A reflection in art: LGBT center spotlights queer poetry

Junior Anika Warner and graduate student Jessica Vooris write erasure poetry and read queer poetry at the March 12 Queering Poetry event in the LGBT Equity Center. Photo by Marlena Chertock for The Writers' Bloc.

By Marlena Chertock

Online Editor

For an hour, three students sat amidst walls lined with LGBTQ books and read poetry by gay and lesbian poets in the new LGBT Equity Center.

Though attendance was sparse at Monday’s Queering Poetry, the second monthly of the year, conversation flowed.

LGBTQ literature and poetry is important to have available and make LGBTQ people aware of, according to junior Anika Warner, who works at the center and was one of the organizers of the event.

“It’s important to see yourself in the art around you,” she said. “If the LGBTQ community can’t see themselves in books that they are reading, it becomes a problem.”

The first thing that comes to people’s minds when they think “queer poetry” is who is a gay poet, according to Warner, who is also a member of the Jimenez-Porter Writers House.

“It doesn’t have to be that way,” she said. “Also, just because it’s written by somebody who’s LGBT or Q, does that mean it’s queer poetry?”

Before the discussion about what queer poetry is, they picked up books, crossed out words they didn’t like and then made poems with the ones that were left, in an exercise called erasure poetry.

The poems created focused on sensuality and others were more fantastical.

They also talked about the pronouns they use in order to best express themselves or to be the least exclusive as possible.

“I use she,” said Jessica Vooris, a graduate student in Women Studies at this university.

“I use no feminine pronouns,” said Remy Riot, another LGBT Equity Center office assistant.

The discussion of alternate pronouns has centered around the feminism movement, where “ze”, “zer” and other words have been suggested in place of he or she and her or him, as a sort of gender-neutral term. But some people want these terms to retain their gender, just the gender they identify most with.

“I often wonder, is queer poetry breaking form, going against what’s expected,” Vooris said. “Like a sonnet that is homo-erotic instead of hetero-erotic.”

There’s a notion that only privileged people can afford to appreciate art and literature, according to Warner.

“I think it’s ridiculous,” she said. “It’s important to cultivate creativity and have queer poems. I think creativity is a part of self-care.”

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