Poet Jos Charles, 30, was celebrated by an LGBT outlet this week for “capturing the trans experience” by rearranging the alphabet in her writing.
Charles is a National Book Award winner and Pulitzer Prize finalist.
In a reverent profile published Monday, Queerty’s John Gallagher summed up Charles’ work by citing fellow poet Fady Joudah’s 2017 description of “feeld,” her award-winning second collection of poetry.
“Jos Charles rearranges the alphabet to survive its ferocity against their body. Where language is weaponized, feeld is a whistleblower, a reclamation of art’s domain,” said Joudah, who selected Charles as one of the 2017 National Poetry Series prize winners. “The solidarity engendered here reaches beyond the specific injustice to its speakers.”
Gallagher praised Charles for combining “a deep understanding of poetic traditions with her own personal experience to create works that address gender and identity issues in a unique and moving way.”
He also quoted from “feeld” to demonstrate how Charles “creates a language resembling middle English to challenge our limited vocabulary to describe the trans experience.” Charles’ poetry, Gallagher opined, is “an effort to break free of the constraints of existing words, much as transgender people try to break free of the narrow definition of gender.”
One passage included in the book apparently alludes to the highly publicized deaths of transgender people:
did u kno not a monthe goes bye
a tran i kno doesnt dye.
In another passage, Charles seemingly references the complex nature of gender:
gendre is not the tran organe
gendre is yes a hemorage.
Jos Charles and transgender ideology
The recognition of Charles’ work comes at a time when Hollywood, academia and even corporate America have increasingly embraced woke advocacy. Recent high-profile examples include Nike’s valorization of Colin Kaepernick, the former NFL quarterback turned police brutality crusader, and Gillette’s takedown of “toxic masculinity.”
As Queerty’s profile of Charles demonstrates, the literary world is no exception.