Date of Award

2020

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy in English

Department

English

First Advisor

Peter Covino

Abstract

Opening Ceremony is a collection of poems in completion of a creative dissertation in poetry at the University of Rhode Island. The book is a five-year writing practice towards queer futurity and considers, both in form and content, how poems can transgress hierarchal binaries and create exit discourse. The poems use lyric imagery, reference to color and material, space on the page, and colloquial language, to write the bodies, aesthetics, and experiences of contemporary queer life. It is a practice of not rallying against hetero-patriarchy, capitalism and white supremacy, which may restabalize binaries, but rather, giving homage to that which is built in spite of what tries to stop us.

The title of the book references the popular New York City boutique of the same name, which will close its doors this year for good, and move to online commerce. For years, the boutique was a house of treasures for shoppers looking to buy from up-and-coming queer and marginalized designers. To be able to contain such unique talent in one space, within the massive shadow of name brand stores in Manhattan, was a symbol of the possibility of a queer future, one I believed could be built, not in reverse of power, but in negotiation of it—even in its ever-present mists. Opening Ceremony is a writing practice with comparable goals. My first book, Mall Brat is an ode to teen life before and after the major market crash in 2008; having left the shopping mall, still with enormous economic uncertainty, I am ready for the queer boutique of the future

The poems in this collection open with a dramatic scene that imagines a celebratory picnic of queer life. The use of both a humorous and tragic tone, serves to demonstrate the amount of creativity and care that are needed to build in spite of adversity—not just as an imposition to societal control, but an endless becoming of the new.

The poems rally for creation with sensory imagery, flippant language, and constant self-reference to what is already built. To me, this is what is meant by exit discourse towards a queer future. Queer narratives are not a result of or an opposite to. They are a center and a force. I want readers to see more of themselves, and perhaps participate in more parts of their lives, by engaging with queer writing.

Though many theoretical influences are evident, including Audre Lorde and Sarah Ahmed, one is most important to this work. In her essay White Glasses, Eve Sedgwick discusses the trouble that fat women face in getting other people to see them as they wish to be seen. She compares this experience to her new feelings of disassociation between the gender others view her as, and that of which she actually feels inside, dare she say it, as a gay man. Sedgwick’s desire to be seen as herself by others opens a portal for readers to be encouraged towards similar world building to make it so in the future.

Finally, this book considers the importance of translingual and experimental approaches in teaching writing. Through considering cultural rhetoric and the multiplicity of literacies students come to the classroom with, I write with an attention to how discourse produces knowledge, and how I wish to expand my writing to include a multiplicity of voices. I hope in reading my work, others are less reluctant to take great leaps in their own, even without similar models to follow. I say they can follow themselves to the future they want as a writer.

Available for download on Sunday, May 15, 2022

Share

COinS