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Thursday 10 November 2016

Six Queer Poets You Should Know

Posted in: Performance
By - 21st March 2016

Today is international poetry day and to celebrate we take a look at some contemporary queer artists making waves around the world.

Photo by Jane Ussher

Courtney Sina Meredith

Courtney is a New Zealand poet, playwright, fiction writer and musician who launched her first book of poetry Brown Girls in Bright Red Lipstick, in 2012. Her poetry and prose have been translated into Italian, German, Dutch, French and Bahasa Indonesia. In 2011, she was the first New Zealander, the first Pacific Islander and the youngest artist in the history of the LiteraturRaum project to be invited to Germany as writer-in-residence for the Bleibtreu Berlin

So/ Hi


a love note pre Christmas.

It’s okay, I’m not missing you much. I’m keeping in mind your views on missing-ness:

A. loss of energy B. loss of opportunity C. girly mush.

Last night I had a long bath without bubbles. It was very grown up.

Tomorrow and the day after I’m feeding the homeless in Hackney.

On Christmas day I’ll feed the homeless in the city and then I’ll walk back to my upside down heart for an evening of tofu and mushrooms.

I've been asked to feed the next door neighbour's cat. They have a TV with sky and I’m encouraged to watch it.

I will do my best to survive a night of terrible merry movies but I can’t promise anything.


I hope you’re alive. It would be very off-plan if you weren't. The silence has lasted for longer than usual. Are you swimming through an ocean of limbs?

I had a good night, a bit too good. I got a free pass to some dub in Brixton, it was incredible.

I befriended a drug dealer, a gang of Nigerians and a young couple - the guy played sax, some random from Lower Hutt.

When I woke up I had strange bruises, evidence of having eaten fried chicken and a cut on my leg from breaking into a huge park.

I don't remember falling asleep, but I must have. I woke up in beautiful light.

You do a very good impression of someone who forgets me everywhere.

Like an umbrella you don't need when it’s sunny.

From the feature film Actually Alex Photo Credit: Annie Jamieson
Cole Meyers

Cole is a New Zealand poet, writer, actor, director, artist and activist whose work is focused on creating spaces for trans people, queer people and people with disabilities and mental health experiences- to feel validated, creative and safe. In this way he combines his passion for art of all kinds with his drive to help others heal and express their truths through their own creative pursuits.


How about remembering
not just the violence of the world
but remembering the violence
of the words
that build our graves?

How about remembering
who is really dying
and the systems of control
that bury them alive?

How about remembering
not just the violence of the system
but the violence
this world taught us
we should do
to ourselves?

How about remembering us
before we are dead?


Janani Balasubramanian

Janani Balasubramanian is a queer South Asian literary and performance artist based in the US. Their work deals broadly with themes of empire, desire, embodiment, microflora, ancestry, apocalypse, and the Future.

Excerpt from Trans/national

“I understand that your bodies have not always been yours,
but they have always been beautiful.
You have always had words for them.
My testosterone is now made by Israel’s largest company.
There is colonization running through my bloodstream.
Every time I take a shot, my muscles feel out of place for several days.”

Check out the full poem performed in a poetry slam here.


Andrea Gibson

Andrea Gibson is a US spoken word poet whose poetry unravels gender norms and addresses politics, social reform and the issues faced by LGBTI people.

Excerpt from the poem ‘Say Yes’

When two violins are placed in a room if a chord on one violin is struck
the other violin will sound the note
If this is your definition of hope
This is for you
The ones who know how powerful we are
Who know we can sound the music in the people around us
simply by playing our own strings
for the ones who sing life into broken wings
open their chests and offer their breath
as wind on a still day when nothing seems to be moving
Spare those intent on proving god is dead

For you when your fingers are red
from clutching your heart
so it will beat faster
For the time you mastered the art of giving yourself for the sake of someone else
For the ones who have felt what it is to crush the lies
and lift truth so high the steeples bow to the sky
This is for you

This is also for the people who wake early to watch flowers bloom
Who notice the moon at noon on a day when the world
has slapped them in the face with its lack of light
For the mothers who feed their children first
and thirst for nothing when they’re full

Check out the full poem performed live, here.


Danez Smith

A spoken word poet from the US, Danez is a 2-time Individual World Poetry Slam finalist whose work is often centered around intersections of race, class, sexuality, faith, and social justice, Danez uses rhythm, fierce raw power, and image to re-imagine the world as takes it apart in their work.

alternate names for black boys

1. smoke above the burning bush
2. archnemesis of summer night
3. first son of soil
4. coal awaiting spark & wind
5. guilty until proven dead
6. oil heavy starlight
7. monster until proven ghost
8. gone
9. phoenix who forgets to un-ash
10. going, going, gone
11. gods of shovels & black veils
12. what once passed for kindling
13. fireworks at dawn
14. brilliant, shadow hued coral
15. (I thought to leave this blank
but who am I to name us nothing?)
16. prayer who learned to bite & sprint
17. a mother’s joy & clutched breath


Denice Frohman

The 2013 Women of the World Poetry Champion, Denice Frohman’s work explores the intersections of race, gender, and sexuality. Her spoken word poem ‘Dear Straight People’ went viral on Upworthy and Youtube.

- 21st March 2016

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