ERASE the Patriarchy: An Interview with Addie Tsai

This is part four of an interview series with authors whose work appears in the erasure-poetry anthology Erase the Patriarchy (University of Hell Press, 2020), about which I generally can’t say enough good things. You can read the first interview, with editor Isobel O’Hare, here; the second interview, with author and Barrelhouse Fiction co-Editor Tara Campbell, here; and the third, with queer, asexual, anarchist sex worker Kitty Stryker, here. This week, I’m delighted to be in conversation with non-binary artist and writer Addie Tsai, whose dazzling repertoire includes (but is far from limited to) a PhD in Dance from Texas Woman’s University and two co-Editorships (Fiction & Features) at Anomaly.

Fox: Tell me a little bit about your work that’s included in the anthology. What was your process like in creating it? Were there any specific experiences, literary or otherwise, that helped precipitate this work?

Addie: I knew that I wanted to submit two erasures—one erasure was of a writer who had done personal harm to me. The other was Lance Armstrong, an athlete who had offered many denials of his deception, and I was curious what would emerge out of erasing his early denials before ultimately confessing that he had lied over many years about doping during the Tour de France. I have always had an interest in erasure, and have done other erasures, but I was excited at the premise in looking at erasing the patriarchy. I also was excited to work with different materials to erase. For this one, I chose to erase with fake blood, given the fact that Lance Armstrong had blood-doped, and had lied. I suppose that Mary Ruefle was the first erasure I had ever known, and of course, I was very intrigued by what Isobel O’Hare had done with their erasing of the statements regarding the #MeToo movement. 

Tell me a little about your experience with erasure as a form—how you came to it originally, and what your most rewarding experiences as a writer and artist have been using erasure since that time?

I first learned about erasures through Mary Ruefle years ago. I haven’t done that many, but I have used them from time to time throughout my own writing. I appreciate the way the old meaning and the new interpretation rub against one another. 

What was your own experience of this book—I mean, reading through it, after it was published as a whole? What new insights, if any, do you feel you gained from the collection?

I LOVE THIS BOOK. What I love most is seeing the methods the other writers/artists used to erase the words themselves, and how those methods connected to whose work they were erasing. It gave me new ideas and insights for how to make a complex form even more complicated and nuanced. 

What kind of experience(s) do you hope for readers to have of this book—and, specifically, your own work in the anthology—as they make their way through it? Is there anything you hope they get to experience, feel, or consider from a fresh perspective?

I hope readers consider the power they can have in dismantling toxic patriarchal norms through taking the words into their own hands–literally. And to learn new ways through this incredible medium as well.

What are you working on now? Any new projects you’re particularly excited about?

I am working on a memoir project that uses the framework of gothic literature in order to address trauma, divorce, and selfhood. I’m super excited about that. My queer biracial genderswapped retelling of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, Unwieldy Creatures, is forthcoming from Jaded Ibis Press in 2022. 

🟣 🟣 🟣

Addie Tsai is a queer nonbinary (any/all) artist and writer of color who teaches courses in literature, creative writing, dance, and humanities at Houston Community College. They also teach part time in Goddard College’s MFA for Interdisciplinary Arts and Regis University’s Mile-High MFA in Creative Writing programs. Addie collaborated with Dominic Walsh Dance Theater on Victor Frankenstein and Camille Claudel, among others. She holds an MFA from Warren Wilson College and a PhD in Dance from Texas Woman’s University. They are the author of the queer Asian young adult novel Dear Twin. Addie’s adult queer biracial genderswapped retelling of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, Unwieldy Creatures, is forthcoming from Jaded Ibis Press August 2022. Addie is Fiction co-Editor and co-Editor of Features and Reviews at Anomaly, Staff Writer at Spectrum South, and the Founding Editor / co-Editor in Chief at just femme & dandy.

[Headshot description: Addie Tsai, a biracial nonbinary person with short black hair stands against a white wall. He’s wearing blue eyeshadow, red lipstick, and a small orange and green disk earring. They are wearing a white button-down shirt under a jean jacket with an assortment of pins all over it: phrases like Good Things Are Coming, Love Wins, and Be Hippy pop in bright colors. They are between pins of people of all different skin tones and other rainbows. She is also wearing a rainbow tie-dye bow tie, and is tugging on both ends. Their expression is serene, knowing.]

Fox Henry Frazier is a poet, essayist, and visual artist. She holds an MFA from Columbia University and a PhD from the University of Southern California, where she was also a Provost’s Fellow. Her poetry collections include The Hydromantic Histories (Bright Hill Press, 2015), Like Ash in the Air After Something Has Burned (2017), and Raven King (Yes Poetry, 2022). Fox created Agape Editions. She lives in upstate New York with her daughter, her dogs, her gardens, and her ghosts.

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