Jun 302012

  • QUEER TEXT @ The Dixon Place HOT! Festival
    July 10th @ 7:30PM$6 admission
    Get tickets at https://web.ovationtix.com/trs/pe/9692831

    Get intoxicated by queer poetry and fiction while sipping a cocktail or chugging a PBR in The Lounge.

    Sassafras Lowrey is an internationally award-winning storyteller, author, artist, and educator. Sassafras is the editor of the two-time American Library Association honored, and Lambda Literary Finalist Kicked Out anthology (www.KickedOutAnthology.com), which brought together the voices of current and former homeless LGBTQ youth. Hir prose has been included in numerous anthologies and magazines. Hir debute novel Roving Pack is scheduled for release autumn 2012, and ze is currently editing Leather Ever After an anthology of BDSM fairy tale retellings. Sassafras lives in Brooklyn with hir partner, two puddle-shaped cats, and a dog who is convinced he’s a princess. To learn more about Sassafras, visit www.PoMoFreakshow.com.

    Joseph O. Legaspi is the author of Imago (CavanKerry Press). His poems have appeared in From the Fishouse, jubilat, World Literature Today, Gay & Lesbian Review, Smartish Pace, PEN International and the anthologies Collective Brightness (Sibling Rivalry Press) and Language for a New Century (W.W. Norton). A Queens, NY resident, he co-founded Kundiman (www.kundiman.org), a non-profit organization serving Asian American poets. Visit him at www.josepholegaspi.com.

    Marty Correia is a fiction and poetry-writing lesbian husband living in the East Village with arts activist Kate Conroy, her spouse of 16 years. Marty’s work has appeared in FUSE, Punk Soul Poet, Assaracus: Lady Business, and Fiction Fix. She curates the Queer Text literary reading series at Dixon Place. Soon to be studying fiction at NYU’s M.F.A. program in Creative Writing, Marty is writing a novel about three generations of magicians from Bridgeport, Connecticut. Visitwww.martycorreia.com for more.

Jun 272012

It’s been an exciting week with Roving Pack. I’ve had the chance every day to see the updated progress of the actual layout for the book. I’ve been involved in approving fonts and essentially have just had a really great experience working with my designer to turn my ideas and dreams into a well-laid out and visually stimulating book. I should have the final layout in my hand July 1 (this weekend!!!) and then very swiftly be able to move into print proofs. In other words the book is becoming real.  Here’s a sample of some of the text, a sneak peak at the intro text for Roving Pack that also connects to a lot of what I’ve thinking about this week around the book, my creative process and some of the core themes

While I’ve been looking at layout I’ve also been looking back at a lot of the original source material and inspiration that I drew upon whole working on the novel. For the most part it was photos from my past, newspaper clippings and old queer albums. But there were also images like this one that was from an instillation called “Head First” by the artist Cai Guo-Qiang. It depicts wolves running then jumping  into a pane of glass before several get up, shake and begin again.

"Head First"

This  is the kind of art that really inspired me to think about some of the deeper themes in the book- survival, pain, and packs.  Ultimately,  one of the  main thing I found myself playing with again and again in different configurations within Roving Pack was the connections forged between people.  As a writer (and just in general as a person) I’m most interested in the ways we come together with others whose scars in someway match our own and form packs. Roving Pack really  looks at the way at a particular time and place queer kids came together, the deals we made with one another, the families we build the way we clung to each other, saved each other, raised each other up. I wrote a lot in the book storylines about leather connection, the way that the characters came together pressed bruise to bruise. Nothing flashy, it was all body to body back ally play parties, punk house basement surrender. There weren’t a lot of toys or equipment involved in the world I came out into, in the world I wrote for Roving Pack. Mostly, it was skin-to-skin connection, the crack of a fist against my back, the feeling of a hand around someone’s neck.

We played the most dangerous games we could think of, desperate for connection to reach one another through the fog of memory, abandonment, disassociation and in those moments found peace, connection, and the ability to remain present with one another. This wolf art really reminds me of that time, the power and intensity, the pain, but also the survival. The way that we ran headfirst into life, loved hard and intensely without so much as a pause before the impact. It makes me think too about the few lucky ones of us who were able to pick ourselves up and continue the run, muscles tight with the memory of all the journey has held.

Roving pack (I hope ) is not a glamorous portrayal- I don’t want to glorify any of the wars we fought with ourselves- our fears, addictions and demons. Yet, it was those connections that saved me. It’s very much about a specific time and place where without realizing the severity of the situation, we daily were walking a razor sharp line between survival and complete destruction.

This week I for the very first time-shared the manuscript of Roving Pack with my big brother.  He’d been waiting until the book was done to read it, and now that we’re in layout, getting blurbs and so very close to release I knew the time was right.  I was terrified when I hit that send button to email the book to him. There aren’t many moments where I’m scared to share my writing with someone but this was definitely one of those instances. My big brother is the first person I met whose story closely mirrored my own and we became instant family over a decade ago. Over the years he and I have had a rough time together as brothers, we’ve run head first into glass and been knocked flat. Thankfully, eventually were both able to get up, shake the pain and keep running together and not away from each other. The world I wrote in this novel was his too, fiction, but very much based on a time and place we come from. I was worried about what he would think – of the book itself, but specifically of the way I portrayed who we all were back then.

My big brother started texting me early yesterday morning, having read the first part of the novel.  He was as he told me, unable to put Roving Pack down didn’t even sleep that night.  I’ve written here on the blog before about how one of my key goals in my writing is to simultaneously capture the magic and grittiness of that time, of all of us. Hearing from him, as someone I’d known  at the time the book is set that I had done just that was some of the deepest validation I will ever receive. Roving Pack is a collection of stories I never dreamed would grow up to be a book. They started as an attempt at remembering a time/place that was swiftly slipping away from my memories. I wanted to capture who we’d been, the battles we fought, wounds licked cleaned but most of all, the packs we formed, but they have become something so much more. I cannot wait to share this book with my community!




Jun 212012

Every year around this time I try to post this picture taken by  Joseph Ambrosini of the New York Daily News appearing in the paper as the fist photograph published of the beginning of the Stonewall Riots and it documents homeless LGBTQ youth fighting back against police brutality. I also always keep a print copy of this picture up in my office where I write and look at it daily to remind myself about the legacy of homeless queer youth.

As much as some would like to pretend otherwise, LGBTQ youth homelessness is not new.  When you go to pride this year, please take a moment to think about the bravery and strength of the homeless LGBTQ youth that birthed our “modern LGBTQ rights movement.”  In their honor and legacy we must not abandon the youth of today. It is our responsibility to listen to them, fund programs that provide direct services, and partner with youth as together we work towards equality for all LGBTQ people.

It is essential that we never forget where all of our advances in equality have come from, and that we not leave the memory and descendants of those who gave so much behind.

Jun 142012

I feel like I talk a lot about how in so many ways Roving Pack was not the book I thought I would find myself working on after Kicked Out, though if I’m being honest (which I strive to be in my writing) I really had no idea what I would be working on next. Kicked Out was a book I dove into honestly without any idea of what I was doing, other than a whole bunch of old duct-taped together dreams, a bunch of luck, and the kind of posturing that might only come with being a former zinester who did things like illegally sell queer zines out of hir backpack at downtown markets. Kicked Out really taught me about this world. It gave me access to communities that I’d only (literally) read from for years, and it truly was a collective process with all of the incredible contributors to bring to life these collection of stories. When the book released in between the fairly intense touring schedule I immediately launched into I began thinking a lot (panicking really) about what I would be working on next, which of course made thinking about writing downright impossible.

My partner had given me the restriction (Someday I’ll write more about the positive ways Leather intersects with my art and living a life in D/s keeps me from self destructing by taking on too many projects at once) that I couldn’t begin a new book for at least a year. Kicked Out had nearly wrecked me creatively, especially the last few months of production where I felt like I was under tremendous pressure from every angle. For the first few months after the release I didn’t write at all, everything was about Kicked Out – promoting, touring etc, honestly I didn’t know if I would ever *really* enjoy writing again.

I remember being in Boston on tour the spring after Kicked Out released and sitting on Toni Amato (my chosen Uncle/writing mentor/good friend)’s back porch as he fed me berry pancakes and asked me about writing.  I was probably crying, and I said I wanted to get my voice back.  As Kicked Out became the success that it is, I learned very quickly that in some ways survival in this industry was dependent upon writing the way someone else wanted. I learned to play that game, but my creativity had been a casualty.   With Toni’s help I spent the next year just playing. I wasn’t writing for a deadline, for an editor, or in anyone elses voice I was writing anything and everything that came to me without thought of how it was or wasn’t marketable. I tried to write like I had as a crusty zinester – fast and punchy without worrying about censoring things I know might be unpopular with readers. Slowly, over the course of the year I remembering why I liked writing in the first place, and  was more than a little shocked to realize at the end of the year I had the skeleton of a book.

When I began in earnest to pursue this novel, to take those first beginning stories and transform them into a novel I made the commitment that while I wanted this to be the best book it could be, I didn’t want it to be clean. I was unwilling and uninterested in sanitizing my characters or the world they inhabit for the comfort of readers. To be worth doing, I knew that I needed to remain true to my vision for this book, and  keep the grittiness of the world I grew up in and the queer/trans/leather lives I built around my characters.  I fought attempts to tame or simplify my characters and their stories, and am so proud of the way the novel ended up coming together, especially when I’m able to put it into the hands of the kinds of gritty artists/writers whose work I’ve admired since I lived the crusty punk worlds of Roving Pack’s characters and have them respond positively!    I’m thrilled to be able to say that Cristy Road whose work I remember finding at the Portland Zine Symposium in 2003 has blurbed Roving Pack!!!! Check it out:

Sassafras Lowery brings us a tale of gender defiance, in a universe struggling to be defiant. Roving Pack introduces us to the whirlwind queer subcultures of Portland, OR in 2002; and the dizzying effects of fighting against the world at war,and the gender binary. Lowery takes us on a journey through dilapidated punk houses, sexual revelation, donut-filled dumpsters, cluttered bedrooms, and the ever-changing struggle to embrace your gender identity, through your own definitions.”

(Author and Artist of Bad Habits, Spit & Passion) 

Jun 122012

One of the aspects of Kicked Out that people most frequently comment on are  the haunting photographs interspersed within the anthology.  They were taken by NYC based photographer Samantha Box, and  I’m thrilled that today her work was featured on TIME Magazine’s LightBox  photography spotlight!   Sam is an incredible photographer who captures the beauty and grittiness ever-present in the lives of queer homeless youth in NYC. It’s a reality that many would rather not see, but Sam brings folks onto the streets, into the homeless shelters, and shows lives of kids challenging audiences to dare look away.

You can check out more of Sam’s work here

Jun 122012

One of the aspects of Kicked Out that people most frequently comment on are  the haunting photographs interspersed within the anthology.  They were taken by NYC based photographer Samantha Box, and  I’m thrilled that today her work was featured on TIME Magazine’s LightBox  photography spotlight!   Sam is an incredible photographer who captures the beauty and grittiness ever-present in the lives of queer homeless youth in NYC. It’s a reality that many would rather not see, but Sam brings folks onto the streets, into the homeless shelters, and shows lives of kids challenging audiences to dare look away.

You can check out more of Sam’s work here

Jun 122012

When I began working on Leather Ever After I didn’t know what fairy tale I would end up choosing to pervert for it.  Folks familiar with my writing know that my work often takes a turn for the dark, the less neatly wrapped up endings, and generally is just about as far from the dragons, magic spells and princesses as you can get.  But, see the thing is I also love a good story, that’s why I’m so drawn to fairy tales to begin with.

I’m interested in connecting fairy tales to leather because at least in my experience, through leather we literally have the ability to create magic for one another weather for a scene, an evening, or in day-to-day life (depending on how those dynamics manifest themselves for us.) I know that kind of deep magic is what drew me in, it’s what gave me the freedom to build a life in this community filled with friendships, experiences,  and possibilities that defy the definitions of what “normal adulthood” is supposed to look like. It sounds cliché but the world I’m lucky enough to live in is quite fairy tale like – which isn’t to mean it’s all sunshine and flowers (remember how dark and scary those fairy tales really are?!) but rather it’s full of good stories, love, and many lessons to be learned.

I knew exactly why I wanted to edit Leather Ever After, I even had all kinds of ideas for different stories (have you seen the examples I listed in the call for submissions?  I really do want someone to write those stories ::hint:: ::hint:: ).  Even though I knew why I felt this book was important and something I wanted to give to my community I had no idea what story I would be writing.  I took the advice I’ve been giving potential authors and started flipping through my copies of Grimm’s Brothers and Hans Christian Anderson.  There were the stories I was familiar with and I continued to have ideas for BDSM focused retellings, but nothing was really connecting for me until I found it…….. The Little Match Girl.

Not familiar with the story? The quick overview is that the story is about a little homeless girl whose dying on the streets and focusing on her hopes and dreams. I’m not going to give too much away about what I’m doing with the piece, but  lets just say the story lends itself well to the genderfucking, gutterpunk leather writing that’s kinda become my trademark. In my retelling, our main character isn’t going to be much of a “girl” and well… you’ll have to read the anthology when it comes out to know the rest!

I’ve been so excited by the number of people who have expressed interest in contributing to the anthology, or who have already sent in their stories (this editor sure does love an early submission). I have however definitely had conversations with folks who said they would submit, except they aren’t fantasy writers. You don’t have to be a fantasy writer.  Let me say that again, you don’t have to be a fantasy writer to submit to this anthology.  I’m sure there will be stories in the book that are deeply rooted in that traditional fairytale magic of dragons, witches and secret potions, BUT that’s not all I want this book to be. For example . For example as I mentioned above, I’m working on a gritty retelling of The Little Match Girl that is full of queer genders and set in a contemporary city,

I believe very deeply that while fairy tales set in a fictional far far away place are about magic, the world we live in is full of it’s own sorts of magic, often the kind we create through Leather for ourselves and each other. I hope that writers considering submitting will take note, and not feel limited by, but rather inspired by the idea of having a great deal of freedom around the setting and style used for retelling a fairy tale with a BDSM twist. As always I’m happy to correspond with folks via email LeatherEverAfter@gmail.com if you’re struggling with making an idea come together, or have questions about something you’re planning on writing

 Remember the Leather Ever After call for submissions closes on August 1st 

Jun 082012

I’ve been talking a lot here on the blog about Roving Pack and the scrappy bunch of characters that have consumed so much of my creative life for the past few years and are right now so incredibly close to being out in the world and in your hands, tucked into your backpacks for subway reading, or nestled onto your bookcase.  While I’m pretty much as excited as I can imagine about the novel it’s far from the only thing happening creatively for me.  I’m also deep into working on my third book, Leather Ever After.  I’ve talked about it here on the blog a little bit, and intend to start talking about it more in the upcoming weeks and months.  Leather Ever After is an anthology of BDSM retellings of classic fairy tales – that’s going to be hot, scary and a whole lot of fun (you can read the whole call for submissions here )

Coming into leather community  I was  so incredibly lucky because in that world I literally came out into as a baby queer. Leather was, in that world just a regular part of being queer and it wasn’t until later that I began to realize just how much stigma existed.  I remember very vividly the first time I found books that actually spoke to me as a leather person. Books that were not 101 practical skill books, but books that were stories, narratives, conversations and representations of our lives.

One of the very first leather writers I ever identified with was Laura Antoniou.  The worlds she created  made this important part of my life feel visible on the page in a way I’d not previously experienced. I got really into her work when I worked at the leather shop in Portland.  The assistant manager,  as scrappy and punk as the rest of us on staff would put each of The Marketplace books on layaway slowly chipping away at them until she owned them all – then promptly “checking them out” to each of us in our own little DIY leather library (I’d be lying if I didn’t say we also read a lot –sneaking the books off the shelves when we were supposed to be selling vibrators to drunk soccer moms ).  All this is a very long way of saying that Laura’s writing has been a big part of Leather writing for me, and I love thatshe’s part of my community here in NYC.  I am  THRILLED THRILLED THRILLED and honored to announce that Laura Antoniou will be writing the foreword / introduction to Leather Ever After!!!!!!

I’ve recently decided on the fairy tale that I’m going to be playing with for the anthology (more on that soon in a future blog post), and am so excited to hear from other writers as they stumble upon the fairy tale they are most inspired to pervert. About a month ago I posted some ‘tips on how to submit to me.’  The advice there still stands, and if you’re planning to submit to the book, I think is worth checking out, but the abbreviated version is:  #1 – make sure there is BDSM content in your story.  This isn’t queer fairy tales, or sexy fairy tale retellings so the presence of queered relationships or sex is not enough to make the cut and get into the book.  #2 Your fairy tale can be set long long ago in a far away land, in contemporary  NYC dungeon or anywhere in between, write what inspires you. #3- please please please look beyond the ‘Disney canon.’  There are so many brilliant fairytales that are just waiting for you – do a quick google search of Grimms Brothers or Hans Christian Anderson, take a look at the titles for some of those stories, aren’t you feeling more inspired already?  Put it this way, the likelihood that I will include more than one kinky retelling of a fairytale is pretty slim, you’re significantly increasing your odds of getting into the anthology if you pick a less common fairytale.  I can’t wait for you to tell me a story!

Jun 042012

I think it’s finally starting to sink in for me that Roving Pack  will be here in just a couple of short months.  With the manuscript safely to the fabulous layout person, i’ve begun turning my attention to plans for the release – online, in new york, in other cities, and the European tour that Kestryl and I have booked which coincides with the release (more details coming soon).  

I’ve also been putting a lot of focus into the preliminary planning for the pre-sale of the novel!  There was some joke searching into the possibility of a special “scratch and sniff” edition. You’d be surprised what sort of scents you can get as scratch & snif stickers – I found a site where I could get “ashtray, beer, body odor, garlic, leather, mildew, spaghetti” I figured combining those would come up with a pretty realistic punkhouse smell ;)  Don’t worry though I’ve decided to keep the special pre-sale copies of Roving Pack a little less…… aeromatic.   I’ll be announcing all the details about the pre-sale in the coming weeks so please keep checking back at the blog for more info! 

Most excitedly this week came more support for Roving Pack from queer literary folks!!!! I just about fainted when I checked my email and saw the super sweet things that Bear had to say about the novel!!! Check it out!!!!

“Bittersweet, engrossing, richly textured and redolent of truth – a harrowing but incredibly rewarding read.”

   S. Bear Bergman

Butch is a Noun, The Nearest Exit May Be Behind You