TC Tolbert

TC Tolbert often identifies as a trans and genderqueer feminist, collaborator, mover, and poet. Also, s/he’s a human in love with humans doing human things. 

(Bios are weird in that they are supposed to be written in 3rd person by the 1st and since I have you here and we’re talking about points of view, I’ll share my pronouns too. My pronouns go like this: “he/him/his” in conversation and I truly love being called “Hey Grrrl!” In writing, it's “s/he” – that’s because language is one of many ways we get to be wildly, wonderfully alive. If in doubt, just call me TC and/or TigerCakes (yes, that is the origin of TC). If you need a bio for publication, please use this one here. If you are an educator and wish to learn more about pronouns and classrooms, here is a resource.)

I earned my MFA in Poetry from the University of Arizona in 2005. I write, read, learn, teach, try, fuck up, revise, give thanks, and love in Tucson (and other places). During the summer, I lead wilderness trips for Outward Bound. I was selected as Tucson’s Poet Laureate in 2017 and in 2019 I was awarded an Academy of American Poets’ Laureate Fellowship to implement poetry workshops with trans*, nonbinary, and queer folx across Tucson (primarily youth) and then create public installations of those poems across the city. To access this project, go here. Additionally, I’ll be Writer in Residence at Pratt Institute for 2019-2020. Honestly, what a dream. I am spilling with gratitude and love. 

My first full-length collection, Gephyromania, was published by Ahsahta Press in 2014. Gephyromania was selected as one of the top poetry books of 2014 by Entropy and was listed by Eileen Myles as one of her favorites for 2014 in The Gay and Lesbian Review. Kerri Webster wrote a generous introduction to my work for The Poetry Society of America and I am deeply thankful to her and Janet and everyone who has supported my little addiction to, or obsession with, bridges. 

I am also the author of five chaps (some very short, some longer): Turning to hear the last leaves of stargazer fall (Rinky Dink Press, 2018), Conditions/Conditioning (a collaborative chapbook with Jen Hofer, New Lights Press 2014) I: Not He: Not I (Pity Milk Press 2014), spirare (Belladonna* chaplet 2012, now sold out), and territories of folding  (Kore Press 2011). My work has been anthologized in Reading Queer: Poetry in a Time of Chaos (Anhinga Press, 2018), Writing the Walls Down (Trans-Genre Press, 2015), The Force of What’s Possible: Writers on Accessibility and the Avant-Garde (Nightboat 2015), Hick Poetics (Lost Roads 2015), and The Queer South: LGBTQ Writers on the American South (Sibling Rivalry 2014). And I’m thrilled to share new work which can be found in American Poetry Review, The Nation, Academy of American Poets’ Poem A Day, PEN America, pulpmouth, and thresholds.

I co-edited, along with Trace Peterson, Troubling the Line: Trans and Genderqueer Poetry & Poetics (Nightboat Books 2013) the first anthology of its kind and a finalist for the Lambda Literary Award for LGBT Anthology. The book features the work of 55 trans and genderqueer poets as well as a poetic statement by each author describing the relationship between the author’s experience of the body and their experience of writing poetry.

In 2010, I created Made for Flight, a youth empowerment project that utilizes creative writing and kite building to celebrate trans lives, develop trans competency, and create a living memorial commemorating transgender people who were murdered in the previous year. I facilitated workshops that included poetry writing and kite building for five years with over 1,000 trans, non-binary, queer, and allied youth across Arizona. Made for Flight is now maintained by volunteers - most notably Ben Griffith, KC Engelmann, and Toby Wehner. Kites are on display at City High School, several Tucson libraries, and in the Arizona Queer Archives

In 2014, I was honored as one of the “Trans 100” – a list of Trans Change-Makers sponsored by GLAAD and Lambda Legal. In 2015-2016, I served as guest editor for the PEN Poetry Series and was poetry co-editor for several years at The Feminist Wire. In 2018, I was delighted to be in conversation with brilliant Rachel Zucker on Commonplace (you can find the bio she references here if you scroll down and click on Author Statement). And most recently, I was honored to guest edit The Academy of American Poets’ Poem A Day series for January 2019. I try to live by both Gloria Anzaldúa, Voyager, there are no bridges, one builds them as one walks, and John Cage, it’s lighter than you think.

Here’s hoping we meet on or off the page, or somewhere in between. I’d love to hear from you: 


Curriculum Vitae