Isn’t it Queer?: Poetry Soup for Achy Souls

BannerWe may be living in a culture that worships doctors and Barbies. It may be kind of shitty. We are perpetually inundated with media that is “by the cis-male for the cis-male,” “tits, ass and football!” and trying to live and thrive as a marginalized identity can lend itself to feeling lonely, invisible, disenfranchised and ostracized. Sometimes our ability to swiftly jump the gender binary, despite us knowing how talented and strong that makes us, can instead make us the target of unnecessary scrutiny by the painfully uninformed. Sometimes being a person of color who embraces your hair and the darkness of your skin, rather than adopting white norms of beauty can make you an outsider, rather than the fashion pioneer that we know you are.

For those of us that work in industries where the main topic of conversation with co-workers is barely able to surpass the Super Bowl commercials or whoever is currently arguing with Kim Kardashian on Twitter, it can leave us hungry for more substantial interactions and more meaningful dialogue. This is especially true for those of us living alternative lifestyles because we are already combating an un-inclusive cultural environment on top of the job problems, the I-had-a-fucking-crazy-childhood-problems, and the I can’t-fucking-afford-gas problems, that everyone else is dealing with. We all need small talk to blow off steam, don’t get me wrong, but how often is that small talk affirming of our non-cis, lgbtq, or poc identity? Never? Yeah me too. So for today’s episode of, Isn’t it Queer? I will be showcasing poetry exclusively from women of color, queer/trans/non-cis individuals, and individuals with alternative love preferences, with the intention of bringing healing food to your achy soul. Poetry is the keyhole we peer into, to find where our soul hides out when it is injured. These poems come from the pain, passion and struggle of their authors and are born with a variety of intentions. Poetry can be built with the intention of healing, of commiserating, of illuminating or of vocalizing a point of view that is overlooked by the mainstream ear. So, with love and compassionate revolution, I bring you poetry to sooth of the achy soul:

 Donna Kate Rushin

I highly recommend that every person on the planet read this incredible, groundbreaking collection of poetry and essays. This Bridge Called My Back: Writings by Radical Women of Color. Here is a sample by Donna Kate Rushin, The Bridge Called My Back:

I’ve had enough 
I’m sick of seeing and touching 
Both sides of things 
Sick of being the damn bridge for everybody

Nobody 
Can talk to anybody 
Without me Right?

I explain my mother to my father my father to my little sister 
My little sister to my brother my brother to the white feminists 
The white feminists to the Black church folks the Black church folks 
To the Ex-hippies the ex-hippies to the Black separatists the 
Black separatists to the artists the artists to my friends’ parents…

Then 
I’ve got the explain myself 
To everybody

I do more translating 
Than the Gawdamn U.N.

Forget it 
I’m sick of it

I’m sick of filling in your gaps

Sick of being your insurance against 
The isolation of your self-imposed limitations 
Sick of being the crazy at your holiday dinners 
Sick of being the odd one at your Sunday Brunches 
Sick of being the sole Black friend to 34 individual white people

Find another connection to the rest of the world 
Find something else to make you legitimate 
Find some other way to be political and hip

I will not be the bridge to your womanhood 
Your manhood 
Your human-ness

I’m sick of reminding you not to 
Close off too tight for too long

I’m sick of mediating with your worst self 
On behalf you your better selves

I am sick 
Of having to remind you 
To breathe 
Before you suffocate 
Your own fool self

Forget it 
Stretch or drown 
Evolve or die

The bridge I must be 
Is the bridge to my own power 
I must translate 
My own fears 
Mediate 
My own weaknesses

I must be the bridge to nowhere 
But my true self 
And then 
I will be useful

 I personally adore this piece because of it’s affirming nature. The message that we are not obligated to be people’s interpreters or curators but they are instead obligated to research and explore the things they do not understand. Sometimes I read this one mid-workday to remind me not to take on other people’s ignorance as my personal battle.

 Janani Balasubramanian

Now, dear readers, let’s hear some spoken word. Go on Poet, don’t be nice! Poet and author, Janani Balasubramanian’s, “trans/national,” illustrates the plurality of masculinity through his family’s response to his transition, he ties in colonialism, white masculinity, and misogyny and in general just kicks a bunch of ass.

Balasubramanian’s visceral expression is a powerful commitment to resist male and white privilege, to hold and embrace his culture and family, and to be authentically him. What commitments do you own enough to announce them boldly?

 Nayyirah Waheed

Holy Shit buy Salt, by Nayyirah Waheed. I was introduced to this incredible woman’s poetry by my co-blogger Lyneonme. Her poetry has the purifying power of it’s clever title and it will open and heal you. Waheed’s, Salt, is a series of short poems that builds a fertile soil for your empowerment and personal growth, and if ever there was a poet that will incite your healing, she is that poet. With gratitude, I bring you a few of her gorgeous missives:

“if 
the ocean 
can calm itself, 
so can you.
we 
are both 
salt water 
mixed with 
air.”

“i love myself.’

the 
quietest.
simplest. 
most
powerful.
revolution. 
ever.” 

“remember,
you were a writer 
before
you ever 
put 
pen to paper.
just because you were not writing 
externally. 
does not mean you were not writing
internally.” 

“you
not wanting me
was
the beginning of me
wanting myself
thank you” 

“expect sadness
like
you expect rain.
both,
cleanse you.” 

 -To your personal revolts and riots and especially to your learning,

Cory

———-

Cory is a poet and novelist in the Los Angeles area. They have worked in mental health, education, social justice and fashion blogging and they aim to lead by example by bravely living an examined lifestyle.

“The learning process is something you can incite, literally incite, like a riot.”

Audre Lord

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Isn’t it Queer?: Our Legion of Closets

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We live in a wounded culture, one where each of us is required to not just “be in the [proverbial] closet,” about who we choose to love, but also to create a legion of closets within which we are required to confine our personal interests. One closet, say the one where we hide our sparkly, faux, patent-leather, unicorn-shaped paddle for our weekly spankings may not be the same closet in which we hide our lipstick, platform heels, and formidable piles of sequins, from our straight male friends. One closet you may have the unbelievable strength to keep, is the one in which we hide our volcanic desire to live authentically, the one that drives us to show up for eight hours, armed to the toes, in black ballet flats and/or presentable button up shirts, rather than follow artistic wiles to do something genuine and inspiring… I call that one the career closet. Our identities are so begrudgingly entangled in the roles we are taught to play in order to survive, that we begin to believe that performing our roles in a satisfactory manner, makes us worthy of love and connection. No wonder so many of us feel trapped. Which is why for today’s entry I bring you, my lovely rainbow warriors, some of history’s most prolific radical artists and poets. These two women, Audre Lorde and Frida Kahlo both felt the unbearable tearing of their culture’s expectations. Both women rebelled and healed their wounds, with extraordinary art. Enjoy:

Frida Kahlo: A Woman With An Arizona Heart and a Bathtub Full of Tea
{Frida Kahlo: A Woman With An Arizona Heart and a Bathtub Full of Tea}

Kahlo, a radical supporter of the Mexican Revolution and the Communist movement in the 1940’s, and an openly bi-sexual woman, is now famous for her viscerally painted depictions of herself drenched in constant symbolic limbo, torn between two worlds. In Los Dos Fridas (1939), she depicts herself twice, her westernized self tries to stop the gushing of her blood from her open vein with surgical tools, as her somber insides soak her European style garb. Opposite herself, her indigenous self, holds her hand and continues to provide blood and life force to sustain both of them.

{Los Dos Fridas (1939)}
{Los Dos Fridas (1939)}

{Arbol de Esperanza (1946)}

{Arbol de Esperanza (1946)}

Advice on surviving love and life from a compassionate revolutionary:

” Leaving is not enough. You must stay gone. Train your heart like a dog. Change the locks even on the house he’s never visited. You lucky, lucky girl. You have an apartment just your size. A bathtub full of tea. A heart the size of Arizona, but not nearly so arid. Don’t wish away your cracked past, your crooked toes, your problems are paper mache puppets you made or bought because the vendor at the market was so compelling you just had to have them. You had to have him. And you did. And now you pull down the bridge between your houses, you make him call before he visits, you take a lover for granted, you take a lover who looks at you like maybe you are magic. Make the first bottle you consume in this place a relic. Place it on whatever altar you fashion with a knife and five cranberries. Don’t lose too much weight. Stupid girls are always trying to disappear as revenge. And you are not stupid. You loved a man with more hands than a parade of beggars, and here you stand. Heart like a four-poster bed. Heart like a canvas. Heart leaking something so strong they can smell it in the street.”

Audre Lorde: “Revolution is not a one time event.”

lorde

Audre Lorde, a black, lesbian, feminist, born of Caribbean immigrants and raised in Harlem, set a new precedent for activists and writers, regarding the intersectionality of oppressions in 1950-60s American culture. In Sister Outsider (1976-1984), she wrote,

“I find I am constantly being encouraged to pluck out some one aspect of myself and present this as the meaningful whole, eclipsing or denying the other parts of self.”

Bold spirited and relentlessly honest, Lorde’s poem Who Said It Was Simple (1973), concisely illustrates her disillusionment with white feminist colleagues, unaware of the blatant racism they witnessed, while they planned a women’s right’s demonstration (Irony loves those of us with the best intentions):

Who Said It Was Simple (1970)

“There are so many roots to the tree of anger   

that sometimes the branches shatter   

before they bear.

 

Sitting in Nedicks

the women rally before they march   

discussing the problematic girls   

they hire to make them free.

An almost white counterman passes   

a waiting brother to serve them first   

and the ladies neither notice nor reject   

the slighter pleasures of their slavery.   

But I who am bound by my mirror   

as well as my bed

see causes in colour

as well as sex

 

and sit here wondering   

which me will survive   

all these liberations.

Words from Lorde on how to heal during your many revolutions and rebirths:

For Each of You (1968)

“Be who you are and will be
learn to cherish
that boisterous Black Angel that drives you
up one day and down another
protecting the place where your power rises
running like hot blood
from the same source 
as your pain.

When you are hungry
learn to eat
whatever sustains you
until morning
but do not be misled by details
simply because you live them.

Do not let your head deny
your hands
any memory of what passes through them
not your eyes
nor your heart
everything can be used
except what is wasteful
(you will need
to remember this when you are accused of destruction.)
Even when they are dangerous examine the heart of those machines you hate
before you discard them
and never mourn the lack of their power
lest you be condemened
to relieve them.
If you do not learn to hate
you will never be lonely
enough
to love easily
nor will you always be brave
although it does not grow any easier

Do not pretend to convenient beliefs
even when they are righteous
you will never be able to defend your city
while shouting.

Remember whatever pain you bring back 
from your dreaming
but do not look for new gods
in the sea
nor in any part of a rainbow
Each time you love
love as deeply as if were
forever
only nothing is
eternal.

Speak proudly to your children
where ever you may find them
tell them
you are offspring of slaves
and your mother was
a princess
in darkness. “

Simply put, none of this is simple. Sometimes the art of creating ones true self is damningly complex and painfully intricate. Braving the world outside of our closets, drawers, sometimes even wardrobes, can feel like a giftless venture, but as Lorde said, “If I didn’t define myself for myself, I would be crunched into other people’s fantasies for me and eaten alive.” Our expression of our pain, our passion and our anger is our vitality, and I plead with you, dear reader, to do just that. Even if it’s from within your closet and you are creating from within your darkness, read, fuck, write, play, sing, dance, paint, tattoo yourself with your experiences. You are a vibrant night light of joy and you are valuable just as you were created, as quiet, as inquisitive or as queer, as you might be.

 

-To your personal revolts and riots and especially to your learning,

Cory

———-

Cory is a poet and novelist in the Los Angeles area. They have worked in mental health, education, social justice and fashion blogging and they aim to lead by example by bravely living an examined lifestyle.

“The learning process is something you can incite, literally incite, like a riot.”

Audre Lord

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Isn’t it Queer?

Good Morning Rioters, Rebelles, Ruckus Makers and REVOLUTIONARIES!

Happy Wednesday! We’re SO excited to welcome a new COM|PASSionate REVOLUTIONARY to our team and bi-weekly blog to our community! Proudly presenting….

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Greetings! Welcome to Isn’t it Queer?

My name is Cory, aka the Butch Goddess of Metropolis Takedown,  and I will be your tour guide through the intersectional in-betweens that shape the lives of many people living alternative lifestyles. From polyamorous living, to queer kink, I will be introducing the voices of artists, poets and other writers, including myself, in a bi-weekly smorgasbord of brain food and art. I aim to shine light on the philosophical ponderings of queer people of color, trans and transitioning individuals and other marginalized artists, and to demonstrate the incredible connective and healing power of expressive creativity.

As a poet and writer with a serious case of wanderlust, I value the existentially bold and the fearlessly odd. If you care to join me on this journey, I will be showcasing the terrible, brilliant beauty of human nature and all of our folly. Your feedback, contributions and concerns are all valued, so please share your thoughts in the comment section below.

To your personal revolts and riots and especially to your learning,

Cory

———-

Cory is a poet and novelist in the Los Angeles area. They have worked in mental health, education, social justice and fashion blogging and they aim to lead by example by bravely living an examined lifestyle.

“The learning process is something you can incite, literally incite, like a riot.”

Audre Lorde