Natasha Dennerstein [Transcript]

ndWG: [00:00:18] Welcome to Queer Words. This is Wayne Goodman, and on this episode, I have the delightful pleasure of conversing with Natasha Dennerstein. Hello, Natasha!

ND: [00:00:27] Hi, Wayne.

WG: [00:00:28] You want to tell a little about yourself?

ND: [00:00:30] Sure. Well, I’m Australian, as you can probably tell from my accent, and I came to San Francisco because I sort of wanted to have a trip abroad. I still had an overseas trip left in me. My plan was to do my MFA in Creative Writing in San Francisco and stay for three years, but was like five years ago.

WG: [00:00:54] So, as this is Queer Words, I like to ask people: What qualifies you as Queer?

ND: [00:01:01] I think that I am dyed-in-the-wool, lifetime, card-carrying, gold-member Queer, and why I say this is–look–at thirteen or fourteen–I was born male and I sort of was having gay intimate relationships and was cross-dressing and a drag queen, then I later turned into a Trans woman. I was never really binary and straight with it all, I was always a little bit, sort of, ambiguous gender-wise and sexuality-wise. I’m mature now, so it’s been my whole life has been as a Queer/Trans woman.

WG: [00:01:42] I think you sort of answered this, but I’ll ask again: When did you first accept being Queer?

ND: [00:01:48] I sort of thought that at sixteen or seventeen I might have been a Gay boy. I did drag and dressed up, and it was something that I put away and took back out and put away and took back out until I got to a point where I thought that the only way I could live my life would be as a female. That sort of came to me a bit later in my early 20s. I would say that at sixteen.

WG: [00:02:18] I would imagine today it would be even easier because gender because gender fluidity is more accepted, and younger people–even grade-school children–are dealing with their gender issues.

ND: [00:02:30] Yes, they are, and sometimes quite controversially because the parents have the option to put them on puberty blockers, and some people say that’s a form of child abuse.

WG: [00:02:40] We’ll save that for another discussion. Who are some of your Queer hero figures?

ND: [00:02:45] In general, Queer heroes and sheroes, I have to say Harvey Milk, not only for San Francisco, but for the whole world. I’m an admirer of some of the people in the media at the moment. Laverne Cox comes to mind. As a Trans woman with a high profile speaking articulately about our issues. People like that. I also like that woman, Lea DeLaria, that’s on Orange Is the New Black.

WG: [00:03:16] She’s from San Francisco. She used to be a comic here.

ND: [00:03:18] I just like her because she’s a butch Lesbian that’s in the media, unashamedly herself. People like that I like, visible people.

WG: [00:03:29] Now, we’ll shift to: Who are some of your literary influences?

ND: [00:03:33] I have to say Leslie Feinberg, first and foremost, because of the book Stone Butch Blues, which is just a magnificent book. It really changed my life, and it’s changed a lot of people’s lives.

WG: [00:03:48] How did it change your life?

ND: [00:03:50] She was really the first person to talk about Trans or gender-non-conforming issues in a way that was intelligent and sensitive and literary. That book came out in 1992. Previously to that, Trans characters in literature and other media were always portrayed as a joke or a punchline or a comedy or…

WG: [00:04:14] …the murderer.

ND: [00:04:15] Yes, the murderer. They were often murdered.

WG: [00:04:17] The murderer who then got killed. I’m thinking of that fashion movie Dressed To Kill.

ND: [00:04:25] Those kind of characters, but the first instance of Trans characters being written sympathetically and intelligently was Leslie’s book, and it was world-changing. Well, for us Trans folk.

WG: [00:04:46] What inspired you to begin writing?

ND: [00:04:48] As a school kid, the only thing I was really good at was English, and in Australia we had English Expression and English Literature. Those two subjects–one was reading and the other was writing, I guess, or composition–and I got very high marks for those subjects and very low marks for the others just because it interested me, fascinated me. I loved reading Shakespeare and classic books and Tolstoy and Flaubert and all the things that they set us to read. I loved it. Analyzing texts, it just came naturally to me. I always wanted to be a writer and I always thought I was a writer, but then life intervened and I had to support myself and survive. I sort of dabbled a bit, but I put it away until later in life when I had the time and fortitude to be disciplined to sit down and write. It was always with me, but it lay dormant. Many years later I got the opportunity to start writing.

WG: [00:05:50] I know Anatomize as your first book that I’m familiar with. Was there anything before that? Or did you just pop out of a box with this amazing, award-winning book?

ND: [00:06:00] I was writing short stories and vignettes. In my many years of my life I was a psychiatric nurse I fictionalized sort of little stories because there were so many fascinating stories. I’d write little one-page or two-page short stories. At that time, I read a lot of psychiatric fiction by people with backgrounds in psychology and psychiatry, and I just sort of wrote these small snippets and kept them aside.

WG: [00:06:32] Like character studies.

ND: [00:06:34] Little stories. I guess they’re fictionalized case studies.

WG: [00:06:40] How does queerness impact your writing?

ND: [00:06:43] I think that it affects everything that you say and do, and it affects the atmosphere or the weather of your writing. I think that it was previously thought that Queer literature had Queer subject matters and Queer characters–and it often does–but not always. It’s my strong belief that the queerness expresses itself in my writing–and in other Queer writers that I know and like–in a certain way of looking at the world, a certain way of expressing one’s self, a certain attitude. That’s what I think.

WG: [00:07:17] Can you discuss your personal approach to writing? Do you have a pattern that you follow?

ND: [00:07:22] Yes. I find it best to wake up early and write early in the morning for a number of reasons. One is that it’s quiet and there aren’t a lot of people running around, especially at six in the morning. Another thing is because I’m a caregiver and my relationship with my disabled partner. So, he’s asleep. [Laughter] So I get up early when he doesn’t want oatmeal and “Where’s my cigarette lighter?” et cet., et cet. So, I get up early. Those hours are my hours, the golden hours from six in the morning until nine in the morning, and I usually write pretty steadily at that time almost every day and have done so for years now. Also, the other thing I’ve got this notion that if I go to bed thinking about what I’m going to write the next morning, then it might percolate in my mind overnight and come out fully formed. I don’t think that’s ever happened; it’s a theory I have.

WG: [00:08:20] I thought you were going to say you like to write when you first get up because you remember all the dreams.

ND: [00:08:24] No, but I deliberately think as I’m trying to go to sleep of the plot of the novel that I’m writing or the themes of the poem that I’m working on. I’m hoping to do some subconscious mental work during the night. Also, in the morning, my mind is not sort of distracted with all of other things. When I sit down, I’m pretty fluid in the morning.

WG: [00:08:47] Can you tell us a little bit about your body of work?

ND: [00:08:49] As you mentioned, I had Anatomize come out in 2015, and that was a book of poetry. I’m very proud of that book because I deliberately wanted to make it universal and that’s what all humans have in common: the body. I thought that could relate. I really didn’t want to come out with a super-Queer or super-Trans collection. I had that stuff in me, but I thought, “Later.” I just didn’t want to pigeon-hole myself as a Trans writer because I knew what would happen. I’d have a very small following, and I just wanted to be more universal. How much more universal can you be than the human body? So, I’m very, very proud of that book. I think it’s a successful collection, and I mined my own knowledge of anatomy and physiology from my background in nursing to come up with interesting little things about every system in the human body.

WG: [00:09:47] There is one poem in the book that is–I would say almost specifically–talking to the Gay Community. That’s “O Positive.” But other than that, I believe you’re right. They’re not shaded one way or the other. It’s just people’s bodies and how they express them.

ND: [00:10:02] That particular poem is an AIDS poem, and I was in the Blood section and thinking about the method of transmission of HIV and also the way in which the progress of the blood-borne disease. I think that non-Queer people, or Hetero people, can relate to that, too, because addicts were getting HIV back then, and even Straight women were getting it.

WG: [00:10:27] And so, your other books?

ND: [00:10:28] After that was Triptych Caliform, which was a collection in three segments: Cinema, BDSM/Kink, and the Californian Lifestyle. And it’s really because I was acclimating myself to living here in the Bay, and it was a lot of new things for me. I always sort of associate California with Hollywood and the movie industry, and then all that sort of peculiar lifestyle and ways of thinking about the world tied in with all of that. I guess it’s my transition novel from Australia to America, really through the filter of California. I like the title, Caliform. It’s not really a word, it’s a neologism. Like formed from California.

WG: [00:11:13] And, again, it doesn’t lean toward any particular community. It’s for everyone. There’s something for everyone in the book.

ND: [00:11:20] I hope so. I’m an equal-opportunity offender. [Laughter] Everyone can be offended. And then, About a Girl, which is a novel in verse, or you could say it’s a novella in verse. There’s a narrative thread through it with a story line and characters written from a variety of perspectives. That book also leaned heavily on my psychiatric nursing background. So many of the sad and broken young women I looked after over the years with their alcoholism, eating disorders, addictions, bulimia. There’s stories of sexual assault and the ramifications of that, how that affects you as it does, very much. Everyone later in life. That was that book and I was very happy with that. Those three were all from Norfolk Press. Then I came out with a chapbook, which is Seahorse, and that’s from Nomadic Press, and that’s a little part of Trans story, in parts. I’ve got four poetry books currently in print, and I’ve got a novel coming… soon.

WG: [00:12:30] Where can people find your books?

ND: [00:12:32] The chapbook, Seahorse, is available through SPD, Small Press Distributors, in Berkeley. You can order it online or by mail. The other books from Norfolk Press you can get from norfolkpress.com. And they’re in different bookstores.

WG: [00:12:49] And they’re around the world, because we’ve seen them in Aukland and Melbourne.

ND: [00:12:54] Hares and Hyenas, Fitzroy. [The Gay bookstore in Melbourne, Australia]

Natasha reads a selection of poetry: “Non, Je ne Regrette Rien” from Seahorse; one from the Cinema section of Triptych Caliform; “Red Wine Lake” from About a Girl; and “Articulate” from Anatomize.

WG: [00:18:32] How interesting that you chose that one because my review of that book is titled, “She Had Me at Acetabulum.”

ND: [00:18:39] I know. [Laughter] It was a nod to your good taste.

WG: [00:18:45] Oh, thank you. [00:18:54] What is your involvement in the Queer communities?

ND: [00:18:57] I like to see myself in the Trans community as a Trans sister or an elder because I’ve got 30 years’ experience of being a Trans woman. In some ways that qualifies you for nothing, but in other ways it makes you the repository of a whole lot of social history. Also, the owner of some skills of survival and these are gifts I can pass on to the younger members. I don’t want to be one of those people who retires into obscurity and scuttles away, never to be heard of again. I want the difficulties I’ve gone through in my life to mean something. As I mature, Wayne, I hear the clock ticking. I think: Let this not all have been in vain. So, I have a strong need to give back and share. Also, in the Trans context, be visible because it’s important. Young people say, “When I heard so-and-so, when I saw so-and-so, it also gave me the strength to also come out and to transition or what have you. So, I think that I have a responsibility to my younger community members. I’m not like the crocodile that eats her young. [Laughter]

WG: [00:20:13] How do you use social media to promote your work?

ND: [00:20:16] I do do that. I want people to be aware of my work, and I want people to buy my books, but I can’t have a constant stream of advertisements saying, “Here’s my new book! Buy my new book!” because why would people. So, what I do is post articles and images on popular culture, the history of fashion and film and vehicles, things that I’m passionate about that I think are beautiful. I sort of create or curate–in my mind, anyhow–a sort of visual magazine and pepper it, occasionally, with plugs for my book. But I do try to put snippets of verse with an accompanying image, for example. So, the plug in itself is aesthetic, but it’s about ten pieces of interesting content and one plug for a book. That’s about the formula. If every second post I made was exhorting people to come to my readings and buy my books, it wouldn’t work so much. People can tolerate it because I’m giving something. I’m asking something, like, “Look at my work. Buy my book. If you can’t afford it, please repost this so other people may see it.” In asking for that I have to be giving something.

WG: [00:21:34] As a person who reads your posts, I will say most of the time it’s like going to a curated art exhibit, and that’s how I feel. You have a little bit of this, a little bit of style, a little bit of kitsch, a little bit of art. It’s wonderful to see every day. Thank you.

ND: [00:21:50] Thank you.

WG: [00:21:58] What do you like to read?

ND: [00:22:00] A lot of stuff. I’m a very wide and promiscuous reader. Once, years ago, I read an article by Ray Bradbury. He was a brilliant writer and a brilliant teacher. He’s passed away now. He said, “Next to my bed I have a book of verse, poetry, I have a collection of essays, always changing, and I have a book of fiction. Every night I try to a poem, an essay, and some chapters of a fiction because it’s food for the brain, and constantly filling the brain with the rhythms of those different forms,” and I agree with him. I get a lot from reading essays, even though I’m not a practitioner of the essay, I see the rhythm of the prose and the way the ideas circle back to where they start and there’s sort of foreshadowing, and it’s like a piece of music. Reading good essays helps me in my writing. I love poetry, so I’m always reading a current book of poetry and I read novels as well. I’ll make sure if I haven’t read one in a while, I’ll start a new one.

WG: [00:23:09] Do you have any words of wisdom to pass along to other Queer writers?

ND: [00:23:12] Yes, I do. Yes, write for your community, and perform in your community, but also don’t pen yourself in. Reach out to Straight people and other communities, too, and read in environments that aren’t exclusively Queer. Broaden your scope. Include subjects and characters that aren’t specifically Queer. I mean, we’re allowed to write about Straight people. It’s not like we’re being quarantined in the Gay part of the world. That’s what I think because then you broaden your scope and your practice.

WG: [00:23:49] Well, thank you very much, Natasha Dennerstein.

ND: [00:23:51] Thank you.

 

WG: [00:00:18] Welcome to Queer Words. This is Wayne Goodman, and on this episode, I have the delightful pleasure of conversing with Natasha Dennerstein. Hello, Natasha!

ND: [00:00:27] Hi, Wayne.

WG: [00:00:28] You want to tell a little about yourself?

ND: [00:00:30] Sure. Well, I’m Australian, as you can probably tell from my accent, and I came to San Francisco because I sort of wanted to have a trip abroad. I still had an overseas trip left in me. My plan was to do my MFA in Creative Writing in San Francisco and stay for three years, but was like five years ago.

WG: [00:00:54] So, as this is Queer Words, I like to ask people: What qualifies you as Queer?

ND: [00:01:01] I think that I am dyed-in-the-wool, lifetime, card-carrying, gold-member Queer, and why I say this is–look–at thirteen or fourteen–I was born male and I sort of was having gay intimate relationships and was cross-dressing and a drag queen, then I later turned into a Trans woman. I was never really binary and straight with it all, I was always a little bit, sort of, ambiguous gender-wise and sexuality-wise. I’m mature now, so it’s been my whole life has been as a Queer/Trans woman.

WG: [00:01:42] I think you sort of answered this, but I’ll ask again: When did you first accept being Queer?

ND: [00:01:48] I sort of thought that at sixteen or seventeen I might have been a Gay boy. I did drag and dressed up, and it was something that I put away and took back out and put away and took back out until I got to a point where I thought that the only way I could live my life would be as a female. That sort of came to me a bit later in my early 20s. I would say that at sixteen.

WG: [00:02:18] I would imagine today it would be even easier because gender because gender fluidity is more accepted, and younger people–even grade-school children–are dealing with their gender issues.

ND: [00:02:30] Yes, they are, and sometimes quite controversially because the parents have the option to put them on puberty blockers, and some people say that’s a form of child abuse.

WG: [00:02:40] We’ll save that for another discussion. Who are some of your Queer hero figures?

ND: [00:02:45] In general, Queer heroes and sheroes, I have to say Harvey Milk, not only for San Francisco, but for the whole world. I’m an admirer of some of the people in the media at the moment. Laverne Cox comes to mind. As a Trans woman with a high profile speaking articulately about our issues. People like that. I also like that woman, Lea DeLaria, that’s on Orange Is the New Black.

WG: [00:03:16] She’s from San Francisco. She used to be a comic here.

ND: [00:03:18] I just like her because she’s a butch Lesbian that’s in the media, unashamedly herself. People like that I like, visible people.

WG: [00:03:29] Now, we’ll shift to: Who are some of your literary influences?

ND: [00:03:33] I have to say Leslie Feinberg, first and foremost, because of the book Stone Butch Blues, which is just a magnificent book. It really changed my life, and it’s changed a lot of people’s lives.

WG: [00:03:48] How did it change your life?

ND: [00:03:50] She was really the first person to talk about Trans or gender-non-conforming issues in a way that was intelligent and sensitive and literary. That book came out in 1992. Previously to that, Trans characters in literature and other media were always portrayed as a joke or a punchline or a comedy or…

WG: [00:04:14] …the murderer.

ND: [00:04:15] Yes, the murderer. They were often murdered.

WG: [00:04:17] The murderer who then got killed. I’m thinking of that fashion movie Dressed To Kill.

ND: [00:04:25] Those kind of characters, but the first instance of Trans characters being written sympathetically and intelligently was Leslie’s book, and it was world-changing. Well, for us Trans folk.

WG: [00:04:46] What inspired you to begin writing?

ND: [00:04:48] As a school kid, the only thing I was really good at was English, and in Australia we had English Expression and English Literature. Those two subjects–one was reading and the other was writing, I guess, or composition–and I got very high marks for those subjects and very low marks for the others just because it interested me, fascinated me. I loved reading Shakespeare and classic books and Tolstoy and Flaubert and all the things that they set us to read. I loved it. Analyzing texts, it just came naturally to me. I always wanted to be a writer and I always thought I was a writer, but then life intervened and I had to support myself and survive. I sort of dabbled a bit, but I put it away until later in life when I had the time and fortitude to be disciplined to sit down and write. It was always with me, but it lay dormant. Many years later I got the opportunity to start writing.

WG: [00:05:50] I know Anatomize as your first book that I’m familiar with. Was there anything before that? Or did you just pop out of a box with this amazing, award-winning book?

ND: [00:06:00] I was writing short stories and vignettes. In my many years of my life I was a psychiatric nurse I fictionalized sort of little stories because there were so many fascinating stories. I’d write little one-page or two-page short stories. At that time, I read a lot of psychiatric fiction by people with backgrounds in psychology and psychiatry, and I just sort of wrote these small snippets and kept them aside.

WG: [00:06:32] Like character studies.

ND: [00:06:34] Little stories. I guess they’re fictionalized case studies.

WG: [00:06:40] How does queerness impact your writing?

ND: [00:06:43] I think that it affects everything that you say and do, and it affects the atmosphere or the weather of your writing. I think that it was previously thought that Queer literature had Queer subject matters and Queer characters–and it often does–but not always. It’s my strong belief that the queerness expresses itself in my writing–and in other Queer writers that I know and like–in a certain way of looking at the world, a certain way of expressing one’s self, a certain attitude. That’s what I think.

WG: [00:07:17] Can you discuss your personal approach to writing? Do you have a pattern that you follow?

ND: [00:07:22] Yes. I find it best to wake up early and write early in the morning for a number of reasons. One is that it’s quiet and there aren’t a lot of people running around, especially at six in the morning. Another thing is because I’m a caregiver and my relationship with my disabled partner. So, he’s asleep. [Laughter] So I get up early when he doesn’t want oatmeal and “Where’s my cigarette lighter?” et cet., et cet. So, I get up early. Those hours are my hours, the golden hours from six in the morning until nine in the morning, and I usually write pretty steadily at that time almost every day and have done so for years now. Also, the other thing I’ve got this notion that if I go to bed thinking about what I’m going to write the next morning, then it might percolate in my mind overnight and come out fully formed. I don’t think that’s ever happened; it’s a theory I have.

WG: [00:08:20] I thought you were going to say you like to write when you first get up because you remember all the dreams.

ND: [00:08:24] No, but I deliberately think as I’m trying to go to sleep of the plot of the novel that I’m writing or the themes of the poem that I’m working on. I’m hoping to do some subconscious mental work during the night. Also, in the morning, my mind is not sort of distracted with all of other things. When I sit down, I’m pretty fluid in the morning.

WG: [00:08:47] Can you tell us a little bit about your body of work?

ND: [00:08:49] As you mentioned, I had Anatomize come out in 2015, and that was a book of poetry. I’m very proud of that book because I deliberately wanted to make it universal and that’s what all humans have in common: the body. I thought that could relate. I really didn’t want to come out with a super-Queer or super-Trans collection. I had that stuff in me, but I thought, “Later.” I just didn’t want to pigeon-hole myself as a Trans writer because I knew what would happen. I’d have a very small following, and I just wanted to be more universal. How much more universal can you be than the human body? So, I’m very, very proud of that book. I think it’s a successful collection, and I mined my own knowledge of anatomy and physiology from my background in nursing to come up with interesting little things about every system in the human body.

WG: [00:09:47] There is one poem in the book that is–I would say almost specifically–talking to the Gay Community. That’s “O Positive.” But other than that, I believe you’re right. They’re not shaded one way or the other. It’s just people’s bodies and how they express them.

ND: [00:10:02] That particular poem is an AIDS poem, and I was in the Blood section and thinking about the method of transmission of HIV and also the way in which the progress of the blood-borne disease. I think that non-Queer people, or Hetero people, can relate to that, too, because addicts were getting HIV back then, and even Straight women were getting it.

WG: [00:10:27] And so, your other books?

ND: [00:10:28] After that was Triptych Caliform, which was a collection in three segments: Cinema, BDSM/Kink, and the Californian Lifestyle. And it’s really because I was acclimating myself to living here in the Bay, and it was a lot of new things for me. I always sort of associate California with Hollywood and the movie industry, and then all that sort of peculiar lifestyle and ways of thinking about the world tied in with all of that. I guess it’s my transition novel from Australia to America, really through the filter of California. I like the title, Caliform. It’s not really a word, it’s a neologism. Like formed from California.

WG: [00:11:13] And, again, it doesn’t lean toward any particular community. It’s for everyone. There’s something for everyone in the book.

ND: [00:11:20] I hope so. I’m an equal-opportunity offender. [Laughter] Everyone can be offended. And then, About a Girl, which is a novel in verse, or you could say it’s a novella in verse. There’s a narrative thread through it with a story line and characters written from a variety of perspectives. That book also leaned heavily on my psychiatric nursing background. So many of the sad and broken young women I looked after over the years with their alcoholism, eating disorders, addictions, bulimia. There’s stories of sexual assault and the ramifications of that, how that affects you as it does, very much. Everyone later in life. That was that book and I was very happy with that. Those three were all from Norfolk Press. Then I came out with a chapbook, which is Seahorse, and that’s from Nomadic Press, and that’s a little part of Trans story, in parts. I’ve got four poetry books currently in print, and I’ve got a novel coming… soon.

WG: [00:12:30] Where can people find your books?

ND: [00:12:32] The chapbook, Seahorse, is available through SPD, Small Press Distributors, in Berkeley. You can order it online or by mail. The other books from Norfolk Press you can get from norfolkpress.com. And they’re in different bookstores.

WG: [00:12:49] And they’re around the world, because we’ve seen them in Aukland and Melbourne.

ND: [00:12:54] Hares and Hyenas, Fitzroy. [The Gay bookstore in Melbourne, Australia]

Natasha reads a selection of poetry: “Non, Je ne Regrette Rien” from Seahorse; one from the Cinema section of Triptych Caliform; “Red Wine Lake” from About a Girl; and “Articulate” from Anatomize.

WG: [00:18:32] How interesting that you chose that one because my review of that book is titled, “She Had Me at Acetabulum.”

ND: [00:18:39] I know. [Laughter] It was a nod to your good taste.

WG: [00:18:45] Oh, thank you. [00:18:54] What is your involvement in the Queer communities?

ND: [00:18:57] I like to see myself in the Trans community as a Trans sister or an elder because I’ve got 30 years’ experience of being a Trans woman. In some ways that qualifies you for nothing, but in other ways it makes you the repository of a whole lot of social history. Also, the owner of some skills of survival and these are gifts I can pass on to the younger members. I don’t want to be one of those people who retires into obscurity and scuttles away, never to be heard of again. I want the difficulties I’ve gone through in my life to mean something. As I mature, Wayne, I hear the clock ticking. I think: Let this not all have been in vain. So, I have a strong need to give back and share. Also, in the Trans context, be visible because it’s important. Young people say, “When I heard so-and-so, when I saw so-and-so, it also gave me the strength to also come out and to transition or what have you. So, I think that I have a responsibility to my younger community members. I’m not like the crocodile that eats her young. [Laughter]

WG: [00:20:13] How do you use social media to promote your work?

ND: [00:20:16] I do do that. I want people to be aware of my work, and I want people to buy my books, but I can’t have a constant stream of advertisements saying, “Here’s my new book! Buy my new book!” because why would people. So, what I do is post articles and images on popular culture, the history of fashion and film and vehicles, things that I’m passionate about that I think are beautiful. I sort of create or curate–in my mind, anyhow–a sort of visual magazine and pepper it, occasionally, with plugs for my book. But I do try to put snippets of verse with an accompanying image, for example. So, the plug in itself is aesthetic, but it’s about ten pieces of interesting content and one plug for a book. That’s about the formula. If every second post I made was exhorting people to come to my readings and buy my books, it wouldn’t work so much. People can tolerate it because I’m giving something. I’m asking something, like, “Look at my work. Buy my book. If you can’t afford it, please repost this so other people may see it.” In asking for that I have to be giving something.

WG: [00:21:34] As a person who reads your posts, I will say most of the time it’s like going to a curated art exhibit, and that’s how I feel. You have a little bit of this, a little bit of style, a little bit of kitsch, a little bit of art. It’s wonderful to see every day. Thank you.

ND: [00:21:50] Thank you.

WG: [00:21:58] What do you like to read?

ND: [00:22:00] A lot of stuff. I’m a very wide and promiscuous reader. Once, years ago, I read an article by Ray Bradbury. He was a brilliant writer and a brilliant teacher. He’s passed away now. He said, “Next to my bed I have a book of verse, poetry, I have a collection of essays, always changing, and I have a book of fiction. Every night I try to a poem, an essay, and some chapters of a fiction because it’s food for the brain, and constantly filling the brain with the rhythms of those different forms,” and I agree with him. I get a lot from reading essays, even though I’m not a practitioner of the essay, I see the rhythm of the prose and the way the ideas circle back to where they start and there’s sort of foreshadowing, and it’s like a piece of music. Reading good essays helps me in my writing. I love poetry, so I’m always reading a current book of poetry and I read novels as well. I’ll make sure if I haven’t read one in a while, I’ll start a new one.

WG: [00:23:09] Do you have any words of wisdom to pass along to other Queer writers?

ND: [00:23:12] Yes, I do. Yes, write for your community, and perform in your community, but also don’t pen yourself in. Reach out to Straight people and other communities, too, and read in environments that aren’t exclusively Queer. Broaden your scope. Include subjects and characters that aren’t specifically Queer. I mean, we’re allowed to write about Straight people. It’s not like we’re being quarantined in the Gay part of the world. That’s what I think because then you broaden your scope and your practice.

WG: [00:23:49] Well, thank you very much, Natasha Dennerstein.

ND: [00:23:51] Thank you.

 

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