It’s been a while since I’ve written a news-focused post and there are a few exciting things happening in queer bookland! First of all, the Lambda literary and Triangle awards have been announced and there are a few Canadian contenders (although not as many as last year). Trans writer/musician Rae Spoon’s first book First Spring Grass Fire (reviewed here) is up for the award for transgender fiction. Rae and fellow writer Ivan E Coyote have been on the road recently performing their multi-media collaborative show Gender Failure; it was ridiculously hard to get tickets for the sold-out show in Vancouver, so I missed it. If this happened to you, all is not lost! You can check out the performance in full here.
Also up for a lammy, in the category of LGBT debut fiction, is Alex Leslie, a Vancouver writer whose short story collection People Who Disappear I reviewed in the fall. Alex Leslie was also the guest editor of the queer issue of Poetry is Dead and has poems featured in the first and second issues of the new queer literary magazine Plenitude. In other words, she is one busy literary queer. (By the way, stay tuned for a review of the latest issue of Plenitude). Congrats Rae and Alex! You can check out all the nominations on the Lambda site.
Canadian poet Rachel Rose’s latest book is up for Audre Lorde award for lesbian poetry, presented by the Publishing Triangle. I am eagerly awaiting a review copy of Rose’s book in the mail. In the meanwhile, this is the blurb for the collection:
Song and Spectacle is the third collection by Rose, whose craft as a lyricist intersects with a deep notion of the world around her. Her words provoke an awareness of one’s self and, at the same time, create a sense of intimacy with the greater world. She has an extraordinary ability to combine the very personal with the universal. The poems touch on the truths of lesbian motherhood, the effects that suicide has on those left behind, the pains of child birth and the broader questions of myth and science—and the efforts and failures of both to fulfill notions of living and dying.
Rose’s fierce refrains cry out with the joy of being loved and loving—as a mother, child, lover and friend in a nurturing, yet volatile world. Throughout her verse lies a profound respect for the ever-changing body—one that is constantly being sacrificed for love and life, or to death, disease and abuse. Although Rose’s words are penetrating, they are not without a sense of humour and a healthy dose of playfulness.
More literary prize news: Anne Fleming’s latest short story collection, Gay Dwarves of America (reviewed here), has recently been named a finalist for the Ethel Wilson fiction prize, one of the BC book prizes. Congrats, Anne!
In other exciting queer literary news, Amber Dawn has a brand-new book out: How Poetry Saved My Life: A Hustler’s Memoir. Here’s some info about the book via her new website, which is both gorgeous and informative:
How Poetry Saved My Life, Amber Dawn’s sophomore book, reveals an even more poignant and personal landscape―the terrain of sex work, queer identity, and survivor pride. This story, told in prose and poetry, offers a frank, multifaceted portrait of the author’s experiences hustling the streets of Vancouver, and the how those years took away her self-esteem and nearly destroyed her; at the crux of this autobiographical narrative is the tender celebration of poetry and literature, which―as the title suggests―acted as a lifeline during her most pivotal moments.
I am super pumped to read this book!! There are two launches coming up in Vancouver: one at UBC and another at Pat’s pub in East Van. Looks like there are also going to be launches happening in Toronto, Guelph, and Montreal. Check out the events page on her website for more info.
I recently had the pleasure of seeing Amber Dawn read as part of the Vancouver launch for another book, Nevada by Imogen Binnie, and I wanted to plug her and the book, even though she’s not Canadian, for a few reasons. Nevada is put out by a new New York-based publisher, Topside Press, whose focus is, in their own words, “publishing authentic transgender narratives”; in other words, fiction featuring trans characters, written by trans authors.
Both Imogen Binnie and Nevada were/are awesome and hilarious and I am really excited to read the book, which features a young punk trans woman whose problems with her girlfriend lead to a cross-country roadtrip. I’m expecting it to be an amazing queering/punking/transing–if that’s a word–of the straight cis American male roadtrip novel. Also, there was a really awesome and important conversation at the launch about the exclusion and absence of trans women from queer spaces (particularly, how doing things like adding an asterisk to trans does nothing to address the actual reasons why trans folks [women in particular] don’t feel included in certain queer spaces/events). All this to say, Imogen Binnie was rad and you should check out a launch near you; she’s going all over the States and is also going to be in Montreal and Toronto later in April. Check out her tour blog for times and places; her voice there is also pretty representative of her punk writing style, so you can get a taste of what you’re in for with the novel.