Mx. Richaundra Thursday (they/she) is (in no particular order): a Middle School Humanities teacher, a writer, nerd, cook, goth, gamer, prolific reader and other identities not known for generating revenue. They live in South King County, Washington where the intersection of nerd, goth and pretentious writing is peak. You can find their scribbles in Luna Station Quarterly, Eye to the Telescope, The First Line, The Poet’s Haven, Star*Line, Silverblade, Blossomry and those sample sheets they let you test calligraphy pens with.
Richaundra wrote “Frankenstein’s Creature Comes Out as Trans at Sadako’s Halloween Party” in issue 3 of Vulture Bones. Below is an interview about their poem.
The tension between the idea of these fictional characters as unchanging but constantly evolving was something that really resonated with me. After all, with my own gender identity, it’s something that has always been there, but which has had to be dissected and discussed--it’s a fact of me which has been at once unchanging and evolving, too. What drew you to explore the intersection of fluidity in people and gender, and what drew you to explore it through familiar fictional characters?
I find that fiction, especially speculative genres provide a safe ‘distant’ from a topic that makes it safer for exploring sensitive topics like identity and transformation. When it comes to the ‘reboots,’ reinterpretations and AUs, we all have a favorite version but I wondered how it would feel from the other side, the character’s perspective. At the same time, Frankenstein is already such a subversive work with its exploration of ‘who is the real monster’ and ‘how much does society and its perceptions shape who we are’ that it just fit naturally. Mary Shelley was well aware of the expectations put on her because of her parentage, gender, marriage and reputation and she used that social tension to craft an entirely new kind of story that still resonates 200 years later.
There were a number of interlocking meta-conversations happening through the course of the poem--queerness as inhabited by monsters, queerness as embodied by found family--but one that stuck with me was this idea of artifice as truth. In the poem, frames her coming out around Halloween, saying she chose to come out then “Because Halloween is when/ We can most be ourselves.” And there is a lot of truth in this story, which is about a group of fictional characters coming together to support one of their own through an important transition in her life. I was hoping you could talk a little but about this line, and why is it that we are most ourselves at Halloween? Why, when we are allowed to dress up as others, do we reveal more about ourselves?
I love Halloween, it is a whimsical combination of sugar, play and partying. For good or ill, it’s also a ‘Get Out of Jail Free’ card, because ‘being someone else,’ you are not as held as accountable for your actions. While this is unfortunately used to justify really trashy behavior, it can be the most rewarding/validating/freeing experience for those that are required to be performative, whether that means pretending to be cisgender, straight, or just like...an adult. Even unconsciously, just like how fiction lets us explore topics from a safe emotional distance, the inherent depersonalization of Halloween lets us look at identities and aesthetics that appeal to us that maybe we pass over or ignore the rest of the year. Sometimes that reveals a truth to others, sometimes it reveals something to ourselves. It could be as simple as ‘this is a style/character/piece of media I like’ to ‘this is who I want to be as a person.’ Halloween is supposed to be ‘scary’ and what’s scarier than exposing ourselves to those closest to us and giving them the potential to reject us?
Where can people find more of your work? What’s coming next?
I actually wrote an entire chapbook about the writing and impact of Frankenstein that I’m hoping to one day find a home for (as well as a half dozen other projects that long for daylight). If you want to see what’s caught my squirrel attention, you can follow me on Twitter at @Penanced.