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.

Blog Post 5

Because my archive focuses on contemporary writing, I’m only working with poetry and writers from the end of WWII to today. While there is a solid historical background in LGBT poetry courtesy of my favorite W’s (Wilde and Whitman), there has been a rapid growth of LGBT writing within the last few decades that has made it hard to pinpoint a certain status for LGBTQ people in the contemporary time era. For example, with the growth of civil rights, women’s rights, and general human rights in the 1960s, there was also a surge of awareness concerning sexual identity and gender identity that contributed to many well-known academic writing on the LGBTQ community. From there, we have continued to build on our understanding and our queer poetry: hence the importance of having a contemporary queer poetry archive. Even from mid-2000s to today, there has been a large growth in LGBT conversation and awareness, which has broadened from just queer gay and lesbian poets to others in the queer umbrella like bisexual, transgender, and non-binary poets.

While I consider LGBTQ poetry to be extremely influential, it isn’t a common source of representation when considering queer representation. In the poetry world, it’s a very small subset. In the world of pop culture and mainstream culture, it’s an even smaller subset. Most people that read queer poetry have an interest in queer theory or the queer community. Still, when considering overall historical context, there is far more representation and visibility than a century ago.

And, yes, while I don’t consider my archive to be very political, the push towards representation, visibility, and publication is often tied into politics. Most gay authors in the Victorian era or earlier were only published if they had a very high standing in the literature world. Most gay authors in the pre-contemporary period had to be elusive or write close to code words when publishing queer material. Today the fight towards LGBT acceptance and visibility has ensured that they have a louder voice, which means more writing and poetry in their namesake, too. While I don’t think it’s a big political move to acknowledge contemporary works given our more tolerant, contemporary mindset, to some, even acknowledging that the current inaugural poet is gay or acknowledging that poets have made such important strides for the LGBT community can be fairly political. The LGBTQ community’s history is one founded in changing social views and social restraints, and that makes it hard to sever politics from the picture.

I wouldn’t be opposed to adding a timeline to my archive. There’s been such a rapid change in the LGBT community throughout the past few decades, it could be beneficial to show how we’ve progressed and how we should continue to progress. If I did include a timeline, I would probably like to add more biographical information or more important events to align with the poetry (i.e. the Stonewall Riots, the HIV epidemic, etc.). That could help give a better understanding of the historical context of the works presented.

Blog 4

blog 4 poster

Because it was hard to think of an advertisement for queer poetry, let alone a political one, I created an advertisement for a queer slam poetry night. It’s an open mic that invites everyone from the LGBT and heteronormative community to come celebrate queer poetry.

All in all, my blog isn’t very political. The most political thing it demands is proper queer representation in poetry. Perhaps the most politically open figure in queer poetry is who I wrote about for my first archive piece, Richard Blanco. He’s an openly gay man that recently became the United States’s fifth inaugural poet. He serves as a good representative figure, more open to political scrutiny than other poets. His even being the inaugural poet helps show that poets are not determined or discriminated against by their sexual orientation.

I think it’s important that the LGBT community is involved in politics. As shown in this week’s lesson, it helps determine pro-LGBT legislation and creates a more inclusive environment. In the case of queer poetry, queer poets like Blanco create more exposure and more access for other non-heterosexual writers so they can expand on the topic and document LGBT history. If we expand LGBT inclusivity to all of our media, especially our writers and poets, than they become ingrained in our culture. They gain a voice and can help influence our culture and history.

Blog Post 3

Pop culture generally doesn’t fit into my project. While literature dips in and out of the public eye, poetry isn’t a common staple in mainstream media. While there has been a rise in feminist poetry (such as Milk and Honey by Rupi Kaur) there hasn’t been a swell of contemporary LGBT poetry and representation of queer poetry isn’t talked about the same way as queer representation is in film, television, and music. Perhaps the one way pop culture has influenced poetry is the demand for performance, which helped produce slam poetry. While I haven’t seen a swell of queer slam poets either, they would certainly make an interesting archive piece if I stumble across them. Until then, I don’t believe pop culture has much effect on my project.

The good news is, while pop culture may not directly impact queer poetry, a lot of pop culture centers around the internet where there’s a heightened chance to discover queer poets. I personally didn’t know many contemporary queer poets until I started doing research and looking at online articles. It’s the main resource and reason I can compile my archive in the first place. Plus, with the internet, there’s a greater chance that my archive will be relevant to curious parties and can circulate more. I think that’s important, especially for other queer poets to see the work what has already been created so they can continue building on the topic.

Blog Post 2

Given the contemporary poets I’m looking at (such as Blanco, Myles, and Gibson), I believe I’ll have more interaction with lesbian and gay identities for this archive. Lesbian and gay poets are the most easily accessible identities I’ve seen in other queer poetry archives; this may branch back to the history of queer poetry, such as with Wilde and Whitman. Even in the general population, lesbian and gay individuals are more likely to be “out” than people with other identities in the LGBT spectrum. This makes it harder to find other LGBT poets writing about their experiences.

However, because I’m focusing on contemporary literature, I think there’s a more likely chance I’ll engage with bisexual, transgender, and questioning poets than if I was focusing on another era of queer poetry. While there’s still rampant bisexual erasure and exclusivity of transgender individuals, there are more that are coming out and becoming visible. I would love to look at bisexual poets like June Jordan and transgender poets like Trace Peterson. That could help increase inclusivity and visibility while battling intersectionality concerns. I don’t want other identities in queer poetry to be ignored just because they’re less frequent. Frequency and quantity does not relate to importance and quality.

Richard Blanco


Artifact: Excerpt of Since Unfinished by Richard Blanco

“I’ve been writing this since
the woman I slept with the night
of my father’s wake, since
my grandmother first called me
a faggot and I said nothing, since
I forgave her and my body
pressed hard against Michael
on the dance floor at Twist, since
the years spent with a martini
and men I knew I couldn’t love.

I’ve been writing this since
the night I pulled off the road
at Big Sur and my eyes caught
the insanity of the stars, since
the months by the kitchen window
watching the snow come down
like fallout from a despair I had
no word for, since I stopped
searching for a name and found
myself tick-tock in a hammock
asking nothing of the sky.”

Identification: Written in 2012, a year before Blanco was invited to be the United States’s fifth inaugural poet, this poem explores how different moments in his life have inspired him to write, and how writing is a lifelong process. In this excerpt, he discusses his sexuality, a sense of insanity, and a despair “[he] had no word for.” This poem was published in one of his larger works, Looking for The Gulf Motel. It can be found in various mediums, including Poetry Foundation’s website.

Annotation: Richard Blanco is one of the most famous openly gay poets in the contemporary world. In this work, he describes how he has struggled with his sexuality, seeking women in only his most desperate times (the night of his father’s wake, shortly after his death) and how the rest of the time he has had to deny his sexuality and be around men he “knew [he] couldn’t love.” This could contribute to the despair he discusses in the second stanza. He also alludes to cohort differences, facing discrimination and labeling by his grandmother, and suggesting a more negative attitude toward homosexuality from the older generations. Given that this was written less than five years ago, this is an important piece to consider for contemporary literature. Even with our current strides towards acceptance, members of the LGBT community continue to face discrimination that leads to the minority stress, depression, and self-doubt described in this poem.

Blog Post 1

So far for my Archive website, I’ve changed the title, theme, and features to better match my project’s purpose. Instead of focusing on the entire scope of queer poetry, I’ve decided to focus on contemporary poetry in specific. While I’d love to discuss the building blocks of queer poetry courtesy of Wilde and Whitman and the like, I believe it’s just as important to focus on less known modern authors, such as Eileen Myles, Richard Blanco, and Andrea Gibson that have molded and adapted to a our new age of LGBT culture.

The layout was more difficult to settle on, but I finally found a template I like. Putting the title, information, and widgets in the side bar makes everything concise and in one easy place. It also lets the blog posts look center stage. Plus, by choosing a color scheme that’s soft on the eyes, I think it’s easier to read lines upon lines of poetry and discussion. The last thing I changed was the header. I was going to change the image to a typewriter if I chose Victorian writing and a laptop if I chose Contemporary writing, but I settled on a free access image that shows basic writing that transcends age and sexuality (

For my features, I decided to add the search bar, archive, and category widgets. The search bar can help find specific keywords; the archive can help organize the blog chronologically; and the categories can help organize the blog by specific ideas. If I’m able to organize poets not only by dates, but also by a specific time period, topic, or sexuality, it could be easier for others to find poets that interest them most. For example, poetry from 1950 may have different cohort implications than poetry from 2010, and poetry discussing bisexuality may be different that poetry discussing transgender issues. By using categories, I hope to show a wide range of topics discussed in the archive that are more easily accessible.