About the Book
This elegant and moving collection of poems grew out of Hilda Raz’s experience with her son’s journey to a transgender identity. Born Sarah, now Aaron, Raz’s child has had a profound impact on her understanding of what it means to be a family, to be whole, and to know oneself. The collection moves between past and present, allowing Raz to reflect on her own childhood and on her experience with breast cancer to find ways to connect with Aaron. The journey takes us from intimacy to strangeness and back again, from denial to humor to grief and rage, but always laced with love and acceptance.
“Trans” means across, through, over, to or on the other side, and beyond. This book documents some major transformations of body, self, society, and spirit that art requires and life allows. The poems are accessible and finely wrought. They are equally testaments to Raz’s insistence on making an order out of chaos, of finding ways to create and understand and eventually accept new definitions of self and family. The physical and sensuous language of Raz’s poems, and their humanity, keep them intimately bound to the world and to the senses.
Hilda Raz is a former editor of Prairie Schooner and is the founding director of the Prairie Schooner Book Prizes. She was named the first Luschei Professor and Editor in the Department of English at the University of Nebraska–Lincoln. Raz is editor of the Mary Burritt Christiansen Poetry Series at the University of New Mexico Press and poetry editor for ABQ (in)Print and Bosque Press. She is the author or editor of fourteen books, including her most recent book, Letter from a Place I’ve Never Been: New and Collected Poems, 1986–2020, as well as All Odd and Splendid, Divine Honors, What Happens, and What Becomes You (with Aaron Raz Link), all available from the University of Nebraska Press.
“It was Hilda Raz’s remarkable book Trans that shifted ways of reading poetry for me. If you want to read a poetry of honesty and often pain ‘in working through things’—then Raz’s poetry is exemplary in this.”—John Kinsella, author of Jam Tree Gully and Firebreaks
“Whether she writes of Aaron or Sarah, funerals or fields, Raz’s tone remains sincere and open: ‘Nothing to explain, no shield,’ she writes, ‘of paper thin skin between history and the untender world.’”—Publishers Weekly
“What subject could be harder for a mother to document than her daughter’s sex-change operation? Some of the strongest poems in this collection by poet and anthologizer Raz focus on that transformation.”—Library Journal
Table of Contents
What Do You Want?
Drought: Teaching, Benedict, Nebraska
Names My Mother Knew
Said to Sarah, Ten
Fast Car on Nebraska I-80: Visiting Teacher
Afternoon, with Cold
"The world is not something to look at; it is something to be in."
Doing the Puzzle / Angry Voices
Part Coquette, Part Monster
Trans formation / Feathers / Train Travel
Before John and Maria's Wedding
Some Questions about the Storm
Women & Men
Some Questions for the Evening Class
Letter from a Place I've Never Been
Anna Maria Is Coming, or Maybe Thomas Barton, or Max!
The Address on the Map
Wonder Woman's Rules of the Road
Aaron at Work / Rain
Sarah Returned to Me, Wearing the Poet's Gloves
Company / 3 A.M.
Early Morning, Left-Handed
Visitation: Pink Foam Letter
The Funeral of X, Who Was Y's Mother
Acknowledgments and Notes