Poetry News

Announcing Vetch, the First Literary Journal Devoted to Poetry by Transgender Writers

By Harriet Staff


"The literary world reached a milestone this month with the debut of 'Vetch,' the first submission-based literary journal devoted to poetry by transgender writers," writes Corinne Segal for PBS News Hour. Edited by poets and writers from the Iowa Writers Workshop, the journal is named for the vetch plant, "a hardy legume that is often planted in ditches and other places where ground has been disturbed. 'This is the kind of resilient beauty of which we know trans poetry is capable,' the editors wrote in a preface to the journal." More:

“Vetch” assumes its audience knows what it means to be transgender, or if not, can do the necessary research to find out, [poet and founding editor Liam] O’Brien said. Freeing the poets themselves from providing that explanation gives them the space to address new material, he said.

“If we’re [not] under the impression that everything we write about being trans has to pause and take into account the fact that not everybody might know what being trans means, then it really frees us up to write more and to start from fresher places,” he said. The first edition supports this mission with a wide diversity of work, including poems by Sara June Woods, Maxe Crandall and Ira.

With the publication of the anthology “Troubling the Line” and literary journals like “THEM,” more avenues than ever are opening for trans poets to publish, O’Brien said. “I do think that things are changing right now, pretty fast,” he said. “And that feels like an exciting time to be alive and to be writing.”

And a word from the editors:

We founded Vetch to combat a few problems. The greatest is silence, a dearth of published work by trans poets dealing with trans themes (a silence which makes no sense, considering the trans poets currently at work). Another, less structurally supported, problem is the prominence of poetry that hits the palliative buttons of liberal inclusivity-oriented ideology. In response to both problems, Vetch offers a collection of poetry and poetics that rejects the distinction between the aesthetic and the political.

Read the first issue of Vetch, Autumn 2015, here.

Originally Published: September 16th, 2015