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About this poet

Trace Peterson is a trans woman poet critic. Author of Since I Moved In (Chax Press, 2007), she is also founding editor and publisher of EOAGH, which has won two Lambda Literary Awards, including the first given in transgender poetry. She is coeditor of the anthology Troubling the Line: Trans and Genderqueer Poetry and Poetics (Nightboat Books, 2013) and coeditor of Arrive on Wave: Collected Poems of Gil Ott (Chax Press, 2016). Her work has appeared in Readings in Contemporary Poetry: An Anthology (Dia Art Foundation/Yale University Press, 2017), From Our Hearts to Yours: New Narrative as Contemporary Practice (ON Contemporary Practice, 2017), Best American Experimental Writing 2016 (Wesleyan University Press, 2017), and TSQ: Transgender Studies Quarterly. Peterson has taught the course Transgender Cultural Production at Yale University and the writing workshop Learning From Trans Poets at the Poetry Project in New York City. She currently teaches in the Naropa Summer Writing Program and at Hunter College, where, since 2015, she has taught the innovative course Trans and Nonbinary Poetry.

Exclusively on Venus

Roses are red / violets are transsexual / welcome to womanhood / now get to work honey

Roses are performative / violets are biological / I have very sensitive breasts / and so do your breasts

Roses are biological / you have the nicest skin / I can't stop kissing you / let's read more nondualistic queer theory

Roses are fed up / with our binary fetishes / I tricked my doctors / and stole all the medication to hide it in a cave and share it with other trans people

Roses have got me / up against the wall / kissing my neck / which is socially constructed to be a super hot strong feminist neck

Roses are violet / violets are roses / I really like you / I like you tube

Roses are born this way / violets have a lesbian streak / something about your dry sense of humor and our soft intertwined limbs / feels transcendently female

Roses are blue / violets are violet / roses are nonviolet / blue is bluenormative

Roses are from mars / violets had the whole surgery / setting up camp / exclusively on Venus

Roses have gone too far / not to be what girls are made of / I'm coming out / to my academic colleagues as a poet and I bet they will run away screaming

Roses are roses / violets are born this way / someone's got a hoard / of heteronormative transaffirmation porn you say?

Roses are cheeky / I want you to fuck me / drown violets like an accused witch / in your arms which feel like mine

Violets got a name change / roses changed a pronoun / we ate at a restaurant / and forgot to put the leftovers in the fridge

Roses are trochaic / violets have their original plumbing / let's march in a protest / then go home and we'll cook something delicious and eat it with a spork

Violets are permanent / roses are impermanent / thank you for becoming me / offering to embrace your form your fate

Flowerbeds are umbrellas / umbrellas are rubrics / I support your identification / and your disidentification

Men are from women / roses are from Jupiter / women are from men / I can't tell which is softer, your lips or this pillow or the snow descending gracefully outside


Originally appeared in The Brooklyn Rail. Copyright © 2016 Trace Peterson. Used with permission of the author.

Originally appeared in The Brooklyn Rail. Copyright © 2016 Trace Peterson. Used with permission of the author.

Trace Peterson

Trace Peterson

Trace Peterson is the author of Since I Moved In (Chax Press, 2007), winner of the Gil Ott Award, as well as numerous chapbooks.

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