Posts Tagged ‘poetry’
Just as I’m starting to really feel like I live here, navigating more and more without a map, being able to identify the cardinal direction I’m facing almost all the time, I’m heading out to leave. Rife & I take off tomorrow for a six-week road trip up the west coast to southeast Alaska (and back!), and while I’m extremely (!!) excited to spend pointed time with him and go back to my roots and the land that feels so healing and to spend some serious quiet time integrating all the amazing amounts of change that have happened lately, I’m also getting more and more comfortable here and it’s appealing to stay still for a while. I’m already looking forward to coming back.
I’ll be tweeting and Facebook-ing and posting Instagram shots from the road, and posting whenever I can. A friend just wrote me to say, “Keep enjoying your joy.” Thank you for that—and also, fuck. Yes. That’s what this is, isn’t it. That, and being in love. While my heart still has holes and there’s still a lot of healing left to manage and cultivate and allow, I am so grateful for every minute of this ease and awe and amazement.
l-r: so excited about the new book Troubling the Line: Trans & Genderqueer Poetry | the boy making a cherimoya smoothie (California fruits are the best) | Rife in the O in the Exploratorium sign on the pier | me at Twin Peaks
I twittered this one and typo’d “I guess I love here now” … yeah. That too.
texture at the pier
Follow me on Instagram, mrsexsmith
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.
My mom received a letter
from the person who
got my dad’s eyes
after he died.
My assumption is that
flesh has no opinion
of its own, so
they don’t now look
at Chinese food all-you-
can-eat buffets and salivate
taking a few extra General
Tso’s chickens, just because
my father did.
I assume also that
everyone tends to call weeds
did not become their favorite,
did not become that
which scatter the hill
outside this person’s kitchen
window, did not become
part of the visual jokes
of forgetting. So what
will happen? What’s it like
to see through another’s
eyes? And if we meet,
if we cross each other
unknowingly on the streets
of my small hometown,
will there be a confusing
moment of recognition, when
they look at my brown hair
brown eyes slightly expanded
waistline femur bones just
a little too long and I’ll
write them off as curious
about my unconventional
presentation but they’ll
get a flash of a six year old’s
birthday party, a velveteen
green dress with white
tights and polka dots, a cake
in the shape of a hot
air balloon, and they’ll
shake it off, isn’t that
funny. I won’t see them, but
will you recognize me, even
just a little?
Love is generous. Love is incomparable.
Love is not quantifiable, but
we put numbers and words to it anyway,
because that is our nature, to strive
to express the unexpressable. Love
is letting go. Love is holding
gently. Love is allowance, gratitude,
cheerleading. Love is fluidity, not
rigidity. Love is dishing and sharing
excitement. Love is knowing
no one person is your everything. Love
is persistence and patience and
reassurance. Love is sincere apologies
and fucking up and knowing
you have the space to fuck it up again,
and knowing you have even more space
and support and tools and skills
to try harder. Love is lonely, sometimes,
because you have room to be alone. Love
is smothering, sometimes, because
you have desire to be close. Love is
coming together and going apart
a thousand times a day. Love is learning
to recognize the difference. Love is
asking for what you want. Love is
practicing to be bold and courageous,
sometimes, when we can. Love is
curled under the covers when
refuge is needed. Love is gross
and body fluids and waste and
old moldy salsa jars in the fridge.
Love is the light through the east
window just right on a winter afternoon.
Love is wrestling with deep contradictory
truths. Love is feeling the fear
and doing it anyway. Love is reconciling
daily, sometimes hourly. Love is a golden
bubble bath and a white washcloth
that smells like jasmine. Love is
making a special trip to the store
for eggs and cheese and root beer
and coming back to find no one home.
Love is checking in twice. Love is not
having to explain every feeling or
misunderstanding. Love is planting
and not knowing what will come up,
what will blossom,
what will bloom. Love
is trying anyway. Love is risk.
Love is undefend,
Love is asking yourself if this
is an act of war or an act of
god. Love is self-soothing
and taking on the world, sometimes
for more than just yourself.
Love is crying alone. Love
is determination. Love is possible—
it has to be,
I chose to believe that it is.
1. Shower ever day. Even if you have to cry through it.
2. Put on clean clothes, even if they aren’t your favorites. Or do laundry, and wear only your favorites.
3. Behave well toward Kristen. She loves you, you love her, even if you are numb and can’t remember.
4. Write. Because it heals you. Because you can’t do anything else. Because it makes the most sense. Because it is your deepest practice, your deepest craft.
5. Run. When you want to get away from yourself and these emotions, get them out of your body. Go back to boxing class. Take out the anger on something else.
6. Grow the fuck up. Behave like an adult. Stop the self-pity. Stop the over-indulgence of your feelings. Stop taking yourself so seriously.
7. Read. Read poetry if you can’t get into long things. Read indulgently. Read grief memoirs and buddhist philosophy and ttantra and open up to healing. Ask yourself, what do I need to do to heal today. Read more.
8. Work. Set reminders in your phone for appointment times because you can’t keep track of time. Calendar everything. Make work a priority. Finish projects. Make art. Focus on this, if nothing else.
8a. Don’t publish over-indulgent blog posts that attempt to tell the “whole story” and draw some conclusion. Write poetry. Write about feelings. Write about love and sex and grief and loss and abandonment, how scary it is to watch Kristen bloom, and how much it matters to let her. Learn what over-indulgent blog posts look like, so that when you do write them, you don’t hit “publish.”
9. Go outside. Feel the earth. Drink water.
10. Pray. You are not alone, even though you feel you are. Faith is when you see no hope, and you do it anyway. Times like this are why we practice. Lean on your practices. Everything is temporary.
11. Behave well toward yourself. Take care of your body. Eat well. Nourish. Buy a fancy new soap so showers suck less. Make a list of your favorite foods, then eat them. Start watching a new TV series when you can’t be in your brain anymore. Be alone when you need to be. Practice impeccable self-care. Forgive everyone, and maybe yourself most of all.
I am a series of
stories and stories and stories
I tell myself and others
secret truths and whole-hearted lies
until they are more me
than the skin I wear. Some
stories are collectively lost, looking
for a home. Some stories leap
with fists locked tight enough
to fuck, some stories weep
and unravel the fabric of my
baby blankets. I am desperate
for meaning. Something bigger
than my wild and precious, stupid
little life. Some context for my
bleeding throbbing heart and cunt
and dick. Some balm for
this ache of mortality, of perfect
imperfection. Take me on as your
protege, graveyard; take me on as your
benefactor, temple. I seek to build
monuments to and out of love. I seek
to make meaning. I seek to make
movements. I seek to sit still, to smile,
to blink, to put pen to paper, to tell all.
Shh, listen. My story has gone out
I’ve started crying on airplanes. It used to be ginger ale, now it’s wine. I probably should have eaten more than a bagel, should have had more for dinner last night than a whiskey flight and a kiss, but now I am crying and beginning to hear the beat of a second heart in my chest.
I am exhausted. I’d like to sleep for a year. By which I mean, I’d like to turn down my consciousness in order to have some rest. My rest has not been deep enough, has not penetrated my bones. Too much has happened in the past year. I opened up my chest from the back and wings sprang out, and now I cannot wear my shirts or binders or coats or old patterns anymore. Nothing fits. I am running, running to catch up with myself, when really I’m supposed to be flying. Why else would I have these new tools?
But sometimes my pen won’t move. I love and love and love, aching to make sense, make meaning, make love with my every movement, and sometimes all I can do is collapse because I’m overfull and not full enough. An underactive nervous system prone to depression and shutting down, a blank page. Still I ache and move and nourish and detox and meditate. Still I feel this pulsing in my chest, faint like something coming from within the walls, this second heart beating and every once in a while blinking a tiny little light like a pulsar star. I want to build. To do something with all of this love and throbbing energy and heat and pure life force I am lucky enough to have. I hope to never forget to be grateful for every breath of air I magically take in, every moment of reception, penetration, release, surrender, power. I can’t help but course it all through my every vein.
I am starting to cry on airplanes. It is a place I can rest, so high above my email inbox and big loves (I count five) and the ground floor surface of earth’s crust. I am lightheaded up here, stripped of the daily needs of the world, and when I drop down under my days I find this ache. This exhaustion. This ongoing fear of misunderstanding. This curse of a body, of mortality, of injustice. I haven’t reconciled. I miss the clarity and discovery of youth, of innocence. I’d like to make sense of so many things, like how the black holes grow within us and what it could ever take to fill them, like how stone can trickle away through consistent gentle water, like why humans destroy each other from the inside out. I can’t seem to find meaning in wars, but still I engage, sometimes late at night with the ones I love most. Sometimes silently stowing my own cocks in empty boxes unworthy. Sometimes desperate sorrow. Sometimes the silent blank faith of the line without the next word.
The first day I had wings, it was awkward and inconsistent. The second day I toppled over, top heavy. The third day my errands were effortless.
I guess that’s all I want. Less effort, more sweetness. Less struggle, more radical empathy. To cry because it feels good to release, above, hurdling through the sky, the taste of wine on my tongue.
Hello Internet! I’m still here. I posted very little in January because I spent most of that month working on the Celebrating the Body Erotic for women workshop which happened this last week in New York City. It was beautiful and moving and intense and heart-wrenching and I might’ve seen a vision while we were doing one of the breathing exercises and it went incredibly well and I’m glad it’s over. It was very time consuming.
And now I’m gearing up for basically a full month of travel. It’ll probably mean I’m posting less this month, too. In fact, I’ve been so busy that I can’t even seem to finish the February calendar to post here! I have a lot of gigs this month—Columbia University in NYC, American in DC, Smith College in Northampton, the Center for Sex Positive Culture in Seattle—and I’m looking forward to them. I’ve been home since early December and I’m starting to get stir-crazy. I like that this little life I’ve been working on takes me other places. I love New York City (is that the first time I’ve said that? Possibly) but I can’t be here all the time. I start to feel so disconnected from the planet.
But I’m still kind of recovering from the workshop. All that energy work takes it out of me. Today, all I’d like to do is eat some dahl with spicy pickled mangoes and watch documentaries on the couch. I’ve given myself the last two days off, basically, to recover, and today it’s Back To Work time.
This week, before I go off to my travels, I’m doing two big readings in New York City. I haven’t really read poetry since Sideshow ended, and while I don’t have a ton of new poems to share, I am digging through my pieces and excited to get up and practice opening my heart on stage for a while. I love the Best Lesbian Erotica 2012 book so I’m looking forward to hearing more of those pieces out loud, and listening to some of the boys from Best Gay Erotica 2012 too. Plus, there will be a singles mixer! Come find a Valentine’s date.
I can’t seem to decide what to read tonight at the Queer Apple/Inspired Word event … I still have a few hours, so I’m gathering up the options. Looking over the poetry I’ve published here, there is certainly not too much that is recent. But I don’t mind dusting off some old pieces. Probably I’ll read the Butch Poem. Probably I’ll read The Right One. I’m not sure what else. Any requests?
Queer Apple: NYC GLBT Life in Poetry & Prose + Open Mic
The Inspired Word performance series is excited to present a new event that will become a regular part of our calendar, Queer Apple: NYC GLBT Life in Poetry & Prose, featuring some of this city’s best GLBT writers/performers – Sinclair Sexsmith, Christa Orth, Ocean Vuong, Samantha Barrow, Kestryl Cael Lowery, Kelli Dunham, Brandon Lacy Campos, and Jessica Halem. In addition, there will be a 12-slot open mic (4 minutes each slot) to bring your own GLBT experience to the party. Must be GLBT themed. A night of transcendence of words through narrative, poetry, and humor, hosted by Aimee Herman.
When: Wednesday, Feb. 8, 2012
Where: 116 (formerly The Gaslight Cafe)
116 MacDougal Street
(between Bleecker Street and Minetta Lane)
Manhattan, NY 10012
By subway, take the A, B, C, D, E, F to West 4th Street-Washington Square.
Doors open for sign-up @ 6:30pm
Show starts @ 7pm
Cover Charge: $10
RSVP on Facebook
Find a Valentine at the Best Erotica Reading
Need a valentine? Wear a heart if you’re single! Come hear some hot smut! Readers include: D.L. King, Ali Oh, Julia Noel Goldman, Anne Grip, James Earl Hardy and Greg Norris! More to come (so to speak).
7pm at Bluestockings Bookstore, Café, & Activist Center
172 Allen Street, New York, NY 10002
Lower East Side
RSVP on Facebook
In Best Lesbian Erotica 2012, women are looking for a little bit of everything: love, lust, and that special someone who brings both to bed. Lammy-nominated editor Kathleen Warnock and this year’s guest judge, acclaimed sex blogger Sinclair Sexsmith, have curated a collection that is waiting to lay bare your deepest desires. Best Gay Erotica 2012 captures the tension and raw energy of man-on-man desire in this collection of the hottest, freshest and most literary erotic fiction of the year. Editor Richard Labonté (and guest judge Larry Duplechan) share their tricks of the trade in this outstanding volume of craftsmanship and cockmanship.
Based in New York City, KATHLEEN WARNOCK is a playwright and editor whose work has appeared in several editions of Best Lesbian Erotica.
SINCLAIR SEXSMITH (mrsexsmith.com) runs the award-winning project Sugarbutch Chronicles at sugarbutch.net. Her work appears in Persistence: All Ways Butch and Femme and Take Me There: Transgender and Genderqueer Erotica, among others. She is the editor of Best Lesbian Erotica 2012 and Say Please: Lesbian BDSM Erotica.
I’m a school boy, in between
unsure of my body’s edges under
my skin, sliding a valentine
between the slots in your locker.
You are the valentine. Or
you are the one who watches
as I cut out hearts from red
construction paper. I’m the one
the teachers ask to stay and talk,
not because I’m bad at school
but because I wear too much
black. You’re the one who sees
full color spectrum in the sparkle
in my eyes, who waits for me
on the merry-go-round after band.
We spend nights in the cemetery,
halfway between our houses, trying
not to let unfinished spirits take
over before we start our own
lives. You kiss me in the dark hall
by the locker rooms. My pink
slip falls from my hand to the floor.