News and New Releases in Trans Literature
2016! The year has barely started and I’m already hearing rumors about several exciting projects coming from trans writers. I’ve collected everything that I’ve been able to confirm into a post to help catch you up on news in trans literature as well as some recent releases (lots of poetry!) and upcoming releases to add to your reading list. But first:
It’s with a heavy heart that I start this post by acknowledging Bryn Kelly, whom we lost earlier this month. Over the next few weeks we’ll see more remembrances written by those who knew her far better than I, but for now I’ll link to this brief piece from the Advocate on her life and her work. Bryn was, among other things, a talented writer; I particularly loved how fluently Bryn could write in a sharp and perceptive voice that drew the reader in and made us feel like she was sharing a piece of good gossip just with us. Her short story “Other Balms, Other Gileads” is a beautiful example of this voice in a story of illegal pharmaceuticals, trans love, HIV, food, and attempts at healing. Bryn was the anonymous femme behind The Hussy, a column that spoke to the heart of this young and aspiring Pretty Mean Trans Girl, as well as the “pseudonymous” blogger of Party Bottom where she wrote with rage, humor, and love about life as an HIV-positive trans woman. I can’t think of a more fitting way to end this remembrance than with a selection from Bryn’s love letter to trans women:
I love getting all our bodies and ourselves over the nitty gritty stuff that our bodies go through, and the ingenious methods we invent to access care. I love how we are each other’s best therapists and worst enemies. I love it when you embarrass me. I love it when you inspire me. I love it when you make me laugh. I love it when you read me the filth. I love it when you make yourself vulnerable. I love it when we feel safe with each other.
A memorial service is currently scheduled for February 6th. Donations to help cover the associated costs are being accepted here.
bits and pieces from the web
+ “I’m personally interested in how writers depart from the emphasis on fiction, towards essay and essayistic writing, without recapitulating the dynamic of the old trans memoir.” Over at Essay Daily T Clutch Fleischmann interviewed Torrey Peters about essays and other nonfiction by trans writers. There are some great points raised here about how trans memoirs have traditionally prioritized a cisgender audience and what it means to for trans people to write our stories to a trans audience.
+ The American Library Association’s Stonewall Book Award winners were announced this month. The Stonewall Book Award honors “English-language children’s and young adult books of exceptional merit relating to the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender experience.” This year the 2016 Stonewall Children’s Literature Award went to Alex Gino’s George, a beautiful story about a young trans girl working to come out to her friends and family. (I
raved about reviewed George back in October for Book Riot.)
+ Over at PRIDE Basil Soper highlighted five trans masculine writers to add to your to-read list. I’m personally grateful that we don’t have another all white, all straight list of writers and instead get to read about writers of diverse identities, backgrounds, and experiences.
+ Nepantla, Lambda Literary’s journal for queer poets of color, released their second issue at the end of last year. Among the poets in this issue are several trans poets including Julian Talamantez Brolaski (“in the cut”), Joshua Jennifer Espinoza (“I Dream of Horses Eating Cops”), andriniki mattis (“how to live btwn the lines”), and Aurel Haize Odogbo (“BIRTH-MONGER”). Also featured is a conversation with trans activist Cece McDonald and trans poet/activist Alok Vaid-Menon (half of the poetry duo Dark Matter). The entire journal is available for free online.
+ Speaking of collections from trans poets released at the end of last year, the Bay Area Trans Writers Workshop put out their first compilation zine: What the Fresh Hell. The 35-page zine is available by donation.
+ Surrealist writer Sara June Woods has a new chapbook of poems and photos out as a PDF. Born out of a 2014 fundraiser project ~yr various hairlessnesses~ has one of my all-time favorite covers.
+ Desire and the Scent of Guava is a chapbook from Jamie Berrout focusing on “[her] feelings about intimacy and romance as a trans woman of color in a nascent relationship.” Each chapbook comes with an PDF copy and a discount is offered for trans women.
+ Meredith Russo’s debut young adult novel, If I Was Your Girl, was one of my favorite reads in 2015 and I’m so excited that its publication date is getting nearer. Set in a small town in the rural American South, this novel about a teenage trans girl trying to navigate high school is rich with humor, tears, girl power, and teen love. Expected publication date of May 3rd from Flatiron Books.
+ Sara June Woods has another collection of poetry coming out. I don’t know much about Careful Mountain yet but the announcement from the publishers describes it as an “avalanche” and “a new benchmark of surreal mastery” which all sounds very exciting to me. Expected publication date is sometime in 2016 from Civil Coping Mechanisms.