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Phoenix Luk, Writer

Phoenix was born in Manhattan but raised in the suburbs of New Jersey. Her first poems were about cutting boards and aliens. She followed her heart back to the city, where she earned her MFA in Writing for Children & Young Adults from The New School. In addition to the Teaching Artist Project, she is part of the New York City Teaching Collaborative to earn her master’s in English Education. Phoenix hopes to create a classroom culture that fuses a new-age style of reading and a creative atmosphere that supports analytical thought. In between teaching and rock climbing, Phoenix is shopping around a young adult novel and writing her next YA novel and a chapbook that showcases the struggles and wonder of mental illness, abuse, and sexuality.

TAP Work:

The work Phoenix has done at TAP has been invaluable because it showed her ways to access learning in multiple creative aspects—paint, poetry, and music. As Phoenix despises the current teaching model in public schools, TAP has given her the tools to help her students be more involved in the material using methods that best fit them. She learned the importance of multiple accessibility and fostering a familial classroom environment.

These abilities were put into play when Phoenix worked with CWP mentors Jashua Sa-Ra and Chaya Babu at New Directions Middle School. The workshops focused on different kinds of poetry, including erasure, found, and modeled poems. Helping students create art they didn’t know they could do was so touching because a newfound confidence grew within them to achieve other goals they had for themselves.

Most Memorable TAP Moment

"Spending Saturdays at TAP was never a downer! Phoenix loved being surrounded by other artists and friends making art together. It was like a form of stress relief play. But her favorite moment was creating a beautiful mural that we would all contribute to over the months. It showed what teaching meant to us artists and what drives us to create, share, and educate."

Find out more about Phoenix here:

"My Honest Poem" by Phoenix Luk

After Rudy Francisco

I am less than five feet short, though on good

days, I feel like I’m towering above the wind.

But that’s all pretend, my motto

Fake it ‘til you make it; I haven’t made it yet.

I haven’t learned to love myself

as much as I love people I don’t even know.

Pain is my daily breakfast,

and I swallow my feelings for dinner.

Sometimes I want to breathe in nicotine

until all the oil is gone, somewhere I’m not.

I want to feel the freezing iron of the fire

escape on my feet until I’m numb to myself.

Living with monsters in my head

is my normal.

My body runs on four bottles of pills

twice a day, every day.

This makes me feel like a robot

going through the motions of someone else’s story.

I don’t want this life

because I didn’t choose it; it chose me.

I give away too much of myself it scares people I meet,

and I fall in love with the ones who can’t love me back.

I fell in love with a married man, and I was engaged

when I was 22. Both are different people, different times.

I love men and women and those in between or neither;

my Church kicked me out for that.

I think everyone I love deserves better

than me because I know I’m enough, and they are so, so...

I’m no good at contests that have to do with love

or people and proving I’m worth fighting for, or trying for.

Because I’m not,

and you should know that too.

I write to ease the pain, and I teach

to make sure kids don’t end up like me.

I want to save them

but not myself.

I’d jump in front of a car for someone I haven’t met

because their life is worth more than mine.

My name is Courtney Phoenix,

and I care about a world that doesn’t care about me.

I hear echoes of my own screams at night

until a tiny pill puts me to sleep.

Sometimes I think I can’t breathe

so I inhale smoke to see that I really can.

I’m waiting for my own death,

but I feel like I’ve been waiting too long.

I don’t know if it’ll be from my own hands

or from side effects that slowly deteriorate organs.

Candy, chocolate, and frozen yogurt are my favorite comforts,

and sex, when my focus is on someone else’s guilty pleasures.

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