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Introduction to TRANSQUEER

1 November 2018

Transqueer

When we put out the call for TRANSQUEER we asked poets ‘to explore trans identities not as positions to defend but as modes of becoming and thus ways of being human’ (Joy Ladin, Trans Studies Quarterly, 2016: 640) and ‘to believe that the world is QUEER, or that oneself is, or both, [and that this] is a window of doubt through which all creative possibility comes into being’ (Mark Doty, The Art of Description: World into Word).

Beautifully disparate poem-bodies swept into Submittable from across that astonishing body, the globe, and we spent many stunning hours reading and re-reading them; which was a way to ingest these poem-bodies, to allow them to take up residence in flesh, and to let them work their way back up, out, and into this collection (which is an-other body too …).

Some navigate the tides and waves of bodies of water (seas, rivers), encountering snowflakes, snow and ice, others joy, nostalgia, melancholy, loss.

Several sift the earth’s geography (distant – from Australia, where we’re writing this – cities such as St Petersburg and Rome), the body’s geography (acne, bruises, cancer, AIDS) and biology (adolescence, sex, pregnancy), and heavenly bodies – hold some of these poems over your head, then look up – you’ll see suns, moons, stars, other stargazers and astronomers, and satellites and rockets.

A few illuminate what we can put into our bodies (aniseed, black plums, cherries; cigarettes, alcohol, other drugs), a few what our bodies can do (love, hate, unite, protest, wed, dream, fuck, eat, kiss, masturbate, come, dance, connect, email, text).

Poems are explosions; there are poems about explosions. Perhaps to neutralise their poisons, grenades, bombs and dynamite, there are poems that radiate glitter, rainbows and suns.

Poems are mirrors, too; there are poems about mirrors – do they ‘have no preconceptions’? are they ‘not cruel, only truthful’? (Sylvia Plath, ‘Mirror’). There are poems about poems, poems about photographs. Language, alphabets, writing, wordplay. Religion, crucifixes, sins. Poems about prayer and magic and thus these poems are forms of both. There are poems about other sorts of rituals, too – applying makeup, undergoing surgery, dressing, undressing. There are poems about clothing – silk, satin, denim jackets, straitjackets, suits, bodysuits.

In this issue, bodies count, but the body count’s low – a handful of poems observe death and extinction; more celebrate life, rebirth, metamorphosis. In the land of TRANSQUEER, bodies hang out with bodies they may not normally – Buddha and The Virgin, Jean-Luc Goddard and John Hughes, Janelle Monáe and Hüsker Dü.

This issue comprises a multiplicity of bodily components – hair, skin, flesh, blood, bones, joints, muscles, organs, hormones, orifices, phantom limbs, cells, heads, skulls, brains, spines, vertebrae, eyes, cheeks, jaws, maws, mouths, teeth, tongues, throats, saliva, smiles, smirks, grins, chests, breasts, décolletage, ribs, hearts, heartrates, shoulders, arms, elbows, hands, palms, fingers, ring fingers, fingertips, fingerprints, waists, guts, hips, genitals, arses, shit, legs, thighs, knees, kneecaps, feet, toes – which coalesce into one, multi-voiced body.

We wanted to comment on ‘Blue’ (for Kat Muscat), by Broede Carmody – this elegy for the late Melbourne writer, editor and feminist speaks to a generous, resilient poiesis; and on Candy Royalle’s poems, which were there (sitting anonymously) in amongst all the others. We read these poems and wanted them. We knew they were hers. We knew that she had submitted them not long before she left us, and felt the swift kick of grief that came with the knowledge that she would not submit again. Candy had many, many books in her, and we mourn the loss of all the words she was yet to write.

Thank you to all the poets who submitted to TRANSQUEER – reading your work was an enormous pleasure. Thank you to managing editor Kent MacCarter for transfusions of energy and humour. We’re delighted to have been able to guest-edit this issue. The poems within rocked our bodies and we hope you will be as transfixed by them, as transported with excitement while queering them, as we were. We hope you will ‘believe that the world is queer’, and that you will find your own mirrors, resonances, echoes, distillations, and bombs in them. We hope you too ingest these poems. Let them make a home in your own bodies. Let them knock around the chambers of your heart and push at the globing backs of your eyes. Let them love you.

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