Sunday 15 March 2015

Interview with Teri Louise Kelly

Monika: Today it is my pleasure and honor to interview Teri Louise Kelly, an Australian writer, poet, the author of many books, including the biographical books titled: “Sex, Knives & Bouillabaisse” (2008), “Last Bed on Earth” (2009) “American Blow Job” (2010) and “Bent” (2014). Hello Teri!
Teri: Hi Monika.
Monika: Could you say a few words about yourself?
Teri: I like to write, garden and drink, although not necessarily in that order. 
Monika: Your books cover very diverse topics: loneliness as in “The Last Bed on Earth” (2009), immigration as in “American Blow Job: A Novel” (2010), war and blood as in “The Colour of Your Blood” (2012). How do you find subjects for your books?
Teri: Mainly they’re based on my life, just stories and memories and reminiscence, sometimes they’re clear and other times out of focus so the theme develops perhaps from one single memory into a mishmash of recollections joined with narrative.


Monika: With “Girls Like Me: A Book of Modern Poetry” (2010) you started to share your poems that are full of seductive and sexual elements…
Teri: It was a time in life when I was surrounded by sex and seduction, I seemed to fascinate girls and the poetry reflects that period, one of confusion, conspiracy, and coercion.
Monika: In “Shedding Sin: A Verse Novel” (2013) you describe love and betrayal in a biblical and poetic way. Why did you decide to address them in such a form?
Teri: I had cheated on my partner and the novel was a two-way conversation between us as we searched for reconciliation, I don’t really know how the biblical element crept into it …
Monika: Your 2011 books include: “Punktuation” and “A Double Pass to Aberration.” Could you say a few words about them?
Teri: I don’t like them, I spent most of 2011 drunk and I think that drunkenness is reflected in those books. 
Monika: Is there anything like transgender literature or art? What does it mean to be a transgender writer/artist?
Teri: Uhm, I don’t think so, being transgendered means difficulty mixed with a weird fascination – you never quite fit but because you don’t fit people open other doors for you.
Monika: Why did you decide to write your autobiography?
Teri: Because it was time, I’d put it off for years mainly because I couldn’t find a way to write it, you know, an unconventional way. I mean what’s the point if you write it like everyone else has?
Monika: Which aspects of your experience can be useful for other transwomen?
Teri: Strength.

Monika: At what age did you transition into a woman yourself? Did you have any support from your family or friends?
Teri: I was forty and I had to make new friends and those friends were women and they helped me enormously. 
Monika: At that time of your transition, did you have any transgender role models that you followed?
Teri: No.
Monika: What was the hardest thing about your coming out?
Teri: Loss of past, self-identity, and fear.
Monika: What do you think about the present situation of transgender women in Australian society?
Teri: Not much, the people I know are supportive but there is an element of anti-transgender, which only proves how uneducated people are.


Monika: What is your general view on transgender stories or characters which have been featured in films, newspapers, or books so far?
Teri: Why do they always use a genetic female to play a male-to-female transgender? 
Monika: The transgender cause is usually manifested together with the other LGBT communities? Being the last letter in this abbreviation, is the transgender community able to promote its own cause within the LGBT group?
Teri: I think so, but then again I don’t see the connection between LGB & T.
Monika: Is there anyone in the Australian transgender society whose actions could be compared to what Harvey Milk was doing in the USA in the 60s and 70s for gay activism?
Teri: Not really, sadly.
Monika: Are you active in politics? Do you participate in any lobbying campaigns? Do you think transgender women can make a difference in politics?
Teri: Well, Georgina Beyer did in New Zealand but politics and the transgendered don’t really mix, politics is a male bastion after all.
Monika: Could you tell me about the importance of love in your life?
Teri: Vital, without it I’d just be cruising bars or bed-hopping, love is the cornerstone of stability.
Monika: What would you recommend to all transgender girls struggling with gender dysphoria?
Teri: Never give up and never forgot who you are, regardless of gender.
Monika: Teri, thank you for the interview! 

Links to some of Teri's pages: - Her 2012 film titled "TLK Punk" - More about her books
All the photos: courtesy of Teri Louise Kelly.
© 2015 - Monika Kowalska

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