Posts Tagged ‘poetry’

Mentor Series: Tara Hardy & Her New Book, Bring Down the Chandeliers

September 13, 2011  |  journal entries  |  26 Comments

Tara Hardy has been a mentor and influence of mine since I first saw her perform in Seattle in 2000. I then went on to be one of her students for about five years, studying at Bent: A Writing Institute for Queers, where I eventually became a volunteer and substitute teacher, and where I learned a ton about performing, chapbooks, writing, queerness, butchness, femmes, and all sorts of other life things.

Anything But God by Tara Hardy, one of my favorite pieces of hers:

Her new book, Bring Down the Chandeliers, is published on Write Bloody and is brilliant. I have many of her previous self-published chapbooks, so I recognized some of these poems, but even familiar with her work I was thrilled to see them re-made and re-imagined for this new collection. I love how she’s edited them.

I bought an extra copy of her new book just so I could give it away here on Sugarbutch. Want it? Leave a comment with your favorite poet or poem or book of poems, or something else entirely, and I’ll pick a winner at random next week Monday when I get back from Dark Odyssey.

One of her recent chapbooks, Shoulder Slip Strap (which she probably has copies of if you email her or find her on Facebook), has this short but amazing piece in it that I have been chewing on ever since I read it.

Isn’t that just oh so perfect? I love how much is encapsulated.

She’s going to be touring in the Northeast in September and October, so if she’s coming to a city near you, this is your chance to see her perform. Do it. From her Facebook note:

Tara Hardy on the loose for 20 days in the northeast: 18 performances, 8 workshops, 1 rental car, more shoes than she shoulda, and lots & lots-o-copies of Bring Down the Chandeliers (for sale!).

*Thursday, 9/15: Amherst, MA, Smith College
*Friday, 9/16: Somerville, MA, Poets Theater (Arts at the Armory, 191 Highland Ave) 8pm
*Saturday, 9/17: Boston, MA, Jme Caroline’s kitchen, Time TBA
*Sunday, 9/18: Portland, ME, Rhythmic Cypher, Slainte Wine Bar (24 Preble St) 8pm
*Monday, 9/19: Portland, ME, workshop TBA, performance at Port Veritas (Local Sprouts, 649 Congress), Time TBA
*Tuesday, 9/20: Providence, RI, Providence Poetry Slam (AS220, 115 Empire Ave) 9pm
*Wednesday, 9/21: Day of rest, or rather, bookstore hop.
*Thursday, 9/22: Manchester, NH, Milly’s Tavern (500 Commercial Street) 8pm
*Friday, 9/23: New York, NY, Nuyorican Poetry Slam (Nuyorican Poets Café, 236 E Third St) 9pm
*Saturday, 9/24: Worcester, MA, Clark College Youth Performance, (location TBA) 7pm
*Sunday, 9/25: Worcester, MA, Clark College Workshop (location TBA) 2-4pm and Poets Asylum, (WCUW Front Room, 910 Main St) 7pm
*Monday, 9/26: New York, NY, LouderARTS (Bar 13, 35 East 13th Street) 7:30pm
*Tuesday, 9/27: Washington, D.C., Beltway Poetry Slam (The Fridge, 516 8th Street SE) 7:30pm
*Wednesday, 9/28: Washington, D.C., Busboys & Poets (5th & K Streets) 9pm
*Thursday, 9/29: Long Branch, NJ, Loser Slam (665 Second Avenue) workshop 8pm, performance, 9pm
*Friday, 9/30: Jersey City, NJ, JC Slam (location & time TBA)
*Saturday, 10/1: Richmond, VA, Richmond Slam (Artspace Art Gallery, 31 E 3rd St) workshop & performance, 5-7:30pm
*Sunday, 10/2: Day of rest, or rather, search for best vegan food in D.C.
*Monday, 10/3: Washington, D.C. Mothertongue (DC Center, 1318 U Street NW) workshop 6:30-8, performance, 9pm
*Tuesday, 10/4: New York, NY, Urbana Poetry Slam (Bowery Poetry Club, 308 Bowery) 7pm

When Peace Comes by Tara Hardy

Thank you, Tara, for all that you’ve done and all you’ve taught and all you’ve shared with the world. You’ve been a huge influence, and I wouldn’t be where I am if I hadn’t had your guidance and brilliance along the way.

Thinking About Bowls

August 2, 2011  |  poetry  |  2 Comments

… among other things. I have much to say about my experience at the erotic energy intensive, but as my heart & body & mind sorts through everything, here’s a poem I wrote on the plane.

Pulse

The bowl of the Jemez Valley
sinks the circle to center. We
dip our unclothed bodies into
the hot pools, hearts cracking
open like the sky after mid-
afternoon thunder storms
saunter in to nourish the thirsty
ground of the high desert. Skin
shows wear, blush, want—
we take turns holding ourselves
under water, letting our bodies sink
and surface. Ant colonies construct
the shifting ground under our feet.
The hummingbirds arrive when we
offer them sugar water, offering
themselves as medicine in return.
We fly in the kitchen, sit like
boulders in the zendo, grow
wings through holding, fill our bowls,
dip our fingers in to clean them.
I attempt re-mothering, I am Daddy,
I watch, shining light inward
down from my comfortable purple
easy chair. I discover an inner
engagement, ready to wed;
act it out in ten minute experiments
while wheelbarrows win, rain
falls, voices are replaced. Our
climaxes are our own responsibilities.
We dazzle in the evenings under
the milky way, emptying and refilling
our hungry open bowls.

For Cheryl

June 23, 2011  |  miscellany  |  No Comments

There are a few things coming up for Cheryl.

The Last Sideshow, Tuesday, July 12th, at the usual time and place (8pm, The Phoenix, East Village, NYC). Lineup TBA.

A Memorial for Cheryl B (Is For Beautiful): A Celebration of Her Life, Because This Death Stuff Sucks. Saturday, July 23rd, 3pm at Dixon Place, NYC

I still don’t know what to say.

Here are a couple videos of Cheryl reading her work. I have some clips of her from an event of mine a few years back that I want to convert and put on YouTube too, haven’t done that yet. Maybe this weekend.

Hope you can make it to Sideshow or the memorial.

Cheryl B.

June 19, 2011  |  journal entries  |  13 Comments

photo by Syd London

Cheryl B. died yesterday, Saturday morning. I’m not sure what I can say yet. A couple other people are able to be more articulate than me: Sassafras Lowrey at Lambda Literary.org, Kathleen Warnock at Too Many Hats. Edit: Here’s a few more, Anne Elliott on Ass Backwords, Rachel Kramer Bussel on Lusty Lady.

We made a little video for Cheryl at April’s Sideshow.

Sideshow Loves Cheryl from Sinclair Sexsmith on Vimeo.

I’d like to post some videos of her poetry soon. I miss her.

Unsolicited Advice to a New Butch (aka The Butch Poem)

June 14, 2011  |  on butches, poetry  |  48 Comments

There is more to you than this identity. It makes everything make more sense, and without it you might be lost, but with it you are only ever on one path. You contain more multitudes than that.

Dance. Cook. Read. Make peace with your body. Look at the stars.

Don’t make everything about you. Willingly admit you are wrong, even if sometimes you know you are right. Eagerly say “I’m sorry.” Easily say “I love you,” but learn to recognize your own worth. Keep the borders of your kingdom well-watched and flexible. Keep your muscles flexible. Climb mountains. Pick wild flowers, even though they wilt. Because they wilt. Don’t let people make you wilt. That’s doesn’t have to have anything do with you. Listen to their stories. Remember that we yell because we do not feel heard.

Make a list of ways you feel heard.

Learn how to partner dance so you can make your partner look beautiful, spinning and open-mouth laughing on the dance floor. Cook. Read. Make peace with your body.

Elevate the discussions over brunch with your buddies and use them to try out your date outfits. Downgrade your tee shirts to workouts and loungewear and upgrade your presentation. Make a list of places you can wear your very best suit that are not weddings or funerals. If you don’t have a suit, invest in a suit. There’s a reason it’s a classic. It’s okay to get it at a thrift store. It’s okay to stop shopping at thrift stores now that you know how to use money. Practice rocking a tie on special occasions. Make a list of special occasions. Thursdays can count as special occasions.

Remember that your lover craves your skin and friction and kisses not despite but because of your masculinity.

Dance. Practice cooking at least one impressive date meal and, if you like watching them put something you made in their mouth, teach yourself more. Read. Make peace with your body.   

Get a traffic cop vest, because you are stuck directing and deflecting in the middle of the intersection between male and female, and though the fifty-car pileups have mostly ceased, though they have cleaned the rubble from the ditches, though the seasons have faded the bloodstains on the concrete, you are still there, in the middle, while a pickup truck brushes past close enough to touch the hairs on your calf and a Mazda full of machismo is threatening you from the window.

Know you can survive this. Your body crosses borders most of them never question.

Dance. Cook. Read books like Stone Butch Blues and Dagger and Butch is a Noun and learn where you came from. Learn who else is out there in the world with you. Suspend your own stories and practice seeing another’s perspective. Make peace with your body.

Learn to recognize femmes, even if you don’t date them. They recognize you. When a girl on the subway gives you The Eyes, she’s a femme. When the only straight girl in the dyke bar says she likes your tie, she’s a femme. When your waitress jumps in on your conversation with your buddies to ask “so what’s a good drag king troupe?”, she’s a femme.

But two femmes in bed are not just waiting for a butch to come along (necessarily), so don’t laugh when someone tells misogynistic jokes in bad taste. Be a gentleman. Practice the art of consensual chivalry, always be on time, and remember: it’s better to have a cock and not need it than to need a cock and not have it. Always be prepared. 

When the girl you thought you’d spend your life with leaves you, know you can survive this. Pour the whiskey down the drain, keep your stovetop spotless, and delete her number from your phone. Move your best friend up to her speed dial spot and call just to say hi. Cultivate your friendships before your breakups so you are not alone.

You are becoming more like yourself than you’ve ever been. Trust in your own deepest experience. Trust in your own evolutions.

Dance. Cook. Read. Make peace with the supposed conflict between your breasts, your inner folds, your monthly bleeding, and your cufflinks, your swagger, your monthly boy-cut #4 and the razor-shave on your neck. You possess this innate ability to contemplate apparent opposites and hold them both; to dance with two seemingly contradictory things simultaneously—a talent most people can never perfect. But you can. And you are not alone. These mentors, this legacy, this lineage, this heritage, this style—this is where you fit, this is where you are not dismissed, this is where you finally get kissed exactly how you’ve always wished.

This is the process of blooming into whatever multitudes you are at the core of your being.

Look at the stars. Remind yourself how small we all are, how big your life is, how many paths you are exploring. You can do more than survive this—you can thrive in this.

Here is a story / to break your heart.

October 6, 2010  |  journal entries  |  3 Comments

I’m still working on more essays and ideas and thoughts in response to the recent gay suicides. My weekly column on SexIs Magazine, Mr. Sexsmith’s Other Girlfriend, features What You Can Do To Support Queer Youth today, which has some of my thoughts.

And did you hear that there was a gay bashing inside of Stonewall in New York City this past weekend? No seriously, Stonewall, like the gayest bar in this city? It’s practically laughable. I mean I’m sure it wasn’t laughable for the people who were bashed, but really? What? That almost seems desperate, to me. Like someone attempting to cling to power.

So. Since I don’t have the piece written that I want to write yet, I want to share this poem that has been in my head lately. I used it in my writing workshop at Butch Voices in Portland with the homework instruction to write ‘a story to break your heart,’ if you are willing. (It is most effective when read aloud, even just to yourself, I think.)

Lead
Mary Oliver

Here is a story
to break your heart.
Are you willing?
This winter
the loons came to our harbor
and died, one by one,
of nothing we could see.
A friend told me
of one on the shore
that lifted its head and opened
the elegant beak and cried out
in the long, sweet savoring of its life
which, if you have heard it,
you know is a sacred thing,
and for which, if you have not heard it,
you had better hurry to where
they still sing.
And, believe me, tell no one
just where that is.
The next morning
this loon, speckled
and iridescent and with a plan
to fly home
to some hidden lake,
was dead on the shore.
I tell you this
to break your heart,
by which I mean only
that it break open and never close again
to the rest of the world.

Reprinted from New and Selected Poems, Volume Two by Mary Oliver

Free Copy of Ivan Coyote’s book Loose End

September 15, 2009  |  miscellany  |  10 Comments

looseendIvan E. Coyote, Top Hot Butches Number Six and amazing storyteller, writer, and performer, has a new book out this year from Arsenal Pulp Press called The Slow Fix. I just picked it up when Kristen and I were in Philadelphia about a month ago at Giovanni’s Room, which, by the way, was one of the most amazing queer bookstores I’ve ever been in. Such a wonderful collection of books there, I could’ve bought twenty – I settled on three.

And, I just heard from Arsenal Pulp Press that they’ve got a promotion going on through September 30th – “FREE Ivan E. Coyote Book, Loose End, and with this download, you are also entitled to a SPECIAL 25% DISCOUNT off the purchase of any or all of Ivan’s books, SIGNED BY THE AUTHOR.

I think I have all of them, but I might be missing one. I’ll have to double check. Hmm, maybe this is a good holiday gift – who’s on my list that would like Ivan’s books? I’m sure I can come up with a few.

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August 24, 2009  |  poetry  |  Enter your password to view comments.

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You Are Never Ready

August 5, 2009  |  poetry  |  5 Comments

Thanks to Alisha for introducing me to this piece of poetry by Nicole Blackman; it is precisely what I needed. It’s hard to find online, so I’m reproducing it here, in case you also need to hear what she has to say. See more of Nicole Blackman’s work at NicoleBlackman.com. This piece is reproduced from her book Blood Sugar, which seems to be out of stock from Akashic Books – hopefully not out of print, though, because I really must get my hands on a copy.

You Are Never Ready
Nicole Blackman

In four minutes you will be gone and I must tell you why.

When a star crashes, the angels are electrified.
Your life changes in ways you can’t imagine.

When your dreams are perfect, they run like machines and leave you dizzy.

When you first discover you’re dying, everyone seems to be saying goodbye.

When your dreams are perfect, they run like machines.

You must change your life. You are never ready.
You must change your life. You are never ready.

There are people you have to leave behind, they just dirty up your mouth
they don’t value your treasure.

You fall down, you kiss up, you love them, it’s not enough.
They’re nothing special and you’re just a treasure.
If you had no magic here you’d be just like everyone else.
Imagine the tragedy.

You must change your life. You are never ready.
You must change your life. You are never ready.

Love is like crying is like writing is like dying.
You’ve got to do it alone.

I know it’s tragic to be tender.
I know it’s dangerous to be kind.
I know it’s vicious to care.

Listen to me, I know what’s going to happen.

You don’t need a window, you need a fire escape,
you’ll need a skylight to get where you have to go.
I can’t tell you where.

And you dreamt that you were hollow
and you dreamt that you were whole.
Reconstruct what you remember
and it comes out in pieces.

You must change your life. You are never ready.
You must change your life. You are never ready.

Those below you can’t hold you up
everyone is gone gone gone
everyone is gone gone gone
learn to swin alone learn to fly.

You must change your life. You are never ready.
You must change your life. You are never ready.

Cast them off like long rope and learn to swim the dark water alone.
Look up to the stars stars stars and know that this is your sky now.

lift your arms and go
step forward in Nureyev leap
blink fast and whirr over streets
hover over trees
speed past taxis
don’t even bother to wave
at the children who watch you
awestruck
brushing past skyscrapers
and looking up up
slip off the long skirt
that slows you down
and don’t look back to watch it
billow to earth
tell the cool jets and Superman
that you’re passing them
feel your hair stream back
with wind blinding you
forcing your dry mouth open
no one can touch you now
get out of this fucking world
as fast as you can.

Tachycardia

July 24, 2009  |  poetry  |  16 Comments
this is how I want you:

slow. deliberate. measured. languorous. torpid
bordering on excruciating, with kisses that
keep you counting the millimeters between
our mouths (six, four, three), counting
the breaths it takes before my hands
move from waist to shoulders up your
back (five), counting the heartbeats elapsed
to wrap my fingers around your upper arms,
tighten my grip, and press you back against
the wall (124 with occasional tachycardia). you

remember what it feels like to be overtaken,
don’t you, to become supple in my arms, to
struggle until you can do nothing but give over,
become empty for me to fill you everywhere.
because I know that’s what you want, that’s
how you forget yourself, that’s how I forget
myself too, perfect moments of being wrapped
inside you, safe, enveloped, protected, a return
to some place quiet and sacred where the red
burgundy sooths all with muscle and strength.

I will make marks on my wrist so I can measure
how far inside you I can reach, today, tomorrow,
now I can feel the underside of your heart, the
cellar door of it, I will pen the walls with beauty
beauty beauty until it radiates out of your pores,
graffiti seeping from inside. I’ve felt your fingers
thrumming my own atria, those upper chambers
of my heart with their glass doors and misting
humidifiers and weeping plants, I think you know

what it is you cultivate in my chest when your
knees go weak, when you sink your eyes
away from mine and slide back to check if I am
still holding you. I am, I am, my arms never leave
that curve of your shoulders, your hip, the way
you crush against me when I open wide, making
room for every inch of your skin against mine. you
quicken my heartbeats, not something I am used to,
but this means I can be stronger, pump more blood,
stay up even later, fucking and loving till dawn.