Lyric Sex­ol­ogy Vol. 1 by Tr­ish Salah

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Tr­ish Salah’s sec­ond po­etry col­lec­tion, Lyric Sex­ol­ogy Vol. 1, re­veals trans his­to­ries show­cas­ing wit, sex, and bril­liance in spite of pain, judge­ment, and ex­clu­sion. The col­lec­tion—pub­lished in 2014 by Roof Books—now fi­nally has a greater Cana­dian au­di­ence with a reprint­ing by Metonymy Press. Rather than dis­tance it­self from the god-an­ger­ing, sex-work­ing, acid-drop­ping, kink-lov­ing, spirit-com­muning re­al­i­ties of trans his­to­ries, Salah’s work meets them head-on, show­ing read­ers a messy his­tory of both trans peo­ple and of Salah, with all the nu­ance and re­source­ful­ness

that make so many trans peo­ple the beau­ti­ful, hurt, hi­lar­i­ous, bril­liant peo­ple we are. This work does not shy away from the sex­u­al­ity of trans peo­ple or other top­ics lost to re­spectabil­ity. Rather, Salah calls our at­ten­tion to his­to­ries omit­ted, to com­pli­cated chimeric feel­ings of lo­cat­ing one­self in anger, lust, and frag­mented leg­end. Salah writes trans peo­ple as mythic.

Fur­ther, this col­lec­tion does not shy away from top­ics avoided in stan­dard “wrong body” nar­ra­tives of trans­gen­der tran­si­tion. “I mas­tur­bate in lu­nar cy­cles,” reads a line from “Teenage Trans Vamp, Mon­treal, 1987.” Salah con­nects trans women to the cy­cles of the moon, con­nect­ing our bod­ies and sex­u­al­ity to the Earth, in con­trast to be­ing dis­cussed as a per­ver­sion, or en­tirely man-made, as has been his­tor­i­cally as­serted in a range of fo­rums, from fem­i­nist to med­i­cal.

In “The Count,” Salah writes, “I don’t mind say­ing I was not born this way. It was spirit pos­ses­sion, but I in­vited it.” This re­flec­tion on tran­si­tion is mir­rored through Salah’s fre­quent use of the strikethrough. While each use of the strikethrough is spe­cific to the con­text of the poem, it broadly shows an un­will­ing­ness to erase the past. “Be­trayed in heels, be­gowned, with my Man­hood maiden­head on of­fer,” reads one line from the poem “The Ad­ven­tures of Ju­lian Robin­son AKA Miss High Heels.” Salah asks the reader to un­der­stand trans lives, or any hu­man life, as an on­go­ing process. On the whole, this work re­minds us that the nam­ing and de­scrib­ing of trans peo­ple is ubiq­ui­tous to our con­texts and that trans peo­ple are present in just about ev­ery con­text. Individually, th­ese po­ems are bril­liant, but as a whole, they are stag­ger­ing.

Orig­i­nally pub­lished by Roof Books in 2014, Lyric Sex­ol­ogy was dif­fi­cult to ob­tain, de­spite Salah’s home base in Canada. Don’t miss out on this op­por­tu­nity to dis­cover or re­dis­cover this book. Lyric Sex­ol­ogy is a beau­ti­ful his­tory of trans ex­is­tence, rich with leg­end, ec­stasy, and sor­row. It is the sexy, in­sight­ful, gor­geous his­tory that trans peo­ple de­serve.

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