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.