Culture » Literature

Prickly Pear Printing moves poetry beyond trauma


  • Denise Dominiquez
Across art forms, it’s pain, not joy, that gets enduring critical praise. Slam poetry is no exception: In competitions, judges and audiences reward the expression of personal trauma, effectively deeming it the most impactful and praiseworthy subject matter.

“Sometimes you leave a poetry slam, and you’re exhausted because you’ve just been consuming trauma all night,” says Joy Young, a poet, educator and community organizer from Tempe, Arizona. “It’s kind of left this void a lot of us are feeling, where we’re not seeing these poems that celebrate ourselves.”

It’s something Young says is starting to change, and they intend to help that along. On Feb. 21, they announced the launch of a poetry-publishing imprint called Prickly Pear Printing, a collaboration with local poet/community organizer Nico Wilkinson (who, disclosure, occasionally writes for the Indy’s Queer & There column). Their goal: to produce work that elevates voices from queer and marginalized communities.

The idea behind Prickly Pear has been in the works for a long time, but hard planning didn’t start until October 2017. That name’s recent, too — it represents growing up in an otherwise difficult environment, a nod both to the harsh climates of Colorado and Arizona as well as to the purple-leaning-red political climate, which tends to be less welcoming to queer identities.

Their first project, WE GROW ANYWAY, offers a collection of works on queer love, growth and survival, a testament to finding light in dark places. (Submissions are open until March 5. Connect via Facebook for more information.)

“Voicing your trauma can be a really good place to start, to feel heard and to feel witnessed,” Young says “but, in some regard, we need to move through that, and we need to see and consume poems that move through that.”

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