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Author Spotlight: Farrah Fang























Abode Press | April 15, 2024 |

ISBN: 979-8-9900598-0-1


 

How did you get into writing? Can you pinpoint a memory where it all began for you?

 

            It started in elementary school. I was very young, six or seven years old. Either my 1st or 2nd grade teacher spoke with the school to move me into Vanguard G/T classes. They saw how fast I was completing my work, how bored I was getting in during lessons and tested me to see if I qualified. Once in the Vanguard program, I had a new teacher. She eventually gave the class an assignment asking us to write a story. It was a free prompt and I wrote about a leprechaun. I think it was inspired by the Lucky Charms cereal I would eat for breakfast as a kid. My teacher adored the story and praised my writing skills. She spoke with the school and they created an assembly for our class to read our stories to some of the students. I remember being on stage in the front of our cafeteria, reading to rows of kids with their legs crossed just staring at me lazily. This was my first time in front of a mic, first time in front of an audience but I don’t remember being scared. In fact, I was going on and on about this leprechaun even adding more sentences that I hadn’t written. I was dramatic even at that age. Ever since then I've had a passion for writing. I wanted to grow up to be an author and eventually an English teacher. The latter dream isn’t something I care about now but I’m proud to call myself a published author. The child in me is screaming at finally having our dream come true.

 


What are some key themes present in your book?

 

            This chapbook was written within the past five years and so much has ignited during this span. The latter years of a Trump presidency, the pandemic, the surge of restrictive propaganda and legislation, as well as the rise in murders of trans individuals…all of these subjects have weighed heavy on my soul during the construction of these poems. The conversations streaming within Quererme En La Luz range from being political to nightmarish, from speaking on desirability to talking about overt and subtle violence. This chapbook explores trans philosophy, trans liberation, trans mysticism and sisterhood. I write about how as trans women we get to live in multiple realms, some of brutal realism. Inside other dimensions where we are divine and revered. The text that speaks so confidently and dreamily about our power is not so much a “fake it until you make it” mantra but a legitimate truth. I do hold my community in high regard, as angels and sirens and pioneers but I also recognize the relentless abuse we face. There is the world we are subjected to and then the world we created for ourselves because we had to. My poems advocate that while we can recognize our pain and trauma as having an influence on our character, we can also craft spaces where we can heal, thrive, mesmerize, retaliate, even transform.

 

            The setting of Quererme En La Luz revolves around images of gardens and darkness. Trans women are roses basking under moonlight ready to grow and reclaim space where we have typically been denied access. The title of the chapbook is a declaration that we will no longer be regulated to the shadows for the comfort of others. We will no longer exist in silence. We will no longer accept that our love and the ones who love us should be secretive or ashamed. We will never forget where we come from or the ways it has shaped us but we will choose to live authentically, to advocate for our rights as humans, to fight anyone who attempts to eradicate our existence.

 

            This chapbook is very upfront about these messages but I do not find it to be intricately hopeful. This is a pessimistic, morose unraveling. The skeleton of Quererme En La Luz is made up of poems speaking on different seasons of a trans woman's life, often invoking the concept of transformation via death. There is a recurring theme of having integral parts of one’s identity killed in order to become the authentic, desired self. This can be done by the individual or it can be a consequence of being trans in a relentlessly violent world. It's intentionally dark and emo because I think ignoring the negative aspects of our lives would be so disingenuous and I naturally gravitate towards those tones. Yes, we shed our cocoon but not all of us transform into butterflies. Quererme En La Luz is about how some people are constantly transforming, from chimeras to mud to a yellow excavator.

 


What are you currently reading?

 

            Ocean Vuong’s Time Is a Mother. Ada Limón’s Bright Dead Things. El Rey of Gold Teeth by Reyes Ramirez and Bad Girls by Camila Sosa Villada.

 


Can you describe the environment(s) where you wrote your book? This could be the room, the desk, the city, an MFA program, a fellowship, or any other environmental factor (you only wrote when it rained, you always wrote with fresh flowers in the room, etc.).

 

            So much of this chapbook was written in the Northside neighborhood of Houston, where I’ve lived most of my life. I can read certain poems and travel back in time to lounging and loathing in my bedroom, depending on the apartment as I went through so many evictions. Some poems bring me back to sitting at my desk while incense burned, as an episode of Ancient Aliens stirred in the background. Most of Quererme En La Luz was written during the lockdown and the years that followed. I spent a lot of time in my bedroom smoking alone, scribbling into my journal or using Instagram captions as an opportunity to write something compelling.

 

            As the pandemic progressed and things started to open up, I took my chihuahua to nearby parks a lot. A good chunk of poems were written at Stude Park, in a spot far away from people so my dog could run around while I wrote about the chemtrails lingering above or the haunting view of the Houston skyline. The environment played a huge role in what I wrote about. It had its own way of bringing out certain emotions and giving them perspective. One poem I think about in particular from the chapbook, called “Worm Moon Ritual”, shifts me back to a particular night in March of last year. I remember walking my chihuahua on auto-pilot, traumatized and half-alive from some harm that occurred a few weeks prior. The full moon was gigantic, orange-red and it was calling me. I would find out later what this particular moon symbolized but in the moment it felt very spiritual. Our conversation felt necessary and therapeutic. The poem would eventually describe this provocation to change myself and the path I was traveling. It was very fitting for my journey. It has been a year since that night and now my chapbook is being published and this poem is a part of it. I take all of those interactions with the world very seriously.  

 


What non-living poet/writer had the biggest influence on your book?

 

            Her name is Esdras Parra. She was a Venezuelan writer and poet (1937-2004). She was a trans woman just like myself. A friend of mine gave me a book of her poetry, The Collected Poems of Esdras Parra, which was translated by Jamie Berrout. We met up one night in 2021 and he just knew these poems were going to have a great effect on me. I would take this book with me everywhere I went. I vividly remember sitting in the Japanese Garden in Hermann Park, reading her work and feeling so connected to her style and voice. Every poem, although terse, felt so profound and relatable. Este suelo secreto (To be human once more) was a book of poetry included in this collection and that collection of poems in particular is what I felt closest to. Each poem was a prayer, an affirmation, a warning, a song to hum as I walked to my car avoiding the whispers and stares that followed me. Quererme En La Luz is a response to all of these experiences, the transphobic encounters, the simple days reading in the park and all the stale air that filled the gaps between them. Parra’s work reminded me that I was not subhuman during a time when the world was treating me as such. She inspired me to reclaim my divinity as well as my personhood. I needed to hear these words from a trans woman, a creative with her particular sense of self. Her poems were not numerous compared to that of other authors but they definitely shaped how I approached writing this particular chapbook. I even made sure to include an epigraph of hers at the beginning of Quererme En La Luz to honor her influence.

 


What role does the poet play in the 21 st century?

 

            We speak truth when the world is on fire. We have to. We create anti-propaganda. Through us history is not forgotten. Poetry is not dead so long as it remains authentic. If poets close their eyes to the world while it is screaming and dying then we have failed. We are the branches that remind people of their roots. We are the waves that crash into your shores, pulling your voice out into the ocean and slamming back with more ferocity, more words that need to be said. As long as there is water, we are never-ending.

 

 

How did writing this book transform you?

           

            Transformation was essentially what Quererme En La Luz was all about. Besides that I think writing it actually made me a better poet. I was very adamant about making this a coherent and accurate portrayal of my artistic capabilities. There was lots of reading involved, lots of editing, and changes employed. This is a debut collection of sorts for me so I wanted to put all of my energy into making it an iconic Farrah Fang piece. It allowed me to really understand what kind of writer I was and could be, what styles I was drawn to, and how I wanted to share my creative voice. I would even say that it affected other forms of art that I was making. So much regarding the philosophy behind Quererme En La Luz was incorporated into my performance art, my digital collages, and even my advocacy.

 

            Spiritually, this chapbook acted as a set of warnings, visions, and prayers. These poems were written over the past five years and marked my journey throughout that timeline. I am a very different human being now than I was when I wrote the first poem from this collection. I feel more aligned with spirituality, more attuned to the symbolism and energy behind everything. I come back to these pieces and remember who I was and how far I’ve come. They made me have more of a stake in my future. I was raised Catholic and I’ve been deprogramming from that for years but writing Quererme En La Luz shaped me to be more appreciative of rituals, ancestors, and divinity. When I started to perceive trans identity as having a holy connection, I became more secure. I evolved my interpretation of self-love into something that didn’t feel corny or unrealistic. To me spirituality is connected to that and it felt more tangible as I finished this collection.

 

            On a more personal level, during the process of writing this chapbook I think I became more mature and sure of myself. Five years is a long time and I wrote this at a very interesting point of adulthood where I left my 20s and entered my 30s. Quererme En La Luz is something I can turn back to and feel a calming relief, a sense that I’m on the right path. The first poem I ever wrote for this collection resurrected my love for poetry and each step, each poem along the way truly solidified in my soul that I was meant to do this. There are still integral parts of me that will always remain. I’ve always strived to be authentic and unapologetic but now I feel as if it is so ingrained in my behavior that it doesn’t require much effort. I’m a lot happier than I used to be prior to writing this chapbook and I’ve grown to hold onto that feeling as long as possible, to appreciate it when I have it in my embrace. 


 



Farrah Fang (she/her) is a Latina trans woman, born and raised in Houston, TX. She is an artist, writer, and the author of the poetry chapbook “Quererme En La Luz '' published by Abode Press. She has poems published by Raspa Magazine and Odessa Collective and work that will soon be published by The Texas Review and Defunkt Magazine.

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