I work at Women & Children First bookstore in Chicago. I've been working there for three years. Before I became an employee, I went to the store for their annual pride open mic and hosted a zine release party there right after the ownership change. The zine was called Second to None: Queer & Trans Chicago Voices. Those were some of my first interactions with the store.
Where might we be surprised that you have also worked?
Nowhere I've worked is that surprising! I've mostly worked as an educator in literary settings at places like the Poetry Foundation (who publishes Poetry magazine) and Young Chicago Authors.
What do you like to read? What's your current favorite book to handsell?
I love reading contemporary poetry. I order the poetry books at Women & Children First and curate our poetry events. I'm really proud of the poetry community that's grown around the store. I also read a lot of books by queer and trans authors. As a trans writer, cultivating spaces for trans literature is really important to me.
One of my favorite books to handsell is Samantha Irby's We Are Never Meeting In Real Life. She's a friend of the store and it's incredible to see how her career has developed. When anyone asks for a funny book, it's the first one I recommend. I'm a big fan of her work.
Who are you when you're not in the store?
My lives in and outside of the store are pretty intertwined. I'm a trans poet and I've launched my books at Women & Children First. Most recently, I edited an anthology called Subject to Change: Trans Poetry & Conversation which was published by Sibling Rivalry Press. I have a chapbook called On My Way to Liberation forthcoming from Haymarket Books this summer. As mentioned earlier, I'm also an educator. I co-lead a queer poetry salon called Queeriosity at Young Chicago Authors. When I'm not at the store, I am usually either writing, performing, or teaching.
What's your favorite bookstore other than the one you work in?
Quimby's is one of my favorite bookstores. They've supported my work for a long time and dropping off my work there is one of the best feelings in the world. The manager Liz Mason is a really important part of Chicago's literary landscape, especially in the zine and comic communities. There are publications at Quimby's that you can't find anywhere else. I've always felt at home there.
Women & Children First
5233 N Clark St, Chicago, IL 60640