Fanfiction is the name given to works of literature that are derivatives of other works or concepts that are not a part of the canonical universe of the original. It can range from very short stories to works that have lengths much longer than the original work itself. A tool that is employed in most fanfictions is “shipping” where the author places two characters that are not in a canonical relationship into a relationship in the fanfiction. One way that fanfiction has been used is as a tool to create queer narratives in a universe where there may have not been an explicit queer narrative to begin with. Many works include characters that are queer coded, and are described in ways that are almost explicitly queer, but the author of the source material never confirms, and leaves the reader hanging. This act of carving out a storyline that was not initially there just to be able to see the storylines of people who are similar to you shows a deep aspect of why it is so necessary to include queer representation. If this representation was not necessary, it would be hard to believe that people would produce these works, some of which are longer than the source material itself, just to be able to see stories of people like them.
We can see a connection to The Legend of Auntie Po by Shing Yin Khor, particularly in the Authors Note and the final pages of the book. When Mei talks about going to form her own story (Khor, 282), implying that there are many more adventures to be had beyond the confines of her book, it is the exact concept that these fanfiction authors latch onto, that just because you have hit the final pages doesn’t mean that the characters cease to exist, that their stories must end. Where one story ends is just an opportunity for another story to begin, and when the initial author isn’t there to represent marginalized communities, in some cases fans of the work create representation that was not originally there. This connects to the Authors Note at the end of the book, particularly when Khor discusses making the story of a young Chinese American girl (Khor, 285). This is not unlike the how fanfiction creators will sometimes use their works as a tool to create more representation in the universes they love so dearly, so they can see a character just like them, and finding how in creating that little corner of the universes of their favorite works.
In the play Angels in America by Tony Kushner, there are many themes on display. One of these themes is that the past is not dead. One tool that the play uses to implement this is the idea of ghosts. One example of this was the portrayal of Ethel Rosenberg, who was put to death after a trial that was prosecuted by Roy Cohn, who comes back to haunt him when he is close to death. In an almost contradictory manor however, She doesn’t seem overtly hostile to Cohn, as she even calls an ambulance on his behalf to take him to the hospital (Kushner, 117-116), as it can be argues that Cohn is directly responsible for her death. Another instance of ghosts in the play are the “Prior Priors”. During parts of the play, Prior is visited by two versions of himself who have had their own lives before him. They visit Prior multiple times in the play, not always to interact with Prior, but in ways to help guide him, especially when the Angel appears (Kushner, 118) when they arrive before the Angel and talk with Prior. This shows us yet another instance of ghosts guiding a character along in the narrative. These examples of ghosts in the play highlight that while the past is the past, it is most certainly not dead, as it continues to live on in the form of memories and impacts. This is a particularly telling theme in the context of the AIDS epidemic, where there are many many ghosts, whose lives are not erased by their deaths, but live on in the lives of the people who knew them.
As I was reading sections from Eli Clare’s book Exile and Pride, I have taken note of his usage of words and how much he can evoke in such few words. After reading a few pages of his works it became painfully clear how much of an expert wordsmith he can be. One section that I will focus upon is the section entitled “II. A Supercrip Story”.
When Clare describes how society views disables people who have overcome struggles, and how the nondisabled world has become saturated with stories of the disabled person overcoming their struggles, and how they “enforce the superiority of the non disabled body and mind”, it paints a vivid picture, especially when he uses words meant to shame people with disabilities while talking about the second a disabled person accomplishes something the nondisabled world deems to be a challenge for them, they become a poster child for how to overcome the hardships in your life. His words become very clear with the repetition of the words “I mean” and “lack” on page 3, where the repetition creates a feeling of struggle and persistence to make ones voice heard, like butting into a conversation multiple times because no one is listening.
This becomes a foremost subject as he opens the last paragraph of this small section with his personal experience being the “supercrip” that the nondisabled population gawks at like an animal in the zoo. The repetitive usage of I in the first half of the paragraph where Clare describes his history with cross country in high school, where he would come in last and occasionally be lapped by the front runners in the race, compared to his repetitive usage of “them” as he describes the reactions that people had to his running, where he would be fawned over and treated as the bravest soul for even daring to step on the track, to even attempt to run. The egregious amount of pity shown to “the supercrip, tragic brave girl with CP, courageous cripple”. who simply wanted people to “PISS ON PITY”.
Clare’s clear craftiness with words is clearly shown in this section, painting so many vivid pictures with his words, that can not total over two thousand words. It clearly shows that in some cases, a picture can be worth significantly less than a thousand words depending on the author.
I chose this poem due to the way that it describes the family surrounding a queer child and how it can be viewed from the parental viewpoint, particularly when the parents are disapproving of their child’s identity. This can be inferred from the term “mother of sorrows”, which is used in the second stanza of the poem. In this case it seems as if the parents do not truly love their child, almost as if they see the child as a placeholder for what the child they desired could have been.
Later in this poem is described almost in terms of the child being a parasite, with descriptions of “in the autumn of his blood, he will siphon your heart to a child dying of thirst;”, showing how the child is not only not appreciated by his parents, but treated as a future burden to the parent, a ticking time bomb that will one day turn the sweet little boy that they were expecting into a “sweet little wreck” that must be checked on in a locked room. This shows how the child will turn into the parent’s worst nightmare, at least for the parents who, in the words of Eve Sedgewick, “would rather their kids be dead than gay”
The name of the poem is most likely derived from the themes of dread within the poem. One major cause of insomnia can be not only being woken to care for a young child, but the dread and anxiety that some parents feel when their child doesn’t fit the perfect mold of what they wanted their child to be, and in the case of this poem, it can be interpreted as having both potential causes present. This poem can be a chilling look into the minds of parents who look down upon their child’s queerness, and fail to raise the child properly.