The Outsiders


June 10, 17, 24, 2008

Curator: Michelle Tea
The Main Library

S&M Zorro: Guillermo Gomez-Pena, Liverpool Biennial, 2002.  Photo by Manual Vason.

A three-part series that asks contemporary underground writers to explore the impact the experience of outsiderness has had on their work, their lives and the cultures they inhabit and create. Hosted by Michelle Tea.

6/10 features Ben McCoy, Justin Chin, Kim Addonizio and Jenny Shimizu

6/17 features Rhodessa Jones, Kirya Traber, Zoe Whittall and Tim’m

6/24 features Guillermo Gomez Pena, Sara Seinberg, Noel Alumit and Nicole Georges

Artists Bios


Ben McCoy

Ben McCoy is everyone’s favorite boy-who-looks-like-a-girl. Calling out the problems with the trans community, the queer community, and of course, the relentless hetero-normatives, Ben’s writing uses persona, performance, rage and cultural critique to light yer fire. McCoy’s background was in drawing and painting while he grew up in the Appalachian mountains of Kentucky, but when moving to art school in Boston, he discovered the power of performance. Having toured and traveled with group-shows, one-person shows and even dancing on tables, bars, and your boyfriend’s lap, Ben McCoy is STILL an epic idler and total slack-hag. A short-film star, an onstage vixen, cabaret-vamp, writer, lush, nymphomaniac, model, and artist, he likes to do lots of things….maybe even you! He is living in Boston and you can find more info on him and contact details at

Justin Chin

Justin Chin was born in Malaysia, raised & educated in Singapore, shipped to the U.S. by way of Hawaii, and now living in San Francisco. Author of 3 books of poetry, all published by Manic D Press: Bite Hard (1997); Harmless Medicine (2001), a finalist in the Bay Area Book Reviewers Association Awards; and, Gutted (2006), which received the 2007 Thom Gunn Award for Poetry by the Publishing Triangle. Squeezed in between these were 2 non-fictions: Mongrel: Essays, Diatribes & Pranks (St. Martins, 1999), and the ur-memoir, Burden of Ashes (Alyson Publications, 2002).

In the nineties, also led a double life as performance artist: created and presented seven full-length solo works here, there and where ever. Packed up those cookies in 2002, (with occasional relapses) and the documents, scripts, and what-heck from that period was published in Attack of the Man-Eating Lotus Blossoms (Suspect Thoughts Press, 2005). Continues to produce text/visual Book-based performance work. Book 2 is an on-going project where discarded or abandoned books found on the streets & other public places are remade, remodeled, & reworked into artists books.

This is not the Justin Chin who designs those Jedi Knight/Star Wars games, sorry, that’s another guy with the same name, higher income bracket, more useful skill sets and different colour parachute pants. This Justin Chin, sadly enough, doesn’t even quite know for sure what the storyline of Star Wars really is, even though he was made to watch it by guardians who thought it may have been an educational film. (They thought “The Deep” was too. About marine life.)

Kim Addonizio

Kim Addonizio is the author of three books of poetry from BOA Editions: The Philosopher’s Club, Jimmy & Rita, and Tell Me, which was a finalist for the 2000 National Book Award. Her latest collection, What Is This Thing Called Love, was published by W.W. Norton in January 2004. A book of stories, In the Box Called Pleasure, was published by Fiction Collective 2. She is also co-author, with Dorianne Laux, of The Poet’s Companion: A Guide to the Pleasures of Writing Poetry (W.W. Norton). With Cheryl Dumesnil she co-edited Dorothy Parker’s Elbow: Tattoos on Writers, Writers on Tattoos (Warner Books).

Her first novel, Little Beauties, was published by Simon & Schuster in August 2005 and came out in paperback inJuly 06. Her new novel, My Dreams Out in the Street, has just been published by Simon & Schuster (July 07). She also has a word/music CD with poet Susan Browne, “Swearing, Smoking, Drinking, & Kissing,” available from cdbaby.
Her poetry and fiction have appeared widely in anthologies and literary journals including Alaska Quarterly Review, American Poetry Review, Chick-Lit, Dick for a Day, Gettysburg Review, Paris Review, Penthouse, Poetry, and Threepenny Review. She teaches private workshops in Oakland, CA.

Jenny Shimizu


Rhodessa Jones

RHODESSA JONES is Co-Artistic Director of the San Francisco acclaimed performance company Cultural Odyssey. She is an actress, teacher, singer, and writer. Ms. Jones is also the Founder and Director of the award winning “Medea Project: Theater for Incarcerated Women” which is a performance workshop that is designed to achieve personal and social transformation with incarcerated women. Rhodessa just returned from Penumbra Theater in St. Paul, Minnesota where she played the role of “Ruby” in August Wilson’s King Hedley II.
Throughout the Spring and Fall of 2002 she toured her most recent solo performance, Hot Flashes, Power Surges, and Private Summers. Performing at Out North Theater in Anchorage, Alaska, Tampa Bay Performing Arts Center in Tampa, Florida, Yale Repertory Theatre in New Haven, CT, and Sushi Gallery in San Diego, were some of the highlights of the tour. While in residence at Yale, Ms. Jones led workshops and conducted Master Classes for the MFA students. She also lectured at the African American Cultural Center at Yale University and was honored with a Master’s Tea hosted by Faculty of the Yale School of Drama. Rhodessa has crafted a variety of performance works that combine her acting skills with her musical and movement abilities. Some of her early works include the 1990’s musical theater productions of “I Think It’s Gonna Work Out Fine” and the 1980’s production of “The Legend of Lily Overstreet”. Both productions helped to establish Ms. Jones as a major performing artist.

Kirya Traber

Kirya Traber is not a political poet, but an activist sustained by poetry. In 2004 she became a National Teen Poetry Slam Champion and has since featured at Robert Redford’s Sundance Summit, the Bay Hip Hop Theatre Festival, the Living Word Festival, Michelle Tea’s RADAR Reading series, Peace Out: The International Homo Hop Festival, and in the book Tiny Little Maps to Each Other. In the fall of 2007 she stared in the lead role of the pulitzer prize nominated play Bullrusher. She works currently as a Poet Mentor with Youth Speaks. Follow her work on

Zoe Whittall

Poet, performer and writer Zoe Whittall grew up on a sheep farm in South Durham, Quebec. After moving to Montreal at 19, she founded the successful performance series Girlspit, recently chronicled in the book Impure, Reinventing the Word: The theory, practice, and oral history of spoken word in Montreal (Conundrum Press).

Editor of the short fiction anthology Geeks, Misfits and Outlaws (McGilligan, 2003) – “a who’s-who of edgy Can-Lit” by the Globe and Mail – Zoe Whittall’s poetry was selected for Breathing Fire 2: Canada’s New Poets edited by Lorna Crozier and Patrick Lane. (Nightwood Editions, 2004). A columnist for Kiss Machine and a freelance arts reviewer for a variety of Canadian magazines, Zoe’s writing has been anthologized in Ribsauce (Véhicule), Brazen Femme: Queering Femininity (Arsenal Pulp), Girls Who Bite Back (Sumach) and Bent (Women’s Press). Her first book of poetry – The Best 10 Minutes of Your Life – was published in 2001 (McGilligan).


Black, queer, feminist, poz, and working class, Tim’m T. West has embraced all of who he is and, with laser-beam precision, harnessed the power of his truth to illuminate, celebrate, inspire, provoke, and bear witness. As a teacher, performance artist, author, and culture producer, Tim’m has become an exemplar among contemporary Renaissance personalities as he brings others to voice through education for critical consciousness.

It was in 1999, while still juggling arts and graduate studies at Stanford, that Tim’m co-founded Deep Dickollective (DDC). In Spring 2007, DDC will release its third, full-length project, “On Some Other,” on Sugartruck Recordings. Widely published and anthologized in both academia and the mainstream press, Tim’m occupies a unique position among the provocative voices and critics of the contemporary Hip-Hop landscape. He is featured prominently as one of the critical voices in the acclaimed 2005 Hip Hop documentary, Pick Up the Mic. Tim’m also appears in Byron Hurt’s critically acclaimed Hip Hop documentary “Beyond Beats and Rhymes.”

The foundation for his subsequent efforts can be found in the red dirt of Taylor, Arkansas where Tim’m grew up before leaving for Duke University where he completed his BA. From there, he went on to earn an MA in Liberal Studies/Philosophy from the Graduate Faculty of The New School for Social Research in 1998 and another MA in Modern Thought & Literature from Stanford in 2002.

Flirting, Tim’m West’s newly-published (2007) third book follows his chapbook, BARE: notes from a porchdweller which chronicles his move from California to DC, his new hopes, and his new loves. In 2004, Tim’m released Songs from Red Dirt on Cellular Records, a musical complement to his first book, 2002’s Red Dirt Revival: a poetic memoir in 6 Breaths. Most recently, Tim’m has been hosting the “Front Porch” series, a Spoken Word/Hip-Hop/Soul Monthly in DC. The Front Porch in DC will continue, while Tim’m develops a similar gathering of progressive artists in Atlanta, GA.


Guillermo Gomez Pena

Performance artist/writer Guillermo Gómez-Peña resides in San Francisco where is he artistic director of La Pocha Nostra, a “trans-disciplinary arts organisation (which) provides a base for a loose network and forum of rebel artists from various deicplines, generations and ethnic backgrounds”. Born in 1955 and raised in Mexico City, he came to the US in 1978 to study in California. He is a regular contributor to National Public Radio, a writer for newspapers and magazines in the US, Mexico and Europe and a contributing editor to The Drama Review (NYU-MIT).
One of the most important and provocative performing artist/activists working today, Gómez-Peña was the first Latino to win the MacArthur ‘genius’ grant. He has won the US National Book Award and performs and exhibits regularly at Tate Modern, the Whitney, and major US academic institutions including Dartmouth and UCLA. This is his first visit to Ireland.

His artistic project is to interrogate the idea of the ‘marginal’ and ‘exotic’ by destabilising audience expectations as to what is mainstream and what is alternative. His work is intercultural in that he brings Latin-American and Native American perspectives, references, and styles into his work. In both his person (a Mexican immigrant to the US) and his work, he directly challenges narrow definitions of national identity, an area that is hugely topical both in the US and Ireland today.

His work consistently addresses the social and cultural effects of globalisation, and patterns of ethnic and community affiliation beyond the national.

Sara Seinberg

Sara Seinberg: writer, photographer and curator sara seinberg loves coffee. usually a mellow medium roast, with a good helping of half and half. add some agave for special occasions. or just for fun.

Noel Alumit

Noël Alumit is an American writer and actor. Named one of the Top 100 Influential Gay People by Out Magazine, novelist, actor, and activist, he was born, the second of four children, in Baguio City, the Philippines, and raised in the Los Angeles, United States. He earned his Bachelor of Fine Arts in Drama from the University of Southern California and later studied playwriting at the David Henry Hwang Writers Institute at East West Players.
Alumit’s play Mr. and Mrs. La Questa Go Dancing was produced by Teatro Ng Tanan in San Francisco and also in Los Angeles, Santa Barbara, Boston, and Philadelphia. Other plays penned by Alumit have been showcased at East West Players in Los Angeles and the Ma-Yi Theater Company in New York.

His one-man show, The Rice Room: Scenes From a Bar, was voted one of the best solo shows of the year by the San Francisco Bay Guardian and played to sold-out houses in Los Angeles, San Francisco, Boston, Philadelphia and other cities. He also wrote and performed another successful solo show, Master of the (Miss) Universe at Highways Performance Art Space in Santa Monica California. Master of the (Miss) Universe was named “Best Bet” by The Los Angeles Times.

Alumit received an Emerging Voices Fellowship from PEN Center USA West and a Community Access Scholarship to UCLA’s Writers Extension, studying fiction and the personal essay form. His work has been published in Tilting the Continent (New Rivers Press), Take Out (Asian American Writers Workshop/Temple University), Subterraneans, and the literary journal DisOrient. His heralded debut novel, Letters to Montgomery Clift (MacAdam Cage), received the 2003 Stonewall Book Award for literature and his second novel, Talking To the Moon, was released in late 2006 by Carroll & Graf.

Nicole Georges

Nicole J. Georges is an illustrator , zinester, and pet portrait artist living in a one bedroom shack in Portland, Oregon. She tries really hard to befriend her neighbors, even going so far as to make the bed of the disabled retirees across the street! She lives with young Beija Georges,and dreams about Lambchop, her long lost love.