Pride Reads: More Trans and Non-Binary BIPOC Authors

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.

Pride Reads: BIPOC Trans/Non-Binary Poets

Pride month is a great time to be delving deeper into poetry, and in particular the kind of poetry that shares aspects of LGBTQIA+ experience. More specifically, voices that are often pushed to the margins of the queer community – the voices of trans and non-binary Black, Indigenous, People of Color – are especially important to seek out during this time. The books listed in this post are written by trans and non-binary BIPOC and whose writing is born directly out of those experiences.

Why Dust Shall Never Settle Upon This Soul by Ryka Aoki
This is the first collection of poetry published by trans and Japanese American poet Ryka Aoki. The poems contained here are certainly working intentionally with her heritage and identity, but she has also been careful to make sure that her works appeal to a broader audience, as well. In an essay for Publisher’s Weekly, Aoki once wrote, “If a trans musician can make the audience cry by playing Chopin, how else, but as a human, can she be regarded? And if a book written by a queer trans Asian American can make you think of your own beaches, your own sunsets, or the dear departed grandmother you loved so much…. then what more powerful statement of our common humanity can there be?” This sentiment certainly shines through in her writing here.

Homie by Danez Smith
A brand new release from 2020, Homie is the critical smash-hit sophomore book from Black and non-binary poet Danez Smith. The poems collected here thematically encircle the search for friendship and intimacy in a racialized and gendered world, where those things always seem so incredibly difficult to achieve for those who experience life at the intersections of various systems of oppression. Specifically inspired by Smith’s loss of a close friend, there is a lot of anger and loss captured in this writing. But, readers will also find the collection to be a call to action of sorts, with its beautiful depiction of the tenderness, warmth, care, and joy that can exist between Black and queer people despite the struggles that come along with living in those identities. This one is a joy to read and perfect inspiration for anyone looking to revolutionize the way they love this Pride.

My Woman Card Is anti-Native & Other Two-Spirit Truths by Xemiyulu Manibusan Tapepechul (Nawat)
This is a beautiful collection of poetry in a variety of forms (haiku, sonnet, and free-verse) from Xemiyulu Manibusan Tapepechul, a Two-Spirit, trans womxn Siwayul artist and activist from Kuskatan (El Salvador). The collection is an opportunity to engage with a drastically underrepresented perspective on Native identity, namely that of Two-Spirit, queer, trans, and otherwise marginalized Native voices. The author’s poetry explores what colonially-derived concepts of queerness, gender, and femininity mean in relationship to their indigeneity and surviving under colonialism, and, in sharing these experiences, offers a great opportunity for readers to engage with those ideas and conceptualize what love, identity, medicine, and gender expression might look like outside the Eurocentric categorical boundaries imposed by colonialism.

     ~ Post by Hannah P.

Documentaries for Pride

Even though Pride events and in-person festivities are cancelled this year, it is still possible to celebrate LGBTQ resilience from the comfort of your home – and the Library can help with that! Aside from going out to protests and engaging with written content by queer authors, there are also lots of video resources available to you with your library card. Your barcode and PIN number will give you access to lots of documentaries, movies, and other online video content through platforms such as Kanopy. Here are three great queer history documentaries of varying lengths to get you started:

After Stonewall. A 90-minute documentary from filmmakers Dan Hunt, Janet Baus, and John Scagliotti, After Stonewall details the LGBTQ rights movement beginning in the early 1970s until the end of the 20th century. It is the sequel to Before Stonewall, which focuses on the fight for LGBTQ rights prior to the movement’s watershed moment with the riots of 1969. After is particularly poignant in its treatment of the ordeals that LGBTQ people went through during the AIDS crisis of the 1980s and how this political crisis impacted the type of activism that the movement turned towards at the end of the century. Continue reading “Documentaries for Pride”

Shakespeare Shows and Shorts on Kanopy

If you’re like me, you’ve been spending the past few months missing going out to see plays and performance in Seattle’s theatre scene. As the days get warmer and brighter and summer seems just around the corner, we still don’t know whether we will be able to enjoy Shakespeare in the Park season as we have in past years. Of course nothing can make up for the experience of seeing the Bard performed live, but there ARE some excellent shorts, feature films, and recorded theatre productions based on Shakespeare’s work available on Kanopy. Here are just a few to get you started:

Macbeth, directed by Robert Goold

Starring Sir Patrick Stewart and Kate Fleetwood as Macbeth and Lady M, this film from 2003 sets the action onto a contemporary, vaguely “central European” backdrop with stylistic nods to Soviet propaganda artwork. It is also shot on location in an underground English abbey, giving us a very intense, intimate experience as viewers. The movie is based on a hugely successful play Continue reading “Shakespeare Shows and Shorts on Kanopy”

Pride Reads: Black Women Writers

This Pride month, as the world is rising up in solidarity with American cities protesting against racism, white supremacy, and police brutality, it is sobering to think about the many Black, queer lives that have been lost to these oppressive systems. As queer people, it is also a great time to remember that we celebrate Pride each year to commemorate the Stonewall Riots of 1969, which were led by Black trans women in protest against police brutality. Although Black femmes have always been vocal leaders in our queer community, they are also most likely to face discrimination, harassment, and violence, and to have their voices silenced by others among us. Every Pride month, we should remember that Pride was not established to be a party, but a protest – and a protest against systemic racial oppression, at that. To help you do so, here are three books by Black queer women for you to read as Seattle’s queer community grieves and resists alongside our Black community this June. Continue reading “Pride Reads: Black Women Writers”