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Trans is a failure of language. Poetry is a failure of the body.

Notes on

TRANS PLANET Ep. 2

 

TRANS PLANET is an occasional poetic interaction that showcases the work of emerging transgender and gender-nonconforming poets and artists. The second installment in the online reading series will take place on April 22, 2016 at 9pm EST on the front page of rhizome.org.

Here are some things I was thinking about as I organized this reading. 

Trans is a failure of language. Poetry is a failure of the body. As Shaadi Devereaux says, I am “not trans but transatlantic.” At each turn, there were so many people we could have become, uncountable superimposed states of uncertainty killed off, the surplus value of their randomness smushed together into Being-in-itself. The immaterial carcasses of our other selves litter the multiverse, and their voiceless words come back to haunt us, the gods having grown stronger with each body that jumped overboard. Even as the subaltern of ourselves cannot speak, unintelligible phrases emerge like totems in what seems like eternal return, entrenching themselves on the tips of our tongues, spreading elsewhere as incalculable contagion.

And why is the sheer thinkability of the human future in such stark contrast to the unspeakability of the past, or to what never happened? Why is the past treated like what never happened? What does it mean to mourn what never happened? All of the possibilities that get crushed into the manufacturing of the Real, the squishy quanta of data that leave wet traces, molten ash laden into a precarious space between formalism and empiricism. A body in a white space of forgetting. My nonbinary femhood built from sea salt, blood, and the protection of cascarilla. How can we mourn all of the forgotten histories in a sensuous way, without having access to the specific topos of each lost archive, and in the face of the irrevocable alchemy of computation itself, of the flattening of sense into data?

The first episode of TRANS PLANET was hosted by NewHive in October 2015. The co-organizers of that event coalesced loosely from THEM, a trans literary journal which Jos Charles co-founded and edits, and IN FEAR OF A TRANS PLANET at Be About It Press. The co-organizers crowdfunded a west coast tour which took place in July 2015, as well as an accompanying tour publication, transitioning afterward to an online reading format.

Clockwise from top left: Mx Angel, CHRYSALISAMIDST, Joshua Jennifer Espinoza, Porpentine Charity Heartscape, manuel arturo abreu, Sade Murphy, Thel Seraphim, and Van Binfa.

As the only visibly nonwhite core group member, I felt nervous that TRANS PLANET would serve as an extension of white gender coloniality, both in online and meatspace manifestations. Going forward, it was important for me to mitigate our programming’s reification of the whitewashed trans tipping point, which erases so much of the work trans people of color, especially black and brown trans women, have done for the trans, gender nonconformity, and LGBTQIA+ communities as a whole.

As such, for this reading, the white core members of TRANS PLANET stepped aside and invited trans and gender-nonconforming practitioners of color to present their work.

This episode of TRANS PLANET features the following poets and artists: Mx Angel, Van Binfa, CHRYSALISAMIDST, Joshua Jennifer Espinoza, Porpentine Charity Heartscape, Sade Murphy, Thel Seraphim, and myself.

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