TC Tolbert's debut chapbook uncovers the landscape of life ever in motion. In language flickering with love, loss, and liminality, and with adamantine accuracy, this work bridges many seemingly distant land masses: female and male, girl and boy, music and silence, body and space. territories of folding embodies the poet's transition “from woman to something less visibly female” and reveals the cyclic journeys of construction, deconstruction, and reconstruction of the person contextualized by an outward societal framework. “Having lived through the funnel both ways,” TC Tolbert acknowledges and bravely challenges traditional schemes of hegemony with a conscious commitment to the unique multiplicity of the self, who is at once (and always) transitory and timeless. – Kore Press
TC was awarded the Arizona Commission on the Arts Individual Artist Award in 2012 and a residency at Byrdcliffe. S/he has two chapbooks, spirare (Belladonna 2012) and territories of folding (Kore Press 2011). His work won the Arizona Statewide Poetry Competition in 2010, chosen by Linda Russo. TC’s first full length collection, Gephyromania, was a finalist for the Sawtooth Poetry Prize in 2009, 2010, and 2011 and is forthcoming from Ahsahta Press. His poems can be found in Volt, The Volta, The Pinch, Drunken Boat, Shampoo, A Trunk of Delirium, jubilat, and EOAGH.
Click here for a quick video about the design of territories of folding.
Click here to purchase territories of folding.
Click here to purchase spirare.
photo courtesy of Larry Hanelin
To see TC's reading at Dixon Place for Belladonna* click here.
“The design of territories of folding is not the only mind-expanding thing about this innovative volume. TC Tolbert's reimagining and retooling of language is so evocative and suggestive, skirting towards the edges of possibility, that I can almost feel new neural pathways growing inside my brain as I read and re-read the text and interact with the book's design. I wish I could give this book as a gift to everyone I know who is dedicated to resisting narrowness and confinement--engaging with this work builds and requires a spaciousness, fluidity, and unpredictable complexity that I think many of us are trying to cultivate inside ourselves and manifest in the world."
- Dean Spade, founder of Sylvia Rivera Law Project, Assistant Professor at Seattle University School of Law, author of Normal Life: Administrative Violence, Critical Trans Politics and the Limits of Law (forthcoming from South End Press)
To hear TC Tolbert read at the Tucson Festival of Books, click here.
“Because a body cannot be easily fathomed, TC Tolbert’s territories of folding leads the reader into the universe(s) of what cannot be easily said, and what lies in between what can be said. Through the virtuoso use of space, breath, and repetition, Tolbert creates an architecture that stand[s] between the text and its articulation. This book tears apart the easy masks of perception and our snap understandings of a body, a body’s history and personhood. Tolbert makes it the function of language to reveal and to unfold what the mouth uncovers – through the multiple throats of infinite transformation.”
- Samuel Ace, author of Stealth (with Maureen Seaton, Chax Press, 2011), Normal Sex (Firebrand, 1994), and Home in Three Days. Don’t Wash. (Hard Press, 1996).
To see TC Tolbert and Movement Salon create a piece from territories of folding at the Tucson Lit Press Fest, click here.
“TC Tolbert writes of the body—its becoming that is bound to its negation: “the body [that] is [adamantly] NO” is also “enough,” but only when it is added to (here, through an “e” and, fittingly, an “ugh,” the sound of exasperation). The seams of its production allow it to seem at all. The painterly use of the visual field of the page reminds us the body is created—be it the textual body or other bodies in the world. But if violence is done to the body, through erasure, through modes of mapping that rewrite it from without, the body is not innocent either—“the body is deleterious;” it causes harm. The tension in TC’s poems pulls me in closer, the thought in them keeps me thinking, and their tenderness (relating both to pain and to an ultimate gentleness) opens and enlarges me, as I trust it will do for most of its readers.”
- Kristi Maxwell, author of Re-, to be published by Ahsahta Press in September 2011, Hush Sessions (Saturnalia Books, 2009) and Realm Sixty-four (Ahsahta, 2008), along with the chapbook Elsewhere & Wise (Dancing Girl Press). She teaches for the University of Arizona's Writing Program and at the Poetry Center.
To see TC Tolbert reading new work at Casa Libre, click here.
"TC Tolbert's work is deeply smart and excellent. The words hum and vibrate, electrified with feeling though arranged with an architect's cool precision. There is so much knowing in his poetry, and a sly sharing. It's rueful, or trembling, and then he cracks a joke. His poetry is actually really funny - it's just that the humor is slicing in and out of heartbreak, fierce anger, regret and revelation, just like in real life."
- Michelle Tea, founder of RADAR Productions and Sister Spit: The Next Generation
“There must be formulas for writing blurbs, similar to what we use to build paragraphs or essays or even poems, but why would I rely on a model of construction when TC’s poetry, fine art, instruction and even existence is predicated on deconstruction as a virtue? What is a poetics of deconstruction . . . I am talking about the limits of human consciousness and an awareness of the limits; a poetics of revision, the way we might revise our thoughts between one idea and the next even as we’re saying them out loud. I’m thinking of a relentless pursuit of accuracy, if we’re not going to say truth. Though, I’m going to say truth. I considered saying “waves” but already wanted to modify it.”
- Stephanie Balzer, author of Revenant (Kore Press, 2010) and faster, faster (Cue Editions, 2010)
"I tore open the envelope holding territories of folding in a Mexican restaurant in upstate NY. I was standing in the standing waiting space waiting for my partner to arrive. For a table at which to open a menu and choose to eat. This is a perfect place to enter. Reminiscence and borders and inconsistencies and crossings and impatience and torn paper and suddenly someone calls my name. If this is 2011: tc tolbert will do this to you. Let him."
- Cara Benson, author of (made) (Book Thug, 2010) and *Predictions (Chainlinks, 2009)
“In a world full of material commodity and dualistic rhetoric, language which has been sanded down to its most bland, mundane shape, words that hardly mean (in John Berger's phrasing, our "language...is always being used to make the same general proposal--that we transform ourselves by buying something more"), TC Tolbert's territories of folding files words back into their sharpest shapes. His writing is crystalline, edgily intelligent, and exploratory; work that enjoys the weight each word carries, holds, the way a word can break to become something else...or congeal and harden if we let it. Just as rings of water echo out from a pebble's landing, his work holds words aloft, open-palmed, and lets their resonance ripple outward.
With gestures at everything from a Josh Bell poem to the paintings of Jenny Saville; with snatches and fragments of autobiography, past lovers and family words; and with a witty, dark, bitter playfulness ("tonight, let's practice erosion. it's finally my turn as the wind."), the work circles and circles around the question of how to open. How to be vulnerable without demanding, how to be tender ("please, still a when, please gently"). It circles and circles around the "I," around what it means to speak from an "I" that can be both fluid and confining: "sometimes I believe I am a hallway. (I take back the whole part about transitioning.)" It is a history, an exploration, a slicing into.
In the words again of John Berger: "We only see what we look at. To look is an act of choice." TC's work makes the choice to look, and if we choose to go along with him, what we see is a world sharpened, sliced open, defiantly naked.”
- Arianne Zwartjes, author of The Surfacing Of Excess (awarded the Eastern Washington University Press poetry prize), (Stitched) A Surface Opens (Diagram/New Michigan Press), and Disem(body) (forthcoming with Dancing Girl Press in summer 2011). She lives in Tucson, and is currently completing a collection of medically-themed lyric essays.