jungle” is neither city nor country. It is instead a kind of fantasy wilderness that both precedes and exceeds the division of “city and country.” “Jungle” is a word of colonization. Originally, from the Hindi and Marathi “jangal,” it passed into English during the colonial occupation of India beginning in the 18th century. The meanings: waste, desert, uncultivated ground, unusable space, non-territory, wilderness, “outside” the city / civilization. The “jungle” always retained something inassimilable to imperial minds: it has remained all the more fascinating because of that.
[2c] Let me now state the obvious. The paranoid energy of this song is deeply related to the U.S.A.’s dominant cultural artifact of paranoia: racism. “The jungle”—with all the savage, primitive, colonial, and “African” connotations invoked by that word—is a figure deeply embedded within popular culture in the U.S. The jungle is a fantasy space both outside and inside the culture’s definition of itself. Countless blackface, ragtime, jazz, rock n’ roll, and rock songs (along with band names and movies) have used this figure of “the jungle.” For example, a mini-history in the immediate lineage of Guns n’ Roses: the proto-punk / glam rock New York Dolls (direct progenitors of the particular inflection of rock we’d call hair metal) performed “Stranded in the Jungle,” which was an early rock 'n' roll hit by the doo-wop / rhythm & blues bands The Jay Hawks and The Cadets. In the song, the singer is stranded in a jungle when his airplane crashes; after almost being eaten by natives in the jungle, he gets back to “the States” to where his “baby” is now with another man. The jungle is the place of cannibalistic backwardness at an edge-of-nowhere distance across the ocean.
[2d] “Welcome to the Jungle” takes the wild, untamed, always-ready-to-be-colonized-but-never-civilized, exteriorized space of “the jungle” and translates it to the dense, market-driven, interiorized world of urban life. The song reverses the implied order of things: while the colonial mythology is that of the metropolitan center of light as against the backwards and dangerous heart of darkness, here the “jungle” is the very acme of “civilization.” This is a Social Darwinist and capitalist fantasy. So the song yells out from the “jungle:” “Compete for these limited resources, motherfuckers!”
[2e] The “jungle” is a space of pure desire. Sex, drugs, rock n roll. As such, it’s a space that’s against the referential effects of language: it’s just about sounds as pure indexes of bodies, pain, and pleasure. It’s where screams, sexual grunts, and the “mute” music of guitar solos abound. Guitars fill in where words fear to tread. “I wanna hear you scream” and Slash fills in for the woman’s scream. (In an interesting reversal of the guitar as pure expression of phallic power.) The song also highlights Axl Rose’s famous stuttering chorus: “shun nanananana knees, knees.” Is this a shiver of fear? A joy in infantile repetition? Either way, it’s language reduced to “just” sound. Perhaps counterintuitively, I hear the amorphous bridge that follows the (second) guitar solo as the heart of the jungle. Here, the aggressive, articulated guitar sounds give way to a steady drumbeat, muted bass, aimless falling glissandos, and random scratches on the guitar strings. In this moment the song seems, very briefly, to be lost. Then the energy builds up again, and Axl repeats the famous words: “You’re in the jungle, baby! You’re gonna dieeeeee.” Another punctuating scream follows. The “jungle” sounds out as that which remains “lost,” that which refuses to be tamed. It is the resistant, untamed, embodied yearning to break out of the “common sense” that power enforces. The voice is doubled here: it returns us to “where the fuck we are” just at the moment where some other, resistant possibility emerges in the instrumental sounds, but it also presents resistance: the scream as voicelessness and thwarted agony.
[2f] The jungle is a wilderness of contradictory images. It’s where the listener goes for both pleasure and pain, freedom and constraint, fantasy and “brutal” reality. It is no secret that “hair metal” is as much about image and fantasy as it is about any musical accomplishments and techniques. The “bright lights” that the feminized addressee / Axl-Rose-fresh-off-the-bus desires are too bright. They aren’t about enlightenment or even about the urban pleasures of cultivation and mastery: they are about the glare of the TV screen. They are about the glowing aura that emanates from Axl’s blown-out, teased, and floating hair when the stage-lights shine through it. The jungle is lighting, camera position, gaze, choreography, pose, style: everything tied up with the intricacies and fears of seeing and being seen. The performer, the entertainer sheds the innocence of being unseen and becomes what is “wanted:” a vision of “freedom” that reiterates the fact of our own domination.
(With thanks to Maria and Mike Mullane for their insights on Guns N’ Roses and this song.)
John Melillo is an assistant professor in the English Department at the University of Arizona. He makes music / noise under the name Algae & Tentacles.
Paradise Vérité: karyna mcglynn on "paradise city"
The Stoopid Origin Story
Like many less fortunate ideas, “Paradise City” was conceived in the back of a rental van after a show in San Francisco. Apparently the boys in the band weren’t much impressed by the Bay Area because the drunker they got, the more sentimental they supposedly got for home—AKA “Paradise City, where the grass is green and the girls are pretty”. In 2018 this sort of utopian middle class nostalgia sounds a bit unnervingly #MAGA for my tastes, especially since the song seems born out of an anti-San-Francisco frame of mind—I mean, can you blame us for hearing the song as a lament for the loss of a simpler place and time where color lines were well-lit and gender boundaries were clear?—but perhaps we should just by grateful that Slash didn’t get his way on this one. If it had been up to Slash, the song would go, “Take me down to the Paradise City, where the girls are fat and they’ve got big titties! Take me home!” The other gunners voted this idea down.
I have to deal with the issue of my own embarrassment. Listening to Guns N’ Roses now forces me to confront some of my earliest notions of sexuality: pre-irony, pre-internet, pre-Morrissey-phase, pre-queer. I grew up in Texas in the 80s and 90s. GNR was HUGE. Your knowledge of (and allegiance to) them factored into your social status at school. The kids who liked them most were smart and bad and pretty chill. A lethal injection of middleclass coolness that seemed to appeal to both jocks and drama nerds. We could all get behind the fact that Guns N’ Roses totally rocked. Sometimes I think that GNR was the last thing we all agreed on. So why does it embarrass me so much?
My mom picks me up from fifth grade. Correction: my mom and I leave together from fifth grade because she’s my teacher and I only get to leave when she leaves, which is late, because she always has to grade and do lesson plans and feed the snake and staple holiday-themed borders around the bulletin board. But today she says we’re leaving early. My heart soars—the possibilities!—until she says why: the orthodontist. So I’m sulking in the car like a little ungrateful bitch—like, “How dare you spend thousands of dollars of your single-parent teacher’s salary to ensure my mouth doesn’t look like a cemetery by the time somebody actually wants to kiss me!” But we don’t go to the orthodontist...
...we go to the RODEO CARNIVAL. I’m eleven and have been a subscriber to Seventeen magazine for exactly a year. I’ve already seen The Lost Boys twice:
I have a picture of Jason Patric on my wall next to Jon Bon Jovi and Debbie Gibson and Kirk Cameron. I feel guiltiest when I put up the Bon Jovi. I’m confused. There’s been this very nebulous but distinct 1950s/60s nostalgia in the air ever since I can remember. And we’re all supposed to like jellybeans. Lately, almost everything turns me on, and I don’t have vocabulary for any of it even though teachers are always praising my vocabulary. I don’t think they’re giving me all the vocabulary. There’s this commercial for Cherry 7-Up where I imagine this pop-collared proto-Matt LeBlanc (who actually turns out to be Matt LeBlanc) is my boyfriend and that we two serve as the only neon pink pulses of color in an otherwise black and white world. This is how youthful romance feels—like you’re inventing new colors in spite of a previous generation’s oppressive nostalgia:
I <3 Carnivals
Carnivals meant everything to me, and I wasn’t a snob about them. I didn’t care if it was a state fair or a dilapidated kiddie carnival that popped up in a k-mart parking lot for a few hours. Everything about them fed into my hunger for altered states at a time when I could only satisfy this hunger vicariously (and abstractly) through MTV, movies like Labyrinth & Beetlejuice, and occasional late-night sleepover games/rituals that bordered on the Occult.
To me, carnivals embodied the whole tantalizingly cloaked world of Teenagers at Night—all the funnel cake and “French kissing” and neon intrigue and denim. I wanted a Matt-LeBlanc-style boyfriend with a great pitching arm to win me a giant stuffed animal. For an eleven year-old girl, is there any greater external validation of your own lovability than a comically large stuffed Garfield? But I didn’t have a boyfriend, so I spent a lot of time getting “bullied” by boys in bumper cars: the electricity that thrilled up my spine when they rammed into me from behind. Sometimes they smirked lasciviously. Sometimes they winked. Sometimes the ride operator would see my “distress” and go full White Knight on me—jumping in my bumper car and chasing down the bad guys to show them who was really the Bumper Boss.
If there was a gatekeeper to the realm of Adolescence, I was pretty sure he worked at the carnival, and I really wanted a ticket. I even had a genie-in-a-lamp wish plan. First Wish: Carnival in my Back Yard. Second Wish: Have a Cabriolet Convertible like Cindy Mancini in Can’t Buy My Love. Third Wish: “Unlimited Wishes, Sucker!” I bought into the Reagan-era mythology, but I also had my feelers out for the freaks, for anything subversive. I liked it when carnies flirted with me even though I pretended that I didn’t. I liked it when they left me stranded at the top of a ride on purpose, my pink jelly shoes dangling in a night air that felt special: endlessly noir & effervescent, like a Cherry 7-Up ad, but slightly sinister. These aren’t thing’s we’re born knowing how to ask for.
The 1988 Presidential Election
We had a school-wide election prior to November. For months my mom and I had been canvassing for Michael Dukakis door-to-door on weekends. Mostly old men told us they were “proud Republicans” and “not interested” in anything we had to say, “thank you.” The old women always told us we’d “have to speak” to their husbands who could never “come to the door right now.” But I thought at least the kids at my school would vote the right way. They didn’t. After all the votes were tallied, George H.W. Bush won the Cypress Elementary School mock election by 94%. I couldn’t believe it. I cried about it sporadically for weeks. “But HOW could they be so blind?” I asked my mom melodramatically. My mom wisely told me not to cry about it at school if I wanted to start making friends. I didn’t listen to her.
“Paradise City” will forever be linked to the occasion on which I first heard it: as an eleven year-old standing in line for the Super-Himalaya—the most glam & psychedelic of all carnival rides:
I was in line behind two beautifully bad teenagers with amazing bangs. She had holes burned into the butt of her jeans and he had a long black coat and glitter eye-shadow and they were smoking and frenching at the same time. And then, suddenly:
Take me down to the paradise city!
Where the grass is green and the girls are pretty!
Take me home! (Oh won't you please take me home!)
This was the moment some primitive version of my Kundalini woke up. In Axl Rose’s elven plaint I heard it: there was something missing and I’d been lied to. Guns N’ Roses tore through the scrim of my innocence all at once. I wanted whatever pleasure-torture men and women were inflicting on each other all around me. I wanted a huge teddy bear, yes, but I also wanted carnal knowledge: I wanted somebody to put their big warm hand in the butt pocket of my jeans, wanted my tongue to snake-dance with another tongue under the strobe lights, wanted the bumper car of my adolescence to smack me from behind, wanted to cause somebody to feel so passionately that they undulated & pulsed with irrepressible color.
While on the Himalaya ride I was musically deflowered by the Appetite for Destruction trifecta: “Sweet Child o’ Mine,” “Welcome to the Jungle,” and (again) “Paradise City” (they were playing them in a loop) while sitting directly behind the french-kissing teenagers. Their car waved up and down in front of me and their tongues made snail silhouettes. They kissed like it pained them to do so but were nonethleless magnetically compelled. This is exactly how Axl Rose sings. The unseen carnie/DJ occasionally interrupted Slash’s sickest solos with air horns, stinky fog machine blasts, and questioned whether we could collectively “handle it” if he sped up the rotation or “Turrrrned IT A-ROUUUUND!” Can you imagine taking in all this information at once? “Where do we go now?” I thought that Super-Himalaya would spin faster and faster until a current of neon, pheromones, and Pure Rock launched us all into sexual orbit. When I got off that ride, my knees buckled.
The Ennui of the European Tour
If there’s one thing late 80s/early 90s music videos love doing, it’s dressing up a bunch of black & white b-roll footage as a music video for a surprise hit. These pseudo cinéma vérité montages always include silly and subversive moments—like the drummer popping up from behind the green room couch in a leopard print Speedo and chugging a magnum of champagne in a delightfully self-aware caricature of Rock Star Excess—but also moody, soul-searching moments, like grainy shots of the bassist asleep on his gear at the Frankfurt airport, or the front man smoking alone in front of hotel in Belarus as the sun rises, silently asking himself, “Is it all really worth it?” These same videos always feature stop-motion animation of massive stages being built in Pasadena/Lisbon/Everywhere/Nowhere in a matter of seconds. You can never really tell where the sound-check ends and the show begins. And to be fair, that probably speaks fairly authentically to the experience of touring with a hair metal band in 1988.
The “Paradise City” video is in the aforementioned tour montage mode: Steven Adler being woken up in his hotel room by a mischievous camera crew and putting a pillow over his face. Slash, practically naked, smoking a requisite cigarette, and just shredding it in the middle of Wrigley Field (and shut up—I don’t care whether it’s actually Wrigley Field. That’s not the point. The point is that some of the footage is in grainy black and white and could be anywhere in America where a rock band has both unbelievable privilege and unbelievable loneliness, and feels the need to flex both simultaneously... Okay, so it’s Giants Stadium.)
Their name and logos are everywhere in this video: on stage, on their shirts, on multiple shots of merch tables, emblazoned on the backs of their jackets, tattooed on their biceps. Their branding is so pervasive that any sartorial choice that’s not self-promotional stands out— like there are lots of fabulous Izzy Stradlin vests, and at one point Slash is wearing a Hard Rock Cafe t-shirt, but it actually says “Hard Cock.” There’s also this angry beefsteak of a security guard who has filled his polo shirt to max capacity. He looks like he’s about to shove the shit out of someone. He probably was; half the video is shot in Castle Donington for the Monsters of Rock Festival—you know, the show where two fans were trampled to death in the mud. Leave it to GNR to shoehorn tragedy into their music video as proof of their own Extremeness.
I find myself wishing the jump-happy camera would sit still and show us the stage show. That’s extreme enough. Also, Axl Rose is fucking mesmerizing. The hips. The hair. The bandana. The undulations. Those otherworldly pipes like Robert Plant;s, only more pained and Pentecostal. It’s so good that I sometimes forget that I’m not watching a younger Ewan McGregor playing the part of Axl Rose in a biopic that never got made. Why would you cut away to the merch table?
But our relationship to Axl Rose has always been troubled. There’s this scene in the video that always seemed so stupid: a close-up of Axl Rose flashing his all-access backstage pass and nodding meaningfully. “Um, dude, you’re the lead singer of the band—I already assumed you had all the access.” But it turns out I was missing something: there’s a clear overlay on his badge that says “ACCESS ALL AREAS,” yes, but there’s also a Nazi eagle insignia with a fucking swastika and everything.
Writer and contributing editor to Rolling Stone, Gavin Edwards, discusses this moment at length in his way better essay on the “Paradise City” video:
Axl’s wearing the leather military cap again; some guy on Wikipedia claims it is a “World War II Nazi officer cap,” and indeed, it seems to be in the same style as Nazi caps, although it bears no logos. I think Axl was showing off the “Artistes” pass rather than the SS Eagle, but his mind is a strange and squirrelly place, and obviously he enjoyed having a swastika hang from his neck. I suspect he wasn’t a believer in the master race, but was pursuing cheap nihilistic thrills. This was the same impulse that led him to release a Charles Manson cover five years later. In brief, I’d peg him as an asshole more than a racist, although he’s probably both.
“Probably Both” But Real Quick
- Axl Rose’s skin is smooth. TOO smooth. JB Smoove smooth. Like, butt-of-the-white-suede-outfit-that-Cindy-Mancini-wears-in-Can’t-Buy-Me-Love smooth.
- Imagine this scenario: some asshole at a party spills red wine all over Axl Rose’s pretty white jacket and Patrick Dempsey comes to the rescue by spending all his fancy telescope money to get it replaced. Now Axl Rose has to pretend to be Patrick Dempsey’s girlfriend for a month and ride behind him on a lawnmower!
- (BTW: don’t Google “whatever happened to the actress who played Cindy Mancini” or you’re in for another Jonathan Brandeis/Corey Haim sized hole where your childhood used to be).
- Here is something that Axl Rose said about his own childhood: “We’d have televisions one week, then my stepdad would throw them out because they were Satanic. I wasn’t allowed to listen to music. Women were evil. Everything was evil.”
Back Up: Did You Call Guns n’ Roses “Hair Metal”?
Look, the last thing I need is some armchair bro musicologist sniffing up in my vinyl collection and borrowed taxonomy, ok? I get it: GNR is “genre defying”—a bit blues, a bit punk, a bit (hair) metal, a bit glam.
As Tom Erlewine’s says in his review of Appetite for Destruction, “it was a dirty, dangerous, and mean record in a time when heavy metal meant nothing but a good time.” He notes the “nasty edge” that sets GNR’s music apart, and the “primal, sleazy sound that adds grit to already grim tales.”
They’ve got more grit than say, Poison, sure, but why are people so keen to disown GNR’s glam roots?
I’ve always felt like there’s something a bit glitterphobic about the insistence on GNR’s grittiness. Hair Metal as a genre is tainted by its own glamminess. And I suspect some fans want to keep GNR far away from any whiff of glam because they’re “too good for it.” But how can a band be “too good” for a genre? That is, unless the genre itself complicates any individual member’s perceived gender or orientation. It’s a question of Realness v. Camp. That tension is one of the things that makes stadium rock so thrilling—the flamboyance and the fire-worship, the wind and fog machines, the transformations and electrified peacockery, the strutting and catastrophic amounts of guitar. And yes, dudes, the Hair.
Karyna McGlynn is the author of Hothouse (Sarabande Books 2017), I Have to Go Back to 1994 and Kill a Girl (Sarabande Books 2009), and several chapbooks including The 9-Day Queen Gets Lost on Her Way to the Execution (Willow Springs Editions 2016). Her poems have recently appeared in The Kenyon Review, Ploughshares, Black Warrior Review, Ninth Letter, Georgia Review, Witness, and The Academy of American Poet’s Poem-A-Day. Karyna holds an MFA from the University of Michigan, and earned her PhD in Literature and Creative Writing from the University of Houston. She was recently the Diane Middlebrook Fellowship in Poetry at the University of Wisconsin and is currently a Visiting Assistant Professor of Creative Writing at Christian Brothers University in Memphis.