Poetry provides an outlet for the expression of varied life experiences: proving a useful tool in bolstering solidarity by finding common struggles within communities, and creating an accessible, visible space for those whose experiences may not be fully understood by people not within the community.
There are many shared themes within poetry written by transgender artists, including intersecting identities, family dynamics, and political angst. Viewing these topics through the lens of poetry supports extremely personal and powerful representations of trans lives.
In each session, we will study the poetry of one renowned transgender artist, including textual analysis of four poems along with supplementary material like interviews, video, and audio recordings of the artist’s work.
Week 1: September 3, 2019: Cameron Awkward-Rich
“The Child Formerly Known as ______”: https://www.splitthisrock.org/poetry-database/poem/the-child-formerly-known-as
“The Cure for What Ails You”: http://www.boaatpress.com/the-cure-for-what-ails-you
Cameron Awkward-Rich is the author of Sympathetic Little Monster (Ricochet Editions, 2016), which was a finalist for a Lambda Literary Award. He is a Cave Canem fellow, a poetry editor for Muzzle Magazine, and his second collection of poetry, Dispatch, is forthcoming from Persea Books in December 2019. Also a critic, Cameron earned his PhD from Stanford University’s program in Modern Thought & Literature, and he is an assistant professor of Women, Gender, Sexuality Studies at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. Currently, he is working on a book about maladjustment in trans literature and theory.
Week 2: September 10, 2019: Joshua Jennifer Espinoza
“This is What Makes Us Worlds”: https://poets.org/poem/what-makes-us-worlds
“It Is Important to be Something”: https://poets.org/poem/it-important-be-something
“I Dream of Horses Eating Cops”: https://lithub.com/i-dream-of-horses-eating-cops/
“To the Queer Woman Who Asked Me If I Had a Dick”: https://www.buzzfeednews.com/article/jjenniferespinoza/poetry-to-the-queer-woman-who-asked-me-if-i-have-a-dick
Interview with Joshua: https://culturacolectiva.com/books/poetry-interview-with-joshua-jennifer-espinoza
Joshua Jennifer Espinoza is a trans woman poet living in California. Her work has been featured in Denver Quarterly, American Poetry Review, Lambda Literary, PEN America, The Offing, and elsewhere. Her full-length collection There Should be Flowers was published by Civil Coping Mechanisms in 2016.
Week 3: September 17, 2019: torrin a. greathouse
“Phlebotomy, as Told by the Blood”: https://poets.org/print/poem/59a16954-3665-4c6c-a271-6d328fb10d2f
“When My Brother Makes a Joke About Trans Panic” and “Definitions for Body as Prison Metaphor”: http://www.matadorreview.com/torrin-a-greathouse
“Ekphrasis on My Rapist’s Wedding Dress”: http://www.boaatpress.com/ekphrasis-on-my-rapists-wedding-dress
(Audio) torrin reads “On Confinement”: https://www.poetryfoundation.org/podcasts/148494/torrin-a-greathouse-read-on-confinement
torrin a. greathouse (she/her or they/them) is a transgender cripple-punk poet from Southern California. An MFA candidate at the University of Minnesota, she is the author of the chapbooks Therǝ is a Case That I Ɐm (Damaged Goods, 2017) and boy/girl/ghost (TAR Chapbook Series, 2018). Their work has appeared in Poetry magazine, the New York Times, the Kenyon Review, Foglifter, and the Academy of American Poets Poem-a-Day series, among other outlets.
Week 4: September 24, 2019: Christopher Soto
“All the Dead Boys Look Like Me”: https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poems/146840/all-the-dead-boys-look-like-me
“Concerning the Necropolitical Landscape”: https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poetrymagazine/poems/147139/concerning-the-necropolitical-landscape
“Maybe the Cubicle // is Another Incarneration”: http://bostonreview.net/poetry/christopher-soto-two-poems
“In Support of Violence”: https://tinhouse.com/in-support-of-violence/
(Video) Christopher reads “In Support of Violence”: https://vimeo.com/181339358
Christopher Soto is a poet from Los Angeles, currently based in Brooklyn. He is the author of Sad Girl Poems (Sibling Rivalry Press, 2016) and editor of Nepantla: An Anthology of Queer Poets of Color (Nightboat Books, 2018). As a co-founder of The Undocupoets Campaign, he worked to make poetry publishing more accessible for undocumented poets, by challenging poetry book contest rules that once prohibited undocumented writers from applying.
Recommended Books on Transgender Poetry
Troubling the Line: Trans and Genderqueer Poetry and Poetics, Trace Peterson and TC Tolbert (ed), Nightboat Books, 2013.
Subject to Change: Trans Poetry & Conversation, H. Melt (ed), Sibling Rivalry Press, 2017.
“The Body of the Poem: On Transgender Poetry”: https://lareviewofbooks.org/article/the-body-of-the-poem-on-transgender-poetry/#!
“Introduction to Trans Poetry”: https://transgenderpoetryproject.tumblr.com
Transgender Slam Poetry: https://transgenderpoetryproject.tumblr.com/post/159881796607/analyses-transgender-slam-poetry
Other Poets to Study
Kay Ulanday Barrett
You must be logged in to reply to this topic.