In the coming months, Betsy Turcot and I will be working together for another extended poetry show… details will be forthcoming, and I hope this introduction isn’t a kind of spoiler, more an opening to questions that may later be answered. Or at the very least asked.
As you may know, Betsy and I have worked together on two extended collaborative poetry works, She Stole My Every Rock and Roll and Chosen Family. For She Stole My, we created a story of two women in (and out) of love – loosely talking back to the Mills & Boon genre. Then, for Chosen Family, we looked at notions of queer families and deliberative connections – especially in relation to the role of mothers, mothering, motherhood and non-motherhood. We looked to the children’s book classic “Are you my mother” and tried to line up our ducks.
What you may not know, however, is that we have also collaborated to explore Judith Wright and Nugget Coombs’ joint story from the perspective of a closeted (and for us at least female) perspective. From time to time, we curate women’s arts events and we actively work to showcase and support female writers and performers as colleagues and friends.
This year, however, Betsy and I are co-creating a new work that asks what it means to be a man.
In some senses, this may seem to be against type. We both identify as women and our art/life-making explicitly engages with this experience. Our politics and lives may not be identical, but we have found enough shared experience and joint care to sit comfortably side by side as allies and collaborators. It is hardly a stretch to say that our work has frequently asked what it means to be a woman, particular a queer woman. Lady stuff, gay-lady stuff, that’s what we do.
Yet, like participants in all the best binaries, we would also like to know what it is like to be a man.
Last year, for the Brisbane Festival, Betsy and I participated in a QPF-led event that asked “Who’s the Man?”, bringing together David Stavanger, Candy Bowers, Thomas Day and Betsy and myself with work that launched from that question. Betsy and I are keen to continue this conversation.
You see, I’ve always wanted to be a man.
It is important to state, for clarity and respect, that I have never thought that actually I was one. I have always known that I was biologically and socially marked as a female. I have always personally accepted that. I do not identify as a transgender person, nor do I think that this will be something that may happen in the future. I am comfortable now to acknowledge myself as female and to reconcile what this may mean personally, socially, economically, professionally, politically and sexually. I appreciate that that is not everyone’s experience.
Yet still, it is accurate to say that I have always wanted to be a man.
It’s just that I was taught, so very early on, that “girls are weak, chuck ‘em in the creek”.