Sister Spit’s New Generation of Queer Poets & Rebels: The Autostraddle Interview

Sister Spit: The Interviews

Laneia: Why are you doing Sister Spit? Why are you here?
Tour Manager & Total Hottie, Beth: It’s part of my job, so I’ll let you…
Ariel Schrag: Well it just sounded super fun to me. I actually had the same reason [Michelle Tea] had, which is that I was always jealous of people in bands.
Laneia: So the adventure, then?
Ariel: Yeah, I wanted to be able to do the whole tour thing. It sounded really fun. And it’s lived up to all of my expectations.

ariel schrag and kirya traber las vegas

credit Ariel Schrag’s Facebook

Laneia: What are you guys listening to in The Van?
Ariel: Everyone’s iPods!
Beth: Yes, and I’m so tired of mine!
Ariel: When we’re rolling into a town, we like to put on a song about that town.
Beth: We listened to Viva Las Vegas on the way into Vegas.
Ariel: When we went into LA, we listened to “California Love.”

kirya traber by bethanie hines

credit Bethanie Hines

Kirya Traber: Well, I wanted to do Sister Spit definitely for the adventure, but very realistically for the career opportunities. As an artist, I perform a lot in the Bay Area. There’s a strong community there, which is great, but I’m curious about the reception I’ll get across the country and whether I can make this a viable career for a long time. And a lot of that has to do with spoken-word touring and sharing your work and selling your work.
Laneia: And how has that been for you so far?
Kirya: Great! It’s only been a week, and it’s been great! I feel really good about it.

credit Amos Mac

credit Amos Mac

Rhiannon Argo: I’m on Sister Spit to tour my new book “The Creamsickle.” The Sister Spit of the 90s inspired me and influenced my writing, so my work definitely fits into the Sister Spit aesthetic. And like Kirya said, I love to get outside of my San Francisco bubble and reach new, different people.

Laneia: Yeah, it’s impossible to find anybody’s books here [in Phoenix]. Like, I went to independent booksellers & some major booksellers. Not there. At all. And I have some [books], but in preparation for seeing everybody, and I was so excited, I was like, “I’m totally gonna go get Beth Lisick! — something. Right? Nothing’s here!”
Kirya: Uggh, yeah.

Rhiannon: Especially my book! It’s a small press so it won’t come into the bookstore unless a little queer kid comes in and asks them to order it.
Laneia: Specifically, right.
Rhiannon: And then wait a month.
Laneia: So how do you get yourself out there for the little queer kid who doesn’t have anything else?
kirya traberKirya: Well, like what Rhiannon said about being inspired by Sister Spit in the 90’s — see, I didn’t know of Sister Spit until recently, but a lot of my friends found out about queer culture via Sister Spit and via Michelle Tea, who’s one of the most published queer women authors in the world. It’s generated a sort of “underground” movement. Folks from across the country can be united by, “Oh yeah, I’ve heard of Sister Spit,” which creates buzz. That’s the kind of model we’re all hoping to build on.

Laneia: What kind of books would you recommend as “required reading” to young queer girls?
Rhiannon: Because there are so many different types of queers & lesbians & personal identifications, it’s really great to read lit from a queer person or lesbian who doesn’t necessarily live how you live. Like reading a book by a transgendered author.
Laneia: Yeah, that’s a really good idea.
Rhiannon: Like, having the whole canon.
Kirya: I say, there’s no bad thing to read. I didn’t really get a lot of direction and I didn’t have queer mentors, so all I had were the classics like “Rubyfruit Jungle” and “The Color Purple.” [laughs]
Rhiannon: I read all those books, too.
Kirya: I think what’s important for a young person to know is that there are modern, young people who write.
Laneia: EXACTLY.
Rhiannon: YEAH.
Kirya: So, seek it out, you know? The Internet is an amazing resource these days. And I’m not published, I just have my chapbook that my mom and I made together.
Rhiannon: [totally unsarcastically] That’s so sweet.
Kirya: There’s other forms of literary & artistic stuff aside from published books. There’s a lot of spoken word with queer content on YouTube, and there’s some visual artists doing awesome things including websites. It’s important that people constantly see themselves as the bearers of queer culture and that they get together with their community, make a community out of nothing and try to do something.
Laneia: [interrupts a lot and says things like I COULDN’T AGREE MORE YES YES]

— Next Page–
More With Kirya & Rhiannon
“It was wintertime, and we were like,
“I want a website where I can go and look at hot queers!””

Pages: 1 2 3 4See entire article on one page

Laneia is the Executive Editor and founding member of Autostraddle, and you're the reason she's here.

Laneia has written 929 articles for us.

26 Comments

    • thank you! i should send this to all future interview candidates so they know what’s up. so they’ll know that they shouldn’t expect to actually have time to answer the questions, you know? wheeee! um, but srsly, thank goodness we have interns b/c otherwise, OMG.

  1. Yay, Green! You’re so adorable. I would give my left *anything* to talk to Michelle Tea. They are coming to Chicago on Saturday to a small/independent bookstore right by my house. I was going to go to roller derby, but I think I may have to change my plans.
    ———————
    Since Michelle Tea mentioned poetry slams- the man credited with starting the poetry slam movement, Marc Smith (http://marckellysmith.com/ ), still actually runs open mics/poetry slams on Sunday nights at the Green Mill in Chicago. For anyone in the area who is interested, I highly recommend it. It’s a good mix of newbies, regulars and professionals.

    • i’m so glad you got tickets to the show! can’t wait to hear about it. they do different stuff in each city!

      i think there are poetry slams here, too, but of course i’ve never ever been. omg what would i wear to a poetry slam?? jeans, probs. yeah? jeans.

      • AMAZING. It was amazing. My only regret is not being able to go to the after party or sticking around long enough to catch Ariel Schrag not being busy so I could gush and get her to sign something like I did with Michelle Tea and Rhiannon Argo. Michelle said *this* article is amazing (of course I had to mention it!) and was hysterical adorable amazing. So was everyone. Ben was talking to me while we were hanging outside before the show (she had a cigarette, I had a decaf pumpkin spice latte) and I feel like a tool because in the dark/out of context I didn’t realize who she was until we went inside. To start her performance she threw off her coat to reveal a mesh dress over a bikini and started dancing to Lady Gaga. Then she yelled, ‘Is this all you think trannies can do? Cut your hair, sell MAC at the makeup counter and *this*?!’ We had a local Chicago poet, Carina Gia Farrero, in place of your AZ person, and the tour manager, Sarah Adams, showed one of her hysterical short films (‘Butthole Licking’), otherwise we had all the same people (reading slightly different things.) Oh, and special guest DJ SpinNikki played music before/after the show. I bought Kirya’s chap book, Black Chick, and Ariel Schrag’s choose-your-own-adventure. I’ve already got/am reading Rhiannon Argo’s book, and I own all of Michelle Tea’s stuff, obvs.

        • i read that entire comment w/out taking a pause/breath because that’s how i imagined you saying it. I’M SO GLAD YOU WENT ALL CAPS! <333 [and i'm glad/squealing that you talked to M.T. abt this articleeeeeeee!]

  2. “And I feel like I’m at a point now where I need to force myself to be who I want to be.” –I’m at the exact same point right now! I just need to jump in & allow things to be scary & exciting & beautiful & awkward. Autostraddle helps.

    This is really well done & I’ll definitely be looking to order some of their stuff!

  3. I got the opportunity to see Sister Spit in Orlando of all places in like 2002 or 2003? Michelle Tea read my favorite passage from my favorite chapter of my favorite book (at the time), “Valencia,” and then she signed a copy for me. Best night evar.

    Their tour comes to Brooklyn next Wednesday, for those in the NYC area who are intersted.

  4. This was magical Laneia! You were awesome… I am bummed and slightly embarrassed I’d never heard of Sister Spit until now being that I am a writer living in San Francisco! ugh totally sad. I have been lucky enough to see Beth Lisick and Rhiannon Argo read before buuuut still what an opportunity to have all of these wonderfully talented writers and women on stage at once! April Sister Spit shows here I come. Thank you for sharing this! made my day seriously

    • thank you!! i hope the tour comes back to phx in april because i’m already there. i bet SF is so full of queer poets and authors – you’re so lucky! i read a lot of interviews with SF-based authors leading up to this piece, and practically everyone talked about the need to get out of the SF “bubble”. and then these women said the same thing! do you ever feel that way? where do you go to escape the queerness?

  5. Firstly when you texted me and said you were gonna go to this I was really surprised and excited. There’s so many things in life that scare me that I have just chosen not to deal with, but the fear of interviewing people was one I knew I had to tackle head-on b/c the experience and the material can be so rewarding!

    This part reminded me of Why I Trust San Francisco: “I actually really do like the fog in San Francisco. It’s just moody, and foggy weather can be an excuse to stay in and write: Well, it’s not sunny out, I better stay in and write a novel!”

    The fact that this is even happening, touring, right now (as opposed to the 90’s when things were more economically prosporous) I think really means kickass things for ladies; that there’s a hunger to hear our voices, and to see people who are young and passionate who write, and want to share stories with each other an an audience.

    YAY LANEIA is all.

  6. How about eating a delicious dinner with them at a big table in your college dining hall while being the only seeming “hetero” when only one person, the girl sitting next to you, was lucky enough to know that you were a hopeless bisexual only out to two people?

    I raise my hand.

  7. In my city we have a fantastic and standing-room-only supported spoken word night, open to anyone. There is usually at least a couple of lesbians who perform during the open mic portion.

    I wonder if I started a an otherwise-inclined lady chapbook exchange on the internet, Autostraddle would want to hear about it?

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