Finding Support as a Queer Person During Thanksgiving: Resources and Community

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by Amanda Steele

Thanksgiving can be a holiday full of delicious food that often only gets eaten once or twice a year like banana cream and pumpkin pies and all those homemade rolls. The idea of having a holiday where we can enjoy a feast with those we care about is a lovely idea. But, while some queer people have supportive family members, many others don’t. Thanksgiving and other holidays can be stressful or painful for anyone who has strained or broken relationships with their family members.

If you’re a queer person who finds yourself without family support during this time of year, it can be difficult to face. This is often why finding a support group of friends and creating your own family is so important to many in our community. It’s something many of us talk about frequently. Often out of necessity, queer people band together to create strong bonds of support and love with people they aren’t related to. This idea of a found family can be especially needed during Thanksgiving and other family-centered events.

Thanksgiving can be especially difficult for marginalized members of the queer community. Certain members of our community face even more ostracization and bigotry in society, and sometimes among others in the community, sadly.

Transgender people find that they face even more discrimination and violence than cisgender members of the queer community. There are resources out there to offer support and help to transgender individuals.

Here are just a few of the resources available. If you are struggling during this time of year, the trans lifeline is a hotline you can call for help and support.

https://www.translifeline.org/

https://www.equalityutah.org/issues/transgender

https://transgenderlawcenter.org/

When talking about Thanksgiving, it’s also important to talk about Indigenous people in the United States, especially Indigenous queer people in our community. Across the country, indigenous queer folx, and nonqueer people too, face increased difficulties and dangers surrounding violence toward indigenous women, youth suicide, education, health, and other issues. The way that Thanksgiving is presented as a positive sort of mythos in the country can be very problematic. While we aren’t saying you can’t enjoy food with your family and friends and be grateful for what you have, it’s important to listen to Indigenous voices and provide support.

Here are a few resources to start learning how you can help:

https://firstnations.org/about

https://indianlaw.org/issue/ending-violence-against-native-women

While the holidays can be a rough time for many of us, you are not alone. Search out specific resources in your community that you can reach out to for help. You can also find national resources. It can be hard to reach out on your own, but often people in your community are already putting together events in your area to help you find community and support.

If you are in a position that you can, one idea to help your fellow queer people out is to host a Friendsgiving dinner of some kind either before, during, or after the actual Thanksgiving Day. And, if you know someone who isn’t welcome or comfortable at their family Thanksgiving dinner, invite them to yours if possible.

It’s vital that those in our community who have support and privilege use their resources to reach out to others in the community who are still struggling or who face more bigotry and oppression. Those of us who have the ability should work to support others and try to do our part to cultivate a spirit of giving, connection, and intersectionality during this time of year.

If you need support during the holidays, you can reach out to these resources:

https://www.thetrevorproject.org/get-help-now/#sm.0001vfwqsbv55f2z11gnlf94cpepp

https://www.translifeline.org/

https://suicidepreventionlifeline.org/help-yourself/lgbtq/

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Amanda Steele is a queer poet and writer with a degree in Creative Writing and Gender Studies from Utah Valley University. She was born and raised in Idaho and currently lives in New York City. Amanda works as a freelance writer and blogger and has been published in peculiar, The Dandelion Review, and Sun and Sandstone, among others. She loves to mix her love of writing with her passion for activism and fandom. You can follow her on Twitter: @adamantaflame or on her blog here.

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7 Poetry Prompts to Help You Out of a Writing Slump

by Amanda Steele

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We all have those days, or maybe if we are being honest weeks or even months, where we just can’t seem to find inspiration to write. While it can be easy to get into a writing slump, it is a lot harder to pull yourself out of one. Waiting for the muse to strike can be infuriating and disappointing, so sometimes we all have to seek out a little push in the right direction to get those creative juices flowing.

You can find many fun and inspiring poetry prompts out there, but we’ve curated a few of our favorites to get you started. If you have any favorite prompts of your own, please share them with us! We would also love to read any poems that are inspired by the prompts below.

The first two prompts come from this creative list from Kelli Russell Agodon. These are two of our favorites, but you should really check the rest of the list out. You can find her on Twitter @KelliAgodon.

  1. Write a seven-line poem about one of the 7 Deadly Sins that only contains seven words in each of the lines.
  2. Write a poem that is really a love letter to an old flame. To make sure it’s doesn’t slip into sappy,make sure one or more of these words are in the poem: dung beetle, politician, nuclear, exoskeleton, oceanography, pompadour, toilet, copper mug, corn flakes (or any cereal), corkscrew.
  3. This is a poetry prompt I made up. I would love to read your poem if you use this one, and you can find me on Twitter @adamantaflame.
    1. Line 1: Include a color in this line.
      Line 2: Verb a noun. Example: I “tigered”
      Line 3: Use synesthesia in this line
      Line 4: Highlight the sense of smell
      Line 5: Incorporate a strong action verb
      Line 6: Highlight the sense of taste
      Line 7: Make this line rhyme with the last (slant rhyme is fine)
      Line 8: Incorporate the word “sidewalk” into this line.
      Line 9: Use a simile that has to do with the sense of hearing
      Line 10: End with a line that is unexpected and changes the direction of the poem.
  4. Simply put, a tanka poem is a Japanese poem and is similar to a haiku but has two additional lines. A tanka consists of 5 lines and 31 syllables. These poems do not have titles. You can look at some examples here.
    Line 1 – 5 syllables
    Line 2 – 7 syllables
    Line 3 – 5 syllables
    Line 4 – 7 syllables
    Line 5 – 7 syllables
  5. Write a landay. The landay is a form of folk poetry from Afghanistan that is made up of one single couplet. The first line is consists of nine syllables and the second line of thirteen. You can read more about the form and find examples here.
  6. Do a translation. Either of a poem in a second language into your native language, or a poem in your native language into another language if you’re really feeling adventurous. You could also “translate” something from a different medium (like a movie, book, painting, song) into a poem.
  7. Write a found poem. You can use tangible, real material if you want. Cut something up and rearrange it. Black out words on a page. Anything that inspires you.

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Here are a few other sources. Poetry prompts are fun, and sometimes you just can’t get enough. So, why stop with seven?

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Poetry Magazine Call for Submission

by Amanda Steele

Poetry Magazine Trans

peculiar is always looking to amplify the voices of the queer community in Utah and to make our creative community aware of opportunities for publishing their work. We wanted to let you all know about an exciting opportunity coming to you from Poetry magazine. This magazine is one of the most well-known and respected monthly journals in the country for publishing poetry, and it has been around for over 100 years.

From now until May 31st, 2018, Poetry will be taking submission for an issue that will be dedicated solely to the poetry of transgender, gender non-conforming, and non-cis poets. This is a great opportunity to submit your work, and we are excited that Poetry magazine is focusing on these marginalized voices. This issue will be guest-edited by Christopher Soto and is set to be published in the fall of this year. Information about submission guidelines can be found here.

We also encourage you to connect with the magazine by following their Twitter, @poetrymagazine. While this is a special issue that seeks to highlight and feature the voices of transgender and gender non-conforming poets, they also encourage all non-cis poets to submit their work any time to Poetry open submissions. These submissions are ongoing and can be accessed continuously. So, if you miss out on this deadline, you can always submit in the future.

Again, here’s the link to submit.

 

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IMG_0705Amanda Steele is a queer poet and writer with a degree in Creative Writing and Gender Studies from Utah Valley University. She was born and raised in Idaho and currently lives in New York City. Amanda works as a freelance writer and blogger and has been published in peculiar, The Dandelion Review, and Sun and Sandstone, among others. She loves to mix her love of writing with her passion for activism and fandom. You can follow her on Twitter: @adamantaflame or on her blog here.

 

10 Queer Poets of Color You Should Know About

by Amanda Steele

Finding a new poet whose words ignite and inspire your own writing is a joy we as poets share. There are many contemporary poets out there who are creating influential, beautiful work. LGBT+ poets are breaking boundaries and pushing language to new levels.

This will be the first in a series of blog posts meant to highlight and recognize queer poets and their work. If you are looking for a resource to find contemporary queer writers and see what is going on in the world of poetry, this blog series can get you started.

A selection of influential, contemporary queer poets of color.

While queer poets of color have always been around and shaping literature and the written word, learning about poets producing work now is important. Poets such as Audre Lorde and James Baldwin should also be part of your poetry canon, but for today, the focus is on the recent and up and coming.

Contemporary queer people of color are reshaping poetry and spoken word in new and exciting ways. While this list is by no means exhaustive, it’s a good place to start if you are looking to add a new chapbook or two to your collection. This really is just a small selection of all the great poets of color out there, and we will definitely be adding more to the list in future installments.

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1: Saeed Jones

Saeed Jones published his debut work of poetry, Prelude to Bruise, in 2014. This collection focuses on themes related to masculinity, race, power dynamics, intimacy, and much more. He is a queer black man who is also well-known for being a literary editor for Buzzfeed. Jones was born in Memphis, raised in Lewisville, and currently lives in New York City. He received an MFA from Rutgers University-Newark and is a recipient of the Pushcart Prize as well as a fellow for Cave Canem and Queer/Art/Mentorship. You can follow him on Twitter here: @theferocity.

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2: Natalie Diaz

Natalie Diaz is Mojave and a member of the Gila River Indian Community. She has an MFA and is the author of the poetry collection When My Brother Was an Aztec, which was published in 2012. The New York Times called this work “ambitious” and “beautiful.” She has received many awards such as the Nimrod/Hardman Pablo Neruda Prize for Poetry and the Lannan Literary Fellowship, among others. Diaz lives in Mohave Valley, Arizona, and she is a Mojave Language Activist. She can be found on Twitter at this handle, @NatalieGDiaz.

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3: Jericho Brown

Jericho Brown released his debut work, Please, in 2008. This publication won the American Book Award. His second poetry collection, The New Testament, was released in 2014 and was named by Library Journal as one of the best poetry books of that year. Brown also received the Whiting Writers Award as well as fellowships from Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study at Harvard University and the National Endowment for the Arts. He has a PhD from the University of Houston. Jericho’s work is centered around themes such as race, religion, rituals, and love. He can be found on Twitter, too, at @jerichobrown.

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4: Chen Chen

Chen Chen is the author of When I Grow Up I Want to Be a List of Further Possibilities, released in 2017. This work won the A. Poulin, Jr. Poetry Prize and the GLCA New Writers Award. He has also written two chapbooks and was featured as one of “Ten Poets Who Will Change the World” by Poets & Writers Magazine. Chen Chen has also been the recipient of fellowships from Kundiman, Lambda Literary, and the Saltonstall Foundation. He lives in Rochester, New York, and has an MFA from Syracuse University. Chen Chen is also on Twitter and can be found at @chenchenwrites.

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5:  Erika L. Sánchez

Erika L. Sánchez lives in Chicago and is the daughter of Mexican immigrants. She is a poet, novelist, and essayist, and her first collection of poetry, Lessons on Expulsion, was published in 2017. Her debut YA novel, I Am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter, was also published in 2017 and is a New York Times Bestseller and National Book Awards Finalist. She is also a 20172019 Princeton Arts fellow. Sánchez received her MFA in Creative Writing from the University of New Mexico, and her work has been featured in Poetry magazine, NPR, and many many other publications. You can follow her on Twitter at @ErikaLSanchez.

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6: Yosimar Reyes

Yosimar Reyes is “a nationally acclaimed poet, educator, performance artist and public speaker” according to the bio from his website. He is from Mexico, and his work is focused around themes related to migration and sexuality. His first collection, For Colored Boys Who Speak Softly…, was self-published. He is also co-founder of La Mariocolectiva. This is a performance group of undocumented, queer poets. Reyes’ work has been featured in many online journals, and he is an Arts Fellow at Define American. Find him on Twitter here: @YoSoyYosi.

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7: Amber Atiya

Amber Atiya released her first chapbook, the fierce bums of doo-wop, in 2014. Her poetry has appeared in many literary journals including Black Renaissance Noire, Boston Review, Nepantla: A Journal Dedicated to Queer Poets of Color, and many more. Atiya is a 2012 Poets House Fellow. Amber Atiya was born and raised in Brooklyn, where she currently resides. You can find her on Twitter @AmberAtiyaNYC and on Tumblr, here.

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8: Ryka Aoki

Ryka Aoki is the author of many collections and works including Seasonal Velocities, He Mele a Hilo (A Hilo Song), and Why Dust Shall Never Settle Upon This Soul. She performed at the first ever Transgender Stage at San Francisco Pride and has performed at many other venues over the years. Aoki has an MFA in Creative Writing from Cornell University, and she is also the recipient of the University Award from the Academy of Poets. Aoki is also the founder of the International Transgender Martial Arts Alliance and is a professor at Santa Monica College. Follow her on Twitter at @ryka_aoki.

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9: Danez Smith

Danez Smith is a black, queer writer and performer from St. Paul, Minnesota. Their collection of poetry, Don’t Call Us Dead, was published in 2017 and was a finalist for the national book award. Smith also published a collection of poetry called [insert] boy, which was published in 2014. This collection won the Kate Tufts Discovery Award and the Lambda Literary Award for Gay Poetry. Their work has been featured in Buzzfeed, The New York Times, Poetry Magazine, and more. Danez co-hosts VS, a podcast sponsored by the Poetry foundation, with Franny Choi, and he is also a recipient of many fellowships. Follow them on Twitter under this handle: @Danez_Smif.

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10: Franny Choi

Franny Choi is a “queer, Korean-American poet, playwright, teacher, organizer,” according to her website. Her published works include Floating, Brilliant, Gone, published in 2014 and Death by Sex Machine, published in 2017. She has many awards from the Poetry Foundation, Helen Zell Writers program, and more. She received a fellowship from the Vermont Studio Center and the Rhode Island Council on the Arts. Choi’s work has been featured in Poetry Magazine, Huffington Post, and more. She has been a finalist for the National Poetry Slam and other slam poetry competitions and co-hosts the podcast VS with Danez Smith. Look out for her collection, Soft Science, coming out in 2019, and find her on Twitter @fannychoir.

Bonus Resource:

Check out, Nepantla: An Anthology Dedicated to Queer Poets of Color. The new issue is coming out soon, and, if you can’t buy it, you can still see the list of contributors, making it a great place to find some new poets. Christopher Sota and Lambda Literary Foundation started this online journal in 2014.

Share your favorite contemporary queer poets of color below!

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Amanda Steele is a queer poet and writer with a degree in Creative Writing and Gender Studies from Utah Valley University. She was born and raised in Idaho and currently lives in New York City. Amanda works as a freelance writer and blogger and has been published in 
peculiar, The Dandelion Review, and Sun and Sandstone, among others. She loves to mix her love of writing with her passion for activism and fandom. You can follow her on Twitter: @adamantaflame or on her blog here.

 

Sources:

https://thebodyisnotanapology.com/magazine/queer-women-of-color-using-media-art-to-get-freelisticle/

http://www.thefrisky.com/2016-01-29/6-modern-day-queer-poets-you-must-read/

Together We Will Rise: A Personal Narrative on the Park City Women’s March

by Amanda Steele

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I woke up that morning at 6 a.m. Pulled on boots, layers of pants, scarves, gloves, and looked out the window to inches of fresh snow. A quick search online let me know that Parley’s Canyon would be treacherous in these conditions, and I wavered about whether or not to chance it. At risk of sounding melodramatic, it felt like a turning point for me. Was I going to turn back when things were difficult? Would snow and icy roads deter me from coming together with millions of women across the world to march for equality and rights for all people? The air seemed to buzz with a collective energy, and I knew I would regret it if I didn’t even try. Deciding that I could always turn back if the roads were too bad, I zipped up my coat and headed out the door, a makeshift sign that read “Together We Will Rise” in my hand.

The slow-crawling, barely-moving drive to Park City seemed a metaphor for the state of women’s, and other minority groups’, rights in our country. An uphill battle, slow moving, where little progress seemed to be made. Danger was also involved. Toyota Camrys, Dodge pickups, and Walmart semi-trucks dotted the side of the road as emergency vehicles came to their rescue. Traffic was heavy, and there was bodily risk for all of us—just as those with bodies outside the norm. The bodies of women, people of color, queer people, disabled people, DAPL protestors, etc. are at risk as things stand now in our country. Even more with the inauguration of Trump.

Nearly three hours later, I found a place to park amongst the thousands of people gathered for both the Sundance Film Festival and the Women’s March and grabbed a bus to Main Street where the march would begin. Hundreds of us jogged excitedly to the start of the march that was already beginning to make its way from the Wasatch Brewery. I had made it just in time.

The snow was still coming down in soft, large flakes as I joined the throng. Signs held aloft with phrases such as, “my body, my choice,” “how long must women wait for equality,” and my personal favorite “a woman’s place is in the resistance” among others. There were children, men, celebrities, locals, and lots of women and queer folk. Accompanying us was a peaceful but determined quality to the atmosphere.

The rally afterwards was overflowing into the streets. People climbed up onto snowbanks to get a better view over the sea of pink hats and cardboard signs that were now a bit droopy from all the snow. We were Queens in the North. Winter was here, and nothing was going to keep us from the fight. Despite the stress of getting here, I was happy I had made it. It is hard to describe knowing that you are surrounded by thousands of other people who care about equality just like you and knowing that millions of other women around the world were marching that same day. It truly did feel historic, and I am proud that I pushed through social anxiety, dangerous roads, and crowded buses to show my support.

For me, marching represents a personal commitment to put my words into actions. To become involved in my community and state government and organize with others in my area to create change. To agitate, to protest, to show up. I’ve always been the sort to focus my energy into writing, art, or changing the minds of those around me, and while those are important things, sometimes we all need to be willing to do more.

I was also made aware that even for all the positive aspects of the march there is much work to be done. I had the privilege of never feeling the necessity and urgency of showing up to a protest or march before Trump’s election. Many people have been showing up and fighting long before me because they had no choice. They have always been at risk. These marches were mainly centered on the issues of white women, and the chants could at times be too focused on a gender binary. We need to continue to recognize privilege and get out of the way for people of color, nonbinary people, and other groups that often get pushed aside so that white, cisgendered bodies are the most visible. I, and other white women, need to show up to marches for Black Lives Matter, need to speak up and say that vaginas don’t make a woman. As with all social movements, we need to be continually checking our privilege and critiquing ourselves. We need to celebrate our victories but keep striving to do better.

In the end, I came to the march because I decided enough is enough. It is time for all of us to call our congress people, show up to protests, organize together, and end complacency. For ourselves and even more so for others with less privilege than our own. When I look back on this weekend, one that will be talked about for years to come, I want to be remembered as someone who stood up. Someone who was willing to do hard things because they were the right things. Someone who didn’t sit complacently by and let others do the work for me. May we all continue fighting the good fight and be a little braver and bolder during the oncoming years. May we keep each other safe and keep showing up. If we do that, we can keep the tide of nationalist, bigoted beliefs at bay.

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16142996_10154733640881815_8309407749215901025_nAmanda Steele is a feminist killjoy and bisexual woman living in Sandy, UT. She is a recent graduate of Utah Valley University with a degree in creative writing and a gender studies minor. Amanda has been published in peculiar, along with multiple other Utah-based publications such as Touchstones, Rock Canyon Poets community publication, and Intersections along with online journals including wordhaus. In the past, she has served as an associate editor for Essais and prose editor for Touchstones, both student publications. She is currently applying to graduate school in gender studies and loves to mix her love of activism with her love of writing and fandom.