In the busy lives we lead, it is easy to forget about some of the things that make us actually smile or laugh out loud. At the Atlas Performing Arts Center, I have found just the key. The Intersections Festival is an amalgamation of dance, theater, music, creativity and audience participation that pulls together artists from around the world to around the corner. The festival performances questions the bounds of many of issues in society, from racial issue to gender to norms about passion and compassion. Moreover, there are several sessions either before or after performances in which the audience can talk and participate in workshops led by the artists.
When we come to understand ourselves as queer, we look back on our childhoods and try to understand our journeys into the people we are now. This poem is a message I wish I could send to myself at this moment in my queer childhood.
When I was very young (and scared)
And my friends were more than I could bear
I would play hide and seek with no one.
My hideaway was the closet, and I sought my comfort there.
It was close with coats and dim with dust
Except for the little plastic stars
Glowing green in that tiny dark
Taped to the walls and ceiling.
I hung up my fears, and in there, night
Was vast in my imagination
And from the little plastic stars
I dreamed my constellations.
This is a poem about kink from my perspective as a queer lady dom. NSFW language below the cut.
She is soft and she is hard;
The gates to parts of her are barred.
I would not have it otherwise
For there are those who’d try to prise
The softnesses she’s gathered in
From where they’re better kept within. Continue reading
I keep many poetry anthologies on my bookshelf, and I am always disappointed when these collections don’t give lady poets their due. Some of my favorite poetry is written by queer women, but most people don’t know about our contributions to the rich traditions of poetry. Here are five queer women whose poems you should go read today.
1. Sister Juana Inés de la Cruz (1651 – 1695)
Juana Inés de la Cruz was the illegitimate child of a Spanish captain and a mixed-race Mexican woman. She is a great example of an early feminist. She fought for her own education, becoming a nun so she could continue her study, and advocated for the education of all women. She even wrote poetry against the patriarchy (translation from Spanish is mine):
Foolish men, who accuse
women, for no good reason,
without seeing that they are the cause
of all which they blame us for;
if you with your overeagerness
earn their disdain
then why do you want them to do good
when you spur them on to evil?
She also had an intense relationship with María Luisa, the vicereine of Mexico. Few historical details are known about the nature of this relationship, but the poems Sister de la Cruz wrote to María Elena speak for themselves.
Babe let’s go on vacation to Toronto!
Secretly I’m having one of those moments where I just want to leave.
Be anywhere anywhere else but here.
Secretly I am hoping to scope out Canada.
See if I could build a life at the end of the Underground Railroad.
See if perhaps it is the magical place I am running to in dreams that leave my teeth pounding in pain.
Maybe I could raise a son there, maybe he would be safe!
Maybe I could call for help in times of trouble without fearing for my life!
Maybe they would love me.
Then I remember.
I do not belong there.
I belong here, and only here.
Which, really, means I belong nowhere at all.
Am truly seen nowhere at all
Am safe nowhere at all
Usually I shield myself from such thoughts.
With outrage, activism, avoidance, apathy
Sometimes, too well
So that when the face of a missing black girl ignored by the media scrolls across my timeline
I don’t even click share.
So that when another child is hunted down
I don’t even follow the latest.
But today I am having one of those moments when the pain slips through all my mental dams.
Rises thick and swift and hard through the air of my mind.
Today it hurts.
I, like many, was a child who was bullied. Constantly and for years. I had it harder than some, not as hard as others. I was never physically attacked (besides the occasional shove here and there), my experience was mostly bullying through insult and exclusion. And while having to deal with that was hard, what made it harder was the fact that no one was capable of supporting me effectively.
Trigger warning for violence.
Hey Susan, did you hear? There was a shooting this morning.
Sitting at my desk, a huge shock at first;
A subtle understanding, a callous, calming numbness;
I’m fine, my friends are too–why worry?
Hey Susan, did you hear? Four are confirmed dead.
I shouldn’t interrupt my work.
Best to put it out of mind.
I’ll put the news on now, but low.
Hey Susan, did you hear? The gunman’s still at large; there may be more than one; 6 schools nearby on lockdown; called mom to say I’m safe.
Thanks, good, glad we’re safe too.
Did you want me to get something done now?
It may be a while.
Hey Susan, did you hear? The death toll’s up to 12.
How not to be distracted? How best to make it stop?
There’s no way to be proactive;
prayer’s really all I’ve got.