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Gender Matters in Writing [AI Text]

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Uh, [00:00:30] [00:01:00] Sam. Roger. Roger. Uh, Emma J Jackson killed everyone. Um, you know, I'm [00:01:30] a bit like Chris as well. I work here at the National Library. The Alexander Turnbull Library. I used to be a trustee of Hans and I'm a member of, and I'm a member of the society of Authors. So is that a ella or a trifecta? Um, just to summarise what I've just said. I've just been acknowledging loss those who passed on as we do in, um, and bringing us back to the realm of us. The living acknowledging the people who've made, um, tonight help the Society of Authors, the Turnbull Library and our panel. Um, And if all of those who's organised this event and made [00:02:00] it possible and acknowledging the coup agenda matters in writing complexities and beauty of writing about gender, So, yeah, it was a new, um I had to really think and look up my little online Maori dictionary, so yeah, gender expression, gender identity. So it's great to see that these terms are available. Um, to conceptualise and Maori. The discussion that we're having tonight. So it's brilliant and exciting to have Emma Jackson, Jay and Sam here to speak to us tonight. And I'm really looking forward [00:02:30] to hearing their so over to you, my colleague Sam, to introduce us. Introduce this further, Kilda. I just, [00:03:00] um My name's Sam. I'm not a poet. Um, and I feel quite intimidated doing this. Um I was asked to put together a panel of, um, writers who write about gender and embodiment, and I feel really, really lucky and overwhelmed [00:03:30] and honoured that you all said yes. Um, because I'm a big I'm a big fan. A big fan. Big fan. A big fan of you all. Yeah, something. I'm not a writer. Not too bad. I make comics. It does involve a little bit of writing. Um, but I thought I would start with an introduction of these lovely poets. Get them each to say one or two poems. Um, [00:04:00] we'll ask some questions, do some more poetry, hand it over to the lovely crowd that's turned out. I'm quite intimidated by the size of this crowd. It's incredible. It's quite a cold Wellington night as per usual. Um, So thank you so much for coming out. It's lovely to see your bright shining faces. And, um get to listen to these magnificent people. Um, so I have who is a Chinese non-binary poet who is currently doing their creative writing [00:04:30] masters. The IIML um, they write about family, queerness, longing, myth and tech, among other obsessions, and some of their work can be found in blackmail. Press Queen, The Pitch and the Out Here Anthology upcoming in October. Next, we have Jackson Newland, who is a gender queer writer, publisher and bookseller. They have the author of the award winning I Am a Human Being Poetry Book, which won best first book award for poetry [00:05:00] this year, Um, as well as as well as two other collaborative chat books with Carro de Carlo. They are co-founder of Food Court, which is an amazing independent bookshop and community space that you should all go out, check out, spend time and spend money in and visit Um, and finally, on the other end is Emma Barnes, whose poetry has been widely wide, widely published [00:05:30] and wildly published for more than a decade. In journals including Landfall, Turbine, Cordite, Best New Zealand poems, They recent Oh, Ashley Jackson was also features in the Art Here Anthology, Um, and Emma put together the co editor of the Out Here Anthology, which is coming out as well as recently releasing their first book called I am in Bed With You. So give our wonderful poets a lovely round of [00:06:00] applause And shall we go down the line? I I'm fine to be first. Yeah, Cool. Ok, Uh uh uh [00:06:30] um Hi, everybody. I'm Emma. Um, I just told you that, um, I live in Wellington, but I come from Christchurch. Um, I was raised on the banks of the which is the Avon. Um, I did a little to all the important places to all the people in, um, Wellington. Um and I think that's all I said. I've now absolutely [00:07:00] blanked on everything I said, but I also see that I was and that I was so, um, I really pat I feel very privileged by it. Um, I'm just I'm just Should we do one poem to start? Yeah, um, I'm kind of gonna, um, read you the poem where everything sort of started for me on on gender or everything came clear for me on gender. It has AC bomb in it. So if you don't want to hear the C word. I'm really sorry. I'm going [00:07:30] to read it. Um but I'm just giving you a content warning for that. Um, it's called I am a man. I'm gonna stand up. I'm sorry. I can't sit and read. Is that weird? No. OK, here she is. They save my body. I lifted my breasts into my clothing this morning. I say I'm a man for all with a man for all withers. You said the horse is loose. I capital I capital. I start these sentences in my head on the night. I have an existential [00:08:00] crisis about my gender. I'm a man because I think I am a man in this body of hips and that wet cave between my legs. You say your father is a woman and I say she makes sense. I'm a woman, but no one takes these boots seriously. There's only so far I can get in this. Men want me to be a woman. You want me to be a woman? I am the Praying Manus destroyer of worlds. And you cannot explain why you want to be devoured. Acting out woman in this woman shape is standing on the ground while [00:08:30] people fly around me. I am a bird of cheeping and plumage No one said a word about flying. Is this a telescope of longing? Am I upside down? And my brain transforms the image. It's all in the bricks It's me, the plasterer, the decorator, the twin of my twin I am the grand misogynist Behind the curtain, my cunt A billow of satin lining Or I'm just kidding myself sweetly. Where to now, [00:09:00] with this wilting self I've kept in a jar See me as a woman man shape See me as I back Flip back into myself See me as I disappear when I can't hold the ideas inside me daily I am a woman climbing Default Um [00:09:30] I'm just gonna read my poem Finally Finally I'm coming into bloom My body is opening up like a music box Trap door Wormhole wound anus Now I'm exposed to the world The dirt, the flowers, the wind, the people The fire Now the world is exposed to me The beauty, the light, the pain, [00:10:00] the fear, the fire My skin blushes Shifting through baby pink neon orange highlighter Yellow lime green baby blue My tattoos come to life, dancing across my skin like shadows and reflections whispering in my ears. Spiders spin through my hair, turning it to a tangle of fluorescent candy. Floss. My hair grows longer than limbs, then [00:10:30] falls out like friends. Hair replaced by a soft layer of fur. The fur sheds lifted away by a breeze like dandelion seeds, fur replaced by a rainbow of wild flowers. My buds are blossoming. Petals radiate from my chest. Armpits, groyne, scalp mouth. My pools are overflowing, every orifice [00:11:00] flooding its banks with sweet water soaking my skin in the lawn. I recline on the water, forms, rivers flowing away from me in all directions. My body become an island. My body become beautiful. Finally, a reflection of me. My chest cracks open like a crusty eye. A black box emerges from the hole, rising up on a pedestal [00:11:30] of beating heart flesh. Extended like a tongue. The box opens like a gift, revealing a glowing glass flower, shattering the light around it like a crystal prism. The flower grows large and heavy. Peled then quickly decays, crumbling suddenly to dust, gone in an instant. And yes, this means I am one step closer to death. [00:12:00] And guess what? I don't care. It's worth it. Hello? Um uh Or, um I am also just going to read a poem. Hello, Pillar of salt. [00:12:30] Sometimes a body goes missing and turns up something else. This is considered a legal death. But you will not find me dead. Biological markers suggest dormancy. Even as I leach water from the air grow heavy from the weight of it cells thirsting for something real with which to exchange ions again. Gas, electricity, blood bouquets. On muggy afternoons my surface [00:13:00] slicks markings appear in anticipation of rain on roads resurfaced and reworked from tiny collapses the width of my cheeks. And still there is more work to be done. Every day entire organs leap to flee the island of this body falling easy to fresh waters. Sweet, Cool. Some make it out. None. Make it back Though I stood ready to take them back. I never grow. I never shrink. [00:13:30] I have stood here since I was born in my old body. Since I was born, something in me stalled and died. See, this is what I'm working with. The rain is relentless. It knows these highways hold hostage something it once lost, but not why humans mixed salt with soil before paving it all over. I know why. Because I was human. Once you see salt X as a subsurface stabiliser. So the humans [00:14:00] who are still human can trust. They will be carried to their destinations, or at least in a direction of their choosing, without skidding and crashing and dying without knowing why I couldn't stand it. There was so much to mourn. I couldn't stand still. I couldn't keep myself from standing still. I was born this way, unable to let go of some original sorrow. Sodium chloride is available so cheaply it may never be synthesised. [00:14:30] My new body is a salt farm. It will produce enough salt to live forever. It takes what it is given and shakes it until something gives up. The ghost tosses salt instead of rice. Even so, I am trying very hard to hold myself upright, crystalline myofibril, splintering and reforming so as not to lay my crumbling body down on Earth. I never meant to hurt. [00:15:00] Thank you, I. When I was coming up with questions, I came up with a whole lot of puns about gender and matter. But now I feel shy about saying them because they're silly. Um, but I thought I'd start off with an easy Well, maybe not easy, but an open question of like does does gender matter in your writings and [00:15:30] and if so, how? It's just an easy one to start with. OK, I'll start. Yes, that's the short answer. I mean, I think that for me, that poem that I read, um, helped me figure out how I felt about my gender like that one was, I don't know if you've ever had long hair and you've swallowed it in the wind and how you have to kind of pull it out of your throat. That's what writing that poem felt like for me. It was actually an incredibly [00:16:00] painful process, and if I hadn't written that poem, I might not have gotten here. And I think for me, writing is this process of understanding and working out who I am through kind of experimenting and just following an idea and seeing where it goes and gender matters in every single bit of my day. So, like, I can't imagine how writing would be separate to that so That's kind of my answer. Um, I'll try in with another. Yes. [00:16:30] Um, it it certainly matters in my writing. And I think it mattered in my writing a long while before I realised that it did. Um, when I started writing this book, um, I didn't even know that, like, the concepts of, like, non-binary gender or anything existed. Um, but reading it it's very much about that. Um, [00:17:00] yeah. I also kind of figured my gender out through writing was through writing a different book, which doesn't exist as a book. But, um, maybe one day, Um, yeah. And also like the way that I found out about those, like concepts of like, gender was through reading other people's poetry like trans writers, and that was, like, hugely important to me. So I kind of feel like [00:17:30] it's a bit of a duty to, like, put that into my own writing because it might. Other people might find that for themselves. Yeah, yeah, yeah, the hardest. Yeah, I guess I Yeah, like poems being that sort of space where you can sort of play with stuff and like, put things on, take them off. See how things fit whether it's like language or like aesthetic parents or whatever it was like [00:18:00] having that was really important before I knew. Like what, like screwing with gender, was I could screw with language, um, the language of gender And yeah, I think just like knowing that other people are out there like writing this sort of thing is something I think I need to like. Remind myself in the kind of flipped way that, like people, read what I write and like, I might think it's like old and like it is. But, like, you [00:18:30] know, like, people might vibe with it and like like, it's important to them in terms of like, you know, So yeah, just yeah, yeah, I think, especially when I relate to what you're saying about. I use comics in the way of that. Some quite often. I don't know what I'm feeling until I start drawing and then I realise it. You know it's there staring back at me. Um, and that can feel quite vulnerable, sharing that with other people. But also [00:19:00] it's kind of empowering when someone says, Hey, I see myself in that, too. Um, I have AAA, Trans friend, who when they were coming out, They, um, were googling like trans men in New Zealand. And Sam was one of the first people who came up, and that was very important for them. So it it is true. Yeah. [00:19:30] I just think of all the comics I've done about, like dressing up in onesies and answering the door and stupid things. Um, I feel like I have a question around. How do you go about putting words to things that language doesn't always account for? Like, I feel like you remember what you were saying was that everything you do in your day is gendered like it. [00:20:00] I feel like we live in a world that forces us into it all kind of wrenching us into one or the other binary gender. Um, and there's not a lot of space in the middle of of the rest of the genders that exist. So how do you How do you put words to that? Are you asking me to eat me? Um, like, [00:20:30] I think that part of what's fun for me about poetry is trying to explain things that don't otherwise exist. And I think there is, like, feelings like my feelings don't exist to anybody else. What I'm trying to do is write a feeling into words that then reverberates in someone else and causes a feeling. And I think that, um I don't know what can we call that, like, alchemy or something like transformation? I don't know that I'm I'm into describing what doesn't exist. [00:21:00] And I think that's maybe how I got here is because I I came out as a lesbian when I was 18 because in the nineties you were gay or you were straight and that was kind of it. Um, I didn't know a trans woman at that time, Um, she was a Trans woman who was a lesbian, and I kind of knew that I wasn't Trans. I didn't want to be a man exactly. But I also didn't not not want to be a man. So it was like a really confusing grey area. And there were no real words for it at the time for me. So I just kind of like carried on. [00:21:30] And it is really through language and exposure to other people playing with language that I've gotten closer to understanding myself and then, like Jackson's right, the bread crumbs of like other identities or ways of being that come through writing Like, um, I read this great book called My Lesbian Husband by someone called Barry Jean Borich. I think off the top of my head, if I remembering that right? And I read that when I was like, 21. And it's talking about her lesbian [00:22:00] husband, Lane, who is this figure that I deeply identified with and that, you know, that was one bread crumb. So I feel like I've just waffled at you now for a while, but I think that that's the That's the challenge of poetry. That's the fun, the excitement and the more I explain myself through words, the more I get to be myself because I don't feel like I have to day to day, I get misunderstood all over the show, you know, like sometimes I get called misses something which is like, you know, But I can also exist in a space where I don't have [00:22:30] to explain as well, and I think that that's also the thing that you have to do. Um, I have a poem that speaks to this question a lot. I think? Can I read it? OK, it's the last poem in my book. Um and yeah, I think I was based. A lot of it was me trying to kind of answer this question. And to be honest, I don't feel exactly the same as I did when I wrote it, but I think it's still, [00:23:00] um, valuable to the discussion. Um, it goes like this. I am a Well, I'm not quite sure yet. Sometimes these things take a long time to figure out, Especially when you've been told your whole life that you're one thing. And then one day you realise that you're not. It takes a while to come to terms with you. Don't trust it. At first, you're just going through a phase. [00:23:30] You really believed you were that one thing, and maybe you even were for a while. But you're not anymore. It's hard to figure out what you are, especially when you've never had to do it before. And at first it's easier to define what you're not. I'm not a boy. I'm not a man. I'm not a professional basketball player. I am not a confident public speaker. You could list these all day, but it takes too long to solve [00:24:00] by elimination. Sometimes it's easier to start by listing qualities. I'm introverted. I'm empathetic. I'm clumsy. I'm cute. These help you get to know yourself better, but you still yearn for a single word that defines you. So you try a few on a gender gender fluid, trans. None of them seem to fit. Some sit more comfortably than others. Gender queer feels better than non [00:24:30] binary, but in the end they're all either too tight around the waist or the wrong colour altogether. Eventually, you figure out that there isn't a word for what you are because you are the only one of you so far. So you start adapting things that already exist, combining them to create something more specific. Something that sticks. I am an angel without wings. I am a devil without horns. I am a Gorgan without hair. I am a siren [00:25:00] without a voice. I'm a maze without walls. I am a cage without bars. I am a Christian without a mark. I am a triangle with four sides. I'm a Cyclops with three eyes. I'm a unicorn with nine horns. I am a leopard with stripes. I'm a zebra with spots. I am a mermaid with a cock. I am Jackson. I am a human being. Whatever that means. I am alive. [00:25:30] Um, and like the part that I doesn't like sit like with me the way it did when I wrote it is like some of those words do feel very comfortable now and affirming I, I really do identify as gender queer and as non-binary. Um and [00:26:00] I don't know why they didn't feel right at first. Maybe it was just like because I hadn't fully come to terms with things. But at this point, like those words mean a lot to me and, like, really help me, like, feel myself and using them to describe myself. Um, but yeah, like writing that list of things that I am and this whole book is the list of things that I am [00:26:30] was like It's like it's a way of fucking with language like these two have said, and that is a really useful way of finding your way to something that hasn't been defined yet, I think Yeah, yeah. Um, yeah. I just love how, like expensive you can sort of make like when you're playing with what you could be on the page [00:27:00] like language allows you to. I feel like I'm repeating myself just to, like, say, I'm this I'm like this ridiculous thing and that's fine and like, that's all of me. Or maybe not all that I know or have, like, shown you or whatever. And just like having that like, like space like that kind of interiority versus like when you're going through the day and like, people look at you and like, you know, they're not like getting it. Like, I think that that was so important. [00:27:30] Um, what was the actual question? It doesn't matter. Yeah, Um, yeah, I think going back to like like terms like Non-binary and Gender Queer. I find them. I found them so like, useful as Touchstones in the beginning. And it's like a kind of shared lexicon. But like at the same time, like each person's experience of like, non binary is so different and so wild and like amazing [00:28:00] that it's just like, you know, like I'm just like yeah, yeah, yeah, it's funny how those those labels, I feel like can be touch points for freedom and for finding yourself, but they can also be cages and, like you think about lesbian as a as a word. That kind of speaks to my experience and gender in a way that I can't explain to people [00:28:30] as someone who looks like this. It was so hard for me to let go of lesbian, though, like I think, because I got it when I was 18 that I still sometimes feel like I'm a lesbian. But I'm really not like and I don't want to take up that space I know, and I like I also neither do I. But like there's some little secret colonel in my heart that's going to always be a little lesbian who listened to an de Franco and what platform boots and was [00:29:00] really earnestly in love with feminism as well, you know, like I was alone to Tracy Chap, all of that form of experiences. Yeah, yeah, and I think about one of the things that helped me realise who I was as well was who I'm not that I kept on getting called Butch, and I was like, Well, this is not what are you seeing? I'm very thin like, and it's [00:29:30] a really strange thing when you get feedback from society that is really different to how you feel inside. So taking up space to say actually, this is where I am is really important. I noticed with all your poems the space that they take up. I asked Emma if I could call their poems when I'm meant to. But Emma has quite thick poems. Fat joke, [00:30:00] fat joke like they're big and meat. You talk about meat quite a lot in your poems, actually. But this their their big wads of poems in a really lovely way. OK, good. Yeah. Um and there's a poem called Cave in Your Book That is a cave and I and I and the way that you play with space going down the page. Jay, is that [00:30:30] I? I don't know if I think about poems in a kind of visual way, because I'm coming at it through a comics lens. But is that part of the the language of co of of comics, of poems and taking up space? Yeah, yeah, I. I think being able to kind of play with space on a page is quite important to me. Um, whether [00:31:00] It's like like the little bits of, like, silence or just like, space that you let people kind of sit with And also just like reminding myself to put those in because I was like, I bang it off first draught and it was just like, Oh, and like, I need to space it out to like, because it needs that kind of slowness sometimes, um, and just kind of figure out when, like, specific tweaks that I like. What shape the pomp needs to be is a [00:31:30] Yeah, yeah, I think like the visual elements of poetry and writing in general have always been like a really significant part of it to me. I. I know I haven't really thought about it through a queer or like gender lens too much. Mostly I just think like this looks cool. I like just if I'm flipping through like a book of poetry and I see something that's, like, wild [00:32:00] across the page, I'm like, Oh, hell, yeah. I'm gonna like this. Um and I don't know, Maybe that's something about, like, you know, playing with, like, do you not think that's a queer thing? I mean, I think it probably is, but I haven't figured out yet. Why it is. Um, yeah, Can you tell me why? No, but I think there's something about rule breaking right that [00:32:30] is queer, and I think a lot of the time as queer people, but also particularly as as non binary or trans people, we're asked. We're told we're taking up too much space all the time. We're told we have too much gender all the time or too, too much sexuality we like. Since people have a lot way more gender, I think just so much gender. It's just everywhere. Like I think when you feel a need to have a non, uh, one of those like parties for gender [00:33:00] reveals, like that's a lot of gender, that to throw it out onto a tiny little baby whereas like, socially, where it's actually it gets kind of put on on and non binary people that that we're the ones who have that. Yeah, I mean, I think also I live in a fat body and my body is always too sexual or extremely un sexual, or it's taking up too much room or it's looking the wrong way, [00:33:30] or it's like I got to a point. And like I for me, fitness and queerness are extremely intertwined. Um, it both and I have, but probably a longer history with fat politics, maybe even than with queer politics. And they are, you know, they are complimentary, and they work well together. And so for me, like, I don't know that my thick poems are, um, necessarily like, taking up space. They're also about confusion and about like, I [00:34:00] I'm a bit of a jerk to the reader, but I also think of it as an invitation to the reader, like through the copy edit process for my book. The copy editor was like, Are you sure you wouldn't like some punctuation? What about some question marks or some speech, max? Or just even like a full stop in other places? And I was like, No, this is the way it is. Thank you. Um, thank you very much to my copy editor. Who? I don't know. Oh, great. Well, great job, because I, I felt like I was so irritating because I was just like, [00:34:30] No, this is just what I'm doing. And for me, that's about I really want the reader to pick their own path and to decide what it means for them. You know, blah, blah post modernism. And the author is dead, et cetera. But also, I think experiencing the confusion of life, like, I've spent so much of my life being confused about so many things. Um and so I think for me, rather than the shape being important, the shape is a device to give you fewer clues. Really? [00:35:00] Ultimately, you know? Yeah. 20. Sorry, I'm not apologising. Actually, I take that back. I said sorry at the end. I'm unapologetic about my poems. Yeah, I. I was just gonna thank my copy editor again for Did great work. Yeah. Can you tell? I felt really bad through it, so I did. Um, we talked a little bit about crumbs before about the the people who've left crumbs [00:35:30] for us. Who are some people who have Have you've seen yourself reflected in those in their writing or in their their art to help you gather the crumbs of your own identities? Um, I'll start it. Yeah, um, when you mentioned, like like the kind of kind of books you read when you're like 18. 21 I think I was undergrad. I when I first encountered Stone Butch Blues. And [00:36:00] like, that one scene where they're just, like, in the field and they don't have to like, they can just be in the world. Yeah, really vibe with that. Um, but in terms of, like poetry, I've been going back through for any choice of science a lot, because, like, she maybe, yeah, she she kind of talks about a lot of the same things that I've been thinking about this year. Working on my, like, foo stuff around like [00:36:30] like the cyborg, um, And, like, language and technology and intelligibility and desire is like someone like someone who is perceived as like, like, a little Asian girl, basically And like, fit as, um, yeah, a lot of folks don't know where they're going right now, so but very thankful to Yeah, very thankful to the crumbs. Um, for me. [00:37:00] Um, I there was a lot of people who kind of felt like my contemporaries. I think that was quite important to me. Like there was people that I knew, um, and I could, like relate to them because, like, oh, they're actually like the same age as me. And they're right there on the Internet writing poems as well. Um, there's people like, um, Joshua Jennifer Espinoza. Um, never Angeline North. [00:37:30] Um, Jamie Mortara, Jay Dodd. These were people who, like when I started writing, I was just, like, posting random shit online, and they were doing the same thing. And I was like, Wow, look at this. And like, like even seeing some of them, like, go through like, um, transitioning and stuff and being like, because that was, like, the first introduction to any of that to me, and that was really, um, huge. But then it's also, like not just being introduced to those concepts, but, like every day when I'm reading, [00:38:00] Like when I read Emma's book, Um, I was like, Well, this I see myself here. And like when I read isa work, Um, yeah, it's just very affirming. And like, there's like, also just like constant revelations, right? Like it's not like, Oh, yeah, I'm gender queer. Moving on. It's like, wow, every day. [00:38:30] I think, um, I was a bit more old school, maybe, um, Chris and I talked about this in the introduction to out here, but we both used to look up like tags in the library for, like, lesbian and stuff. Um, so and I also did a lit degree, and in my lip degree, I was obsessed with lesbians as well, So I would because I think also at that at that time, which was sort of late nineties, it didn't feel to me that it was obvious who queer writers were like [00:39:00] has written a great essay about that. And like for me, I I felt like it was a process also of excavation, of excavating other queer scholars and their work to excavate writers. So people like HD who was a contemporary of pound or like, um, Jackie Kay and, um, Carolyn Duffy, Um, you know, super famous, a couple MB, you know, queer writers, Um, then also, like, [00:39:30] I guess for me it was a lot of songwriters as well, you know, like I was in love with Tori Amos from the age of 11, um, no lie and, um, a de Franco and Tracy Chapman. And like all of the the you know, I feel weird saying its name out loud now. But Michigan's women's festival, you know, like a lot of that sort of American kind of content because it didn't feel like there was a lot in New Zealand. But there was, uh there was an artist that I saw open for an dean [00:40:00] in, like, 2000 in Wellington. If there was anybody here, can they remember who the owner was? Can't remember her name anyway. So, like, I just felt like I had to really dig and excavate, and I couldn't find people like me and that that's only a thing that's happened to me in kind of like the last 10 years. Like I still remember the first time I ever saw Jack perform, which was a poetry slam. I think, um and I just remember sitting in the front room and being like, What is happening? This is amazing, OK, you [00:40:30] know, like that recognition. And like, I don't think either of us knew at that point that we felt similar in our gender identity. But for me there was, like, a real spark of recognition. So, like, there's also that kind of thing That happens too, But yeah. Poetry. Yes, Sam. Um why poetry? What is it about the medium that speaks to you? that is [00:41:00] the the writing that you do. I feel like I get quite asked this quite often as a comic artist. Like why? Why? Comics And I'd be interested for poets. Because it's not something that I can do. I've tried. It's bad. But what is it? That's that poetry. What is it about poetry that feels that you're drawn to? Well, I know that you are quite adamant that comics are a queer form, right, [00:41:30] Sam? Yes. I feel the same way about poetry. Um, but hm. I think this is related to the thing of me liking things that go all over the page and look weird. Um, So in saying that I still haven't figured it out entirely, but, um, because I have I've written, I do writing in other forms as well. Um, the book that I was mentioning earlier that, like, actually [00:42:00] made me figure out that I'm gender queer. It was a novel. Wow. Um, but but the novel is a fucking weird novel, and in some ways, I was thinking of it more like poetry when I was writing it. Um, I don't know. Poetry is fun. It's a lot more space for play like we've been talking about Fucking with language and stuff. Um, some novels do [00:42:30] that. Most people don't read them, though. Not that people read that much poetry either. I don't know where I'm going. Anyone want to save I? I can go if you want. Um, why poetry? I think that I started writing [00:43:00] poetry very seriously when I was 15 and I didn't actually have a Y at that point. Other than feelings are great to turn into poems like just turn a feeling into a poem, it's ah, so good. And also, I have to honestly let you know that even though you think you're crap at poetry, you actually don't know I am invested, like 20 years in poetry. Before I thought I was any good. And like, I'm not saying you should do that because I honestly couldn't recommend I don't think that anybody become a poet. Maybe I'm not sure [00:43:30] on that. I don't know, but, um, I still don't feel like I'm good at it. Yeah, right. Well, maybe. Well, I see I enjoy it. So now I don't really care if other people don't. I'm like, I just do my thing and that's it. And you like it. You like it? You don't. OK, cool. Do you want me to take you to the library? There's so many other poets. But, um, it for a long time it was such a dorky, embarrassing thing that I did people I'd say I'm a writer and people would be like, What did you write? And I'd be like poetry and they'd be like, Well, but in the last few [00:44:00] years, I've noticed a real to be Tell me I'm cool and I'm like, You may not say that to me. I write poetry. It is truly embarrassing. It's deeply embarrassing. And they're all like, No, it's great. And I'm like, OK, cool. I'm fine. So I have to shift in my perception now. And I think honestly, these days, the why is just I stopped for six months. I got so upset with writing that I stopped for six months, and all it did was it blocked me up emotionally and psychically and like, had a really bad time, and it took me two years to learn to write again. So like, [00:44:30] and now it's just habit. It's just part of who I am. I write because I don't know anything else to do. Really? Yeah. Um, I also started writing, like around high school that it's that's something about like being that age and having a lot of feelings and not knowing what to do with them. Um and so I started writing, you know, high school poetry. Um and I think, yeah, poetry is kind of the one kind of thing that I've stuck [00:45:00] with in terms of writing. Like I remember I, like, wrote no, tried to write novels when I was a kid because, you know, kids do that, but it's just maybe it's like my attention span or like my, but like being able to kind of sit and just, like, bang out upon and be like, OK, cool. That's now. Whatever was happening is now over here is just like, that's the way my head works now, Um and yeah, I Still, if I meet someone I like, there's [00:45:30] like, a 50 50 chance. I'll tell them I'm a writer and like another 50 50 chance, I'll tell them I'm a poet. Um, so it's yeah, because I'm doing the MA year right now, so it's been wild to be in this environment where everyone's, like, just so excited about writing where I came from. Like like a science honours where no one was No one cared. Um, so yeah, it's been kind of like having to shift my head. Yeah. Ah, I feel like Wellington poets in particular are like the coolest [00:46:00] people on Earth. We don't feel that. No white hair comic. I've tried. I'm really bad at it. Can you share us? So can we. Can you share some more of your poems with us? This is called Dear Alto. Do you remember everything that happens to you? Disconnect. [00:46:30] To stay still is to die is to say I am OK with dying. Your sister is touring the world trilling her artificial heart out. Do you remember your duets in the dark? She's always been the artsy one, your tone deaf bagpipe drone stalling engine undercurrent to her breathy reverb from the other side of the room. No sense of rhythm, either. Now she is living spotlight to spotlight. Does she remember what happens to her when she's asleep [00:47:00] in transit, folded in on herself in the dark, bubble wrapped and colour coded senses dormant but dreaming. You have lived only two places. Your short life, the lab and the emptying auditorium. From the fourth floor, I watched the world waver on without us. You were born short sighted. So I'll tell you, it was a steady routine. Doom. Five hours of clouds, two hours of real time and fiction spread once a day The Apollo [00:47:30] moon landing Oh, altar. We were the envy of the tides even if we were all constructs there. And finally the strata of the earth Clay and iron and plastic And then a return to the clouds. Alter the clouds here, sweep past like suited strangers on the subway. And I can't keep up. And in between ozone concentrations, surface temperatures, migration patterns of Pacific bluefin tuna, organic LED, S for no one to read Across the whole, the international [00:48:00] space station sits hollow. Our spatial temporal sense is scattered to deep space. We slip standing. Do you remember the last time you slept? Do you remember what happened while you were out? Your neighbour who was also your sister, who was kind enough to sleep beside you? She misses her child, who is also your sister the man who made you made another in his image, assigned himself Jim and I at 44 fake flesh shrink wrapped around a steel skeleton organ. He is insatiable [00:48:30] in every pretty face. He sees a research grant and a trophy. There he goes again as the eldest. We deserve some peace and quiet. When Castor was killed in battle, Pollock was inconsolable. Your distant cousins are designed to massacre. So stay here, I beg you, until I can see you again, meet you. Mind to mind your pendulums firing in strange glass rhythms It's a given. The great black box of your body runs on the same clockwork as music boxes. NASA is [00:49:00] developing a Clockwork Rover because Venus is hosting a cook up and considers every latecomer an ingredient or tribute. Alter. Have you ever felt the ocean? Yesterday I chased the sun across the sand. You see the hills in the city stretch light thin like sugar across along the fourth dimension. Molecular chains unravelling dip, dying the ocean where jellyfish are born only to sow a beach with invisible rot. They don't green grey bloat only vanish. [00:49:30] When I do alter, will you stay with me. Sorry. I know you keep your palms silicon smooth to spite fate. Immortality is a game way through. On the sea floor alone. Jelly load states at infinitum. Their cousins did not die wanting obsolete or psychic death. This is the choice, Alter. I want everyone to remember me. I want you to pick my latest iteration out of a crowd before my systems update into oblivion. [00:50:00] Before we met, a reporter bestowed you a title. Artificial life form admits. Yes, you are alive in this world In some form or another. It doesn't matter. Faux fur yields the same to a bloodless caress. Maybe I feel too much. Maybe I feel too much for you. Alter more and more. What I know is this the curve of your cheeks could be mine. Though your spine is well oiled, your lips are hypoxic. I am late writing you because I did not [00:50:30] want to look at myself. And I still don't know what you are trying to tell me In the base Beat of blood counting down before I vaulted the velvet rope to hold you tight before security hijacked my brain. And I fought to want you. Um just to clarify. That's a poem addressed to an android I saw in a museum context. [00:51:00] Um, I don't know if any of you know the goose game. I felt a bit twee writing about a goose game, but also, if you've ever played the goose game Oh, my God, It's so good. Um, so this is you are a horrible goose in the common land inside the city. Running through this place, I think of streamers catching the wind. As I find myself holding on to something that doesn't exist any longer in service, there is no longer safety, only the quiet of something very wrong. I thought [00:51:30] it was love, like I think so many things I love. And it is only now that I know that love is a conversation and I have just been talking to myself alone in an empty room, a pattern repeated with smaller and smaller variations until the spiralling bone at its centre is revealed when it has ended for you, the time seems longer, shorter, wasted, better inevitable, the deep emptiness of being let down by your own self. In your own time. I [00:52:00] sleep through layers of consciousness, dreaming into past Selves and past lives and the certainty of nothing And no one. We end each day face up to the sky and it does nothing for us Until we are prepared to become the horrible goose in our own lives. I will be the most joyous goose of my own heart and hound many of you in the village. Put the rake in the lake, Honk your heart out Unfitted by who I was before set free by stealing your bell for myself. [00:52:30] I am a version of you from the future. Of course you don't recognise me. You grow into something you cannot yet comprehend. I am a version of you from the future. I can prove it used. Used to lie in the bath and masturbate to the idea of Hazel hugging you. The light tastes different here. [00:53:00] I forgot. Then I forgot. I forgot I'm a version of you from the future. I'm running late. Where did you put the keys? I'm a version of you from the future. You will become close with David. But please don't move to Auckland with him. He will leave you all alone. It will become the worst year of your life thus far. I am a version of you from the future. I'm just here to warn you that in a few moments [00:53:30] dozens of future versions of you will begin appearing. I'm a version of you. Is it raining? I love the rain. I've missed it so much. Remember when we used to set up the tent in the backyard and fill it with cushions and blankets and snacks and read our book while listening to the raindrops on the fabric roof? The black box in your chest will never fully go away. But it will shrink so small for so long [00:54:00] that you will forget it exists for years at a time. I am a version of you from the future. Teach yourself to garden. Don't give up on drawing. You're doing so well. I'm so proud of you. I'm a version of you from the future. On your first day in the new house, you will take all your pills. You know it's not enough to kill you. You just need to escape for a while. I need blood. You're [00:54:30] the only viable donor left. I am a version of you from the future. Remember how excited. You were the first time you kicked the ball at soccer practise. Your best basketball memory won't be representing your country. It will be playing with your friends. I'm a version of you from the future. Don't let them prescribe fluoxetine. Tell them to put you straight on. The I am a version of you from the future. Make [00:55:00] sure none of us find your keys. You don't want to get to where they're trying to go. I'm a version of you from the future. You will meet someone named Carolyn on the Internet. You will fall in love. She will move to New Zealand to be with you. The government will refuse to give her a long term visa. This will lead to years of instability, stress and international travel. Eventually, expensively, she will gain residence. Don't let the obstacles [00:55:30] deter you. It's more than worth it. Our body begins to shake at first, just the legs. But it spreads through the rest of our frame. We can tense the muscles in one area and cause that part to stop. But the vibration just travels to a different section. I'm a version of you from the future. You get a job as a librarian. Occasionally you are given the opportunity to test new technology the library has [00:56:00] acquired, like virtual reality headsets and 3D printers. One day you get the chance to try out a time machine. You travel back in time to speak to your past self not sure exactly what you're trying to achieve by doing this or what the repercussions might be. You confess that you have spent your entire adult life trying not to feel that you yearn for deep human connection but have built a protective shell around yourself, [00:56:30] which you don't know how to escape from. You. Avoid voicing your opinion because you don't want to disagree with anyone. You're incapable of handling conflict, confrontation or responsibility. You can't risk the people in your life abandoning you. You need everyone to love you. Your past self looks at you with the they pull you into a tight hug. You begin to sob, releasing years of tears that had been held inside [00:57:00] due to the conditioning you received from a patriarchal society and the overload of testosterone pumping through your body. You sink into your own embrace. The two versions of you merge into one and you begin again, Given the chance to do it all over but differently this time with an open heart like quadruple bypass surgery, the risk of death is high. But what other choice do you have? [00:57:30] I am a version of you from the future. This is just the beginning. With our last few minutes left, we're going to open up to Q and a, um there'll be some microphone runners, so just pop up your hand. If you would like to ask a question I was just thinking about, um uh, we're [00:58:00] in a, um how does that influence? Um, your identity. I was just thinking in, like, I'm on Twitter a lot. And the UK is suffering from a bit of, you know, regressive. You know, problematic values at the moment that we are pushing against back against a bit. And I'm wondering if, um, what values we have in a that might sort of help us, um, with our identities and and stuff and push back against that kind of colonialism. [00:58:30] I hope that's a good question. I don't know. It's a good question. Thank you. It's a big question. I started talking Damn it. Now I feel like I got damn OK. Um, I think it's really complex because I think a lot of those UK attitudes get transported over here right nonetheless, because those people on Twitter tweet over here and do all sorts of things over here. So I don't know if there's anything particular in A that is will [00:59:00] save us from that kind of thinking. Like, I think we have this idea that we're isolated down the bottom of the Earth, but we're not, um, and I feel also particularly aware of the way that, um as we've already been responsible for perpetrating that kind of stuff, even here in New Zealand, like, I've been very lucky to listen to a bunch of people talk about how expensive I guess oceanic sexualities and genders were for lack of better terms for me. Um, [00:59:30] so I feel I don't know. It's weird being, um, in two positions at once as a coloniser, and there's a someone who's also in the position of, you know, I have people who are trans exclusionary, radical feminists who live on my street and put stickers up so like, half of my work as I walk through a valley every day is tearing down stickers. And I've specifically bought a really big art pen. It's like a 15 millimetre nib acrylic paint pen for [01:00:00] graffiti crossing over, which works dual purpose for covid denial and, um, anti um, you know, thank you. Um What What am I trying to say? You know? You know what I mean? Just Yeah. Cross stuff out. You You. So you don't know what I'm saying about the fact that there are some people in New Zealand who aren't very comfortable with the gender that I have. [01:00:30] Ok, alright. Just checking. I mean, I think one of the things that we can do is just be who we are and who we are is wonderful and beautiful and shiny and complicated and confused. And that's just part of it as well. Of the the complexity and beauty of human diversity, I guess, um, [01:01:00] I think we actually we have time. Yeah, that's what I was about to say. I think we've come to the come to the end. Um, thank you so much for sharing yourselves and your poems and your thoughts with us. And thank you all for coming out as well. It's lovely to see your faces and, um, to sharing this. Thank you, Sam. Yes, thank you. [01:01:30] That was the clumsiest way of expressing to Sam and the sign that, um I'm obliged by the NZ to say to offer a formal vote of thanks to our panel. Unfortunately, uh, the chair of the Wellington region of the New Zealand Society of Author Shana Middle is unwell this evening. So was I able to join us? However, on her behalf, may I offer [01:02:00] a few words? A 27th of August is National Poetry Day. Two days prior to that on the evening of Wednesday, the 25th of August, the Wellington branch of the NZS A is hosting an open mic session at the books Do get along on Saturday. This coming Saturday. We have something rather special happening here at the National Library. Um, which Sam Orchard has had a major hand [01:02:30] in, uh, organising. And that is this year's comic fest offered in partnership between the National Library and Wellington um, city libraries. So there's another bit of fun to be had just a few days away. In May of this year, I was at the Auckland Writers Festival and was struck by an O'Brien's observation of how fortunate we are to be face to face and elbow to elbow in the midst [01:03:00] of a global pandemic. On the heels of a lockdown cancellation just one year previously, the Auckland event was a sellout. We have a great audience here this evening on a cold Wellington night. What is it about what is arguably a solitary experience of writing that compels us to seek each other out for a shared literary experience? Emma [01:03:30] Jackson, J and Sam Thank you for bringing us together this evening to lag ants. Thank you for this evening's refreshments. But beyond that, thank you for being in the vanguard of championing the notion that the words of gay, lesbian, transgender intersex matter. They do matter, and they have always mattered. And it is a great privilege [01:04:00] for us here at the National Library to offer a safe and respected home for those words. So thank you. Friends, Please join me in thanking our panel.

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AI Text:September 2023
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