TC Tolbert



Tucson Poet Laureate and Academy of American Poets Fellow

In 2017, I was honored to be selected by Mayor Jonathan Rothschild as Tucson’s Poet Laureate. In 2019, I was awarded an Academy of American Poets Laureate Fellowship to develop and implement a project with Trans*, Non-binary, and Queer+ folks as Tucson’s Poet Laureate. This project is a series of writing workshops with Trans*, Non-binary, and Queer+ (TNBQ+) community members across Tucson, which will result in one audio-recorded poem per participant. Poems will be distributed across Tucson via A) public bathroom installations and B) posters that encourage the public to engage via QR code and/or automated phone tree. By filling Tucson’s intimate public spaces (bathrooms and phones) with the voices of Tucson’s TNBQ+ residents, I hope to push back against local and systemic insistence that TNBQ+ people not exist, while claiming the right of TNBQ+ people to take up space in a way that foregrounds the necessity, power, and beauty of TNBQ+ voices.

This project has three goals: 1) to foster powerful connections amongst TNBQ+ youth and with the larger LGBTQ+ and allied communities; 2) to raise awareness in cis and straight communities about the continuing oppression faced by TNBQ+ folx, while foregrounding TNBQ+ voices; 3) to promote civic engagement amongst TNBQ+ youth, while galvanizing cis and straight people to act in solidarity with TNBQ+ folx.

To learn more about the project, please visit




In Our Own Voices

I am one of several program producers for In Our Own Voices: Amplifying Tucson’s LGBTQ+ Communities. This program airs on Tucson’s amazing independent radio station, KXCI, and features mini-segments (5 minute interviews) with various members of Tucson’s LGBTQ+ communities each week.




Poets Build

Read more here about my efforts as Tucson’s Poet Laureate to get poets out to build homes with Habitat for Humanity in Tucson. Please contact me if you’d like to join a build day – no experience is necessary!








Trans & Genderqueer Literature

In 2014, I created and taught the first Trans* and Genderqueer Literature course at the University of Arizona. This 300 level course was focused on poetry, fiction, and creative non-fiction by trans* and genderqueer authors. Feel free to use my syllabus and/or course materials here.




Troubling the Line: Trans and Genderqueer Poetry & Poetics
Nightboat Books, 2013

The first-ever collection of poetry by trans and genderqueer writers, co-edited by TC Tolbert and Trace Peterson.

The first of its kind, Troubling the Line: Trans and Genderqueer Poetry and Poetics, gathers together a diverse range of 55 poets with varying aesthetics and backgrounds. In addition to generous samples of poetry by each trans writer, the book also includes “poetics statements” – reflections by each poet that provide context for their work covering a range of issues from identification and embodiment to language and activism.




Speech Acts in Trickhouse

"Speech Acts" is a video poetry series I produced in collaboration with Noah Saterstrom and Trickhouse. More than an archive, "Speech Acts" seeks to create an intimate, human experience with Tucson trans and genderqueer poets and their work. Click here to go to videos of Samuel Ace, Ian Ellasante, Hannah Ensor, and Huck Arteaga.






click photo to go to Evening Will Come (photo by Rae Strozzo)

Trans & Queer Poetry & Poetics

THE VOLTA is a multimedia project of poetry, criticism, poetics, video, conversation (audio), and interview (text). Evening Will Come is the poetics section of the Volta. In December, 2012, I curated a trans and queer issue featuring the work of 18 trans, genderqueer, and queer poets, visual artists, and filmmakers. Get ready to fall in love.



Outward Bound

I am a Trainer, Course Director, and Lead Instructor for Outward Bound. I have been with Outward Bound for 15 years and for the last eight years I’ve had the opportunity to lead Grieving Teens trips for both Colorado Outward Bound and Hurricane Island Outward Bound. Grieving Teens courses are seven days in the backcountry specifically designed for youth coping with the death of a loved one. If you know a youth who has experienced the death of someone close, please have them contact Outward Bound and connect them with this exciting, healing opportunity. Scholarships are available.






Made for Flight

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.