by Monica Hay, Event Intern at Literary Arts
Incite: Queer Readers Read held its third event at Literary Arts on Wednesday, September 6. The “two Kates” Kate Carroll de Gutes and Kate Gray host the events, with the, “hope to create conversation, connection, and greater understanding both within the queer community and with other communities” as quoted from their Facebook page.
Incite meets every other month, and queer writers read work on a theme. The theme Wednesday night was “abundance.”
For September’s reading, attendees found two-sided cards on their seat that read, “How do you define abundance in your life?” and “What’s the relationship between your definition of abundance and your definition of wealth?”
The readers this month were Vinnie Kinsella, Qwo-Li Driskill, Ashley Brittner Wells, and Stephanie Adams Santos. Kinsella is the author of Fashionably Late: Gay, Bi, and Trans Men Who Came Out Later in Life. In his reading, he tackled the abundance of materials – specifically, his mother’s materials as a hoarder—and how his family collectively reduced her clutter, hoping to free her before her death. Driskill is an assistant professor in the Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies department at Oregon State University, and the author of the poetry collections Walking With Ghosts: Poems. Driskill started by thanking and honoring the people whose land we were using. The poems s/he read weaved Cherokee and two-spirit identity with resistance, rawness, and sexuality.
Brittner Wells runs “Get Nervous” a reading and performance series about anxiety and depression. In the essay she read, we learned about her friendships of the past, and the heartbreaking moment her old friend passed away in a car crash. She told us of her struggles with self-image and mental health, and touched on the entitlement of white men in our society while referencing the blazing 20,000 acres in the Columbia Gorge. Adams Santos, Incite’s last reader for the night, is the author of the full-length poetry book Swarm Queen’s Crown, among several chapbooks. Her reading centered on ancestry and identity, and used imagery and language to paint scenes for the audience.
After the readings, Kate and Kate asked participants to talk to a seatmates about the questions, urging people to reach out to someone they didn’t know. They facilitated a discussion with the audience and wrote all the feedback on the screen. People shared their personal experiences with the topic of abundance and wealth, some delving into renditions of their gratitude practice, others relating to the lack of abundance but ability to triumph in hard times. Some discussed abundance as a feeling, and wealth as physical materials. At the end, it was clear that the room held diverse and intimate ideas on the topic, as many people offered their innermost experiences that generated radical honesty. The discussion closed the event, and the next meeting’s theme was revealed: gratitude.
The last Incite event of this year will be held Wednesday, November at 7:00PM. All Incite events are in The Studio at Literary Arts, 925 SW Washington, Portland Oregon.