Autumn

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Oct 202014
 

I can’t believe how long it’s been since I updated my blog and that it’s already autumn! The summer was really fun, also ridiculously busy!

I’m not even sure how to sum up how incredible the queer book diorama show ended up being, and it seems a little unreal that this project that I spent a year organizing is over. It’s remarkable to me to think about how this little fun idea turned into such a successful show. More than just successful in terms of audience turnout, this show was inspiring, thought provoking and really shifted the way that I understand the intersection between art and writing, as well as the relationship between queer people, and queer books. I wrote here about the opening reception, but that was just the beginning of the diorama show!  The dioramas were up on display for two months and were very well received by the community, even on the day that I went to deinstall the show, members of the community were stopping by to look at the art, and comment on it.  Over the course of the two months the show was on exhibit, Hugh Ryan (who was seriously the most amazing collaboratior I could imagine) and I curated two incredible events, an artist panel, that included artists from the US and Canada, Hugh and I got to meet Flagg the artist who made a diorama of Fun Home and traveled from South Africa to see the show, and a wonderful evening of conversation about queer art and literature with author Jack Halberstam, and artist Jenny Lin (who created a diorama based on Jack’s Female Masculinity”).

The show got a ton of press including being featured in The Journal of Queer Arts and being a Time Out New York Critic Pick Event, as well as write-ups in The Rumpus, The Advocate and more! Links to all the media coverage which includes photos of all of the dioramas can be found on the Queer Book Diorama Tumblr. http://queerbookdiorama.tumblr.com/   Hugh and I are still thinking through what the future of the diorama show will be, including future shows in NYC curated by us, and written guidelines for how to “steal this show” for folks who want to create diorama shows in their local communities. More on this coming soon!

 

Although I haven’t been doing a lot of fresh writing this summer, it’s been exciting to watch projects I have been involved with find homes and come out into the world. I wrote a story titled “Jacksonville” several years ago about being young, queer and in love for the first time and the story just found a home in a really exciting anthology “The Queer South” edited by Douglas Ray and published by Sibling Rivalry Press! The anthology released this fall, is beautiful, and my story is alongside amazing authors like Dorothy Allison!! Definitely pick up a copy from your favorite indie bookstore!

 

At the end of September Kestryl and I took the dogs on a much needed vacation to Ptown, my most favorite gaycation location. We spent a week walking on the beach and relaxing. At the end of the trip I also got the awesome news that my anthology Leather Ever After had been awarded the Honorable

Mention for the National Leather Association-International Writing Award in the Samois Anthology category!!!

 This autumn most of my creative energy has been devoted to finalizing edits and preparing for the release of Lost Boi. I  can’t believe the book releases in April! I’ve been working really closely with my editor from Arsenal Pulp Press to edit/polish the manuscript. I actually just finished a intense 10 days of reviewing/revising and then returning the book. I’m really excited with how the story has developed, and all the little details that I’ve been able to add into the novel!  I’m already starting to book release events and touring connected with the book for next spring!  I also have been receiving some of the best author blurbs I could ever imagine from authors who I really admire. What to hear what folks like Amber Dawn, Michael Thomas Ford, Jack Halberstam and more think of Lost Boi?  Check out Arsenal Pulp’s page! I can’t stop looking at the dreamy cover they created for the book! Smoking HOTT!!

I hope that you are all having a fun Autumn! Now that the diorama show is over and I got through this big edit of Lost Boi things are a little quieter (ha!) I’m going to work to keep my blog more regularly updated again! I’ll be sure to keep you all updated on all the Lost Boi news as it gets closer to publication, and don’t miss my new monthly dyke pet column at Curve Magazine starting in November!!!

              xoxo
          Sassafras
Aug 192014
 

Isn’t that just the hottest cover you’ve ever seen??? The amazing folks at Arsenal Pulp Press have really outdone themselves with this art and really captured the queer twist I’ve put on this classic story! I can’t imagine being happier about my cover art, and am thrilled that I can stop keeping it a secret ( a secret that I would stare out multiple times a day!!!) and share it with all of you!  Lost Boi is going to be released Spring 2015!!!!

 

Aug 072014
 

The Opening Reception for the Queer Book Diorama show was INCREDIBLE!!!! 120 folk from the community joined us at the Jefferson Market branch of the New York Public Library to celebrate the power of queer literature and libraries (17 people got NYPL library cards! ) !!!  It was an incredibly fun event – and how rad is it that on a Friday night all the cool kids were at the LIBRARY!!

The night before the show opened when Hugh and I were at the library installing all the dioramas (with the amazing help of our partners) we realized that we have been working on the diorama show for an entire year!!! It’s hard to believe that this show has been in the works for so long!  I couldn’t have asked for a better co-curator to work with, or more dedicated artists whose work is fun, diverse, and incredibly heartfelt! We were lucky enough to have local artists at the opening reception as well as artists from New Orleans and Michigan! Michelle Brennan whose diorama of my novel Roving Pack was the inspiration for the entire show was here in NYC for the opening – she and I had never met in person and so getting to meet at the opening reception was a truly special experience for me!

me, Michelle Brennan, and Hugh Ryan at the Opening Reception!

 

Roundup of media coverage of the Queer Book Diorama Show including lots of pictures!!!!

 The Daily Beast- The Power Of Queer Books

The Advocate – LOOK: Your Favorite Queer Books Come to Life in 3-D

The Rumpus- A Book of One’s Own

Curve- LGBT Books Come to Life

Time Out New York CRITIC’S PICK- Queer Book Diorama Show 

Jul 312014
 

I’m working on a blog post that has more updates about books, projects and all the other exciting things happening right now, but first wanted to post a reminder about the Queer Book Diorama Show! I’ve been organizing this for the past six months or so with the fab Hugh Ryan and tomorrow is the opening reception!!!! Please RSVP on facebook – we hope to see you there!

Lost Boi!

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Jul 172014
 

More info to come in the next weeks and months, but I’m so excited to announce that my next novel Lost Boi which is a queer and leather retelling of Peter Pan will be released from the amazing Arsenal Pulp Press in 2015!!!  I couldn’t imagine a better home for this book, and can’t wait for it to be out in the world!

Jul 152014
 
Queer Memoir is a storytelling series that’s been running here in NYC for the last several years. It’ holds a special place in my heart and I’ve been lucky enough to get to guest curate at it a few times over the years on themes from pets to leather. In 2012 Kelli and I collaborated on a LEATHER themed Queer Memoir and it was so successful that still, two years later we still have so many fond memories of the night that we decided to do it again, and are joking that it might be something we do every couple of years! This years’s storytellers were:
Sassafras Lowrey (co-curating this event)
William Johnson
Ashley Young
Victor Tobar
Karen Taylor
Nayland Blake
Kelli Dunham (co-curating this event: Kelli is the co-founder with Genne Murphy of Queer Memoir)
There were really diverse stories shared, and yet themes came through – the primary one being family, and the way that we come together in various configurations of community, and create the families we crave.
I don’t share a lot of my writing here  anymore because most of what I’m working on has a future home in a book. But for Queer Memoir: LEATHER I wrote a little something new. After the event I was approached and asked by someone in the audience if there was somewhere online they could find the story, and I said I would post it here!
The Real Kinky Shit: 
 I found leather as a crusty punk in the back room of a queer youth center. Leather was beside the pool table, behind the couch and across from the pallet board stage. Leather was tied up in punk house closets turned dungeons.  We played hard. We played to bring ourselves back to feeling. We played to save each other when we didn’t know how to save ourselves.
We played hard. We played for keeps. Until we broke our toys, and went looking for someone to put us back together, Someone who we could bind ourselves to more tightly than cuffs, or rope, or collars, someone who wouldn’t leave. Until they were gone.
desperation is not attractive but when you are young, queer, alone, hungry for higharchy and belonging – sometimes, it’s what you have. I threw myself under the boots of any butch with enough balls to flag hunter green, with enough guts to call hym/her/hir self Daddy. The meaner the better. My type were jerks who couldn’t commit, who harbored fantasies of submission but were too self loathing and afraid of their own conflicting desires so they didn’t respect the bottoms under their boots. They said they wanted me, but their promises were all slip release knots never designed to hold. 
When I was 19 I had a Daddy who played rough. He stuffed a dirty sweat sock in my mouth and led me around the parking lot of our apartment complex on a leash while his friend laughed the neighbors gasped, and filed complaints with the management company
When I was 18, my first daddy, the one who brought me out,  told me that bois could take more than girls. He read his little girl picture books, he beat me hard. I searched for intimacy and used my body as currency to approximate it. 
Sure
I’ll be your fisting bottom
I don’tk now you, but you can fuck me
Choke me
Beat me
Have me
I’ll be your boy
I’ll call you Daddy
In that world the real kinky shit happened behind closed doors
The real kinky shit was competing to see who could take it harder, take it longer,
The real kinky shit was playing boundaryless, the real kinky shit chewed me up. The real kinky shit was intoxicating. The real kinky shit was unsustainable

Ze wasn’t my type- not cruel, not a jerk. Ze never had to forcibly take me down. Ze  broke me with birthday cake and ice cream stuffed animals and quarter machine toys, instead of fists and words and elaborate scenes. I’d sworn off dating because I’d sworn off daddies. I took sex and pain because in the aftercare, I got containment, enveloped, protected, wanted.

For my 21st birthday daddy told me to be ready to go at 5pm but wouldn’t say here we were heading. Ze blindfolded me and we got into he car. I felt the car exceleate as we got onto the freeway but had no idea where we were going. When daddy parked the car ze led me, still blindfolded by the hand down a street and into an artificially cooled building. I could hear the murmurings of crowds but Daddy led me through them. Finally, we stopped and ze removed my blindfold….
Happy Birthday Boy! Ze growled I my ear. I felt my face flush red. We were standing In a suburban Mall in front of the build a bear workshop! All those murmurings were busy shoppers who paid no attention to us. An hour later, I skipped back to the car with my very own teddy bear. we went home and daddy baked  me birthday cake, the first one anyone had ever fed me!
When I talk about my relationship to kink it’s so different now than what it was a decade ago, when I traded beat downs for bed times.  in my world, the real kinky shit is my little pony, the real kinky shit is birthday cake and coloring books. The real kinky shit are outings to the zoo, letters to Santa and flinging eggs the Easter bunny hid for me.  The real kinky shit is nervously confessing you would rather stay home and read picture books than go to a play party, and Daddy asking which story I’d like to look at.
Now the real kinky shit is not begging to hurt. Pain and sex were easy, it’s softness that’s hard, its tenderness that pushed me to the edges. I know how to live in brutality, I needed the right daddy to train me to be comfortable with sweetness and care taking
Daddy taught me that taking something serious didn’t mean it couldn’t be full of magic. We take our whimsy very seriously.

When I first came to leather my definition of the real kinky shit was fronting until I believed it. Beat me as hard as you want, I will take it. That will keep you from leaving.  He beat me bent over the kitchen counter on our punkhouse kitchen also used  as play space . I cried hare and quiet, got snot on the dishrag, my tears fell into the leftover tofu scramble.
It’s been 10 years since a Daddy claimed me. Now I scream loud, let the tears stream down my face, knuckles white, I’m flying. FLASH goes the camera and disneyeorld’s space mountain screaxhes onto the platform. Daddy smiles, takes my hand and helps me out of the ride. “Boy, I think you need some ice cream while we watch the fireworks….”
The real kinky shit
Jun 302014
 

For the past few months I’ve been working on a secret project with with Jama Shelton, formerly homeless queer youth and the Project Director at Forty To None and I have been working on a new project. Since the release of Kicked Out, one of the things that has been the most powerful, and intense has been meeting so many people who share the experience of also being former runaways/kicked out/homeless LGBTQ youth. What has continually surprised me, was the number of us who are now leaders in the LGBTQ movement, but who aren’t always often out about our experiences.   Last year, Jama and I met and began tossing around the idea of doing a project to bring together formerly homeless LGBTQ movement leaders. This is a project that is still evolving – but the first installment:

For the month of June, to kickoff this conversation and honor pride, we partnered with The Advocate Magazine to spotlight the experiences of movement leaders who themselves are formerly homeless LGBTQ youth.

Week1:  click here to read more of the conversation between Jama and myself that kicks off this series – laying the groundwork for our inspiration and our hope for the future of this project:

“What happens when those young people grow up? In some incredible cases, documented in this exclusive, month-long series, those formerly homeless young people go on to become leaders in the LGBT movement, pressing our society toward greater inclusion, acceptance, and equality.

Throughout Pride month, The Advocate will feature true stories of formerly homeless queer youth who have not only survived their experience but gone on to thrive, inspire, and educate the next generation of activists. These stories will bring awareness to the ongoing crisis facing LGBT youth and encourage openness among LGBT adults who experienced homelessness as young people. ”

 

Week 2: click here to read our interview with Morgan Keenan “I tell my story because queer young people who experience these types of situations don’t all live in big cities or find themselves in a big city through their experience…”

Week 3: click here to read our interview with Twiggy Garçon ”Growing up in the South, many of us are taught to keep your business at home, at home. The thing is, what about when you have no home to keep your business? Or, a deeper notion: who loses out when we don’t share our “business”?”

Week 4: click here to read our interview with Shahera Hyatt “I hope I can inspire others to come out of all closets and be open about our experiences with poverty, housing instability, family rejection, whatever it may be — and know that our voices and experiences have value… ”

 

Jun 302014
 

Touring is HARD and sometimes books get hurt. Over the years since Kicked Out was released I’ve traveled through the United States and across Europe with a suitcase full of books! Every so often books will get damaged. Right now I have 15 copies of Kicked Out that have some bent corners and water damage. The books are completely readable, but not a quality that I would fell comfortable selling, or donating.

These copies of Kicked Out can still be read, and I want them to get homes. So I’m offering a special sale to my facebook/twitter friends.  First come first serve shipping+pay what you can.!!!!  The books retail for $19.99 but I’m selling these 15 damaged copies for $5 (to cover the cost of shipping) + anything else you want to donate.

First come first serve – private message me on facebook/twitter or email me SassafrasLowrey AT gmail and I will send you my pay pal address!

Hard Won Home:

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Jun 232014
 

It’s Pride week here in NYC – despite all the complex feelings that I (along with most queers) have about corporate pride I always find it to be a really special time of year. I’ll never forget my first Pride, and that first experience of seeing so many queer people and I try to never forget that every year is someones first pride, someones first experience of for the first time being surrounded by their community. The following is a piece I wrote a few years ago, that always feels appropriate to bring out this time of year.

Hard Won Home

We storm the streets
Spilling out from subway tunnels
Clown car piled fire escapes

Sequins and glitter
Glinting
Like that first thrown bottle
Smashed

Like the shards that barely missed me last week
You the week before

The streetlights cast shadows
Haunting
Of the
Hirstories
we should carry
Strapped next to our hearts into our boots
But are instead too often
Rusted glitter buried in sidewalk cracks

We’re starved for this
Body slams body
Circuit parties
Festival sidelines
Desperate to feel
To connect
To believe
We’re not
Alone

On Monday
We emerge from the rainbow haze
Hung-over
On the memory of
Belonging
On the feeling of
Connecting
It’s never enough
And also everything we spent lifetimes
Not daring to dream of

Tell me about your first pride
And I’ll show you mine
The stumble for breath
Backwards falling into buildings
The sunrise walk over the bridge
To watch the festival bloom
Dilated pupils taking in
More than dreams could conjure

Floats
Glitter
The roar of bikes

That day I did not wear three pieces of women’s clothes
Boots
Jeans
Ace bandage
Boxers
Button-down
I did not know
Not long ago
This would have mattered

The plague has never ended
Cocktails are not cures
And I know more positive than not
So I assume
Until told otherwise

We hug when we meet
Chest to chest full body hugs
Pressing our hearts towards one another

Their fists were in the air that night
Heels and bottles gripped tight
Queens
Butches
Queer kids
Homeless

We never learned this in school
Taught ourselves in youth center back rooms
On library floors
Newsprint riot photo documented eyes
From the mouths of our lovers

Now we talk of it daily
Tattoo it into our skin
Wanting them to know
The hirstory they walk upon
The scars carried
Lives lost
For this moment to come to pass

The heart is the size of a fist
We’re built to love and fight with the same ferocity
Always have been
We bring our love to the streets
And kiss away the road rash in hard won homes

Jun 232014
 
Bowery Poetry Club
308 Bowery, New York, New York 1001


Tickets 5-15 bucks sliding scale, no one turned away for lack of funds

With our storytellers: 
Sassafras Lowrey (co-curating this event)
William Johnson
Ashley Young
Victor Tobar
Karen Taylor
Nayland Blake

Queer Memoir is New York’s first and longest running LGBT storytelling series; giving voice to our collective queer experience and preserving and documenting our complex queer history. Every month, we host some of Queer New York’s best known performers, and folks who have never been on a stage in their lives and bring them together to celebrate the ritual and community building value of storytelling. Queer Memoir was founded by comic storyteller Kelli Dunham and playwright Genne Murphy in January 2010. In four years they have created more than 85 Queer Memoir events, drawing in over 7200 audience members and 365 different storytellers. Queer Memoir has collaborated with 13 arts organizations in four states, conducted almost a dozen storytelling workshops and used nearly a hundred venues including the MTA, sharing stories on both the A and Q Trains. THIS MONTH’S THEME IS LEATHER AND IS GUEST CO-CURATED BY SASSAFRAS LOWREY