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a month in queer reading
round-up of everything i read during pride month 2023!
Hello from half-way through virtual VONA!
In case you missed it, you can find my last little queer news round-up here!
I’ve been digging deep into my personal archive and getting ~out of my comfort zone~ in Paisley Rekdal’s experimental forms poetry workshop. I’m making new shit, and it’s uncomfortable in the best way, in a reviving-my-writing-practice way. (This is also a great time to direct you to West: A Translation’s accompanying interactive website). Last night I got to hang out with the queer affinity group and it was much needed!
I’ve also been looking back at my Storygraph stats for the month! This is much much easier now that I’m out of school, but I decided to only read queer and/or trans authors during June. Turns out that’s not much different from my normal reading habits.
I read 8 whole books in June. I started 3 that are not represented in the above graph as I’m still reading them.
I’m noticing the genre stuff is still a little odd on Storygraph. For instance, poetry often shows up as nonfiction, which I disagree with, even though my poems tend to be very true to my lived experiences. Also, all 8 (11, really) books were by LBGTQIA+ authors, even if the “genre” is not considered so.
I’m obsessed with this stat. This is probably because, again, I’m finally choosing what to read, I’ve gotten better about not forcing myself to read stuff I don’t vibe with, and the only two I didn’t rate just felt like I needed more time to think about.
So, should we get started with the books?
This is a book I have not rated yet. I’m still thinking about it. I picked it up after talking to the publisher at AWP in Seattle back in March.The first story in this book is the first, maybe only, time I’ve read a story for people my age about a trans Chicano. I didn’t know stories like that existed! The collection as a whole is uncomfortable to read, but not in a bad way. I think seeing myself so clearly in some of these stories scared me? Made me feel legible to someone other than myself.
Y’all!!!! This book!!!!! I’ve been trying to pitch an article about it, but I might just post it here at some point.For those unfamiliar, Samantha Irby is the author of several hilarious essay collections about her life. I recommend reading them in order— it’s cool seeing cultural time capsules in CNF writers’ works!
As I’ve come to expect from Irby’s work, I laughed my ass off with Quietly Hostile, and then BAM I’m crying all of a sudden! I also haven’t read much work that addresses the pandemic, and the essay “The Last Normal Day” does it so well. 5 million stars out of 5. When will a boxed set of these aesthetic looking books come out??
So, apparently I pre-ordered this for myself months ago. I love when I do that. It’s like a little gift from past me! Anyways, Boys Weekend is a horror/satire graphic novel about a nonbinary transfem who is asked to be the “best man” at their best friend’s wedding. They go on the bachelor party trip to a Vegas-like capitalistic hellhole with the aforementioned friend and bunch of… bros, to put it nicely. AKA my worst nightmare!
I read it in one sitting to keep myself from annoying my napping partner. The writing and art were incredible. Reading shit clearly written for trans audiences rocks!! I already want to reread it, but I lent it to my bestie because I know she would love it.
Y’allllllll. I’ve read many of these poems in various lit mags. I got to hear K read in Seattle back in March (and yes, I cried). While packing up books for the move, I finally sat down to read the collection front to back. I’m so in awe of the fact that I’m writing at the same time as Iver. These poems are so raw, and beautiful, and lyrically blunt, and very fucking incredibly crafted.
The book is elegy for the loss of the poet’s trans beloved, as well as for the state of the south, this country, in terms of anti-transness.
Feast by Ina Cariño
I read this poetry collection before the SAFTA trans/nonbinary retreat! Cariño was the keynote for the event. These poems are, as the title suggests, truly a feast. The poet explores intergenerational trauma and healing from a Filipinx perspective. The imagery is so lush!
I know I’ve mentioned this already very acclaimed new release in previous newsletters. But I’m still excited to write about it. The Late Americans is a campus novelfollowing varied queer perspectives as they navigate what I’m going to selfishly call quarter life crises.
Taylor’s mastery of the sentence is a big part of what pulls me in. I’m convinced that he is a poet, actually. Also, I’m always impressed by how embodied his writing is. Like, the cast of characters truly exist in their bodies. If you’re interested in that sort of craft talk/literary analysis, check out this piece from Taylor’s newsletter about “Character Vapor.”
Side note: I met him at AWP in Philly in 2021 after a talk about Filthy Animals and writing trauma. I truly think he’s one of the best novelists of our time and can’t wait to see what’s next for Taylor and his work.
Okay. Is that enough literary fanboy-ing?
So I am very late to the game in reading this poetry collection! jason b crawford led an incredible workshop on queer ekphrasis at the SAFTA trans/nonbinary retreat, as well as some other generative writing exercises. I’d read a lot of their work before in online publications, and, like with Iver’s book, I finally had the time to read the whole collection.
These poems navigate gender, queerness, Blackness, family, violence, and the intersections of these things with precision and heart. At the heart of this poetry collection is coming into oneself, and even loving the parts of oneself that we’re taught to ignore.
I read this front-to-back on a Greyhound to Dallas. Hughes’ debut poetry collection feels like a prayer. A family history. There is so much care in each poem and in the documentation of Hughes’ experience as a gay Black person. These poems also interrogate mortality in a really visceral manner.
Sort-of related sidebar: When I was in Seattle earlier this year, I found the whiteness of it to be suffocating. And that was just after being there for less than a week. The ethnic studies scholar in me finds A Shiver in the Leaves to be a vital part of Seattle-based literature, not just because of how incredible these poems are, but because of the discussions of racism in what many consider to be a leftist city.
So, that was my June! The three I’m still reading are We Want it All, Manhunt, and A History of My Brief Body. I also recently started The Thirty Names of Night. Whew. So much good literature out there. Please don’t judge the way I read 5+ books at once.
If you have QTPOC reading recs, I’m all ears!
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I am so very behind on my TBR
Unless an editor who wants an article about grief and queerness and humor is reading this? :)
I’m not in an MFA anymore, I can describe books however I want, right?
which I’m a sucker for
a sucker for currently going through