CONTENT WARNING: Contains mentions of violence, abuse, and sexual assault.

Ready, Aim, Whisper


Ready, Aim, Whisper is a collection of original poetry and non-fiction prose exploring the complicated intersection between Christian Nationalism, gun violence, and traditional displays of masculinity. It aims to take a personal approach, reflecting on my own story while raising questions I have wrestled and continue to wrestle through. The collection poses the power of a whisper in response to a clamorous social environment so clearly in need of change.


D. Doug Mains (He/Him)


I was fortunate to have found the written word as a stable confidant at a young age. Since ten or so, the creative process has been a profoundly personal experience for me, as if perhaps I am unable to think through complicated matters apart from the page. About half of the works in this collection had been written prior to receiving the CREATE! Microgrant. In their original context, they were practically journalistic—personal musings and/or reflections on my own upbringing and the current social climate; as well as on my identities as an artist, student, son, brother, father, etc. I hadn’t envisioned much of a future for these poems; they were simply a means of processing, questioning, and coping. Being awarded the CREATE! Microgrant allowed me the opportunity to knit these works together in a meaningful way, and to grow as an artist by nudging me beyond my comfort zone.

In the process of organizing, compiling, and filling in the gaps with new poems, I was able to thread a narrative that gave each individual piece even more agency by having been incorporated into the larger work. Inevitably, each poem is related to another, but by putting them in the same collection, they became more than just loosely related kin. And as far as my comfort zone goes, there were multiple moments in the curation process where I’d been tempted to make certain poems less pointed. I found myself wanting to soften things and confide in reliable coping mechanisms: to smile and wave, maybe quip a joke, and sneak out the back door. While I hope I accomplished a certain voice—namely, one of exploration and questioning and welcoming (provoking, maybe, at times)—this collection deals with difficult subject matter, and there likely is no easy or comfortable way to talk about it. Non-confrontational by nature, it is scary to release this into the world even if it is under the relatively safe umbrella of MSU. But I’m grateful for the CREATE! Microgrant for giving me this opportunity because I am learning to embrace some discomfort as growing pains. In the end, I would most certainly recommend other students submit proposals for future opportunities such as the CREATE! Microgrant. It can be uncomfortable to put yourself out there—it is. But, it’s also hard to grow beyond ourselves without a little bit of discomfort.