TC Tolbert identifies as a trans and genderqueer feminist, collaborator, mover, and poet. And, s/he’s a human in love with humans doing human things. S/he is author ofGephyromania(Ahsahta Press 2014), five chapbooks, and co-editor ofTroubling the Line: Trans and Genderqueer Poetry and Poetics(Nightboat Books 2013). TC was recently awarded an Academy of American Poets’ Laureate Fellowship for his work with trans, non-binary, and queer folks as Tucson’s Poet Laureate. S/he will be Writer in Residence at Pratt Institute, 2019-2020.www.tctolbert.com
Instead of only turning to Trans, Non-binary, and Queer+ (TNBQ+) writing to learn something about being TNBQ+, in this generative, experiential workshop, we’ll push further to consider and practice a variety of craft choices while immersing ourselves in the vast brilliance of TNBQ+ poetry. Come to read, write, and build community. And expect to be challenged and filled with delight.
Glossolalia is another word for speaking in tongues. For Pentecostals, it is considered one of several gifts of the Holy Spirit. The grace of no longer being burdened by linearity. A momentary relief from the expectations (persuasion, explication, or sense making) of everyday speech. I grew up Pentecostal and at 20, I finally had my own experience of glossolalia. Before this, all of my previous encounters had been a bit terrifying, even if I couldn’t look away. In the church I grew up in, Sister Hazel’s body regularly rose from the pew like a snake – her right hand trembling in the air above her head, her voice a song of strange, while the rest of her body buckled and jumped as though she’d been hit. There was a lot of crying back then. I thought my queerness was a devil. I wanted it out of me but then again, I didn’t. Krista Tippett says most churches think of the body as an entry point for danger. I didn’t disagree with them. Let me say it plain.
I wish you (my mother once told me—mother of my child- hood—even though water is water-weary—what is prayer if not quiet who has made me—what hands you become when you touch— who laid down on whose body—whose face and whose shoulders worth shaking—what will I not hear when I look back at you—
The title of TC Tolbert's book, Gephyromania, speaks to a mania or passion for bridges, a startling reversal of the common phobia of walking or driving that long span across—of being suspended. Yet reading Tolbert's poems, the reader comes to understand that suspension is in fact the nature of embodiment, not just for the transitioning body, but for my body, and for yours. This is made true to a large extent by permeability, body/heart/mind endlessly functioning as receptor: "sometimes I believe I am a hallway," Tolbert tells us, and "I believe that witness is a magnitude of vulnerability," which is another way of saying that the seeing, feeling, breathing bodied self is an opening. Uncertainty, any good therapist would tell us, is at the heart of all anxiety; it's the What if that can shut the body down. But it can also, these poems attest, radicalize possibility. (Kerri Webster)
Zucker, Rachel. "Episode 51: TC Tolbert." Commonplace: Conversations with Poets (and Other People), May 5, 2018.
Host Rachel Zucker talks with poet and educator TC Tolbert (author of Gephyromania and co-editor of Troubling the Line) about a car accident that changed the course of his writing life, the process of healing, learning to love the smallest things, having to ask someone to carry your weight, speaking to a younger self and coming out as trans. They talk about teaching, wanting to go back to school, and about the Bagley Wright Lecture Series conference at University of Arizona.