‘Sister Spit: Writing, Rants & Reminiscence from the Road’ edited by Michelle Tea
Author: Sassafras Lowrey
November 25, 2012
I first saw Sister Spit perform in Portland, Oregon in the early 2000s. Michelle Tea and her gritty gang of dyke writers and poets were legends. Everyone had a story about the crew, who jacked off to what zine, who had gotten high with who before getting sober, or what punk houses had hosted the tour in years previous. There was a scratched Sister Spit CD that we all ripped copies of at the one punk house with a computer capable of doing the job. I remember sitting cross-legged in dirty work pants and a ratty t-shirt on the concrete floor of an underground venue the night of their show—it was magic, and proof that a bunch of dirty fuck-up queers like us had a chance of making it someday. A lot of time has passed for me since that first Sister Spit show, and the days when I listened to their CD recorded over the telephone at full volume on my Walkman, and yet the power of Sister Spit was as magical as ever when I began reading the new Sister Spit anthology: Sister Spit: Writing, Rants & Reminiscence from the Road (City Lights).
The anthology brings together 22 of the edgiest writers including Cristy C Road, Eileen Myles, and Harry Dodge, all of whom are veterans of the tour. The stories in the anthology ranged from pieces that had been performed by the various writers on the road over the 15 years of the tours tenure to new pieces created by writers chronicling experiences of being involved on the tour. Standout pieces for me included primarily the writers above, whom I came of age admiring.
As readers of the Sister Spit anthology we’re invited into the van and become witnesses to the magic and adventure. In Rhiannon Argo’s “I’m Not Lost, I Just Don’t Know Where the Fuck We Are,” we watch as the tour is dumped on a Paris street by a drunk angry van driver, and in Cristy C. Road’s “Where Is My Soul?”, Cristy combines her trademark art with text as she processes the experience of being included amongst artists she’s looked up to, as well as exploring her own queerness. As a touring artist there was a fun familiarity in these kinds of tour diaries, which often included cartooning and doodling. I think any other touring queer, I identified with many of the hilarious shared in these diary entries. It’s hard not to become captivated by Nicole J. Georges’ tour diary where we watch as she gets food poisoning in NYC, and then goes onto chronicle the on-the-road hookups of others in the van.
I look at the Sister Spit book as an important landmark; a place that documents in their own words one of the most important creative forces of our time. So many of us have come to age to Sister Spit and it’s only appropriate that this book be the inaugural release of City Light Book’s new Sister Spit Imprint being headed by Michelle Tea. City Lights says the new imprint will release two books per year. As a reader, I was especially drawn to Cooper Lee Bombardier’s “My Life In Ink,” which explored the intimate relationship between queers and tattoos, and specifically the less-than-stellar quality stick n’ poke homemade ones and the way in which “it is about a connection, a reminder, a friendship, an adventure. You can look at your scraggly little star and remember: I was there.” For me the last line of Bombardier’s story powerfully sums up the entire anthology and its place in queer literary community.
Sister Spit: Writing, Rants & Reminiscence from the Road
Edited By Michelle Tea
City Lights Publishers
Paperback, 9780872865662, 208 pp.