Vetch, a biannual journal of trans poetry and poetics has recently published its first issue! The journal aims to publish work highlighting the ways in which power shapes language, poetry and relations among trans people. Editors Stephen Ira and Kay Gabriel recently took some time to sit down with intern Emily Kaufman to discuss the online periodical, among other things.
Emily: Why did you start Vetch?publication that, like most poetry journals, had an open reading period and published only poetry. It feels like a way to stake out space in the poetry world for trans writers.
Emily: What do you hope Vetch will provide to the public?
Vetch: Our call for submissions for this issue asked for work “by trans poets in trans language,” which “does not bother to translate itself for a cis reader.” To elaborate on this point, we see Vetch as supporting work by trans poets that allows itself to speak primarily between trans people, and that is not faced with the necessity of authenticating itself to a cisgender audience through appeals to a narrow and reductive set of tropes. Our hope is that Vetch will help broaden the horizon of trans poetics, and through the work we publish, foster trans poetry written in new and currently unimagined registers.
Emily: The media has put a spotlight on trans culture in several ways, including shows such as Transparent. Why do you think it took the media so long to highlight trans issues and how do you think the face of trans people in the media will change in the future?
Vetch: It’s very popular right now to talk about the importance of trans visibility and representation in mainstream media. The thing is, trans people–particularly trans women–are already hypervisible in our culture. We’re thinking here of the stares and street harassment trans women receive walking down the street, or the way the bodies of trans people are scrutinized by the medical industrial complex in order to be eligible for lifesaving care–or of the constant jokes in media that posit trans women as repulsive punchlines. In 2015, a year that’s ostensibly the best it’s ever been to be trans in America, twenty-three trans women had been murdered so far. So this increase in visibility does not necessarily bring better living conditions with it, particularly not for those trans people who are most marginalized intersectionally–the majority of those murdered women were black. In the future, we hope that trans people will have increased agency and ability to tell our own stories in media, rather than having scripts written and scenes directed for us by cis people. Maybe that can bring this conversation beyond visibility, and then we can ask different questions: When we see trans people in media, what are they doing? How do representations of trans people in media train us to treat trans people in daily life? As lurid and disposable spectacles, or as fully-fledged three-dimensional human beings?
Check out more on Vetch and download the issue for free!