After three years of hosting and curating Incite: Queer Writers Read, the beloved duo Kate Gray (tall Kate) and Kate Caroll de Gutes (bowtie Kate) will hand over the reigns of the series to poet, Jennifer Perrine, and author and publisher, Vinnie Kinsella.
Incite is a bimonthly reading series for and by local queer writers. Each event features four writers responding to a theme. After the reading portion of the night, the hosts present a discussion question and break the audience up into small groups to encourage audience members to engage and connect.
The series was created in 2017 by Gray and Caroll de Gutes in response to the 2016 election, hoping that it would foster a safe environment for queer writers to meet, connect, and reflect on pressing topics. The series has covered themes like resistance, justice, remembrance, and celebration, noting that while there are many victories to celebrate in the queer communuty, there also remains work to be done.
It was always a goal for Gray and Caroll de Gutes to have this series be intergenerational, which is why, rather than simply end the series once unable to host, they thought it vital to integrate new hosts who would bring the series new life. Here is a little bit about what the new hosts hope to see in the future of the series and how they became involved.
Q: What brought you to the series and what is your favorite part?
JP: I feel like a bit of a latecomer to the series. I’d heard of Incite through Kate Carroll De Gutes, who I met at another event where we’d both read. I kept meaning to check one out, but had other commitments on Wednesday nights. I finally showed up for an Incite where one of my friends was reading, and I was hooked! I’m a sucker for a theme, and I enjoyed hearing how all the writers interpreted the theme, but what I really kept coming back for was the community discussion.
I love meeting new people, but I also often find myself floundering sometimes when talking with someone I’ve just met and trying to navigate the customs of small talk. I loved that at Incite, I was in a room full of other people who celebrated writing and queerness, and equally, I loved that there was a structure in place, through the discussion questions, that helped me connect with some of those people and share a meaningful conversation with them right off the bat.
Even though we’re in Zoom rooms right now, rather than a physical space, this is still one of my favorite moments of Incite nights. We get to talk about the reading we’ve just experienced, about our lives and our perspectives, and I find it so comforting to listen to what everyone shares, to learn from their wisdom and insight (pun very much intended).
VK:I started attending the series when it began in 2016. I was drawn to the series because it was the only one in Portland I found specifically designed for a queer audience. Most reading series in Portland do a fantastic job of including queer writers in their lineups and creating welcoming atmospheres for all attendees, but attending these as a queer person is not the same as attending an event run just for you.
At Incite, queer attendees get to hear queer writers speak directly to them with no concern as to how their words might translate to a cishet audience. As someone who benefited from the atmosphere of Incite for so many years as an attendee, I want to pass those benefits on to others as a host.
Q: How do you hope the series will evolve (and/or stay the same)?
JP: I hope we can continue to build community through the series, especially as many of us have fewer opportunities to connect in other ways right now. I also hope the series can extend that community beyond the space of the events and into opportunities for further relationship and collective action. I think this has already happened in informal ways, but I’m excited to explore how we can build into the structure of the series invitations to keep coming together in other spaces (physically or mediated by technology) to create, collaborate, strategize, and celebrate with one another.
VK: The pandemic gave us an unexpected gift. By having to switch to a virtual series, we were able to open up the event to those who couldn’t attend before, either because of distance or accessibility. I don’t anticipate changing much about the event itself in terms of how the evening goes, but I do want to keep a virtual component moving forward so that as many people can attend as possible.
Q: Anything you want the audience to know? Or What do you want participants to take away from attending an Incite event?
JP: I want the audience to know that they are what makes the series so special because they’re showing up not just to listen to the featured readers but also to be active participants in the event. That can take courage and vulnerability, and I appreciate that. When I attended Incite events as an audience member, I often left feeling both affirmed and transformed by what someone else–a featured reader, one of the hosts, a fellow participant–had shared. I hope that everyone who attends might leave each event with a similar feeling, as well as with a greater awareness of and connection to LGBTQ2IA+ literary communities.
VK: My biggest wish for anyone who attends Incite is that they feel connected to a larger community. As LGBTQ+ people, it’s easy for us to feel isolated, especially if we don’t live where the community around us accepts us. I want Incite to serve as a regular reminder to queer people that they are not alone, that there are others like them who relate to their experiences. I want it to be a place where understanding walks hand-in-hand with hope.
We are so grateful for the work Kate Gray and Kate Caroll de Gutes lay forward, and are so happy to have Jeniffer Perrine and Vinnie Kinsella carry it onward. Incite’s next event will be on Wednesday, March 10th at 7 p.m. Pacific Time. You can register in advance here. We hope you can join us!