Freshwater by Akwaeke Emezi

Akwaeke-Emezi
Freshwater by Akwaeke Emezi The author, Akwaeke Emezi, calls herself trans but also Ogbanje, a spirit depicted in Igbo culture as inhabiting a newborn baby soon to die, though possibly allowing it to live. These are dark conceptions already, embracing fatality and negotiating both intrusion and malevolence, and they contribute as themes to Emezi's ...
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The Shock Doctrine by Naomi Klein

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The Shock Doctrine by Naomi Klein This may be one of the most important books on the 21 st century state of the world, an analysis of the global socio-economics that makes sense of the chaos of post-9/11 Iraq, of the collapse of democracies of Latin America since the 1960s and 70s, and the democratic false dawns of Russia and South Africa since the...
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Alita: Battle Angel

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Alita: Battle Angel A week has gone since I watched Alita: Battle Angel . It's a film that left me feeling similar emotions to the cyborg-driven techno-fireworks in Ghost in the Shell (2018), the emotion of 'almost.' Visually, there's a lavish sci-fi splendour to the film, bearing the wonders you desire in a mixture of escapist sci-fi and fantasy: ...
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A Brexit Feminism That Fears And Excludes

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This article follows a number of events that shook me this week. First of all, the filmed harassment by two Trans-Exclusionary-Radical-Feminists (TERFs) of trans woman Sarah McBride at McBride's workplace. I watched it online and thought: that could be me, caught out, disoriented. How do you respond to the equivalent of door-stepping, as out of the...
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Vice

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Vice A lukewarm reaction from critic Mark Kermode and a condemnation from political writer Simon Jenkins are a strange way to start this review of the Dick Cheney biopic Vice , given that I really enjoyed it. Jenkins's is peculiar, believing it reduced the U.S. invasion of Iraq to the work of a few shady men in the U.S. administration. But wasn't i...
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The Gospel According to Jesus, Queen of Heaven

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The Gospel According to Jesus, Queen of Heaven I entered a dark, candle-lit auditorium, finding a dining table stretching the length of the floor, draped in a pristine white tablecloth, with candles and cutlery. Audience members trickled in, free to sit in the auditorium or at the table as guests of a transgender Jesus. Queer, and just a bit contro...
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Queer Two-Spirit Poetry: Fabian Romero

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I can't remember when I ordered Fabian Romero's chapbook*, sometime in September or October 2018. The investment made, the months went by, enthusiasm slow-cooking into defeat, guessing it had got lost in the mail. Then last week I found a soft white envelope in the post. Fabian Romero's chapbook, Mountains of a Different Kind , waiting for me. I re...
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Transgender Venezuelan Poetry: Esdras Parra

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Transgender Venezuelan Poetry: the Collected Poems of Esdras Parra (2018) I've seen your dreams In the foliage of your eyes Opening in a horizon of ash Ready for death And the innocent flame That leaps from branch to branch Brings you the color of earth Which you should get used to Before the fog Grows within you (taken from the collection Este Sue...
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2019 I am ready for you

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2019 I am ready for you After a Christmas of deadnaming, trans-shaming and get-in-the-car-quick confidence-maiming, I am back, like a fist through a million-dollar painting. I am adult enough now to disregard what's not important, as I survey the field before me. I am unlikely to romance or murder anyone. I'm also not planning to die. I will work h...
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The Favourite

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If playwright Harold Pinter does brilliant depictions of the menace and impotence of male experience within patriarchy, then this film, Yorgos Lanthimos's The Favourite , produces a stunning equivalent of female power games in a dog-eat-dog world. This felt like a 'woman' film, where boy-meets-girl romance is simply – and peripherally – a means to ...
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Mortal Engines

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Mortal Engines If the anime films of Studio Ghibli and writer/artist Hayao Miyazaki were to be turned into live action movies, they would look like this. Steam punk machines, whirring aircraft and zeppelins, with utopian valleys and dystopian wastelands sharing screen time, reminding us of how one can turn into the other through the rapacious consu...
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Creed 2

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Creed 2 I remember Rocky IV in the mid-1980s, at the peak of Reagan's (and Donald Trump's) America. It's a film so mesmerizingly patriotic to American exceptionalism, the boxer 'Italian Stallion' Rocky Balboa as the plucky underdog, avenging the brutal death of his friend Apollo Creed by taking on the steroid-abusing giant who killed said friend in...
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Transgender milestone (#5): visiting a foreign country

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It means nothing to me This means nothing to me Oh, Vienna (' Vienna ' by Ultravox) It's up there with your first full day as an out trans female, with the admin changes, your first job and that conversation with your family. I went to Vienna this weekend to a conference, my first time out of the country with my passport grasped at my tender bosom,...
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Widows

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Widows A taut, stylish heist movie spotlighting destinies of gender and race in the U.S., Widows is the kind of movie I'd forgotten they still make for adults. Contrasted with multiverse fantasies like Crimes of Grindelwald , Widows is proof you can have several characters as vivid, substantial, and delicately drawn, while the action and the tensio...
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The Crimes of Grindelwald

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The Crimes of Grindelwald A curious film, one to categorize under 'part of a series' than self-contained. But you sit down to these 'multiverse' sagas from Marvel and Warner Bros. (et al) expecting the cliff-hanger concept that really belongs to TV shows. With this expectation, I entered the dark cinema an intrepid explorer like Eddie Redmayne's Ne...
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Gifted Transgender Writers: Jamie Berrout

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Portland Diary by Jamie Berrout I never use to read short stories, but I'm glad I found Portland Diary: Short Stories 2016 / 2017 by Jamie Berrout. As a transgender woman of colour, Berrout is able to go beyond the clichés of isolation and domesticity of cisgender appropriations (David Ebershoff's nauseating The Danish Girl , for example), but also...
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Bohemian Rhapsody

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Bohemian Rhapsody It's received so-so reviews, a biopic imbued with a trashy, karaoke lack of quality. But I quite like Bohemian Rhapsody . The star turn by Rami Malek as the iconic Freddie Mercury is on the nose, projecting talent, swagger and vulnerability. His loneliness as his marriage ends is poignant, with the other band members settling down...
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San Francisco Forty-Something

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San Francisco Forty-Something San Francisco, my city. I have never been there. I met a San Franciscan last Friday in a bar, like a Catholic meeting the Pope; or a younger version of me discovering you've been to Disney World in Florida. We sit there, two forty-something cis and trans. I hang on the person's every snippet of daily existence, ad...
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Venom

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The trailer for this film was not encouraging: Tom Hardy becoming host to a slimy parasitic alien of fangs and giant tongue, with blank membrane eyes. The hero turned into unsettling CGI nightmare: is this really what I wanted for my hero? After the event, I can say that the film is better than the trailer, and progressively has its giant, sli...
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Trauma Queen: a memoir by Lovemme Corazon

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Trauma Queen: a memoir by Lovemme Corazon There are times when it's right to judge a book by its cover. Trauma Queen  (2013), the memoir of then-19-year old trans woman of colour Lovemme Corazon, has a beauty within its pages and on its surface cover that's simultaneously self-confident and obscure. As I gaze at the book's front imag...
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