Posts Tagged ‘amber dawn’
Top Writings on Sugarbutch from 2013
In order, from most read to least, these are the writings on Sugarbutch from 2013. Which were your favorites?
essay | Read the whole thing →
This post attempts to explain. journal entry | Read the whole thing →
I fist his hair and hold his hole open. “You know I like it when you struggle. I can shove harder that way.” He’ll learn to open up for me, to give that hole, to open up and take it, in time. Right now I don’t mind shoving it in. I work it in and out. So tight.”
Trigger warning: Daddy/boy play, rough sex. dirty story | Read the whole thing →
That image up at the top of this 2013 roundup post is the illustration Rife made just for this essay. advice / essay | Read the whole thing →
No wonder it’s a popular post, huh? Lots of good free porn. There may be more #pornparty -ing in 2014, we’ll see … review | Read the whole thing →
dirty story | Read the whole thing →
Especially friends from my childhood and high school years who have found me for whatever reasons on Facebook, and family with whom I’m not particularly close, and coworkers from previous jobs who I have perhaps never had this chat with: I have something to tell you: I’m genderqueer.”
The whole letter was posted on my personal Facebook account, where I tagged most of my childhood friends, work colleagues, and relatives. It was kind of nerve-wracking. And, it’s been amazing what conversations have opened up from it. essay | Read the whole thing →
Remember the open relationship mini-interviews? They wrapped up very early 2013, it was more of a end-of-2012 project. I still want to make them into an ebook. This interview with Charlie was picked up by The Stranger’s online newspaper, and got a bit of attention. essay | Read the whole thing →
journal entry | Read the whole thing →
dirty story | Read the whole thing →
It’s strange to not write it. This place has been my first go-to for relationship changes and processing for years, and it has always been a comfort to reveal and work through things in this way. The biggest problem is that as my audience has grown, the things I am exploring have changed, and many of my own edges are controversial.”
journal entry | Read the whole thing →
Trigger warning: Daddy/boy play, rough sex. journal entry / dirty story | Read the whole thing →
Favorite reads from 2013
It was kind of a bad reading year for me. I remember early on in the year, wondering why I couldn’t seem to concentrate on whatever book I was reading, and my therapist commenting on how much hardship I’d been going through, and how it makes sense that my brain couldn’t concentrate on other people’s stories. I think it was too busy rearranging to my new reality. Still, I missed reading, so I tried to dial down my books, reading things that were just easy rather than complicated or full of big thoughts. I read a lot of dirty novels, and poems, and tried to get through gender theory (and sometimes did).
These were the very favorites of my year. Things I couldn’t put down, things that changed my world view, things that were notable and I would highly recommend.
How Poetry Saved My Life, Amber Dawn; Excluded, Julia Serano; Dark Secret Love, Alison Tyler; Ask the Man Who Owns Him, David Schachter & david stein; Rise of the Trust Fall, Mindy Nettifee; Slow Surrender by Cecilica Tan
Real Happiness, Sharon Salzberg; Chronology of Water, Lidia Yuknovich; Ocean at the End of the Lane, Neil Gaiman; The Killer Wore Leather, Laura Antoniou; A Tale for the Time Being, Ruth Ozeki; The Big Book of Orgasms, edited by Rachel Kramer Bussel
I keep track of books over on GoodReads, and so this list is based on my top rated books from 2013. I’ve put forward goals for the last four years on GoodReads, but I didn’t make it last year. I lowered my number again for this year, and am hoping to read more, now that I have more of my concentration back.
Most listened to music from 2013
Some are from 2011 or 2012, but I’m still playing them, or they’re new to me this past year.
I’m not going to put albums by Morphine, KD Lang, and Tori Amos on this list, but they were actually my very most listened to artists in 2013. They’re my top favorites I guess, I go back to their libraries all the time.
Aims by Vienna Teng (2013); The Haunted Man by Bat for Lashes (2012); Baby Caught the Bus by Clairy Browne & the Banging Rackettes (2011); The Lion’s Roar by First Aid Kit (2012); The Highway by Holly Williams (2013); Smoke & Mirrors by Brett Dennen (2013)
Last of the Great Pretenders by Matt Nathanson (2013); Weather by MeShell Ndegeocello (2011); Mojo Juju’s self-titled first album (2012); American Kid by Patty Griffin (2013); Coexist by The XX (2013); Wax Wings by Joshua Radin (2013)
I’ve been more into music in the past than I think I am now—I keep up with new releases less, and even listen to less music, moreso just going back to the artists I love and listening to my favorites. I still make a lot of mixes, though. This list is largely based on my last.fm account and my itunes and my brain.
Top posts of 2013 that were published in other years
Just in case you want more reads, and these weren’t enough to keep you clicking around the internet for a few hours, here’s some of the top posts on Sugarbutch in 2013 according to the number of times they were read, but they weren’t published in 2013. I’m glad that y’all still go back into the archives sometimes!
- The Three Minute Game dirty story
- I’d Like To Fuck Her Ass dirty story / journal entry
- Pumping: How to Grow a Dick review / essay
- Sugarbutch Star: blckndblue, “The Pink Dress” dirty story
- Ask Me Anything: Strapping On For the First Time advice
- Like a Faggot dirty story
- Ask Me Anything: Strap-On Positions When Someone is Taller advice
- Review: Packing Cocks 101 review
- “I’m kind of … insatiable.” My First Date with Kristen dirty story
- Review: The Tantus Realdoe review
- Her dirty talk got me off. Twice. dirty story
- How to take butch cock seriously essay
- Cock Confidence: Pack & Play review / essay
Y’all really like the dirty stuff, don’t you. Uh huh. Duly noted as I go forward in 2014.
I do actually have some resolutions this year … particularly, I have some resolutions for “blogging,” for writing here. I think I’ll go share them with the newsletter.
Comment Zen … Requests & Ideas
Oh hey! So you want to comment on this? I’d love that. Here’s some ideas for what you might want to say:
- What was your favorite writing on Sugarbutch this year? What posts do you frequently go back to, from this year or from other years?
- What were your favorite books from 2013?
- What was your favorite new music album of 2013?
- For that matter, I would love your favorite books or music recommendations of all time, especially books that are beautifully easy to fall into and stay up late reading, which for me is mostly really good fiction. But whatever you found yourself lost in recently, I’d love to know.
- What do you hope to see more of in 2014?
- Did you make any New Year’s resolutions?
That should be enough inspirational questions, right? Thanks for reading this far. I hope you found some good reads or some good musical inspirations.
Interview with Amber Dawn
Q: The format of How Poetry Saved My Life (prose pieces mixed with a variety of poetry forms) deviates from what readers might have come to expect from the literary memoir form. Sections “Outside,” “Inside” and “Inwards” hint at a narrative arc, though the overall structure remains more loose and thematic than chronological. Why did you choose to tell your story this way?
Amber Dawn: I have a great deal of admiration for authors—especially ex-sex workers—who write their memoir as a chronological journey. Some books I’ve had the pleasure of reading recently are Whip Smart, by Melissa Febos and Candy Girl: A Year in the Life of an Unlikely Stripper, by Diablo Cody. I doubt I’d have the wherewithal to sit down and write my own story in this manner. How Poetry Saved My Life encompasses nearly fifteen years of collected writing. I wrote each piece for different reasons. Some poems had more therapeutic or cathartic beginnings, harken to the book’s title. Some prose I wrote to present at sex worker conferences or forums. It took a while before I realized I had an entire book’s worth of writing, and a bit longer still before I felt brave enough to release these collected stories and poems publicly. I view the account of my experiences as more of an emotional journey, rather than a chronological one. Through this approach I hope readers will make there own personal connection to the book, even if they’re life experiences are different from my own.
Q: The book represents nearly fifteen years of collected writings. You’ve had a very diverse writing career—you’ve edited horror and porn anthologies and dipped into the magical realist genre with your first novel Sub Rosa. How did you come to write a non-fictionalized memoir?
A: I believe a voice is a powerful and privileged resource to possess, especially when it comes to something like sex work, which is constantly silenced and stigmatized. Through performing on both small and larger stages, I’ve found that in every audience there is at least one woman (or man) who not only relates to my story, but feels almost desperate to have silence around sex work and survivorship broken. I feel a duty to speak up.
Q: Is there a piece of prose or poetry in the collection that was particularly difficult for you to write or realize, and in turn share with readers?
A: “Lying is the Work” is a personal essay that juxtaposes a bad date I had during the last year of working in the sex trade with my grandfather’s story of joining the Navy at age 17 to fight in WW2. This is one of very few examples where I bring my family history into my work. I love my family and want to protect and spare them of triggers or “digging up dirt.” While I’m proud of who I am, I acutely understand that survivors and sex workers are stigmatized and that this stigma can impact families and loved ones.
Case in point, recently, my grandfather disowned me when I married my wife—a ceremony that everyone in my family attended but for him. Therefore, I feel I can tell a bit of the story between my grandfather and I—in a dignified and objective way—without worrying about him reading it. As an Italian-American immigrant and Navy veteran he has a tremendous story of survival. It’s bitter sweet that I relate to him as a survivor and yet we have no present-day relationship. This makes the personal essay very difficult for me.
Q: RADAR Productions recently awarded you the 2012 Eli Coppola Memorial Poetry Chapbook Prize for “How I got My Tattoo.” How does the title poem of that particular collection fit into your personal narrative in How Poetry Saved My Life?
A: What an honour to win the Eli Coppola Memorial Poetry Prize, and just before I launch How Poetry Saved My Life! I have a quite a few titles like How Poetry Saved My Life and “How I Got My Tattoo” that are posed like answers to questions. Sex workers and survivors get asked questions all the time. I could over-simplify all these questions to essentially, “How did this happen to you.” I hate that question—the question implies that being a survivor or being a sex worker is outside the norm and needs explanation—when in fact these experiences are very common. Nonetheless, I also sympathize that people need to ask questions and discuss. The titles that I’ve written as answers to questions are there to promote discussion in a proud and creative way.
Q: In the book you cite author Jeanette Winterson and “powerful women whose voices have been cut short” among your inspirations. Would you tell us more about how you have been influenced by literary and activist voices in your life?
A: I was in my teens and early 20s in the 1990s, and was gobsmacked by the Riot Grrl movement. My first serious girlfriend introduced me to the feminist music and zine culture and listing to Team Dresh and Bikini Kill gave me the idea that I too had something to say. Not only where these voices powerful, but they were accessible. I didn’t need education to understand the feminist politicking of Riot Grrl. But after being introduced to feminist art and literature, I wanted to learn more. This was probably the first time I ever wanted to learn or read anything. I began reading Jeanette Winterson, Beth Goobie, Larissa Lai, Evelyn Lau, Sharon Olds, Lucille Clifton, Michelle Tea, Sarah Schulman. Finally, I understood the comfort and solidarity that could be found through books.
Q: You’ve toured with the Sex Workers Art Show, created short films, as well as performed at a variety of venues including the Vancouver Art Gallery. How does your performance and film background compliment or deviate from your writing?
A: Performing at galleries or appearing in my own films has helped me get into my body. Like many survivors, I’m inclined to live in my head, my imagination is a real sanctuary. Performance art has allowed me to embody the themes and emotions of my work and connect more closely with audience. I really feel the work when I’m hurling my body around a stage. In turn, this has helped me sink into a deeper connectivity to my written work.
Q: You now teach creative writing classes—some to queer and at-risk youth. Can you say more about the potential of art to be a survival skill and lifeline to others?
A: Something very palpable occurs when a person writes their story. It doesn’t have to be for future publication, but simply to put memories on paper and/or to read them in a room full of safe, supportive listeners. It’s an investment in one’s self. It’s an act of acknowledging one’s worth. It’s making the unspoken, heard. This can have life-changing impacts on people who have been shut down or silenced. Each time I run a creative writing workshop I see a little bit of change happen. “Thank you for listening,” my students always say to me. They don’t need to thank me; they should thank themselves. They do transformative work when they use their voices.
I’m reading as a special guest for Amber Dawn‘s San Francisco book release party for How Poetry Saved My Life: A Hustler’s Memoir this Wednesday night, May 22nd, at 7pm at the Modern Times Bookstore Collective.
I haven’t finished How Poetry Saved My Life yet, in part because every time I start reading it, I read it slowly, taking time with each word, and I put it down often to jot down my own poetical thoughts. It’s inspiring.
“I’m asking you to entertain that wish I made earlier. To treat this like a two-way conversation. My dear reader, you’ve caught on by now that this is not really about sex work. Sex work is only one of many, many things we learn we are not to talk about. Sex work is only one of many things we’ve been asked (but never agreed) to keep silent.
This is about the labour of becoming whole … Locate yourself within the bigger, puzzling, and sometimes hazardous world around you. You are invited to do this work.”
I’m working on a new piece, chewing a lot on the connections between poetry and sex work, between gender and sex, between desire and language. I think there are so many overlaps and connections and I’m striving to connect the dots in a poem for Wednesday (tomorrow!) night.
If you’re near the Bay Area, please come! I won’t be reading much more before I head up north for June & July, so this’ll be a rare appearance. And you really want to hear Amber Dawn read from this new book—trust me!
Amber Dawn reads from and discusses her new book, “How Poetry Saved My Life: A Hustler’s Memoir”
*Joined by Special Guest Sinclair Sexsmith*
Wednesday, May 22nd: 7PM
Modern Times Bookstore Collective
2919 24th St (at Alabama)
Amber Dawn’s acclaimed first novel Sub Rosa, a darkly intoxicating fantasy about a group of magical prostitutes who band together to fend off bad johns in a fantastical underworld, won a Lambda Literary Award in 2011. While the plot of the book was wildly imaginative, it was also based on the author’s own experience as a sex worker in the 1990s and early 2000s, and on her coming out as lesbian.
“How Poetry Saved My Life,” Amber Dawn’s sophomore book, reveals an even more poignant and personal landscape―the terrain of sex work, queer identity, and survivor pride. This story, told in prose and poetry, offers a frank, multifaceted portrait of the author’s experiences hustling the streets of Vancouver, and the how those years took away her self-esteem and nearly destroyed her; at the crux of this autobiographical narrative is the tender celebration of poetry and literature, which―as the title suggests―acted as a lifeline during her most pivotal moments.
As raw and fiery as its author, How Poetry Saved My Life is a powerful account of survival and the transformative power of literature.
Sinclair Sexsmith (www.mrsexsmith.com) is an erotic coach, educator, and writer. They write the award-winning personal online project Sugarbutch Chronicles: The Sex, Gender, and Relationship Adventures of a Kinky Queer Butch Top at www.sugarbutch.net, have contributed to more than twenty anthologies, and edited Say Please: Lesbian BDSM Erotica. They travel frequently to teach workshops on gender and sexuality.
Amber Dawn is the Lambda Literary Award-winning author of Sub Rosa, as well as a filmmaker, and performance artist. She’s appeared at dozens of universities and literary festivals, both for readings and to sit on discussion panels. She is often invited to speak on topics such as “writing from the margins,” queer identities in writing, and sex-positive writing. She also leads creative writing classes with high-risk youth and/or sex workers populations. She has toured three times with the Sex Workers’ Art Show and is the former Director of Programming for the Vancouver Queer Film Festival (VQFF). Her website is amberdawnwrites.com.
“Initially, I entered the field of writing through a desire to heal, but what’s been surprising is that while sowing my own transformation, my work seems to aid others’ healing,” Tara Hardy says in GO Magazine’s 100 Women We Love. “And what a privilege to be part of people healing themselves. Call me a zealot, but I believe this is a central opportunity offered by the act of creating something.”
Meditating on that today, sitting with it, swishing it around in my mouth to get every last flavor burst. I’m losing sight of my goal, my intentions, in doing this work a little bit these days. I struggle to find the right words. My life is so full, always so much going on … but I am so called to this, this writing, this way of working out my world, this way of making sense of what’s around me. The Internet and communities online are so rapidly changing, I can’t keep up, though I am trying. I’m moving toward more coaching and one-on-one work with people, and doing more workshops and teachings, but I want to keep up my writings here. I know—and Kristen is constantly reminding me—that the only way through is through, but still I struggle with being stuck.
So thanks, Tara, for that quote, and reminding me that there is a “central opportunity offered by the act of creating something”: that it aids others, as well as my own, healing.
I’m thrilled to see Amber Dawn, Miss Indigo Blue, Patricia Manuel, Jessica Halem, Sassafras Lowrey, and Shanna Katz—in addition to Tara Hardy—and other folks in my communities on the GO magazine hot 100 list this year. Congratulations.
I was a judge this year (can I reveal that yet?—I won’t tell you what for until I know for sure) so I’ve been reading reading reading many books in the past few months. I read a lot anyway, but this has been a crunch. It was exciting to have a part in choosing the best ones.
The Lammys award ceremony will be held Thursday, May 26, 2011 at the School of Visual Arts Theater in New York City (333 W. 23rd St), followed by a private after-party nearby. I’ve attended the last two years (and wrote about them both for CarnalNation.com), and I’ll be attending again this year. It’s such a pleasure to show up and be familiar with so many of the books and authors, so many of the presenters and judges, and to feel like I’m really part of the queer literary community.
(And next year, I’ll have my own book out!)
I encourage you to look through these great lists and pick a couple to read, even if you don’t usually read queer stuff, even if you don’t care about the awards, just to show your support. I still have quite a lot more I would love to read, I haven’t read any of the poetry this year, and there are many that I haven’t Here’s a couple of my favorites—out of the ones that I’ve read, anyway—that I highly recommend.
Written by Amber Dawn, a queer femme (among other signifiers—she says, “when I say “myself” I mean a queer, kinky, femme, survivor, Canadian small-town born, poor, sex-worker, feminist with a strong passion for experimental artwork and transgressive identity-based art making” in this interview with Shameless Magazine), Sub Rosa published by Arsenal Pulp Press in 2010 is a masterpiece I couldn’t put down.
It’s creepy and odd and confusing and strange, but touching and smart and beautifully crafted. Oh there were so many sentences that made me stop reading just to sigh at the beauty of their simple and elegant construction.
I read it in two days. It’s kind of hard to describe, since it has a bit of world-building and you just kinda have to dive into it in order to understand it. But that is the style of some of my very favorite books (The Sparrow, The Time Traveler’s Wife)—a book where the reality pretty much follows all the same rules as this one I live in, but there are a few key twists which make it able to better comment on the state of things. I love that.
Arsenal Pulp Press’s description is as follows:
Sub Rosa’s reluctant heroine is known as “Little,” a teenaged runaway unable to remember her real name; in her struggle to get by in the world, she stumbles upon an underground society of ghosts and magicians, missing girls and would-be johns: a place called Sub Rosa. Not long after she is initiated into this family of magical prostitutes, Little is called upon to lead Sub Rosa through a maze of feral darkness, both real and imagined―a calling burdened with grotesque enemies, strange allies, and memories from a foggy past.
So perhaps that will give you an idea. It’s creepy, don’t say I didn’t warn you, but it’s worth it. And Amber Dawn’s style is amazing, I will gladly pick up anything else she writes.