Processes of Becoming: Joy Ladin Speaks in South Beach

I have no hesitancy in bragging on my publisher, Headmistress Press, especially because of all their really incredible associated poets. I first became really acquainted with Headmistress when I wrote a review of Lesléa Newman’s I Carry My Mother in 2016. I have a soft spot for queer narratives about family, and that book really did it for me.

In 2017, I reviewed another Headmistress book, Joy Ladin’s Fireworks in the Graveyard, for Pleiades: Literature in Context. As the title suggests, it’s a beautiful meditation on living and dying.

Later that year, I entered my own chapbook manuscript in Headmistress’s Charlotte Mew Chapbook Contest, and they ended up publishing it as one of the finalists. If you’re reading this before July 4th, 2018, consider entering your own manuscript!

Joy Ladin visited South Beach last week as part of Aqua Foundation’s TransTalks series, and I wasn’t going to miss it. With the risk of taking her points out of context, I wanted to share a few of the highlights for me:

  • We all go through processes of becoming.
  • All children (all people!) are trying to figure out who they are. It’s what it means to develop as a person.
  • Being closeted: the idea of watching yourself living life instead of actually living it. [I think that there are special dimensions that poets can glean from this point.]
  • Gender is how our culture organizes relationships within families (mother, father, daughter, son, niece, nephew, grandma, grandpa, etc.).
  • Joy talked about how before she started living as herself, she avoided writing poetry in the 1st person. After becoming herself, she was able to access a range of feelings and perspectives she had not been allowed or allowed herself to access, including the language of colors.
  • The illusion of changeless-ness is the basis of conservative culture.

Intrigued? Check out more of Joy’s work at her website. And don’t forget to consider entering the Charlotte Mew Chapbook Contest before July 4th, 2018.

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