Author: j/j hastain
Genre: Poetry, Trade Paper, 6 X 9
Publisher: Lummox Press (PO Box 5301 San Pedro, CA 90733-5301)

Publishing Date: April 2013

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To speak to why I wrote her is to need to go way back. I used to be a little girl. I used to dream of finding a man (to marry) who was just like my daddy. I used to play the violin and haul red wagons full of vegetables down the street from the neighbor’s house to mine. I used to beg the night for relief from the day. How does a ‘used to’ become a current relevancy?

I wrote her to honor her (the pronoun, the ‘used to’ parts in me), to try and de-toggle something in me, to uphold a previous (yet very necessary) identity while making space in me for new pronouns, new identities. The future tense of the present houses the past in a sweet casing. I want to honor the her in me: the her in her stilettos and pencil skirts, the her who begins to become the land of the Australian outback (with dreadlocks and bare feet), the her that is less her and more something else with that shaved head and those boxers, pants sagging into a plethora of pronouns. All of these deserve honor because all of them are true: all of these are me.

j/j hastain


j/j’s writing has most recently appeared in Caketrain, Trickhouse, The Collagist, Housefire, Bombay Gin, Aufgabe and Tarpaulin Sky. j/j has been a guest lecturer at Naropa University, University of Colorado and University of Denver.



j/j hastain transcends experiment poetry, transcends experimental words and concepts, and transcends beyond sexual identity into transference into something more. j/j writes for the voiceless, giving them a voice, finding “the courage to enter/ the next body”. There are many posers out there pretending to be outrageous; j/j is the real deal. j/j explores identity and wow, does it matter! It matters when identity gets blurred in the world, where so many do not know who they are, and sex and gender are easy to unintentionally slip out of, like undressing skin. As j/j says, “what imprisons is the idea/ of space” and j/j is a poet obsessed with space and line breaks. For what breaks us more  than the negative space around us; or, the space of silence?

Martin Willitts Jr

One of poetry's most bedeviling challenges is to render the ineffable into language. The bolder poets face the difficulty of not only writing about complex subjects but of writing about those liminal spaces in topics where language does not yet exist.  j/j hastain has succeeded here as few yet have in being able to give voice to the unfolding/enfolding complexities of gender and identity. The poems in  her stretch from a purely lyrical explication of a personal situation to the breathless urgency of an unfolding manifesto.  I am reminded in this work of the powerful and shocking music of Monique Wittig's Les Guerilleres. Although hastain's aims are large, they do not go unfulfilled. This is a book that should serve as a baseline for poetry that attempts to bridge identity's great divides.

Eloise Klein Healy



looking into rogue


for unforeseen



for courage to enter

the next body


oh inversions

odes and letters

amidst so many

instances of isolated




I choose to proceed

from within


after having finally learned to fray





byways and bisections


when I was a child the neighbor boy held

my head there and forced me to lick

but more shocking than that

was the way my father

turned his head to avoid


            what was he afraid he might see?


later that day

I slipped under the yellow



hiding and hidden from


which to me was one of the first


of and for




baptism was required

in order for me to ever become




which would mean a hurting

unless I broke the name

and the category



which would mean Anne Sexton’s


the decaying birds of paradise

on the chipped armoire



which would mean

always limited


and so many core colors

lost to





as I developed

I felt

like a reoccurring dream




that night I was babysitting my brother

and I could feel

someone watching me

through the white framed window


why were there no blinds or curtains?


I wished then

on blue giant stars


tried to deepen


to turn invisibility into

something more safe


I clung

desperately to a fork

because the knives were all dirty


I gripped


in the only place in the house

that could not be viewed by

an open frame



I hoped then

I hoped for

a hero


and I did so by way of

the image

of multiple


whorled together

a conglomerate

is always

a ringlet