Poetry News

Joshua Jennifer Espinoza & Loma Discuss 'Sad Girl Poems'

By Harriet Staff

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At Los Angeles Review of Books, Joshua Jennifer Espinoza talks about sadness and love, and how both themes play out in Loma's new collection Sad Girl Poems. From Espinoza's introduction to their conversation:

I FIRST MET Loma (a.k.a. Christopher Soto) in the midst of a poetry tour consisting entirely of trans writers traveling and reading their work across the West Coast. We first spoke awkwardly over some burritos in San Francisco and then got lost on the way to the queer collective where Loma was living in Oakland.

We’ve continued to work together since then, and I have been struck time and again by Loma’s generosity and dedication to supporting others, especially other writers of color. They have founded and edited various projects, such as Nepantla: A Journal Dedicated to Queer Poets of Color; they also co-founded The Undocupoets Campaign. Their newest chapbook, Sad Girl Poems, has recently come out from Sibling Rivalry Press. Upon reading the chapbook, I was struck by how these poems embrace the complexities of their author’s queer, trans, latinx subjectivity. They speak to a worldview in which the personal and the political are always intertwined.

Both Loma and I are young, trans, latinx poets from Southern California, and reading Sad Girl Poems prompted me to think more about a relatively recent phenomenon that I’ve noticed in contemporary art and literature — the prevalence of the archetypical “sad girl” alluded to in the book’s title. Embodied by singers like Lana Del Rey and theorized in essays by women artists and writers, the “sad girl” is a form of resistance to society’s often misogynistic accounts of women’s emotions. At the same time, the figure of the “sad girl” typically fits within white, heteronormative, cisgender paradigms. She fails, in other words, to account for the experiences of those who fall outside of those boundaries. Loma’s Sad Girl Poems express a sadness that emerges from the institutionally oppressive systems of white supremacy, capitalism, homophobia, and transphobia, and they show how sadness is often collective, rather than singular. Furthermore, instead of simply calling for empathy and understanding, they call upon readers to take meaningful action.

Thinking about all of this made me want to ask Loma more about their experiences as a trans person of color and the subjects that come up again and again in their work. These Sad Girl Poems ask how different forms of systematic violence and oppression intersect. They imagine poetry as a space where communities that face this kind of violence can find a voice and incite political change. As both a poet and an activist, Loma stands up for queer youth who are living through homelessness, domestic violence, police brutality, and mass incarceration.

Continue at Los Angeles Review of Books.