news | Tuesday June 20, 2023
June is Pride Month and this year especially, at a time when the rights of LGBTQIA2+ people are under attack, we want to celebrate the bold and revolutionary voices of the LGBTQIA2+ community. We have had the tremendous joy of working with many incredible queer and gender-diverse authors working in poetry, theatre, non-fiction, and more. We’d love to highlight some of these amazing texts of the last few years.
The first book we’d like to share is Kisses Deep by Michel Marc Bouchard and translated by Linda Gaboriau. This moving work asks questions about whether art can build the necessary bridges between hurt parties, whether or not it has redemptive power.
From “Kisses Deep”:
Too late. Béatrice Lessard, I am arresting you for obstruction
of a police officer’s duty.
We were doing fine. Everything was fine.
If you hadn’t skipped school! If you’d gone to school!
The sound of an ambulance siren in the distance. MARYSE, BÉATRICE, and SGT. RÉGIS disappear.
(scratching his scalp frantically) A police car for my mother!
The ambulance for Madame Maryse! … One helluva show
for a two-bit place like this. If only I hadn’t skipped school.
Another amazing recent work is Moving the Centre. Moving the Centre contains two plays, Small Axe by Andrew Kushnir and Freedom Singer by Khari Wendell McClelland. Small Axe charts the quest of a queer white playwright, Andrew Kushnir, who – because of an unsettling moment with a friend – feels a pull towards investigating homophobia in Jamaica. What starts as an artist researching an injustice to which he feels some kinship, evolves into a startling excavation of self and the stories we claim of others.
From Small Axe:
“I came out to my mother on the Deerfoot Highway in Calgary. She had – she was driving me to the airport because I was taking a trip with some friends. Moments earlier I had said goodbye to my then boyfriend – she had no idea that he was my boyfriend – but I was giving him a hug goodbye in our entryway – he had popped by to wish me a good trip – I gave him a hug and my mother came around the corner and, uh, and I sent him off. And as soon as I closed the door on him, my mother said, ‘What is going on? Boys don’t hug like that.’ I had a flight to catch, so we hopped into the Jeep Cherokee and we had this (1) conversation hurtling down the Deerfoot at 130 kilometres an hour. And I could barely focus, I could barely focus because all I could think was that in all these books I’d been reading on how to come out to your parents, in every single book it said, ‘Under no circumstances should you ever, ever come out to a parent who is driving a vehicle.’”
Another excellent recent text is still by Anahita Jamali Rad, a poetry collection with its eyes fixed on change, action, and inaction. A self-withdrawn, hidden presence: silent inactivity, affective and extractive capitalism, surveillance and commodification of behaviour, non-participation, withdrawn complicity, non-subjectivity and refusing a gaze, paralysis in time of crisis – what non-doing undoes.
From “A Study of the Materially Inclined” in still:
“before the assumption that there is an end
there is boredom, suffering, and generalized pain
a textile covers
a crumpled garment on the bed
a lopsided shoe or teetering glass
papers strewn or folded neatly
people come and go, nature acts
real or unreal, time passes inadvertently”
Have you checked out #postdildo by Danielle LaFrance Subversive, witty, and philosophical, this poetry collection considers the limitations and limitlessness of sexuality, communication, and desire. Focusing on the dildo as sexual object and social relation, LaFrance asks, “How shall You fuck without causing harm?”
From “For A Love of Garbage” in #postdildo:
“There it was
on a red garbled dumpster. You +
I came hard to a same synchronic school
of thought. There it was:
a new cultural turn offering new use values
for a decapitated society.”
Lastly, we are so pleased to announce the forthcoming release of the berry takes the shape of the bloom by andrea bennett. This collection began as a linear narrative, offering a window into one trans person’s life after they felt contented and secure. But in the end these poems, which capture particular moments in time, may recur in any given present: sometimes what surfaces is anxiety or anger, sometimes love or eagerness. Some poems bear witness; others hold grudges or shake free of them. Together, they entwine around enmeshed experiences of gender, family, trans pregnancy, abuse, fear, and becoming.
From the berry takes the shape of the bloom:
“Before blueberries grow, they grow a bloom that looks like a proto berry. The berry then takes the shape of the bloom that came before it. The berry displaces the bloom that came before it … My mother bloomed and then I was a wave or a skateboard or a foraging deer. My mother bloomed and I did not displace her in the right way. Did I berry?”
Thank you to all of the LGBTQIA2+ authors who share their words, their thoughts, their experiences, and their joy with us, and to all of the LGBTQIA2+ readers who find community in their work.