Have you already blown through the last list of poetry by trans and non-binary Black, Indigenous, and People of Color that was posted on Shelf Talk? Well, you are in look, because we’re back with even more amazing reads by trans BIPOC voices. This time, the list includes writing in both poetry and novel formats, and some of them are even available as E-Books on OverDrive – all you need is your Library card, an internet connection, and a compatible device and you’ll be able to access them without ever leaving your home.
Holy Wild by Gwen Benaway
Holy Wild, released in 2018, is the third collection of poetry from Gwen Benaway, who identifies as a trans woman of Anishinaabe and Métis descent. She is also currently a PhD candidate in Gender and Women’s Studies at the University of Toronto. This poetry collection draws extensively on her own encounters with transphobia and how this has intersected with her experience as an Indigenous person in Canada, and ties these intensely individual, personal experiences into the macro historical, social, and political legacies of colonial violence they are ultimately derived from. The poems are also multilingual, utilizing both English and Anishinaabemowin (Ojibwe), which definitely adds to both their dynamism and portrayal of her experience.
When the Chant Comes by Kay Ulanday Barrett
Another poetry collection, When the Chant Comes was released in 2016 by Kay Ulanday Barrett, a multi-disciplinary artist who identifies as disabled, pin@y-amerikan, transgender, and queer (more on his website). This collection explores all of these identities and the political questions they pose, especially looking at how living with sickness/disability informs Barrett’s racialized and gendered experience. His poetry also takes an explicitly anti-colonial stance towards living in the United States. The mood of this collection is lively, its form is tight and well-crafted, and there is plenty of humor interwoven throughout. This is a stellar read for Pride month!
Freshwater by Akwaeke Emezi
Freshwater is a 2017 debut novel from Nigerian-American non-binary author Akwaeke Emezi that somewhat autobiographically explores their own trans experience through the lens of multiple personalities and fragmented identity. It tells the story of a young Nigerian woman named Ada whose experience of having multiple people living in her one body (due to being born “with one foot on the other side”) causes challenges between herself and her very conservative Nigerian family. When she moves to America for college, and has a traumatic experience, her personalities begin to take over her psyche with dangerous results. Throughout the book Emezi employs some interesting literary devices throughout the novel as the action is narrated in turn by Ada’s many selves, and it also is rooted in Igbo traditions and mythology. The novel was selected for the National Book Awards 5 Under 35 and has received extensive critical acclaim, especially for its strength as a debut.
~ Posted by Hannah P.