Resilience Reading Coming to Word Up this Saturday!

We hope you can make it!

Hey everyone!  As this image indicates, there’s going to be a Resilience reading and open mic this Saturday, March 17th from 3-5 PM at Word Up!  It will feature Resilience editor Eric Nguyen, and Resilience authors from the New York area, Bill Elenbark, Anne E. Johnson, Emma Eden Ramos, James R. Silvestri, and me.  We’re planning to read our pieces from the book and then to open things up for other people to read their work, ask questions, discuss the project, etc.

To make the week delightfully resilient all around, my fellow authors have written guest posts for this blog, which I will start posting tomorrow, and continue posting throughout the week.  So– if you want an appetizer for the lovely writing you’ll be hearing on Saturday, or if you can’t make the reading and you want to participate virtually, please come by all week and check things out.

And don’t forget that your stories are always welcome here.  🙂

Of course, if you are in the New York City area, please come by to the reading on Saturday.  We want to have a gay old Saint Patrick’s Day with you.  And especially, if you know any young folks who could use some strengthening words, please pass the message along.

Advertisements

(P)reviews of Resilience + Guest Blogging Series Inaugural Announcement!

Hi all!

It has come to my attention that Resilience has been featured in two previews– and they are exciting and laudatory!   Here’s the one: http://reviewsbyamoslassen.com/?p=14620 and here’s the other: http://asknicola.blogspot.com/2012/01/resilience.html.  Thank you, Amos Lassen and Nicola Griffith, for the warm welcome to this book!

Also, while writing that last post about my youth, something kept going through my mind: I really wanted to do something about the fact that there are such bounded and limited narratives of understanding sexuality that really have cultural currency.  It seems that everyone expects sexual attraction, interest, and experience to unfold in one of a very few ways, and I think there are tons of pieces of sexuality that get left out of that– and that gives us less of a sense of the richness and mystery of our sexualities and also leads to isolation, confusion, or shame about things that don’t necessarily fit into those narratives.  I think that’s part of the reason that I wrote about the particular things I did, which might not be included in a standard sexual awakening/coming out story, especially since they didn’t really involve anyone else’s physical involvement or much attraction to other women!  But they are significant to my own understanding of my own sexuality.

So, while thinking about all this, I was also thinking about how I wanted to have some guest blogging series on here, on many topics that I think could use a mosaic of stories which will honor all kinds of narratives and experiences, sexuality being one.

I mentioned this to a friend while we discussed my post, and she, thrillingly, immediately wrote a tale of her own sexual experience, including ways it did not fit in with the narrative she had been led to expect.  I’m very excited about this and will post it soon!

I also want to open the discussion up to the rest of you:  if you are intrigued and pleased by this idea, send me a story about your sexuality, its origins, its boundaries, its secrets or surprises… whatever you want.  Whatever you haven’t found a place to tell.  No length requirements or limits!  I may edit them for grammar and whatnot, and I’ll let you know if there’s other editing I’d prefer to do.  Please don’t send anything that expresses contempt for other people, and other than that I’ll let you know if your piece is not something I feel comfortable with for whatever reason.  Also, if you haven’t had sex, I am still deeply interested in stories of your sexuality– I don’t want people to feel that they must have had some particular experience to qualify.

If you would like, I can write up some prompts and questions to get you thinking, but feel free to just write!

I look forward to reading your stories!  And don’t forget to go and get Resilience while the sale is on!  https://www.lulu.com/commerce/index.php?fBuyContent=12440418

P.S. I realized that if you wanted to do this but don’t know me personally, you wouldn’t know where to send your post!  If that’s your situation, just leave me a comment and I will send you contact info.

Resilience is Here!

Here it is!  I’m so excited about this collection of writing for queer youth, and also excited about the project it benefits.  I always feel like it’s cheating to come all the way here just to give you a brief plug, so I’ll put it on top, and then I’ll tell you a story, so no matter what you are looking for (quick?  elaborate?) you can have it.   Here’s the link to buy the book:  http://www.lulu.com/product/paperback/resilience-stories-poems-essays-words-for-lgbt-teens/18821334, and here’s the link to the info about the book: http://betterbookproject.blogspot.com/.  It’s on sale (10% off) for the next two weeks, so get it hot off the presses and your pocketbook will thank you.  I also hope your brain, heart, soul, skin, etc, will all thank you too.  Certainly the Make it Safer project and all the other authors and the editor and I will thank you!

I really, really hope you like it.  And if you are a teacher or a young person yourself, I would love to hear what you think about it as a gift to young folks, since that is what it is intended to be.  I know the poem I wrote is very grounded, not only in my experience as a teen and young adult (am I still a young adult?  I must be on a similar threshold as when I was about 16 or 17 and started thinking, “Am I an adult now?  I might be.  I’m definitely closer to being an adult than I was… I think I might be an adult!!”), but specifically in the way of engaging with and viewing that world that helped give me some of the resilience I found throughout that time.  My dad always gave me fairy tales, along with interpretation, from Clarissa Pinkola Estes’ book, Women Who Run With the Wolves.  I would sit on his couch, in his basement apartment, and he would sit in his chair, and read to me from the book, and we would talk about it.

I think this is one of many things that gave me the feeling that I could slip on mythic stories like a second skin, and look around and see what I found while wearing them.

And what I found?  Well, I promised you a story.  I’ve been thinking a lot, with the advent of this collection, about myself as a teenager– in what ways I was resilient, in what ways I was queer.  Not necessarily the ordinary ways, I think, if there are ordinary ways to be these things.  I liked boys– and just boys, or at least that’s what I thought.  And I thought about it, carefully.  I thought about the girls in class I found the prettiest, and I compared my feelings for them to feelings for the boys I found the prettiest, and I decided these were qualitatively different, and therefore I was straight.  What’s interesting is that I still find my attractions to different genders qualitatively different, in some ways, from each other– I just no longer think that makes me straight.  Also, through unfortunate happenstance (as I thought then) and/or some kind of internal protective design (as I partially suspect now), I did not really get to test these feelings on the level of flesh and blood.

But then there was the world of story, of books I read and pages I wrote, with absolute erotic attention, whether I was dealing with sex or not.

A trajectory, then, of my queer journey through books and writing.  I’m going to tell you some of my secrets:

The first sex scene I wrote was implied, in a play, between a male human and a fairy woman.

The first explicit scene I wrote was in prose, between a male bird creature and a human woman.  The language of this scene borrowed heavily from A House Like a Lotus by Madeleine L’Engle, the book to which I lost my readerly virginity.

Somewhere in this time (maybe I was fourteen now, or fifteen?) I discovered two of my intense readerly crushes: Lucius Cornelius Sulla as portrayed in Colleen McCullough’s Masters of Rome series, and Anne Rice’s Vampire Lestat.  They were violent, beautiful, rampantly bisexual men.  I was rapt with attention for sex between men.  I thought this might be kind of strange.  I analyzed it.   I did not talk about it.  I thought maybe it was that I could thus imagine what I wanted without being implicated directly, in the flesh, in the act.  I thought there was something queer about it, for sure.

I read more.  Tales of the City by Armistead Maupin and Kiss of the Fur Queen by Tomson Highway.  My economics teacher, who was rumored himself to be gay, and then to be straight, and then to be gay again, out of nebulous unfounded evidence, paused to look at the covers.  He’d read Tales but found it too soap opera-ish.  He wanted to borrow Fur Queen.  I thought to myself: Was he trying to tell me something?  Were we entering in to some kind of agreement of mutual recognition?

I haunted the gay and lesbian section of Borders.  That’s where I got my Tales, and where I looked at all the other books.  I wondered if someone would see me there.  I– this I still find queer and fascinating– I wouldn’t buy Annie on my Mind, though I looked at it, time after time, curious.  There was something about standing in the checkout line with that one that stymied me.

I began writing a saga about Pilate.  Yeah, that Pilate, the one from the Bible.  Most of what I actually wrote centered around his intense adolescent affair with his male tutor, a Greek (duh) fellow named Claudius (not so Greek-sounding, really) who resented his subservient position and eventually betrayed his youthful lover, despite his genuine feelings for the lad.  This was a problem, especially as both of Pilate’s parents were fairly sadistic and nuts, in very different ways.  I sound flippant now– but I’m protecting myself.  I can still feel what it was like to write them tumbling to the library floor.

And somewhere in there, I got out of high school.

I’m not actually sure I’ve changed much, and yet I know that I’ve changed a great deal.  I hope you like my secrets, and that you see in them, as I do, both queerness and resilience, which I was only beginning to come into then, and which I am still coming into now.

Now, please go buy the book, and, if you feel like it, leave me a comment with your own secret of resilience or queerness.  It doesn’t matter how old you are or who you actually like to have sex with.  I think maybe we all have them.

It's gonna be even more exciting to hold in your hands and read!

Resilience Galleys for your viewing pleasure

 

 

Resilience: Coming January 24th (so don’t give up yet!)

Resilience Galleys for your viewing pleasure

So, after the It Gets Better project started, I spent some time imagining the video I would make for it.  I thought about it as I was walking to work in New Jersey.  It was a bit of a long walk, and involved a short cut through this sort of overgrown parking lot, where there were lots of tall grasses and Queen Anne’s Lace growing over everything.  I always liked this part of the walk.  It was like a pause in the regular progress of the day and my mind.

I’d been thinking about It Gets Better, and thinking about how I wanted to say that it mattered that people stay alive, even if they don’t go on to have awesome careers and financial stability or a terrific love life according to legible social standards, or… anything, in particular.  I wanted to say that queer young people and everyone else are needed for reasons deeper and more mysterious than this, and also more fundamental.  I paused among all the grasses and flowers, and it occurred to me that what I wanted to say was that people are needed to see the world in the exact way that only they can see it.  It felt important, right then, that I was there looking at the life all around me, even though there would be no tangible consequence of this, probably, even though I wouldn’t describe myself at a “grass and flower and bug looker ater” when people asked me what I do.  What I thought right then is that you never know when it is that you are seeing the world as only you can see it, participating in it, in that particular moment, as only you can.  Seeing bugs and smelling flowers as they need to be seen and smelled.

I never made the video, but a little bit after that I found a call for submissions for a collection of words, stories, poems, and essays aimed at queer youth.  It was due the next day, so I sat down and wrote a poem.  I called it “To A Young Person Who Has Not Yet Realized She is Embarking on a Fairy Tale.”

So, my other response, and then one I actually put into the world, about this whole queer youth support thing, is full of fairy tale imagery and mythical frameworking.  I wonder how it relates to my first idea.  I would like them to be the same, somehow.  The grand quest and the moment of seeing in an overgrown parking lot.  God knows I love them both.

I submitted my poem, and it was accepted, and now there is a whole beautiful book, including my poem and many other poems and stories and essays and words,  called Resilience, coming out January 24th.

The money from the book is going to a project called the Make it Safe project, which provides LGBT themed books, fiction and non-fiction to schools and shelters that may not have any material representing queer folks.

I hope you all will buy the book, read it, love it, support the various projects implicated in it, and live your lives like you’re in a fairy tale and the invisible moments of looking might matter most of all.

Here’s where you can find the book:

http://betterbookproject.blogspot.com/

Also on facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/ResilienceBook and twitter:  https://twitter.com/ResilienceBook