Caitlin McKenzie (she/they) is a queer neurodivergent poet and collage artist based out of Barrie, ON, Canada. Her work can be seen in publications such as The Northern Appeal, Aurora Mag, and Acta Victoriana. You can find more of her work at her own tiny Instagram zine @therememberingroom. They can be found on Instagram and Twitter. Their piece ‘In Conversation with Gender Euphoria’ can be found in Issue 4 ‘Transitions’ here.
‘Transitions’ is such an evocative theme, what compelled you to submit for this issue?
Over the course of the pandemic I got a small amount of time to think about why it is I create the work that I do. I had written a collection of poems about wife-hood, as I was a newlywed at the time. I was struggling hugely with this title that affected the outside worlds perception of me. It wasn’t until I was alone in my house with my partner for a few months that I figured out I was experiencing gender dysphoria. I still don’t know where I stand in terms of gender, I just tend to refer to myself as queer, but those brief moments of self reflection felt like a gestation of who I could be outside of capitalism/binaries/compulsory hetero-bullshit. So I wrote a poem about it and was lucky enough to stumble upon Epochs call for submissions.
Do you have a routine for writing? If so, what is it and how has it evolved?
My writing routine isn’t really anything exciting. I am envious of those who can light a candle and write every day. My routine, truthfully, is just that I sit down and write when those thoughts in my head that I want to communicate with other people get very loud and I’d like some peace and quiet.
What is most challenging and most rewarding about using real life in your poetry?
The most challenging things about it is that I worry I’m not communicating the nuance of real life well enough in a little poem. I want to be sure my poetry lives in the shades of grey that humanity lives in and that’s hard sometimes. I also find it difficult not to write about real life, to bend it so other people don’t know it’s about them. It’s difficult to not be honest. What’s rewarding is that I can show people how I feel about them, friendship love poems are some of my best work I think. I also think, as someone living with C-PTSD, poetry gives words to memories and feelings that I otherwise couldn’t communicate. When anyone is in fight or flight the part of our brain that is used to properly communicate in a calm way entirely shuts down, I can use poetry to evoke those feelings. It’s like pressing a bruise in that delicious aching way and getting to show people how it feels.
What is song is on repeat for you right now?
This is a tough question so I’ll pick the top 3.
Stay in the Car by Bachelor/Jay Som/Palehound off their album Doomin’ Sun.
VBS by Lucy Dacus off her album Home Video.
Oom Sha La La by Hayley Heynderickx from her album I Need to Start a Garden.