Queer Poetics Talk with Teresa Carmody and Trace Peterson

by Ella Longpre

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

As part of our Queer Poetics Symposium, Trace Peterson and Teresa Carmody sat down with JKS students and faculty in a roundtable chat. Peterson edits EOAGH, and collaborated with TC Tolbert on editing the first ever trans* and genderqueer anthology, Troubling the Line. Carmody is co-founder and editor of Les Figues Press, which published the anthology I’ll Drown My Book: Conceptual Writing by Women (required reading for anyone writing in the 21st century). Carmody and Peterson discussed writing, as well as their collaborations, anthologies, publishing ventures, and marketing and business strategies, responding to questions from the audience.

For instance, one JKS student asked Carmody and Peterson whether they would consider their work to be community building. Both responded yes. For Peterson, making a community visible is a way to build or foster community. Carmody spoke about innovative writing intersecting with other artists and artistic movements and media. Carmody also unveiled the only five-year business plan she ever developed for Les Figues Press: Beauty, Belief, Bawdry. (Can we imagine building a bawdry community?)

Another question posed by the audience: How, as a publisher and editor, do you reach outside your circle of friends for resources, for content submissions, for marketing?

Carmody responded with the origins of Les Figues — she and Vanessa Place wanted to start a conversation amongst writers who didn’t know how to share their work (or resisted sharing it). “Your friend-circle can grow,” Carmody explained, pointing to Les Figue’s not otherwise specified contest— literature is a way of knowing.

Peterson responded with her experience working on Troubling the Line: “Be as loud as you can about it.”

The two went on to discuss the challenges of developing certain projects. For instance, Carmody reflected on the occasional difficulties of soliciting conceptual writing, because “who considers their work to be conceptual?”

The two writers also posed each other questions. But the final question came from another JKS student, who wondered how each writer approached marketing herself as an artist. Trace Peterson responded that it might be best to hire an agent or campaign manager, because sometimes you just need someone to say “sexy nothings” for you.

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Ella Longpre is an MFA candidate at the Jack Kerouac School. She is a writer and musician. Her work appears in the ether. You can find her at ellalongpre.tumblr.com