REVIEWS AND INTERVIEWS
OTHER PROMOTIONAL MATERIAL
July 3, 2023
Thrilled to receive a plug from City of Asylum's bookstore!
February 4, 2022
From the publisher: bd-studios blog post
January 4, 2022
A grad school friend who lives and teaches in France just alerted me that my book is listed on Amazon's site there. As she put it, "You're worldwide"!
December 17, 2021
A friend just tipped me off that the book is also available on Barnes and Noble's site:
November 10, 2021
Some publicity from one of the journals I published in (seven of the poems in the book appeared in BlazeVOX in 2020):
October 24, 2021
I have officially entered the belly of the beast. (Click on the image to go to the Amazon page.)
October 12, 2021
Back in the summer, I filled out a questionnaire of sorts that luke kurtis (the editor at bd-studios) used as the basis for the book's press release. Here are the questions and the full responses I provided, which flesh out many of the ideas necessarily touched on only glancingly in the release:
(1) First, can you write a few sentences commenting on this bit from the description?
“…the poet embraces her identity as a transgender woman through a harrowing, wonder-full journey from her childhood on the Maine coast to her post-transition life in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.”
can expand upon that however you like. Some ideas: How do the poems reflect the
"harrowing" and the "wonder-full" simultaneously? How long
was this journey (i.e., years, decades)? Why is location important? Does
"place" play into your identity?
I think what was simultaneously harrowing and wonder-full was my midlife (late 40s/50s) reckoning with who I was, i.e., the process of coming out. Coming to terms with the decades of wholesale erasure of so much of myself was extraordinarily painful. I experienced guilt over what I saw as my own cowardice, rage at the world for making it so difficult for people like me simply to exist, gut-punching sadness, and a deep sense of loss. At the same time, there was the wonder, the magic, of discovery—the feeling of vertigo as I stepped out my door as the person I’d hardly dared to dream being just a few years before.
With one exception, the poems in this collection were written in and after this period of intense reckoning—between 2013, when I entered counseling and began hormone replacement therapy, and 2021. Many if not most of them are “lyrical” in the traditional sense, in that they grew out of an episode or image that was infused with strong emotion. A few examples:
• “November’s Child”: a warm twilight walk in, yes, November when I saw clouds of flies hovering over lawns backlit by the setting sun, and was possessed by feelings of transience, loss, yearning
• “The Length of an Arm”: becoming present to the discomfort of a loved one around my transness, which melded with the image of the raised palm
• The different sections of “Night Songs,” a few of which drew on responses to microaggressions (4, 8) or topical issues (7), but most of which strove to give dream-like form to more inchoate clusters of emotions (self-loathing, fear, anger, as well as a mesmeric sense of discovery)
The rage is most full-throated in the pieces about my community, e.g., “Remembrance,” “For Muhlaysia,” “Lily Law,” “The Hole.”
And then there are the many meditations on love: how it wounds and punishes, but also heals and fulfills. For me, this multifaceted understanding of love is strongly associated with the natural world, in particular with the stark, stoic beauty of the Maine coast of my childhood. The inexorable cycle of the seasons, the turning from the aching, fleeting beauty of the summers to the frigid, sparkling bleakness of the winters and back, impressed on me a sense of place—of being of/molded by a particular place, and of my place in the larger order of things. Not only did I love the beauty of my home, then, but it was also wrapped up with my sense of myself. In one sense, I embraced this sense of place as a more or less hard limit on my individual agency—a justification for inaction around my gender identity, for staying closeted, and thus a brake on my self-esteem. At the same time, feeling my place in the world gave me a sense of perspective on my own suffering, though I needed to leave my home state for that perspective to become more healing than enabling of inaction. The nature imagery in poems like “The Girl with Eyes of the Sea,” “Love Song (Congruence),” “The Girl Who Collected Feathers” (something I do, for the record), and “Maenad,” and more sporadically in other pieces, links their contents to this complex of feelings and associations around place, self, and love. Similarly, I think of the photos in the book not only as oblique illustrations or roundings-out of particular pieces, but also as ways of connecting the pieces to the immense, beauty-full, wonder-full world we inhabit—as enlarging frames of reference through which to experience the poems—as expressions of love in its fuller sense.
(2) Also, can you expand on the idea of allied struggles, also mentioned in the description? If you can mention some of the other stories you have written about and why those stories/people/events were meaningful for you, that would be good.
Identifying with the struggles of others, now expressed by the term intersectionality, is part and parcel with my desire for connection with the larger world. Growing up where and when (1960s-’70s) I did, I didn’t know anyone like me, and until my teens, I didn’t know if anyone else like me even existed. Feeling profoundly alone drove me not only to embrace my place in the natural world, but also to look for ways in which I wasn’t a mere freakish singularity among my own species, but was simply a person with something different about her. Put another way, the human world felt like a shattered mirror, and I rummaged through it for shards that reflected pieces of myself back at me. This search has in some sense been a lifelong one: it informed my approach as a teacher, for example, and of late it has driven my activism around civil rights (notably racial justice) as well as my writing. In The Girl Who Wasn’t and Is, racial justice is central to “9:29 Is Long Enough” (about the murder of George Floyd), and to pieces about community members (notably “For Muhlaysia” and “The Hole”). Since coming out, I’ve also begun working in the other direction, so to speak, by fighting for the inclusion of trans folks in the larger community. I’ve thought of this fight largely in terms of education, to be effected by highlighting the ways in which our struggles connect or intersect with those of others. Many of the articles I’ve posted on Medium and Huffington Post, for example, address trans and LGBTQ+ rights in the larger context of civil rights. I’ve also written about the experience of being trans in more quotidian contexts: family, for example (on which several poems in the book are centered), or how I respond as a queer viewer to holiday classics like Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer and It’s a Wonderful Life (in pieces I posted to Huff Post’s discontinued blog). Two autobiographical essays of mine published in 2020 offer deep dives into my experiences as a trans woman through the lenses of memory and myth (“Memory’s Disavowed Daughter”) and record collecting. Those poems not centered on the experience of being trans like “9:29” and “i, scattered,” which imagines how one of my brother’s drawings expresses his experience of Parkinson’s disease, assert the broad commonality of our suffering and other experiences as members of the human species.
(3) Also, if you could
briefly answer some of these questions (two or three sentences is fine):
What inspired you to write the book?
I’ve written poetry since I was in college, and had long imagined that I might one day have a book-length collection. I didn’t really start finding my voice as a creative writer until after I came out, however; and as I accumulated a body of work and some publications, the goal of a book migrated from daydream to realizable desire.
What do you hope readers will get out of it?
As I’m a teacher by temperament, one hope I have is that cis readers will learn something of what it’s like to be trans, and (if they struggled before) will be better able to see us individually as neighbors and not merely collectively as a set of crime statistics or a political wedge issue. At the same time, while some of its content is emotionally challenging, I hope reading the book will also be pleasurable. There is music in deep pain as well as in joy.
Was the book written over a long period of time, or a shorter period?
touched on this above. I first drafted
one of the poems (“Love Song (Separation 1)”) ten years ago, but all of the
others were written starting in 2013, and the great majority are from the last 4-5
How do the visuals relate to the text? Did the poems or photos come first?
Again, I addressed the first question above. As for the second question, the two, poems and photos, mostly ran on parallel tracks up until I started conceptualizing the poems as a book. I sometimes frame shots with an eye to the image’s symbolic resonances, though, so some of the photos (the two-page silhouetted tree limb with the bay and sunset in the background, for example) are informed by a “lyrical” impulse loosely analogous to the one I described above.
September 27, 2021
It's official: The Girl Who Wasn't and Is has a release date! bd-studios just posted the press release today, and Friday, February 4, 2022, is the first day the book will be available for purchase! You'll be able to order it directly from me (at a slight discount and with cheaper shipping and an added personal note) on this page, or from the press. (NB: The link to bd-studio's press release page is below the images.)