Hybrid-Genre / Memoir | 5.5″x7″, 88pp., pbk. | ISBN-13: 978-1-939460-04-2 | May 2015
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Intersex explores gender as it forms in concrete and unavoidable patterns in the material world. What happens when a child is born with ambiguous genitalia? What happens when a body is normalized? Intersex provides tangled and shifting answers to both of these questions as it questions our ideas of what is natural and normal about gender and personhood. In this hybrid-genre memoir, intersexed author Aaron Apps adopts and upends historical descriptors of hermaphroditic bodies such as “freak of nature,” “hybrid,” “imposter,” “sexual pervert,” and “unfortunate monstrosity” in order to trace his own monstrous sex as it perversely intertwines with gender expectations and medical discourse. Intersex leaves the reader wondering: what does it mean to be human?
Advance praise for Intersex
A book of time and because of it: “Time stopped queerly.” Not a book but an essay: a “vibration…along lines.” Or the book as “gesture,” intervening with: the other possible, “faintly disembodied” mid-line “trajectories.” Aaron Apps’ Intersex is all feral prominence: a physical archive of the “strange knot.” Thus: necessarily vulnerable, brave and excessive. Book as trait. Book as biology without end: modified, pulsing, visible, measured, folded then folded again: an “animal self.” I felt this book in the middle of my own body. Reading, your own organs stir. In this way, Apps indicates the “creature” that you are too. Where do you “reside”? Where do you “collect”? Like the best kind of memoir, Apps brings a reader close to an experience of life that is both “unattainable” and attentive to “what will emerge from things.” In doing so, he has written a book that bursts from its very frame.
Praise for Dear Herculine
Selected by Mei-mei Berssenbrugge for the 2014 Ahsahta Press Sawtooth Poetry Prize
The book is clear, forceful, and moving in its concerns: “I’m interested in the formation of gender. The way bodies with weird formations slip and exist below expectations. The way we form and un-form in the fluid when thrown out of the womb gush.” Apps writes about growing up with an obviously unusual—apparently an intersex—physical body, and that bodily estrangement, along with early sexual experience, lies at the root of his work, which finds “no tranquil answers in the simplicity of facts.” Sometimes sexy, though haunted by self-disgust, Apps is “a grotesque puppet,” and “a raucous sac of sex.” … The results—part memoir, part analysis, part outburst—become not just memorable but pellucid and teachable: the volume might be important far outside the precincts of poetry, a classic for young people trying to figure out, and then to say, who they have been who they could be, and who they already are.
Dear Herculine, a harrowingly eloquent cri de coeur, melds consciousnesses and bodies across one and a half centuries, from 1832–2014. Intersexed writer Aaron Apps to intersex reader, the long-dead martyr to early gender-reassignment surgery, Herculine Barbin, speaks from a place so far inside of the abjected subject that it comes out the other end as estranged, engorged and gorgeous language, in letters comprising ‘two intersexed bodies composed of multiple parts, and the mess of flesh and text that stands between.’ … Apps’s fearlessness and the beauty of his prose inspires, pushing poetry, kicking and screaming and expiring with shame, to where it desperately wants to go. A brilliant achievement that defies the triumphalism of that descriptor, Dear Herculine is a cache of love letters urgently needed to heal this world.
excerpts from Intersex
about Aaron Apps
Aaron Apps is the author of Intersex (Tarpaulin Sky Press 2015) and Dear Herculine, winner of the 2014 Sawtooth Poetry Prize from Ahsahta Press. He is currently a doctoral student in English Literature at Brown University where he studies poetry and poetics, sexual somatechnics, animacy, hybrid forms, and the history of intersex literature. His writing has appeared in numerous journals, including Pleiades, LIT, Washington Square Review, Puerto del Sol, Columbia Poetry Review, and Blackbird.