- Nonfiction as Queer AestheticScore for Five Speakers in Two Acts
FRANCESCA RENDLE-SHORT is Out | in pause in lift | of expectation | let your self be known | give noise to re-cognition | like lost love |
QUINN EADES is climbing up out of a well | feet slippy | walls made of moss | bluestone edged (sharp) | falls often | finds blood | looks up
BARRIE JEAN BORICH is a pop-up city, half ruined, half changing, always checking her hair in the glass of other cities.
PETA MURRAY practices radical uncertainty and equivocation | plays well with others | gets queerer with age.
LAWRENCE LACAMBRA YPIL is deeply concerned with the queerness of fact.
The presentation in précis, as presented to the board for inclusion in the NonfictioNow conference in Reykjavik, Iceland. [End Page 179]
What if all nonfiction writers imagined a queer aesthetic at the center of our discourse? What might this imaginary look like, feel like? This is a nonfiction that is “attentive to form but difficult to classify, with quirky yet intentionally designed exteriors, slippery rules, a mutating understanding of identity, a commitment to getting past the bullshit and making unexpected connections, and a grounding in an unmasked, yet lyric, voice” (Barrie Jean Borich, Brevity, September 2012). This panel embraces the imagined space of the queer aesthetic head-on. It nudges, explodes, queries, performs, transgresses, dreams, confesses, upholds, challenges, sews together, slides, dances, essays. It puts the body center stage and allows it/her/him/they to move and perform as they/him/her/it see fit, paying attention to what and how things are said and/or not said.
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[End Page 180]
Score as presented at NonfictioNow in Reykjavik, Iceland. Names to be pulled out of a plastic cup one by one. At the end of each section, the speaker reads out the name of the next speaker in line.
speaker 1: barrie #1
This Queer Refusal
Non. Noon. Nnn. NehEh. No. More. Words. Needed. After. I. Say. No.
The man approaches me on the street the way some men do, assuming my space is his for the filling. He wants to sell me something. Food that comes in the mail or my clear conscience in exchange for a donation and my email address. Would I like to save a child today? Do I have a second for the environment? Do I support LGBT rights? Do they mean if I don’t love myself how the hell will I love, well who? You, man today, selling food delivery in the bright green apron that spells out hello, which means buy this. I am sorry this is your job but please don’t talk to me. Still he speaks: do you like to cook? he asks. Sometimes I tell him: not with food that comes in the mail. Sometimes I tell him: I am old school. I go to the grocery store or maybe the farmers’ market. Today, however, I am filling up the space of my refusal. Also I am late to be somewhere and he is blocking the sidewalk, so I just hold up my palm against the direction of his face. I am not merely shaking my head. I am testifying my refusal. I do feel bad, so rude of me, nasty even, not to smile, not to listen sweetly and make polite excuses, and yet against the pressure of my hand I feel who I am instead, more visible with resistance. What queer thing will I make here, free from the damage of expectation?
SELECT NEXT NAME FROM PAPER CUP—IF IT’S YOUR OWN, CONTINUE SPEAKING; IF IT’S NOT, YIELD THE FLOOR. [End Page 181]
speaker 2: barrie #2
Non. Fiction. Not. Fiction. No fiction here. Fiction-free zone. Take back the non.
We’ve complained about this word from the start. Why do we have to be not something? But now I take this non beyond. Why do we have to...