The cover of Hannah Baer’s book TRANS GIRL SUICIDE MUSEUM.
The cover of Hannah Baer’s book TRANS GIRL SUICIDE MUSEUM.
trans girl suicide museum, by hannah baer. Hesse Press, 2019.

“My pronouns are she/her/suicidality”

A title like trans girl suicide museum is its own trigger warning. That it fronts a ketamine journal / meme starter pack about transitioning signals hannah baer’s brand of dark humor and her taste for glib, self-aware provocation.

The metaphorical “trans girl suicide museum” places baer’s transition against a gruesome history of violence toward trans women. This includes all those pushed to die by suicide. The image of a suicide museum concatenated with the darker side of my own experiences of body dysphoria, as well as encounters with both internalized and external transphobia: a precarious experience of gender that can feel adjacent to death. I remember the first time I wore a skirt in public—on the bus to a club—I kept imagining a coroner’s exhibit of my own body, splayed in blood. …

“Emerging is one of your favorite things to do. You could walk up and out of an underground station forever.”

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Careen, by Grace Shuyi Liew. Noemi Press, 2019. Poetry, 83 pages.

Grace Shuyi Liew sketches a world where “wrong” blooms, froths out of place. Careen, her first full-length book, is a dream abduction, off the rails. Hyper-enjambment keeps everything spinning, dashes resist closure — everything shifts surreally. Displacement is a jarring form of being, and Liew continually re-orients herself towards a world made strange.

From the get-go, we’re moving and we don’t stop:

I have since moved from a house by the train tracks to
another house
by another train tracks and every
night the train horn wakes me at
6am;
5am;
3 am;
tricks me
into believing the earth
is shattering from its…

“In the swimming school of souls over the talking desert”

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Photo by Ryan Greene.

While out west last month to visit my long-distance partner, I went on a roadtrip to Phoenix. One of my trip highlights was an encounter with Cardboard House Press, an independent publisher of bilingual Latin American poetry. I attended their free book arts workshop Cartonera Collective Phoenix, facilitated by Raquel Denis and Ryan Greene (whose translation of Ana Belén López’s rojo si pudiera ser rojo // red if it could be red is forthcoming from Anomalous Press). …

The Great Believers, #PrEP4Love, and the limits of moral imagination.

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The Great Believers, by Rebecca Makkai. Penguin Random House, 2018. 432 pp, fiction.

Within my queer Chicago circles at least, Rebecca Makkai’s The Great Believers felt like the book of the summer — a weighty queer ensemble novel chronicling the lasting impact of AIDS in Chicago. Early reviewers made comparisons to A Little Life (also penned by a straight cis women) and even Angels in America.

The Great Believers unfolds in parallel plots in 1985 and 2015, exploring overarching theme of care-taking and familial loss, both chosen and biological. The 1985 thread primarily follows a gay male friend group in Boystown affected by AIDS, focusing primarily on Yale’s dreams as he leaves a fraught relationship and starts a new curatorial job. But the novel’s central character is a straight white woman named Fiona, a sister of one of those men who passed away who becomes a friend and ally to the remaining members of the group. …

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BLOODMUCK, by Linette Reeman. The Atlas Review, 2018. Poetry, 37 pp.

[Content warning: rape, police, addiction, blood, reclaimed slurs, self-harm]

Linette Reeman doesn’t mince words. Every poem in their chapbook BLOODMUCK has bite. Reeman tears apart appearances, in an attempt to break out of what feels like a suffusive and inevitable cycle of trauma. Self-incisive and direct, BLOODMUCK hunts for an origin story for the pain, whether that’s genes or schooling or biblical creation myths.

A prelude line “so what are you? an etymology” suggestively points a path towards Reeman’s methods: pulling apart layers, rewinding to trace the original wound. Wound up so tight, unraveling requires unlearning. …

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WITH by Noah Fields. Ghost City Press, 2018. 21 pp, poetry.

Dear Matt,

Our long distance, our longing distance. We go along a long way, our longing way. Alonging this distance.

We are fundamentally relational creatures, but how do we care for one another? How do we acknowledge and make space for our radical contingency? Especially across distance: how can we maintain the strength of our “we”, our covalent bonding “with” across width? Can I write my way a little bit closer to you?

I’m writing this on my plane ride back to the states. I’m writing this as I get closer to you, but I know I’m not closing the gap entirely. You’ve moved to another state now, after all. …

Books To Watch Out For

Corporations may have taken the rainbow filter off of their Twitter avs, but we’re here for queer and trans lit year-round. (Besides, we hear it’s still Pride in Europe.)

1. FABULOUS: THE RISE OF THE BEAUTIFUL ECCENTRIC, by Madison Moore

“The story I’m telling is about fabulousness as a queer aesthetic, an essence that allows marginalized people and social outcasts to regain their humanity and creativity, not necessarily to boast about power.” Enter the world of clubs, vogue balls, and street fashion and never look back. Oh — and don’t miss the color plates! Snatch it from Yale University Press.

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2. NOT HERE, by Hieu Minh Nguyen

Ignore Nguyen’s warning that he knows “not a damn thing” about trust or forgiveness: his sophomore book is all aching wisdom. Where can you find Not Here?

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Production photo from Travis Alabanza’s BEFORE I STEP OUTSIDE (YOU LOVE ME) at Brown University.

This is one of two simultaneous performance reviews of Travis Albanza’s BEFORE I STEP OUTSIDE (YOU LOVE ME) Anomaly is publishing (see also: “About Me, For Me, By Me, Near Me: Travis Alabanza’s Radical Narcissism” by Anh Vo). Performance is ephemeral: it sparks layered discourse then dissipates, leaving only traces in the minds of those lucky enough to be in the audience. In this case, two Anomaly reviewers shared the experience of a special U.S. performance by U.K. emerging artist Travis Alabanza at Black Lavender Experience. Two gender-nonconforming critics, both deeply moved, recuperating the material traces of memory as performative (and reverberative) steps out, towards potential liberations. In laying these responses side by side, we hope to propel conversations about the subjectivity of witnessing and documenting trans performance art. …

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Photo courtesy Tommy Pico.

I’m interested in the ruptures, in the ugly, in the mess. I wanted to redeem and give value to the stuff that most people overlook. Also I like dick.

A completely singular queer indigenous poet from Brooklyn, Tommy Pico is revitalizing the epic form by writing sprawling, messy, conversational book-length poems for the Tumblr generation. His three books to date — IRL (Birds, LLC, 2016), Nature Poem (Tin House, 2017), and, just out this month, Junk (Tin House, 2018) — boldly & baldly take on identity, sex, city life, pop culture, memes, art, junk food, and much more. Oh, and did I fail to mention how high-key hilarious he is? But I’m not alone in my love for Teebs. …

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Cadavers by Néstor Perlongher, Cardboard House Press, 2018. 44 pp, poetry.

The skeletons won’t be kept in the closet. They’re hidden everywhere, haunting everything: “Under the brush / In the scrub / Upon the bridges / In the canals / There Are Cadavers.” So begins Néstor Perlonger’s masterpiece Cadavers — newly released in a beautiful Spanish/English bilingual edition from Cardboard House Press, translated by Roberto Echavarren and Donald Wellman— a restless queer elegy for victims of Argentina’s Dirty War.

From 1974–1983, a right-wing military junta (installed by the CIA’s Operation Condor in South America) ushered in a violent era for Argentina. Colonial-enabled state terrorism targeted leftist dissidents including students, journalists, and artists. At least 30,000 people became los desaparecidos — the disappeared, who were secretly kidnapped, detained, or killed by the state. Perlongher, a poet and gay rights activist, fled Buenos Aires for refuge in São Paolo. …

About

Noa/h Fields

queer + nonbinary writer. chapbook out from ghost city press.

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