VIDA Reads with Writers – TC Tolbert!

What are you reading on the subway or in the waiting room today?

I’m always in the midst of several books at once b/c once I fall in love, I don’t want it to end. Right now: Incorrect Merciful Impulses by Camille Rankine, Ordinary Light by Tracy K. Smith, and Voyage of the Sable Venus by Robin Coste Lewis. The Lost Art of Finding Our Way by John Edward Huth, and Being Mortal by Atul Gawande.


What book popped for you in 2015?GarmentsCover

A Swarm of Bees in High Court by Tonya M. Foster

Garments Against Women by Anne Boyer

Citizen by Claudia Rankine

The Argonauts by Maggie Nelson

(I know that’s more than one. I couldn’t help myself. And there are so many others. It was a good year.)


Whose words do you return to regularly?

I return to the On Being podcast with Krista Tippett, sometimes listening to the same episode more than 10 times. The same is true for Poetry Off the Shelf and Poem Talk and various poetry recordings from PennSound. Voices I now hear without putting in my earbuds include: Jana Levin, Lucille Clifton, Marie Howe, CA Conrad, Joy Ladin, Yo Yo Ma, Jack Spicer, Meredith Monk, and Kazim Ali (whose reading from The Fishouse is a favorite). People I return to on the page: M. NourbeSe Philip, Douglas Kearney, CD Wright, Maggie Nelson, Anne Carson, and Claudia Rankine.


Is there an author you can’t wait to read next?

After hearing Ocean Vuong read from his upcoming book, I desperately wanted to pay the $300 for a copy of his sold out chapbook, Burnings. I couldn’t, so I didn’t. But April 12, the release date for Night Sky With Exit Wounds, cannot come fast enough.


What are you working on now? What can VIDA fans look forward to from you next?

I’m working on not knowing what I’m working on and not trying to control its outcome. I want, so badly, to tell you that I’m finishing something or that I have a title or a trajectory but I don’t. I’m just trying to show up to the page and pay attention. To trust something will become.


a81daab1-7d52-4ad6-b1f7-93d71c6ea8f1-2TC TOLBERT often identifies as a trans and genderqueer feminist, collaborator, dancer, and poet but  really s/he’s just a human in love with humans doing human things. The author of Gephyromania (Ahsahta Press 2014) and 3 chapbooks, TC is also co-editor (along with Trace Peterson) of Troubling the Line: Trans and Genderqueer Poetry and Poetics (Nightboat Books 2013). His favorite thing in the world is Compositional Improvisation (which is another way of saying being alive).