🎉 ✡️ Today is Jewish trans poetry day! ✡️ 🎉
Would you like a thread with ten handpicked poems from trans Jewish poets to celebrate?
Read & enjoy!
Poems will be in no particular order. I try to link poets' websites when possible, and their latest book (the poems I picked will not necessarily be from that book).
Purchase links will be Amazon associate links or our webstore, but we also rec your local bookstore & library.
Everyone is Jewish and non-cis in some way (trans, nbi, gnc, gq etc.), though specific identities of course vary. At least three of the poets are also intersex in addition to being non-cis.
I tried to pick both established & upcoming poets.
Joy Ladin @JoyLadin is one of the best-known Jewish trans poets. She taught English at YU until recently. Besides her poetry, she's also known for her memoir and other academic nonfiction work (I recommend those too!).
From Joy Ladin I chose "Pronouncement" from Drunken Boat:
"Sun just up, he is—you are—
twisting your torso toward the world, the true and fictional world
I thread, a true and fictional girl
blushing against a sun-shot wall"
Her latest book is Shekhinah Speaks:
R.B. Lemberg @RB_Lemberg is a fantasist, poet, fiction writer, translator… (many hats!) who was born in Ukraine and currently lives in Kansas. Like Joy Ladin, they also write academic nonfiction too.
We are publishing their poetic memoir Everything Thaws early next year – growing up in Ukraine and Russia, climate change, migration and more.
"The Three Immigrations" originally in @strangehorizons will be partially incorporated into this larger work:
You can preorder Everything Thaws here (now in our Pride sale):
Max Wolf Valerio @hypotenusewolf (Blackfoot/Sephardic) was one of the first trans poets worldwide, and he is still active and creating. He's also a memoirist (The Testosterone Files).
"OK I admit it. I was Greta Garbo, or was that–Shulamith Firestone?" in EOAGH reflects on another Jewish writer's work & takes it further –
"fertility songs are tattooed on the backs of trans men near our shoulder blades where our wings will appear"
His latest poetry collection is The Criminal: The Invisibility of Parallel Forces –
Sass Orol @OrolSass is a rabbinical student who has just seen their debut collection appear recently in our imprint: The Shortest Skirt in Shul.
Included in our Pride sale –
Amazon is also doing a BIG discount now-
From Sass Orol I chose the poem "Brit" that's reprinted on the book's preview page (sorry, can't link directly; click through and then in the left sidebar):
“But all of these things, if you don’t like the shape,
everything can be cut further.”
angelic proof is a Russian-Jewish poet living in Canada. "They are currently the Poet-in-Residence at the Roundhouse Community Arts Centre" (from their bio) and they are also a spoken-word performer.
From them I chose "un [naming] / trans (After Golden)" in @FrontierPoetry. This is an awesome visual poem!
"the boys want [My Dick] \my romance
but can't handle [My Dick] \my transness"
Rivers Solomon @cyborgyndroid is primarily known as a fiction writer (most recently of Sorrowland, read it!!), but I read these poems on faer Patreon years ago and they came to mind immediately when starting to assemble this thread –
out on miniature knee caps, or scoot. We cannot hold
our heads up yet on this trail of cracked ovum shell,
on this path of scoliosis spine."
– from "Ibeji"
(cn from the author: late term pregnancy loss)
I think this is the only poem in the thread that isn't available free online, but I recommend backing faer patreon, fae is in the process of reorganizing it and you can give input to what you'd like to see in the future!
Fae doesn't have a poetry collection yet, so I'll put Sorrowland here:
AJ Odasso @ajodasso has a poetry collection The Sting of It, and they are also a fiction author and a poetry editor at Strange Horizons!
From AJ Odasso I chose "Sargasso Sea" originally in Remixt, reprinted in Intersex Quarterly (also a poem that's stayed with me for many years) –
"Back under. All spoils
but wayward gonads
Percy Amichai Hill @lianlianmin just started publishing poetry in 2022 ("a self-proclaimed baby poet") – I really liked all three pieces he had out so far.
This is his website:
And for a poem from Percy Amichai Hill I chose "Kislev" in @olicketysplit:
"here, i say, take a couple nickels,
chew on them, we'll call this gelt."
Adrian Belmes @adrian_belmes is an author, bookmaker and small press publisher of Badlung Press (check out Depression Cookbook, there is a free pdf); he was born in Odessa, Ukraine. You can find both him and his press here:
From Adrian Belmes I picked "on our last night in the desert" in @perhappened –
"If we shout into the murk beyond the diamond-wire mesh, we will hear
the drunks next door shout back across the grainy night"
And here you can read Depression Cookbook edited by him, as a free download:
Bogi Takács @bogiperson is a Hungarian Jewish immigrant to the US.
This is me, but it would be weird to leave myself out (though it is also weird to add myself in).
I have a poetry collection, Algorithmic Shapeshifting published by @AqueductPress.
For one of my recent poems, you can try "The Prophet, to His Angel" in @FantasyMagazine – https://www.fantasy-magazine.com/fm/poetry/the-prophet-to-his-angel/
the scroll you hand me,
fighting my body as you
reach into my throat
to push scripture deeper"
Thank you for reading! Now it's your turn to share your Jewish trans favorites! (Poems can be about anything!) Tell us about your own work too!
(Adding more bc I cannot stop)
Izzy Wasserstein @izzyxen has been writing more fiction than poetry lately (and has a great short story collection coming soon), but she's made her debuts with poetry.
This is one of my favorite poems of hers (we also posted it previously):
"They will leave landmines in your path,
and when they do not know your path,
they will leave landmines everywhere."
Her latest poetry collection is When Creation Falls, but I'm also going to link her upcoming fiction collection
All the Hometowns You Can't Stay Away From –
k. rowan jordan-abrams was also kind to share their poetry with us! This one is my favorite – "seventeen" from Brave Voices:
And because I see some people claim trans Jews are "new", here is a poem from the Middle Ages…
It appears in the book Even Bochan by Kalonymus ben Kalonymus (scroll down for Rabbi Steve Greenberg's English translation)
Now, some people say that the context makes it clear that this poem is satirical. Others disagree. That's a YMMV thing. However!
The existence of this poem shows that Jews in the Middle Ages could conceive of, and write about, gender dysphoria.
We don't know if the author was trans, but the poem itself is clearly about a trans *experience*.
And by the way, at the link these are @AbbyChavaStein's study sheets, and our parent publisher is going to bring you the expanded, BOOK version!
Stephanie Burt @accommodatingly is a poet and poetry critic! She teaches at Harvard and has had several volumes out + also a book about reading poetry, the amazingly titled Don't Read Poetry.
For a poem by her I picked At the Parkway Deli, published in @foodandwine (which is kind of life goals) –
"You can know what you need
before you know why: shredded cabbage and mini-cukes
and sodium ions in water"
Her latest poetry collection is a chapbook, For All Mutants published by @RainTaxiReview –
Something else: I am finding out about several trans poets that they are Jewish! Which is awesome!
I was expecting I'd also find out about Jewish poets that they are trans, which hasn't happened yet while making the thread. (Please don't out people who are not out)
Here is the entire, LONG version of the poem from Even Bochan by Kalonymus ben Kalonymus, thank you @opensiddur!