With the holiday season over and the new year already begun, Reading Queer looks back on the projects put together thanks to our team, The Miami Foundation, The Knight Foundation, The Betsy Hotel – South Beach, The Miami Book Fair, FUNDarte, Anhinga Press, RQ individual donors, the LGBTQ+ community, the South Florida arts community, and many more.
“Three YA Stories” gathered queer authors T. Cooper & Allison Glock-Cooper (Changers Book Four: Forever), Nic Stone (Odd One Out), Maggie Thrash (Lost Soul, Be at Peace), and moderator David Levithan (Every Day) to discuss each writer’s inclusive LGBTQ+ coming of age novel. David Levithan and audience asked questions that touched base on the Coopers’ theme of embracing change, Nic Stone’s perspective on writing as a queer African American, and Maggie Thrash on liberating female sexual expression. Just as each of their books have been impactful for the young adult queer community, so was this occasion. The stage before becoming an adult is a tender time of self exploration; Reading Queer is happy to have maybe made that stage a little more accepting by sponsoring these writers. Check out our website for interviews from each of the authors.
“Anthologies that Rock and Resist” featured Reading Queer’s Neil de la Flor and Maureen Seaton (Reading Queer: Poetry in a Time of Chaos), alongside Mahogany L. Browne (The BreakBeat Poets: Black Girl Magic) and Brian Clements (Bullets into Bells: Poets & Citizens Respond to Gun Violence). Each editor read wakening excerpts from their publications, and answered questions on the process of curating such groundbreaking anthologies. Reading Queer could not be prouder to have been featured along editors with works that were and are crucial amidst the political climate.
On Give Miami Day, hosted by The Miami Foundation, Reading Queer campaigned to raise funds for our inclusive writing programs and projects. Reading Queer’s primary projects are the RQ Literary Festival, RQ Writing Academy, RQ – O Cinema Literary/Film Salon Series, RQ Archive, and the RQ Writers In Residence @ The Betsy Hotel – South Beach. Thanks to your donations and those of the South Florida community, we raised over $2,000 to further support and foster a culture of inclusion and diversity. Reading Queer is grateful to our followers and donors for your contributions which champion queer voices.
“After attending ‘The Shadow Self’ workshop with Cathleen Chambless, I felt as if a deep awakening had come from within. I left and I was not sure what the feelings were that I had exactly meant. I did know that a hunger to express myself had come to life again.” — Carlos Guzman
In October, the RQ Writing Academy featured queer writer Cathleen Chambless‘ workshop “The Shadow Self,” at The Light Box at Goldman Warehouse. Chambless nurtured attendees to explore their own shadow selves– qualities shunned by society– through beautiful rituals, poetry, stimulating prompts, and tarot readings. Together, attendees reconnected with their hidden selves all while writing intimate new material.
To celebrate Reading Queer’s Reading Queer: Poetry in a Time of Chaos (Anhinga Press), RQ held several readings presented by various poets featured in the anthology. Reading Queer held readings in September at Lambda Litfest Los Angeles, in July at the historic LGBTQ+ Stonewall National Museum & Archives, in June at the City of Oakland Park Library for Pride Month, in April at The Betsy Hotel – South Beach, and in March at the AWP 2018 Conference. Each reading gathered attentive listeners and queer poets for afternoons of tears, laughs, and acceptance. Check out our website and social media to see lists of presented poets for each event, and a list of all 50 poets featured in the anthology.
Presented in partnership with The Betsy Hotel – South Beach, and the Aqua Foundation, Reading Queer sat with guest of honor Joy Ladin as part of TransTalk 2018. The light brunch was met with conversations on the relationship between queerness & religion, the future of the Miami LGBTQ+ cultural community, gender expression, and much more. This riveting brunch and discuss was open to the community, and left participants with refreshingly impactful new perspectives.
“My very first Reading Queer workshop was a poetry bootcamp a few years back led by the wonderful Jan Becker. Over the course of a weekend, my life changed in ways I couldn’t have imagined…Through RQ I’ve found more than passion: I’ve found my calling. I’ll be forever grateful.” –Jubi Arriola-Headley
As part of the RQ Writing Academy, Reading Queer renewed “Boot Camp for Queer Writers” with Jan Becker for it’s third iteration. Becker’s intensive, prompt-driven poetry and flash nonfiction workshop liberated participants from their nagging, negative voices that plagued and prevented them from accessing fluid states of writing. Writers from all experience levels, that braved the rainy June weather and met in the warm May weather at Villain Theater, left each day without a fully inked pen or a single blank page.
Presidential inaugural poet Richard Blanco, as part of FUNDarte’s Out in the Tropics 2018, mentored the “Diving Deeper into Show Don’t Tell” workshop at the Miami Beach Botanical Garden. Attendees were guided to experience and command story through all of the senses, and feelings rather than through authorial exposition. Participants further explored the dynamics between poet, poem, reader, place and time through readings of Blanco’s own poetry reminiscing on nostalgic Miami.
2018 RQ Writer in Residency Chazz Chitwood stayed at The Betsy Hotel – South Beach in March, and was the guest of honor for RQ’s first Literary Salon of the 2017-2018 season. Chitwood, 28 years of age at the time, was a queer writer living in North Miami Beach with a BD and JD from the University of Miami. Attendees joined the writer– with an eye towards gender, sexuality, trans-humanism, and science fiction– for a conversation on the writing process.
In February, Reading Queer released our long awaited anthology Reading Queer: Poetry in a Time of Chaos (Anhinga Press). Since first soliciting materials for the collection back in 2015, editors Neil de la Flor and Maureen Seaton didn’t expect to compile a sacred “survival manual” that would be crucial in the wake of the 2018 political times. Reading Queer brought together 50 LGBTQ+ poets in the spirit and solidarity of poetry at its finest and fiercest. Check out our website to read the listed names of all 50 poets, and to purchase a copy.
Also in February, RQ’s Writing Academy proudly presented April Dobbins‘ “Come in Character” workshop, at The Light Box at Goldman Warehouse. Dobbins lead the group through story readings, and experimental exercises that helped to develop distinct three dimensional personas with complex and diverse voices. Inspired by the workshop, attendees further joined for extended time to continue the conversation beyond the occasion.
Photographer and author Shoog McDaniel was Reading Queer’s first 2018 RQ Writing Academy feature with their “Visual Storytelling” workshop. Shoog, an advocate for body positivity, challenged participants in a multi sensory hybrid workshop– encompassing both textual and visual exercises. Attendees scavenged to create visual photographic representations with distinct cinematic explorations, and later gathered to write and listen to intimate works of poetry.
Reading Queer works hard to curate events that promote diversity and inclusivity within the queer literary community. Our events & workshops are open to the public regardless of one’s ability to pay, sexual orientation, gender, race and/or any other form of identification. However, all of our events are safe spaces for all queer-identified people and are designed to address the writerly needs of marginalized communities who have traditionally been denied a voice. Once again, our 2018 programming was all thanks to our RQ team, The Miami Foundation, The Knight Foundation, The Betsy Hotel – South Beach, The Miami Book Fair, FUNDarte, Anhinga Press, RQ individual donors, the LGBTQ+ community, the South Florida arts community, and many more.
Please check out our website for upcoming events, and to make a contribution today. We count on your donations to keep our events & workshops accessible to the public. We look forward to seeing you this new year, 2019.