I was lucky enough in November to snag a spot in Karen Russell’s workshop with Austin Bat Cave on metamorphoses, and now pieces from that class have been compiled into an anthology - I’ve got a horror piece in there about two lesbians who get eaten by a bed, because why the hell not. Visit Book People on N Lamar in Austin to buy a copy, or check out the Austin Bat Cave online store!
that’s my body monologue on the cover of the denver quarterly! truly so honored to have this art object, made in isolation in the throes of a trauma flashback, now given honor and a space to exist alongside some truly great writers. thirii myo kyaw myint was just as lovely to work with as i’d hoped she’d be.
purchase the issue here and be one of the first to own a physical copy of my illuminations!
2019 is NOT TRYING TO FUCK AROUND yall~! 3 major wonderful lovely opportunities are headed my way! if you’re in austin, tx, come check out 1 or 2 or all 3 of em! it’d be great to see yr faces!
milktoast millie & the scabby knees
my punkgrass band, milktoast millie & the scabby knees, is recording a full-length album full of rats n snakes n queers n rage n grief n love - and we need your help! beloved by queer folks and divorced women and hated by hetero boyfriends and husbands, we’re in the middle of an indiegogo campaign to help offset the costs, and if you donate you’re in good shape to receive some weird/sweet perks. (ya ever wanted me to get a little high and spray paint bullshit on a t-shirt? ya ever wanted a poster i’m designing myself? ya ever wanted a private class on improvised musicals taught by yours truly? all up for grabs…)
click here and help us reach our goal by the end of the month! and come see us at the hi hat pub later this month - who knows, maybe you’ve been dying to hear the gay truck love song of your dreams???
an evening with amelia young
the first time my dear friend ammon talked to me about dressing in drag as amelia young, one of mormon founder brigham young's most ferocious wives, we were in the bisexual lighting of cheer up charlie's and i think i actually screamed in delight. now it's finally happening, and he's asked me to accompany him as ann eliza, wife no. 19 in our debut for the 2019 frontera long fringe festival at hyde park theatre jan. 29!
amelia young and ann eliza had a tumultuous relationship - while amelia was the sanctimonious, willing, and favored wife, receiving (among manyother gifts) an entire house from brigham (which i painted in the image below! formidable, amiright?), ann eliza was the writer, the mother of two who was forced into marriage, and the one who eventually divorced brigham young and fled the church. in spite of their differences, though, these two women shared a common experience: the complicated, storied, difficult experience of being sister-wives on the western frontier. in this show, they rejoin one another after the chips have fallen - one of them still entrenched in the institution that continues to haunt the other. i'm so honored ammon asked me to join him in this show. it's something truly beautiful and funny and devastating and tender, created by someone whose talent, courage, and resilience continue to impress and inspire me onward. come see this show and vote it through frontera’s best of fest!
HIVE Art Collective’s featured artist-in-residence, february 2019
HIVE Art Collective, a local arts collective “dedicated to preserving the spirit of collaboration and skill sharing in an environment that feels warm and welcoming for women (trans/queer/cis) and non-binary people,” has selected me and 3 other incredible local artists to receive grants sponsored by the austin cultural arts division, allowing us to teach 2 workshops apiece and showcase our work in canopy’s first friday! i’ll be teaching my introduction to poetry comics class as well as a new writing workshop, “feast: writing from the body.” on march 1, i’ll be showing my body monologues-in-progress from “relic,” as well as an excerpt from the performance of these body monologues i’m developing under the keen eye of body movement artist kelly hasandras. it’s gonna be an incredible month! keep your eyes on this space for more updates!
this morning i received photos from surel’s place of my first performance of “relic” as i lay in bed swallowing muscle relaxers and codeine every couple hours and screaming as pain shot down my legs. i have chronic lower back pain, which flares up nonetheless whenever i suffer extreme relational distress. my back pain is the most severe representative of my old traumas. it felt grossly appropriate to receive these memories of me reenacting body monologues while i wept in the future, overthrown, anguished. the body never forgets. 3 nights ago i called my therapist in desperation and she told me that once, her body had gotten so triggered from a stressful and violent situation that her lower back seized up and she couldn’t shit for 7 whole days. what’s the scandinavian word for “horrified but also relieved to have someone nearby who knows your terror?”
learning how to “read” my body monologues with breath and guttural intonation has been a fascinating endeavor that felt freely explored in isolation at surel’s place. now that i’m back in texas for the foreseeable future, however, everything feels harder to access. the safety and comfort involved in open expression is not easily won here, where my daily frantic life abuts my desire for solitude. i’m hoping to pull in a body performance expert i know from the theatre world, and maybe even a body work specialist, to help me find the hems of what is and isn’t possible in this newfound divine language. i have gathered all this lactic acid into knots of calligraphy ink; now, how to release them? if ever i can?
first and foremost: THE FIRST SNOW OF THE SEASON AND I WAS HERE FOR IT AM I DEAD IS THIS HEAVEN ~ i don’t even have to shovel it, yesssssss. sorry austin i’m moving…
second of all: i was on the radio this afternoon! daphne stanford interviewed me and let me perform some of my body paintings from “relic” for “the poetry show!,” a weekly radio segment on sundays at 5pm mst on krbx 89.9 fm that interviews both local and visiting poets in between readings of their work. she told me my hero bhanu kapil came through recently and i died, so that’s where i’m at.
if you wanna hear me perform my illustrations and talk about anorexic saints, trauma, memories as relics, and the somatic, click here for the full 30-min interview!
Somehow it’s already been almost a month since I arrived in Garden City for my residency at Surel’s Place! Wowowow byyyye 2018. I have so many thoughts to share about my time here, from planning to the day-to-day to all the grief that inevitably rises when you’re given unlimited time alone with your art and your own mind. For now, I thought I’d give a special focus to the two workshops I was able to teach to the community while I was here.
When I was applying for my residency with Surel’s Place, the application only asked for one pitch for a workshop. But because “Relic” is so expansive, and because I so rarely teach classes in literary arts, I pitched two: “I Am the Ghost: Writing Haunting Characters,” and “Introduction to Poetry Comics.” The folks here were ecstatic that I wanted to teach twice - being an Aries/Aries rising pays off! (No it doesn’t it’s the worst save me from myself…!!!!!)
I created “I Am The Ghost” specifically for Surel’s Place, keeping in mind that it would most likely pull an older audience. Structured around engaging with the somatic and a more holistic attitude towards writing, this was a generative class, and the exercises and writing I led us through prioritized emotions and body responses. Because of its nature, most of the participants were women - older artists, many retired, who had come to painting and writing in recent years and needed a shake-up in developing their work. We spent our hours looking at work by Claudia Rankine, Brian Evenson, Alejandra Pizarnick, and Bhanu Kapil and considering what “haunts” a text; what makes a text “haunted;” what we’re frightened of writing about; and how to give our characters ghosts of their own. There are things I would tighten, activities I might tweak in a future iteration that didn’t quite give our class-community the desired result (and some I might nix completely if there are male participants present; oh men, why must you always fight with a female instructor for control?), but overall we spent a lovely Saturday being thoughtful with ourselves and each other.
“Introduction to Poetry Comics” is a class I’ve taught before - the first iteration happened at Austin Bat Cave, and involved child participants between the ages of 9 and 13. This time, however, I got to witness something truly amazing: a large class of all ages, including 2 separate grandmothers who’d brought their granddaughters (ages 11 and 12) so that they could “learn something new together;” several older professional artists from Garden City and Boise; a professor with the local university; folks from the literary scene; and so many more… It struck me how truly beautiful and healing intergenerational classrooms can be. As we led a retired 60-year old painter through a discussion of preferred pronouns for the first time in her life, bridged the language between poetry and comics to create a new third language of possibility, sat with our discomfort when faced with not knowing the “right” or “good” way of being a poemic or looking at poetry comics, and challenged the white supremacist patriarchal capitalism that demands answers of artistic “products” and makes us evaluate each other in such toxic patterns - it felt incredibly powerful to watch all these generations of artists be present and engaged with one another, brave and holding fast to the beginner’s mind. The work created at the end of class was such a revelation, and so bold! True first drafts, where folks overcame their shame of not knowing “how” to draw or write and instead just surrendered to their own curiosity. This class is rapidly becoming a favorite of mine to teach. I’m considering starting a series back in Austin that’s sliding scale where we spend a couple weeks delving into this new language together, with the intention of creating an intergenerational space aimed at steering clear of domination-based critique tactics and instead embracing the questions that art can bring to the surface.
God I love teaching. Not because I love being in charge or dominating a group of people, or even lecturing - but because every time, I feel so grateful to witness the community that can form so easily and simply in the span of a couple hours as we all strive to listen and be heard and hold ourselves accountable in the name of kindness, empathy, and art. My cold, dead heart warms up in the classroom. I wonder what 2019 will bring…
check it out - lex nelson from boise weekly wrote a lil write-up on the workshops i’ve been offering and my final performance while i’m here at surel’s place! give it a read and hear me describe “like, everything, ever” as a gray area! then imagine my face as i lament the fact that no matter how old i am or how much education i’ve received, i still sound like a 16-year old describing the first time i ever saw “but i’m a cheerleader!”
read the full piece here.
so so happy to finally be able to announce that next month, i’ll be living as a writer-in-residence at surel’s place in garden city, idaho! surel’s place is a non-profit artist in residency program that offers the incredible opportunity for artists to live and work in a beautiful home for an entire month, free of charge, and teach classes to the wider community. i can’t wait to take some new workshops up to idaho, work on this impossible and chaotic performance novel, and be in the cold again!
it’s really interesting to think about what it takes to be a writer and stay alive right now. residencies can be a big part of securing a writer’s cv for academic positions, as well as making their books more attractive to publishers. surel’s place offers fully funded residencies, but rarely is anything in this world free of cost, and with travel and cost of materials and the time i’m having to take off work, it’s really clear that a year ago, without my current job i’m lucky to have (a tech job that’s letting me take a month off as paid, unlimited vacation time), i wouldn’t have been able to make this work. every day i think more and more about who gets to do shit like this. i’m a white, cis, able-bodied, single person with a fuck ton of education and a job that pays far above minimum wage and offers competitive health care. i’ve had a lot of legs up. it’s more important now than it ever has been to work on ways to make this whole process more equitable, starting with the true costs of residencies. lots of ideas cooped up in my head that need letting out.
teaching a new version of my "wild: radical forms of making" class with the adult education program at austin bat cave! 2 days [sept 21 & 22], $75 total, a combination of generative and discussion-based exploration as well as re-opening our old work to new breath. sign up here, on the austin bat cave website!
it's really cool to be able to revisit curriculum i made a year ago and crack it open to make it new again. curriculum should be a living, breathing creature, changing and evolving with me and with the world. i think about the latin root "curricule," that it's built from a combination of the word for a racing chariot and the word for "run." by definition, curriculum should be running in the direction of inclusivity, innovation, life, movement, ebbing, flowing. it's such a gift to be able to learn from what was limiting about the class before and run towards new methods of accompanying my students now.
i was asked to perform at austin bat cave's monthly storytelling series, story department, and they put my story up on their site! check it out here.
austin bat cave is my favorite non-profit in austin! they provide children and teenagers (ages 6-18) with opportunities to develop their creative and expository writing skills, connecting a diverse population of young writers and learners with a vibrant community of adult volunteers in austin. and, all of their programs are free! it's my favorite place to volunteer, and the only comprehensive creative writing center in austin, where i've been able to teach experimental workshops, like poetry comics, as well as more traditional after-school writing labs.
copies of my illuminated chapbook, "blue," are available for purchase!
click here and help me get this shit out of my closet so i have more room for collecting animal bones in the desert this summer +++
this saturday 3/31!
an excerpt from my menstruation apocalypse novella, beasts of revelation, is live on tarpaulin sky magazine today! beasts was a finalist for the 2017 ts book prize. still buzzed about it. +++
check it out here.
the v nice v cool people who run longform picked "little skin bag" as their fiction pick of the week! thanks, kind strangers! +++ also "searches for a sense of self" will be added to my gravestone underneath "full of piss and vinegar."
click here to check out longform!
so very very happy to have been listed as a finalist in tarpaulin sky's annual book prize for my novella, beasts of revelation! and congrats to winners jennifer s. cheng and piper j. daniels, whose books i eagerly await. (how do you not fall in love with books titled moon: letters, maps, poems and ladies lazarus, seriously, are they out yet?...)