Posts Tagged ‘poetry’

Magnolias

Protected: “And bowing not knowing to what”

March 5, 2014  |  journal entries  |  Enter your password to view comments.

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Gender, Poetry, and Smut: Current Recommended Reads

December 17, 2013  |  reviews  |  4 Comments

I have stacks of books on my lists to tell y’all about, and so many other things to write to you about that I often don’t update you with what I’m reading. But, I know some of y’all are book nerds, so here ya go. Some beginnings of my attempt to get through this backlog.

And hey, who knows, maybe it’ll be a perfect last-minute dark-time-of-the-year holiday gift for somebody.

bk-butch bk-troubling bk-excluded

Butch Geography by Stacey Waite (Tupelo Press). A poetry collection … I read the review over on Lambda Literary and ran out to snag my own copy. It really is as beautiful as the review says. Waite writes with precise language and beautiful turns of phrase and enjambment about gender, navigating the world as a masculine of center person, and love. If you’re into gender and butch things and poetic words, this is for you.

Troubling the Line: Trans & Genderqueer Poetics TC Tolbert & Tim Trace Peterson (Nightboat Press). This anthology includes a wide range of poets, some examples of their work, and some statements (“poetics”) of their purpose and intentions behind their poetry. I find those essays in particular so compelling. The whole thing strikes me as very academic, so there is a lot of theory and big, fancy words that I feel like I could squint and strain to understand but I just kind of don’t bother (unless, you know, I really want to), but even so, I love reading the words and seeing two of my favorite genres—genderqueer theory and poetry—come together. Fascinating—and, as far as I know, the only book of its kind.

Poets include Samuel Ace, Julian Talamantez Brolaski, Micha Cardenas, kari edwards, Duriel Harris, Joy Ladin, Dawn Lundy Martin, Eileen Myles, Trish Salah, Max Wolf Valerio, John Wieners, Kit Yan, and more.

Excluded: Making Feminist and Queer Movements More Inclusive By Julia Serano (Seal Press). I’ve said for years that I consider Serano’s first book, Whipping Girl, required reading, and this, her sophomore publication, is likewise just as essential. Feminist and queer movements can be so exclusive, can reproduce all sorts of misogyny, racism, transphobia, transmisogyny, classism, and dozens more -isms—I have experienced and witnessed so much of that first-hand, and it frustrates me, as someone who is deeply committed to feminist and queer movements. And yet … sometimes I have no idea what to do about it. Serano puts forth all kinds of theories and concepts that I really like—the first one that comes to mind is explaining feminism through the concept of double standards. Keep up with Serano through her blog, where she’s got information about book signings and readings, and where she’s been posting excerpts and definitions of terms she coined or is using extensively in this book. It’ll give you a good sense of the tone and concepts included in Excluded (see what I did there? Ha ha!).

bk-bbe14 ble14

Best Bondage Erotica 2014 edited by Rachel Kramer Bussel (Cleis Press). Oh! It looks like this is technically released January 1st, though I did just see that Rachel received her box of copies to send out to Amazon reviewers (get in touch with her and get a copy of the book in exchange for writing it up on Amazon!). I’m not sure what the last Best Bondage Erotica collection was that I read … maybe I haven’t read any of them? I’ll be honest, I’m not very into bondage—but that’s partly why I absolutely loved Laura Antoniou’s introduction to this book, which basically said, “Uh, I’m not that into bondage.” Hah! Cracked me up, and also, I identify with that. “I’m much more into power,” Antoniou writes. Yeah, me too. And yet … and yet. She goes on to explain the value of these stories, and I admit they kept me turning pages. I particularly loved Kathleen Delaney-Adams story “Tart Cherry,” but that’s because I am a sucker for a kinky femme bottom who knows what she wants. Still, it’s beautifully written and sweet and dirty, and it stood out.

Best Lesbian Erotica 2014, edited by Kathleen Warnock (Cleis Press). There was a bit of news about this year’s BLE collection, and while I have a lot of questions and confusion and thoughts from that article, I don’t really need to go into that here. I mean, I am kind of the lesbian erotica cheerleader (despite having complicated relationships with both the words “lesbian” and “erotica”). But still, I come back to BLE year after year, I submit my stories, and I always, always look forward to reading it. This year, the story I submitted is the kick-off piece, the first one in the book (thrilling!), and I was lucky enough to be part of the release party here in San Francisco and hear almost ten of the stories read aloud. I think this year’s is a good collection, well-written and well collected, though there aren’t very many stories in here that I’ll be going back to for jerk-off material, mostly because they aren’t Daddy/girl or heavy BDSM based (which tends to be what I seek out these days—I know, SHOCKER). Still, Cheryl Dunye & Sarah Schulman’s script for the full length campy porn Mommy is Coming is included, and that’s fascinating.

Actually, speaking of Mommy is Coming, here’s the trailer:

Um yeah. Definitely recommend that one.

Aaaand that concludes this current book round-up! What have you been reading lately? Anything good to recommend?

Protected: Making Peace #20

September 22, 2013  |  poetry  |  Enter your password to view comments.

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Two years with Rife

September 17, 2013  |  journal entries  |  8 Comments

When I think about the past two years, and trying to put some sort of something together to explain how it’s been, I think in photographs. That one where he’s picking raspberries with his bare hands, crouched in his brown tee shirt, raspberry juice running down his wrists, pink staining his tongue. The one where he and his dog are surveying the moonscape of northern Yukon right before we turned past the “Welcome to Alaska!” sign. The one he called “doing important boy work” where he was sitting in a jock strap and nothing else on the porch at the ranch writing in his leather boy journal, writing reflections on tasks for me or writing about feelings of service and submission or writing a book report, I don’t know what the task was, but I’m sure it was important. The one with his dimples in that orange-red light that I looked at over and over before I really knew him.

I’d put together a collage post, an essay in photographs, but that doesn’t feel good enough, because who knows what you’d see. Maybe you’d see what I see, all the sweet boy tasks and dimpled smiles and creating art, but you wouldn’t see so many of the other things: the quiet contemplation, the complexities, the intensity of inner landscape, the artistry, the precision, the majesty.

It’s not easy, this intimate loving. I don’t know how it could ever be easy. It’s a practice of stripping away blocks, stripping away defenses, reminding myself over and over to let in, take in, open up, drop that protective layer. What a horrible thing to do, and how beautiful. What else is there, really, than to let someone see who I am as true as I possibly can.

This is my best truth, I whisper to him over and over, with each breath, while I sleep, while my lips touch his fingertips, while my key fits his lock. Right now, I am ruined. Right now, I am running. Right now, I am ruminating. Right now, I am rubber bouncing away. Right now, I am rumbling. Right now, I am rushed. Right now, I am a ruby shining. Right now, I am rusted through and I fear one touch will crumble everything. Right now, I just need you to hold me, take your hand and put it there, hold me from inside.

I have loved enough to know not to make grand declarations while I fall. I know I have said the same things, again and again. Falling always feels like that: brand new, awakened, like nothing else ever before. And it’s true. This time, it’s green green in all her shades, babygreen and lime and chartreuse, fresh mown grass, pine and spruce, fern and jungle, tea and olive, so many options. Let’s spend the life of our relationship cataloguing all of the hues and saturations, all of the chroma and light, every kind of value there may be. Let’s memorize the hex and RGB codes and recite them in each other’s ears when we need to remember the secret language in which we speak. This green that is growth and renewal, from budding seed to moss covering the old growth. Every stage, none more valuable than the other. None needing to be hidden. No forest does their mourning in silence, hidden away in holes or caves. Trees fall out in the open, unapologetic. This is my direction. I will now lay down to rest. We heard that great snap on the outer point trail and both looked to the canopy: which one would it be? The clear sound of tree death echoed, but it took a moment before falling. Like a ball bouncing tall tall tall and then less and less until the sound waterfalls. The tree was a waterfall as it descended, mortal, unrooted.

This is what happens. Unrooted I descend, mortal, and no one to be worshipped. And yet he does it anyway. So devoted, he whispers, and I whisper it right back. My noblesse oblige, my responsibilities, the placement in his life I continue to earn daily as I am to be and act from my best self. The deepest of forest greens. Living with him seems small compared to owning him.

I don’t know why I crave the power I do, nor does he know why he craves the submission he does. We puzzle, we theorize, we study, we muse. And we give to each other in these ways that we have always craved. Something in me didn’t know what I wanted was to own, to master. The verb, the job title—not the honorific, not yet (maybe that will come later). But as I study this path, I realize I’ve always been on it. Always been trying to encourage something more, and making do with my own limitations.

I’ve been making offerings my whole life, holding up gifts, looking at paths and asking if they wanted to walk it with me. This is the boy who has taken my hand and said yes. This is the boy who showed me paths he’s discovered, too, but had not yet walked, knowing the essentiality of having another with him. This is the boy who has been offering, over and over, to take more if they wanted it. I want more. I want the edge. I seek the razor on which we can both balance. I seek the calling to be my own best self. I seek one who will stay at my feet not because it serves him, but because it serves me. That is a fine line of difference, but makes everything change.

Right now, I am shining in the oldest forest, crackling descent to the earth, digging up rubies. Doesn’t green shine brighter when there’s red around? Isn’t my heart just oh so ready to pour this blood into the earth? Isn’t there so much more to love than heartbreak? Isn’t there so much possibility, when puzzle pieces find each other? Aren’t we so ready, so prepared and ready, to live our way to the answers, live our way to the creations of our quiet, deepest callings?

I don’t know what happens next. But I know this is the beginning of year three, and I’m listening. I choose.

What It Means

September 5, 2013  |  poetry  |  4 Comments

1.
To Love You

An adventure for which I
have been preparing, long before
we met. A practice in honesty
with myself and others. A crow
bar opening my ribcage wider
than I thought it’d go. A pill I swallow
to make all the colors brighter.
A zipline I can’t let go of for fear
of plummeting back to where
I’ve already been. A breakfast
in bed, lazy, perfect on a weekend.
A heartbeat to which I can count out
a 4/4 rhythm and always
carry a bass line. A harmony.
A tune I can almost make out of
a song I know so well but can’t
quite remember. A return to
myself. An exercise in becoming
supernova without exploding.
A crazy idea that just might work.
An adoration. A prayer with my whole
body, starting at my lips. A midnight
candlelight canopy garden of treasure.
A menagerie custom made for me.
A secret I hesitate to share because
I want to cherish it enough for the
whole world. A promise, but I’m not
yet sure for what. An anchor in my
marrow. A pen full of ink and not
enough paper. The slick oil of finger-
prints on glass. A smooth river stone
large enough to balance on one
foot. Lit birthday candles that won’t
blow out. A hike into the shady forest
with a picnic and a fairy tale. Your skin
shined with sweat. A relief. A tribute.
An ache that fills me more than any
ache should. A symphony of leaves.
A choir of hiding places. A quilt from
old tee shirts. Look, that’s from my
first concert. You saw that same tour,
but we didn’t know yet
what that meant, either.

Protected: Making Peace #2

August 27, 2013  |  journal entries  |  Enter your password to view comments.

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Gaping Yawp

July 31, 2013  |  journal entries  |  5 Comments

I’m ripe with danger and loss. Others have told me I hold violence like I’m cultivating a babygreen seedling, but I never believed them until now. You could try to pluck me from the tree but it takes no force, I will fall off into your hand. Don’t make a fist, juice will spill down to your elbow, stain more than any wine. And then the loss of limbs, branches destroyed by beetles and careless swings of an axe. A bronzed arm over the mantle because I asked you for it, and you said okay.

Harbor: choose anything but harbor—more like a cauldron. We boil and toil and burn from the inside out. I am no refuge, no dirty inlet with a dike sheltering from sea monsters. I am the sea monster, I am the barnacles on the underbelly you have to dry dock to deal with. I thought I was more for you than you ever received from any cracker jack box, more than a surprise plastic toy, don’t you know how to decipher my usage? But I lost the instruction manual long before we met. Threw it into the surf. Burned it at fahrenheit 451. My trees grow weary of giving up their paper so easily, but they have nothing else to give.

You gave me bloodlust, a hunger for the darkest taste of me, and there’s no turning back. I can’t undo the danger I offered up, my ripe organs eager for your piercing. Give me more. Open up an apple sideways so the seeds make a star. Dive into the honey thick with bees and sunshine. Liquid greens, that color of new growth, any time the daffodils die and birds start turning one glassy eye to the tundra of the north. Come to where the herring are abundant, bubbles caught in the air waiting to explode in a gaping yawp of need. Don’t we all have it, that bottomlessness, that sexy darkness that links back to when we were born. Birth is the real loss of the only time we are truly one with another. Isn’t that, under it all, the only thing anyone ever wants?

Some poetry performance videos at the Northern Exposure kink conference

June 26, 2013  |  poetry  |  No Comments

At the Northern Exposure kink conference in Anchorage earlier this month, Sarha, our 2013 IMsL and one of the producers of the contest, asked if I’d like to do a short performance set during her weekend finale, the seven deadly sins dinner.

I was lucky enough to land on “lust.” So after a salad (course of envy), halibut, perfect creamed potatoes, and asparagus, the strawberries with melted chocolate came out, and they called me up to the stage.

“Gender Architecture”

“The Right One”

These poems are actually kind of … well, old. I wrote them early on when I was living in Seattle, which was probably at least ten years ago now. They’re both on my spoken word album For the Record which was released in 2005 (and is online through bandcamp if you want to listen to it or buy it). The first piece, “Gender Architecture,” is also known as “the boots piece,” and there are some parts of my theories about gender that I’m not sure I still agree with exactly … no, it’s not that I disagree, maybe it’s just that I wouldn’t put it that way, at this point. The second piece is still one of my favorites to perform, especially because of the way the beginning starts, where it’s made to sound like I’m just still casually talking to the audience but then I launch into the poem. It’s kind of a surprise that way. And when the audience energy is good, it’s so, so sexy.

I’d really like to do more spoken word. Adding that to the list, and trying to strip away other things that aren’t as satisfying.

Protected: Exciting things from last week! and also, ALASKA OR BUST!

May 27, 2013  |  journal entries  |  Enter your password to view comments.

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“How Poetry Saved My Life” Reading with Amber Dawn (& me!) on Wednesday in SF

May 21, 2013  |  miscellany  |  No Comments

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.

Sub Rosa remains one of my favorite novels that I’ve read ever, and definitely in the top 3 in recent years. She received a Lammy in the lesbian fiction category for it and it is well deserved.

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!

howpoetryAmber 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)
www.mtbs.com

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.