For more details or to schedule an interview, contact Ashley Fortier: 438-338-4591 or publish [at] metonymypress [dot] com
About the Author
Born in Halifax, Trish Salah is the author of Wanting in Arabic (TSAR 2002, 2013) and Lyric Sexology Vol. 1 (Roof 2014, Metonymy 2017) and co-editor of special issues of Canadian Review of American Studies 35.2 (2005) and TSQ: Transgender Studies Quarterly 1.4 (2014). The 2013 edition of Wanting in Arabic won the Lambda Literary Award for Transgender Fiction. At the University of Winnipeg she organized the conferences Writing Trans Genres: Emergent Literatures and Criticism and Decolonizing and Decriminalizing Trans Genres. Currently an assistant professor of Gender Studies at Queen’s University, she is a member of the editorial boards of TSQ, Eoagh, and Topia. In 2018, Trish was awarded an Honour of Distinction from the Writers’ Trust of Canada Dayne Ogilvie Prize for LGBTQ Emerging Writers.
About the Book
“That’s the bones of Lyric Sexology—that poetry can be a philosophical argument.”
Mostly written before the current cultural visibility of trans lit, Lyric Sexology Vol. 1 iwas Salah’s prescient contribution to a canon of self-determined literature that explores transness. In this case, the author sidesteps the “I” in the text and instead draws on archives—sexological, anthropological, psychological, among others—to demonstrate the shifting and shifty nature of our identities, affiliations, and narratives.
This 2017 edition is the first to be published in Canada and features four new poems and a new cover design by Kai Yun Ching and Wai-Yant Li.
In the Press
Title: Lyric Sexology Vol. 1 (2nd edition, originally published by Roof Books)
Author: Trish Salah
Trim size: 6.9” x 8”
Extent: 184 pages
Season: Summer 2017
Pub date: June 30, 2017
Target Audience: Poets; Trans, non-binary, and gender-nonconforming readers
“This work strikes you in unexpected moments, revealing gender, sexuality, and self as a mythology of the heart. [Salah’s] poetry is as profound as it is sharp edged, making her a poet worth listening to.”
“Lyric Sexology will unmake us, so we might begin again.”
—Michael V. Smith
“Lyric Sexology points to a world in which we may grow into the full measure of our humanity by realizing we aren’t, and never were, ‘things we have words for.’”
Sample Interview Questions
Tell us about your artistic practice.
It’s quite project driven. I tend to work with an idea, and sometimes with an occasion, whether it is a political event that I feel like I need to make work to make meaning around, or a problem that is worrying at me in ways that produces writing that I don’t know how to make sense of, so I need to be writing around the writing in order to understand what my reactions are to a thing. With poetry, I also have a daily/weekly practice, just writing associatively and seeing what comes out, and then the writing happens, the editing happens in discovering what’s underneath the writing that I’ve done. So sometimes I start with a problem; sometimes I just write and see what I’m thinking about and what is worth thinking about from that writing.
What was the writing process for this collection?
I often say that the origin has to do with my PhD dissertation, which was to do with archives of representations of transgendered [people]. But the other thing I could say is that, around 2003/2004, I was trying to write a collection of … poems, around voice, and the ways in which voice changes through transition, and doesn’t change through transition. And some of the poems that are actually quite late in the organization of Lyric Sexology—that probably have more autobiographical content than most of the book, which is about archives—came out of attempts to think about how one inhabits gender tropes or gendered figures in the world, as one transitions. One of the inceptions of the book was thinking about gendered rhetorics and how one is in a body in relationship to that.
At a certain point, I wanted to do a genealogy of trans identity – a Foucauldian genealogy … and I was going to go to grad school to do that, and then I dropped out of grad school because I needed to transition, instead of writing a book about why transsexuality exists, or how it exists. And then a few years later people wrote books like that, and they were all fucked up and transphobic; they produced trans people as effects of discourse and power in ways that Viviane Namaste and others have subsequently critiqued. So I was relieved that I hadn’t gone to grad school and produced that book instead of transitioning.
The dissertation I did write when I went back to school … was concerned with why people want that origin story. What kind of affective, emotional labour happens around origin myths and around representation? And how does that happen in relationship to autobiography? How did that happen in relationship to sexology? So my dissertation ended up being an inquiry into the affective economy of these tropes for representing a beyond to gender. And then Lyric Sexology was being like, ok, so what do we as trans subjects do with that?
Who do you hope will read this book and/or who do you think will or has? What was your intended audience?
I hoped that by producing a history of representation that at some point trans people had made use of in different ways, some of what seems terrible or impossible about our histories might be made available rather than appear as something that we would rather not know.
I hope that people who are interested in trans history will read the book; I hope that people who are interested in queerness will read the book; I hope that people who are interested in sex will read the book; and I hope that people who are interested in poetry will read the book. And I guess I say poetry because I think that they way in which the poetry world often works is to privilege the writing of subjects who appear to not have a history or to have only the most normative history.
And also there’s a longstanding and stupid opposition between political writing and philosophical and conceptually difficult writing that is mainly a feature of the American and Canadian poetry worlds. Often it means that racialized people are understood to do political work, and that white folks are understood to do conceptually difficult and experimental work. And it’s just a bullshit opposition. It’s eurocentric, it’s racist. It’s also anti-intellectual … And I want trans people and trans people of colour to be comfortable with the idea that we produce conceptually difficult uncomfortable writing—that we don’t just produce work that represents us in a way that is palatable either to ourselves or to other people, and that our work goes far beyond the question of self-representation.