Trace Peterson

Artifact: Excerpt of After Before and After by Trace Peterson

I’ve been freed from
inside the Fall of Rome,
my contract disrupted.
Civilization will
not descend without
my bet against it rising,
a weather balloon
that hangs against a vast
usurped sky.
After before and
after, humane enclosures
air whips through
with a taste for blood
oranges and secret
temporal lace
have been spread out
imagining possible
goddesses in
bed. What’s free
about a woman’s stubble,
what’s enhanced
delivering an urgent note
across a field of blue.

Identification: Highlighted by a PBS article, this 2015 poem discusses how transgender women are often seen as a catalyst for social disintegration and many social issues (i.e. “The Fall of Rome”) and tries to put in a new framework, instead describing how transgender women are a loving and wholesome part of society. Peterson is considered to be one of the leaders for transgender poetry in the contemporary movement, helping to define a “class” of poetry among queer poetry readers. While this poem was released less than 10 months ago, transgender poets aren’t as well-known as other LGBT poets. As a transgender woman herself, Peterson hopes to change that.  The reading of Peterson’s poem from Peterson herself is available thanks to the PBS website and Soundcloud.

Annotation: This poem, described as a “love letter to trans women”, is the start to including transgender individuals in a positive narrative. Instead of seeing transgender women in a negative light, Peterson uses powerful imagery, historical contexts, and subtle hints (“a woman’s stubble”) to link transgender women to beautiful, powerful ideas. By replacing old narratives with new narratives, we can move towards including transgender women and transgender poets into our scope of LGBT poetry, as well as into the overall scope of the LGBT community, as well as the general heteronormative.

One thought on “Trace Peterson

  1. cph136 says:

    Great find! I don’t know Peterson’s work, so I’m glad that you’ve brought her to our attention! And I love the line: “What’s free / about a woman’s stubble.”

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