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Kyle’s Test Shoot (Part One)

Kyle is a spoken word poet and a member of Stanford Spoken Word Collective. He studies English and Archaeology as an undergrad at Stanford University, California. The first part of his Test Shoot follows the standard format. The second is a video project based on his sartorially-themed piece ‘Ad hominem’ which will appear here soon. We’re very excited about this collaboration. Though possibly not as excited as we were about his cat waistcoat! Check that out.

Stanford Spoken Word Collective can also be found on Facebook.

Over five years into my transition, I’ve surprised myself by having a renaissance of lesbian style. As someone who largely functions as a man in day-to-day life, it’s important to me to respect queer women’s identities and spaces. At the same time, I feel connected to queer women’s communities, and see the diverse history of female masculinity as an important part of my own. But I never spent much time as a lesbian when I was a teenager, let alone a well-dressed one. I was going to school as a boy by the time I was sixteen, and before that I wouldn’t have looked out of place at a country club or as a walking advertisement for the GAP. At this point in my life, I didn’t live at home consistently. I was an obviously queer kid, and my preppy, conservative clothes had a lot to do with my desire to be perceived as unthreatening by the families who took me in. And now I’m trying to responsibly experience adolescent dykehood as a trans* guy in his twenties.

There’s still something of a conservative dresser trapped inside of me who screams to be taken white-middle-class-man seriously, but I find that if he is horrified when I leave the house then I am doing something right. I’ve come to spoken word poetry in a similar way: if I’m a little frightened of what I want to say onstage, then it’s probably good to go. What I love about spoken word is that it’s embodied storytelling. The poem always has a live relationship with body of the poet and those of the audience. The group of poets I perform with at Stanford is like a family in a lot of ways, including that we share clothes.

For the shoot, I chose to wear this year’s spoken word “brotank,” which takes an emblem of California frat-boy style and makes it into (queer) poet-wear. The words “What it take” on the front recall an old slam chant which heckles the judges about their their failure to award a poem with the score it deserves. I also like that “What it take” can be an aggressive, aspirational statement directed toward just about anything. I’ve featured a few items inspired by or on extended loan from one of our group’s most strikingly fabulous dressers. I’ve learned that shy people and loud clothes are a great pairing because they provide an obvious subject for new people to bring up. Such as “Oh my god, your vest is covered in cats.” These days, I identify a little as a baby butch who borrows from the femme queen closet. As a boy dyke. A trans* queer. As someone who loves their Doc Martens. With faux snake-skin leggings. And dreams of finding the perfect flannel shirt. And one day wearing a tux. What it take?

Kyle’s Test Shoot, Kilburn, London, 19 August 2012. COMING SOON: Kyle’s recital of ‘Ad hominem’, a spoken word poetry video piece exclusively for The Test Shot.

Kyle’s Test Shoot, Kilburn, London, 19 August 2012. COMING SOON: Kyle’s recital of ‘Ad hominem’, a spoken word poetry video piece exclusively for The Test Shot.

Preview: Kyle’s Test Shoot, 19 August 2012.  Kyle and his little wooden friend giving us some metamasculinity in the London heat. Work it!

Preview: Kyle’s Test Shoot, 19 August 2012.  Kyle and his little wooden friend giving us some metamasculinity in the London heat. Work it!