On performing gender

by Sandra Renew, Issue 4 editor

Welcome to Not Very Quiet Issue 4, Performing Gender. It has been exhilarating to read the 202 submissions to this issue (around 400 poems) from Australia and many other countries.

This issue is dedicated to Judith Butler whose philosophy and theorising about the complexity of gender performance was our inspiration for this collection of poetry.

Performance of gender is the struggle every one of us undertakes throughout our lives to ‘get it right’, to refuse and rebel against confining restraint, to present our conservative and radical selves to the different worlds we inhabit. Performance of gender is universal, lifelong, playful, serious, a life and death concern that, like the weather, is always already there. It demands our thoughtful engagement within the social and political structures of all households, communities and governments.

Selecting poems for this issue was extremely challenging and strongly debated by the editorial panel. We looked for ‘good’ poetry that moved us, that reflected widely and inclusively many possibilities of intersectional gender performance.

The poems selected use many poetic forms to engage directly with the choices made in living and performing gender, sexuality and desire. They give us fresh, new content and poetry that is memorable and thought-provoking, from perspectives reflecting class, race, gender identification, age and other social divisions.

I’d like to thank the other founding editor of Not Very Quiet, Moya Pacey, and Guest Editor for this Issue, K A Nelson, for their belief in Performing Gender as a substantial and provocative theme, and their enthusiasm for reading to find excellence through the blind selection process.

A new section for our journal showcases a poem from each of our editors, Sandra Renew, Moya Pacey, Anita Patel, Lisa Brockwell and K A Nelson, demonstrating their different relationships to the theme.

A very special thank you to Production Manager Tikka Wilson, whose new section, a photo-essay on performing the feminine, has contributed hugely to making this exciting Performing Gender theme accessible.