Language serves to both reflect our understanding of the world and, in many senses, to define it. Our panel are interested in exploring the uses, limitations, and possibilities of (re)presenting gender and voice via poetry.
Steve Bellin-Oka will talk about using found text from the trials and news coverage of Matthew Shepard's murder in recent poems as a way of subverting entrenched binaries of homo/heterosexuality and heteronormativity, and of how particularly American (false) gender binaries are also rooted in a region's mythos (both Wyoming specifically and the "heartland" of America generally).
Chen Chen will talk about using Mandarin Chinese alongside English in recent work, including the craft and politics of code-switching or translanguaging, and how patriarchy and homophobia are built into/across languages, as well as possibilities for reimagining and pushing back. Chen is interested in how gender intersects with race and what happens when writing from/to a distinctly queer Asian American perspective.
Anna De Vaul will talk about an ongoing project centered around writing and publishing using a male heteronym, in terms of submitting/publishing using both male and female personas and in terms of the (fake) male poet's first collection, which interrogates and subverts ideas of gender, voice, agency, and heteronormativity in “traditional" and “canonical” literary relationship narratives.
Veronica Golos will talk about using various forms and techniques in Rootwork, including historical research and documents, epistolary persona poems in the voices of John Brown and the mostly unknown Mary Day Brown, and poems in voices of ghosts and runaways. Veronica will discuss how this creates, in the restrained voices of the 1800's, a link between the reader and the intimate thoughts, feelings, and relations of abolitionists of the day, and brings from obscurity Mary Day Brown.
During the panel, each poet will read a selection of relevant poems and discuss their work in the context of experimentation with gender, voice, and language.
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