Kay Ulanday Barrett aka @brownroundboi, is a poet, performer, and educator, navigating life as a disabled pilipinx amerikan transgender queer in the U.S. K. has featured globally; Princeton University, UC Berkeley, The Lincoln Center, Queens Museum, The Chicago Historical Society, NY Poetry Festival, Dodge Poetry Foundation, The Hemispheric Institute, & National Queer Arts Festival. They are a 3x Pushcart Prize nominee and has received fellowships from Lambda Literary Review, VONA/Voices, The Home School, and Drunken Boat. Their contributions are found in Asian American Literary Review, PBS News Hour, NYLON, The Margins, RaceForward, Foglifter, The Deaf Poets Society, Poor Magazine, Fusion.net, Trans Bodies/Trans Selves, Winter Tangerine, Apogee, Entropy, Colorlines, Everyday Feminism, Them., The Advocate, and Bitch Magazine. They have contributions in the anthologies, Subject To Change (Sibling Rivalry Press), Outside the XY: Queer Black & Brown Masculinity (Magnus Books), and Writing the Walls Down: A Convergence of LGBTQ Voices (Trans-genre Press). They are currently a guest editor at Nat.Brut, 2018 Lambda Literary Review, Writer-In-Residence in Poetry, and 2018 guest faculty for The Poetry Foundation & Crescendo Literary. When The Chant Comes (Topside Press, 2016) is their first collection of poetry. kaybarrett.net
Poet and playwright Sharon Bridgforth says of her work, "like most things that I do, it started inside of my own bone marrow and blood memories." In what ways do we write our memories as People of Color and Queer people? How do we survive in literary traditions and forms beyond those, like the literary canon, embedded in heteronormativity and white supremacy? This session will explore how we disrupt and transform narratives of "normal" in our writing to include narratives and experiences of disability, race, gender, and/or class.
As Leslie Feinberg said, “Gender is the poetry each of us makes out of the language we are taught.” As writers and readers, how do we engage with writing as the queer practice of possibility, imagining, and un/remaking the world? Listen to panelists as they discuss questions of creation, the queerness of writing, and the way queerness subverts the known and expected, changing the literary landscape itself.
JM: “Homebois Don’t Write Enough” is one of my favorite pieces in the book. It reads like a manifesto. There’s a really beautiful turn in the poem where you say “homebois we don’t write enough love poems…homebois, we don’t write enough love poems to ourselves.” You express a sense of not fitting into a binary model of gender. Can you talk more about the need to rewrite masculinity and the necessity of tenderness?
KUB: I’m so glad you appreciate that piece. There’s an incessant need to rewrite and revise masculinity. There must always be room for tenderness. As a disabled and chronically ill person of the brown queer masculine variety, I’m not typically what you find of the #FTM life or what people conceive of as manly. Personally, I’m cool with that, but that isn’t the case with mainstream U.S. society. As a kid, I was for some reason on the periphery of what was considered behaved or acceptable and many times, respectable. This poem is no different.
Throughout the collection, Kay threads together storylines about his mother, diaspora, romantic love, disability, loneliness, and astrology. In each section, Kay searches to articulate even the most unspeakable parts of life with a refreshing level of humility and honesty.