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SJ Norman is a writer, singer, and curator which works across overall performance, installment, book, sculpture, video, and sound. He has acquired various artwork prizes, including a Sidney Myer artistic Fellowship and an Australia Council Fellowship, and was actually the inaugural champion of the KYD Unpublished Manuscript honor.

SJ talked to Yves Rees about his introduction guide,


, a wonderful number of queer ghost stories published by UQP in October 2021.

Yves Rees

: You’re a musician and author who sits during the intersection of several different identities. Exactly what are the words you use to understand yourself?

SJ Norman

: My brands move based on which I’m speaking to. Brands are only actually ever useful to me as strategies to mobilise our selves through the globe plus in purchase to be seen. That shifts drastically according to context.

Regarding my personal trans identification, my personal standard self-definition might be as non-binary transmasculine. I’m he/they, pronouns sensible. I really don’t care about becoming


-d whether or not it’s in the context of faggotry. Indeed, it really is a truly gender euphoric milestone for a transfag when individuals stop


-ing you in a misgender-y method and begin doing it in a queenie means.

With regards to my social identification, i am Koori. Wiradjuri back at my mother’s area, English on my dad’s, produced on Gadigal country. Occasionally I’ve explained my Indigeneity as « diasporic » – an ill-fitting range of term to spell it out the displacement knowledge this is certainly woven into Koori identity, but the sole phrase I’ve had offered at instances when attempting to talk the nuance of my personal social positionality and experience as an Aboriginal imaginative working globally. I borrowed this term from a friend, another Aboriginal musician, Carly Sheppard. It really is of use occasionally, often not.

I’m a lot of other items, I do not need to identify these. I wish i did not must label any of them, a lot of the time. Someone questioned me personally the way I was yesterday and that I said « I’m intersectionally fatigued. »


: for the majority of of your xxx life you’ve been exceptionally cellular, moving between so-called Australia, Turtle Island, Japan, and European countries. In the final two years, the pandemic has actually enforced stasis. What has actually that experience already been like for you?


: i have relocated around my entire life. My mama moved around the woman whole life, her mummy moved around her life time, and her mother moved around her very existence. My dad is also a migrant, so as that’s a way of living I happened to be created into. I don’t really know a different way to be.

I am really home on the road. I’m much more at your home in in-between areas, both geographically and culturally, and actually.

The abrupt imposition of total stasis was very hard. But nothing of it feels as though a major accident.

I invested all 2019 on the road between European countries and me, and was at the whole process of shifting my personal base to nyc a lot more permanently whenever I returned. We for this Country – Gadigal Country – to set up my Sydney Biennale show and find out family members, and I was only intended to be right here for 14 days. And then the first lockdown hit weekly afterwards show started.

I became supposed to be on the road afterwards, as a result it provides truly been a shock to my personal program to-be grounded straight back here forever. Particularly for the reason that it in addition has designed indefinite separation from friends, partnerships and communities that I love and participate in.

I carefully constructed an existence that enabled bi-location, because that’s just what seems as well as straight to me. Having that block has not yet thought safe or proper. This has been full of grief and extremely challenging.

I wouldnot have obtained this publication out, though, if I did not have all my personal other work cancelled. It’s used me personally 20 years to finish


because i am hectic getting a traveling artist. We compose well on your way. I actually do countless my personal greatest writing in hotel rooms or on trains. It is a state that’s creatively rich in my situation. Nevertheless the seed of


was rooted in Sydney, and I also must come-back here to complete it.

I’d another here accomplish several things, such as my personal health transition. I had to develop to come back to my beginning nation to begin that procedure, because it’s these types of a powerful improvement and rebirth. I had to develop become about this area to start that.


: You penned all of the tales in


over ten years in the past, and just have only recently reviewed them for book. What was it choose to come back to a version of one’s previous self?


: Scary. And spooky. And daunting.

Once more, it was a process that has been interwoven with my go back to Sydney. It actually was a homecoming. We typed the manuscript, excluding the last tale, whenever I ended up being surviving in Sydney inside my very early twenties.

I was a student at UTS, living in Newtown. I am in Chippendale today, and I also stroll past my personal old Denison Street residence each alternate day. I notice location where this project started. And it also decided a required return; another to this location to deliver that job to conclusion.

I left Sydney the very first time in 2006. I relocated to Japan, and then toward UNITED KINGDOM for a little. I quickly came back right here between 2007 and 2009. And it is in those 2 yrs that I had written nearly all of


. Immediately after which I decided to go to Berlin and quit taking care of the project. I selected it once or twice, but only a couple of that time period. When I came back in 2020, that is once I made a consignment in order to complete it.

There is an intense enmeshment of place and self that has been uncovered in my situation in completing this guide. That’s to do with my personal relationship to this area, but additionally my link to the wider queer reputation of this one, and my own personal queer record contained in this place, and my personal layers of self-realisation and change.

I will be by no means alike person I was whenever I was actually writing almost all of this guide. You will find handled the tales since I have initially drafted them, however deeply. The bones are nevertheless alike.

There is a fearlessness you have got as a young publisher and a young creator. There was a fearlessness in me personally. I did not want to shag with those tales excessively, because there’s type a purity to them that was coming from a significantly more youthful home.

The book I would personally write now’s not this publication. But i must approach that younger home with really love and value. I am really deep discussion using my younger home inside area, along with finishing this book.




might described as queer ghost tales – an accumulation hauntings. On another amount, it may sound as you’re becoming troubled of the previous self which first blogged the book. The ebook is actually ghostly on several amounts. What attracts one to the motif of hauntings?


: i have always been into spooky stories. As a Blakfella, you grow up reading spooky tales. Its section of the tradition to fairly share hauntings, ghosts, metaphysical experiences. It really is the main quotidian lexicon of Blak expertise in Australia. The discussion of exact spectral presences and ancestral presences in your home had been a typical occurrence.

I’ve additionally lived-in countless haunted homes. I had many spectral activities during my life. I have always sensed really near that globe. It is something which’s preoccupied many could work – not simply my personal writing, but my overall performance work as well.

In terms of spirits and queerness, these things may in strong commitment. Hauntings or spectral visitations, along with commitment with ancestors, interactions with liminal thresholds, home beings – these are typically options that come with cultures which happen to be in deep union with death. I am writing on my culture as an Aboriginal person, but I’m also writing on my culture as a queer and trans person.

Only a few the ghosts in


tend to be traditional human beings spirits. They’re non-corporeal agencies, nevertheless they’re not necessarily spirits for the ancient good sense. They are threshold beings, and the ones are appealing archetypal narratives in my situation as trans individual, because we’re always in a space of inhabiting becoming, and inhabiting a collision of last and future selves.

Really don’t desire to decrease the spectral presences in


to metaphors – they’re not – but these stories have a sense-making high quality in my situation as a trans individual considering how we occur in the world.


: Thus while you composed these stories before you decide to happened to be consciously trans, there is an incipient trans sensibility inside their curiosity about change and liminal spaces. Usually correct?


: Yeah, positively.

Including, we read ‘Stepmother’, 1st tale from inside the collection, as definitely a tale about trans-ness. We blogged that tale while I was 23 and categorically oblivious that I found myself trans.

I understood I becamen’t a woman â€“ We realized that around whenever I was actually very younger. And that I found different ways of articulating that more than time. This was circa 2004, in Australia, and ‘queer’ had been less ossified in its meaning then, i believe. To make sure thatis the term we used to describe both my sex and my personal gender.

In those days, I did not have a language or a means of understanding me as a non-binary, transmasculine, pansexual fag. That is not something which came for me until much later on.

But I’m able to see, extremely obviously, that ‘Stepmother’ is a tale about sex. It is more about a new, unhatched trans human body wanting to negotiate it self in the arena in terms of the imposition of binary, cis-determinist femininity. And it’s regarding breakdown to reproduce pictures of this form of femininity in terms of this very fecund figure in the stepmother.

It is fascinating once guide transforms from a functional document to a likely book with your title regarding the address. You’ll have this extremely dissociated experience with checking out your book and it’s not yours anymore.

I found myself in a position to review my personal guide as if another person wrote it. And, in a variety of ways, somebody else performed. It permits us to see points that i did not clock during the time, you are aware?


: in lot of associated with the tales in


, animals play a vital role. Do you consider there’s something inherently queer about animal-human connections? Perform queers as well as other outsiders have an affinity for interspecies relationality?


: It wasn’t extremely mindful to add animals to explore queer interspecies subjectivity. But once more, appearing back, I see that’s the things I’m performing.

Just as that location is a figure, and metaphysical beings tend to be figures, the animals are characters as well. They may not function or speak or occur when you look at the tale in the same methods because the human figures, but they still have their unique parts to try out. Which comes from a desire for upsetting hierarchies of subjective relations, basically absolutely a queer feeling. It’s also an Indigenous feeling.


: Another repeating theme across these stories is rest, and especially awakening from rest to realize uncanny situations. In mind, is actually sleep a portal into supernatural globes?


: It completely is. It’s untamed that individuals’re thus preoccupied making use of occasions with the waking world, yet we’ve got 6 to 8 hours during the day when we’re unconscious, whenever we’re in other places.

Where can we get through that time? The schedules we live whenever we’re unconscious are no less genuine or crucial than what we experienced inside the conscious existence.

Sleep can also be something that’s beset myself, because I’m a persistent insomniac. You will find countless debilitating rest issues. I have actually. I am basically nocturnal.

I usually work through the night. That is when I feel the most effective, artistically. Im many offered to tale through the night when the waking globe is actually peaceful.

Additionally, almost all of my spooky encounters have happened regarding the link amongst the resting and waking globe.


: in advance of posting


, you were mostly known as an aesthetic and singing musician. How can you comprehend the commitment between your authorship alongside forms of innovative practice?


: It is like a parallel existence. Basically not saying it’s individual. There is certainly a discussion between those two methods. They’ve been entwined, coming through the same pool of electricity. And they’re coming through same cipher definitely my body system. Nevertheless they would feel like synchronous globes, and synchronous selves.

If everything, I thought alienated from fiction as a craft for a long period. Exactly why bother getting back together stories whenever the muck and complexity and nuance of everyday life is really even more interesting?

I felt almost distrustful of fiction as an art form. It feels so morally odd to possess power over the truth you are making for your readers. I’m over that today, in fact it is great.

I am today newly experiencing the space that fiction supplies to tell your personal tale with a good level of freedom. All my different efforts are in an area of consultation and process – it is about my personal link to others. And I also imagine creating fiction gives me respite from that.

It provides me a place to understand more about artistically, and also to broaden into motifs i mightn’t necessarily can touch on easily was actually writing nonfiction.


: who’re the queer and trans article writers you appreciate?


: Immediately, i am checking out

Dear Senthuran

by Akwaeke Emezi. It is blowing my personal fucking brain.

It’s an epistolary memoir, that is an application I adore. I did so an epistolary task last year with Joseph M Pierce also known as ‘(XXX)’, in which we blogged emails to each other. I adore the page, as a brief kind, and it is a brilliant concept for a memoir. Oahu is the publisher in discussion along with other people in their unique life, rather than talking to a nondescript, wide audience. The emails tend to be relational files that really work as a group but are also stunning separate parts.

I’m additionally reading Alexander Chee’s essays

Simple tips to Create an Autobiographical Novel

, in fact it is fantastic. I’m merely starting
Billy Ray Belcourt’s

A History of My Personal Concise Body

, which has been on my bunch for ages. And I ended up being totally decimated by Tommy Pico’s

Nature Poem

. Pico is actually a Kumeyaay poet, and a screenwriter for

Reservation Canines


The list is too very long, though. Those are just notables from my personal current bedside heap.

Dr Yves Rees (they/them)
is an author and historian considering unceded Wurundjeri secure. They’ve been a Lecturer ever sold at La Trobe college, the co-host of Archive Fever history podcast, therefore the composer of

Exactly about Yves: Records from a Transition
(Allen & Unwin, 2021)

. Rees was granted the 2020 ABR Calibre Essay reward and a 2021 Varuna Residential Fellowship. Their writing features included in the Guardian, this, Sydney Review of publications, Australian Book Review, Meanjin, and Overland, among different publications.

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