Here's a new story in The Adirondack Review about a woman who gives birth to twins: one human, one horse. "With Horse" is part of my collaborative short fiction collection co-written with Kelly Magee, forthcoming from Black Lawrence Press in 2015. I love the art that accompanies this issue: "Animal" by Liz Atzberger.X Marks The Dress: A Registry in Rufous City Review. And thanks to everyone who stopped by to visit at AWP!
Sunday, February 16, 2014
I'm midway through teaching a new Creative Writing course that takes its title from Judith Halberstam's The Queer Art of Failure. We're exploring new and better ways to fail as writers and artists. Other texts include Frank Ocean's Channel Orange, CA Conrad's The Book of Frank, and Eva Heisler's Reading Emily Dickinson in Icelandic. Right now my students are presenting to the class on a significant failure of their choice; soon they'll be crafting their very own Book of Failures. I'm loving this alternative to traditional workshop. Next quarter: Creative Writing meets Critical Animal Studies. Tips from fellow teachers welcome!
Saturday, February 15, 2014
Like most artists, I've led several lives. In one of those lives I went to a Great Books school that had gone co-ed only three years earlier. Columbia was my first choice only because it was in New York, and New York meant Balanchine, my aesthetic ideal.
The place didn't speak to me back then, but in awarding me something the place is asking me to speak to it. Which I didn't have much opportunity to do back then. And so I'm grateful to have the chance to try now. I'm honored and happy to be recognized, to have a chance to reconcile that past self with current and future selves. Poetry, for me, has always taken precedence over identity; yet my search for beauty turned out to be my entrance to politics. I have to write an acceptance speech, something I've never done before, and maybe when I've given it I will post it here. It means something significant to be honored by an institution where back then I didn't feel wanted. It means someone is paying attention to the past and the present, holding them side-by-side. That's what I try to do in my work, plus throwing in future touches for risk. So thanks Philo, and Tom Vinciguerra, and hello to 2014. Also thanks to Brandi Wells for her insightful review of X Marks The Dress: A Registry in The Lit Pub; and stay tuned for a list of book signings and offsite readings at the 2014 AWP Conference in Seattle. Maybe I'll see you there.
|design: Jamie Keenan|
Thursday, January 30, 2014
While the focus of most mainstream American LGBT organizations is same-sex marriage, it's easy to forget that in some countries, queers are just fighting to survive. American LGBT movements are often caught up in assimilationist goals, neglecting questions of survival and ignoring intersectional identities and oppressions. I found "36 Photos from Russia That Everyone Needs To See" and "Gays in Russia Are Under Attack" to be useful perspectives on the struggle for queer rights and gender expression in the home of this year's Olympic Games. As a queer teacher, I'm horrified to think of the impact this internationally sanctioned homophobia will have on LGBT youth. I've watched so many young people struggle with fear, self-hatred, and rejection. I've counseled countless students who were verging on suicide, terrified and lonely, unable to imagine a future for themselves. Over the past 25 years this has changed dramatically; many of my LGBT students now seem confident, ambitious, and unafraid. Sometimes they're entirely unaware of the violent history that led to the gentrified identities so popular in mainstream media. The images coming from Russia feel strangely familiar to me, more akin to my own coming out experiences in the Midwest and Great Plains than glossy pop stars and cutesy sitcom characters. Russia has much to learn from America's LGBT culture, but America has much to learn from Russian courage. The photos I'm seeing show an incredible grassroots movement of brave queer people and allies willing to literally risk their lives for love. American queers still put our lives on the line, but for what? A wedding registry at Target? We can do better; we can ask for more. We must learn from our Russian cousins about activism and remember that liberation and assimilation are not the same thing.
|ALEXANDER DEMIANCHUK / Reuters|
Hello! I'm delighted by two new reviews of X Marks The Dress: A Registry. Thanks to Carlo Matos for a super smart review in PANK; thanks to Erin McKnight for a lovely and insightful review in The Small Press Book Review. Meanwhile, in Russia, being queer or perceived as queer will get you killed. I was thrilled to see Queer Nation revise a Coke commercial in protest of Coke's sponsorship of the Olympic Games, hosted by a violently homophobic Russian regime.
|LGBT Russians attacked by police: NPR|
Tuesday, January 21, 2014
Sunday, January 12, 2014
Kelly Magee and I are hard at work on a second collaborative short story collection, tentatively titled Your Sick. Each story illustrates an imaginary illness. We're also continuing to focus on nonhuman animals, and simultaneously working backwards and forwards through the alphabet. Our writing process is simple: one of us starts a story and the other person finishes it. Sometimes we revise together, sometimes one of us revises solo, depending on time constraints. In our story "Zero Fever," published in Mason's Road literary journal, we tried to bring together the themes of animals, illness, and the alphabet. Enjoy! And if you're interested in learning more about parrots, check out the World Parrot Trust and FlyFree -- "working to end the wild bird trade and return parrots to the wild."