Recently, I was lucky to catch the poetry and spoken word tour Sister Spit, an LGBTQ-oriented, “rotating crew of female-centric performers, writers and artists across the United States,” that stages “cabaret-style shows in universities, bars, discos, art galleries, indie bookstores and community spaces everywhere.”
While I wasn’t familiar with most of the writers beforehand, I especially enjoyed the graphic novel readings (yes, you heard right) from Nicole J. Georges and Elisha Lim, the powerful poetry of Lenelle Moïse, and the overall humor and fun of the evening: PowerPoint! An advice segment! Audience participation! Keep an eye out for some of these touring terrors’ books on a library shelf near you–they were too good not to share. Even better than discovering so many new writers to follow, Sister Spit’s lineup also included one of my favorite authors, Michelle Tea, who founded Sister Spit.
With so much to read, I rarely revisit the same author, but Michelle Tea is kind of irresistible. I’ve made time to read several of her books, including her poetry collection The Beautiful and her illustrated novel Rent Girl, and I plan to come back for more. Will it be her novel Valencia or her memoir The Chelsea Whistle?
Michelle Tea’s own writing celebrates honesty and wildness, and her skills as a selecting editor are equally vivacious. In the anthologies she edits, each piece segues gracefully to the next through common style or subject matter, and the pace rarely drags or stutters. One of her anthologies is Without a Net: The Female Experience of Growing Up Working Class, whose moments of young women surviving and navigating childhood vary from heart-breaking to hilarious, but always remain poignant and immediate. The contributors to another Tea anthology, Baby Remember My Name: An Anthology of New Queer Girl Writing seethe with exuberance whether their essays, stories and comics depict a poor trailer park resident’s birthday, an acid trip in San Francisco, or a gender-bending six-year-old on a bike.
If you are a fan of queer-friendly, class-conscious, feminist, real, personal, feisty fiction and memoir writing, you’ll love Michelle Tea and the writers she publishes and tours with. Start reading, and maybe, if Pittsburgh is lucky enough to warrant another Sister Spit tour stop, you can listen for yourself next year!