Interview: Michelle Tea on Sister Spit, YA Lit, and Living Her Truth
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Michelle Tea, acclaimed queer writer, performance artist, and founder of both RADAR Productions and the legendary Sister Spit, talked with us at Velvetpark about her recently published edited collection of Sister Spit writings and ephemera, her future writing endeavors, and, yes, a baby.
You can catch her on tour promoting this collection, Sister Spit: Writings, Rants, and Reminiscence from the Road, across America, which begins 18 October in LA; click HERE for the tour schedule.
Hi Michelle! You are having a super-productive 2012—City Lights has published your edited collection Sister Spit: Writings, Rants & Reminiscence from the Road, your novel Valencia is being adapted into a film, you’re writing a YA novel, and you’re trying to have a baby…. What have I missed?!
Hmmmm, what you maybe missed is that the new Spit collection is actually the first book in a new imprint, Sister Spit Books, that is coming out on City Lights. We'll be publishing 2-3 titles a year, and coming up this spring is a reprint of Ali Liebegott's out-of-print classic The Beautifully Worthless and her new novel, Cha-Ching! After that we have books from Beth Lisick, Dia Felix, Lenelle Moise and me!
I want to talk about the impetus behind the Sister Spit collection. Why this collection now, in 2012? How did you decide which pieces to include—is the collection thematically organized? Chronologically?
We thought the best way to announce the imprint is with an anthology that collects some of the amazing people [and] work that has come out of Sister Spit in the last decades. I included almost everything I got. There were some poems and a couple of heavy pieces that I couldn't find a way to fit into the manuscript, but there will be more Sister Spit anthologies, and the next one will for sure have space for the poetry and the darker narratives that are often a part of a Sister Spit show! The way the book is organized, I just had an eye for what pieces flowed well into the next. It sort of felt it out.
In the 15 years you’ve witnessed and participated in this “traveling writers’ cabaret,” how would you describe the evolution of feminism during this time as it was performed and embodied by your peers in their writings and their performances onstage?
Well, Sister Spit has always