• Quinn Eades

In recent years we have seen an explosion of trans memoirs, but relatively few of these have a poetic sensibility or include poetry. In this paper I will extend the concept of ‘transpoetics’, first coined by trans writer and poet T.C. Tolbert in his edited collection Troubling the Line: Trans and Genderqueer Poetry and Poetics (2013), who said in a recent interview that poetry meant ‘I could do things in language and create a world for myself that I didn’t know how to inhabit with my body’. I will posit that transpoetics carries all the markers of a dialogic form, despite the fact that Bakhtin privileged the novel over poetry and poetics, claiming that poetry could only ever be monologic. I then discuss Butler’s notion of performativity alongside Jay Prosser’s interventions against using the trans body as metaphor to destabilise gender norms, and finally meditate on drag, the practice of reading, and look at transpoetics as chronotope. By placing this work alongside my own autobiographical prose poetry, this paper also performs a heteroglossic, ‘both/and’ writing of the queer and trans body.

Works cited: 


Bakhtin, M 1981 The Dialogic Imagination: Four Essays (trans. Caryl Emerson and Michael Holquist), Austin, TX: University of Texas Press

Butler, J 1988 ‘Performative Acts and Gender Constitution: An Essay in Phenomenology and Feminist Theory’ Theatre Journal 40: 4, 519-31

Butler, J 1990 Gender Trouble: Feminism and the Subversion of Identity, New York, NY: Routledge

Butler, J 1993 Bodies That Matter: On the Discursive Limits of Sex’, New York, NY: Routledge

Carter, P 2009 Dark Writing: Geography, Performance, Design, Honolulu, HI: University of Hawai'i Press

Clark, K and Holquist, M 1984 Mikail Bakhtin, Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press

Eliot, T S 1922 The Waste Land. New York, NY: The Dial Publishing Company

Gassbarone, L 1994 ‘The Locus for the Other: Cixous, Bakhtin, and Women's Writing” in K Hohne and H Wussow (eds) Dialogue of Voices: Feminist Literary Theory and Bakhtin, Minneapolis, MN: University of Minnesota Press, 20-41.

Ladin, J 2016 ‘“Split It Open and Count the Seeds”: Trans Identity, Trans Poetics, and Oliver Bendorf’s the Spectral Wilderness’ Transgender Studies Quarterly 3: 3-4, 637-48

Paris Is Burning 1990. Dir. Jennie Livingstone. Prod. Jennie Livingston and Barrie Swimar, Off White Productions

Prosser, J 1998 Second Skins: The Body Narratives of Transsexuality, New York, NY: Columbia University Press

Prosser, J 2006 ‘Judith Butler: Queer Feminism, Transgender, and the Transubstantiation of Sex’ in S Stryker and S Whittle (eds) The Transgender Studies Reader, New York, NY: Routledge, 257-80

Ru Paul's Drag Race. 2009— Dirs. Nick Murray, Ian Stevenson, Justin Harder, World of Wonder Productions.

Tolbert, T C and Peterson, T (eds) 2013 Troubling the Line: Trans and Genderqueer Poetry and Poetics, New York, NY: Nightboat Books