Rose Zinnia is the 2021 winner of the Kraft-Kinsey Award, which supports a writing project by an Indiana University MFA graduate student that makes substantial use of the Kinsey Institute’s materials and archives.
Rose is a poet, writer, and book/graphic designer, and an MFA Candidate in the Creative Writing Program at Indiana University. They are the author of the chapbooks Golden Nothing Forever (Nonbinary), Abracadabrachrysanthemum, Hands, & River (with Ross Gay). Their writing has appeared in the Ocean State Review, West Branch, The Tenderness Project, The Academy of American Poets Poem-A-Day, Peach Mag, and elsewhere. They are co-editor of the creative collaboration w the trees, which publishes the para-literary journal poiesis, and curates the reading /performance series, syzygy.
For their project for the Kraft-Kinsey Award, Rose conducted research in the Kinsey Institute Collections on the historical documentation of transgender individuals, with a special focus on the collections of Magnus Hirschfeld, Harry Benjamin, and Charles L. Ihlenfeld, to yield a better understanding of how and why gender and sexual categories were created, and how those categories act as both liberation and cage.
“In my time at the Kinsey Institute working with the archives of episteme-forming trans doctors, I was very aware of myself as a living nonbinary trans person having a lived experiential response to these epically influential letters & documents that built the epistemology of the western binary sex/gender we find ourselves still trying to claw out of today. I encountered this archive of trans patients—my kin, lost, remembered, or not—filtered through the gatekeepers’ documents breathing through the caesura, the w/holes, of these medical texts. These trans patients were really who I was looking for in these archives—the often nameless, or relegated to the nameless category of “patient,” for the sake of the medical institution’s reproduction of itself. The they of them that was even unbeknownst to themselves. A future-past spectre made of me/us. How many of these patients might have wanted something more than just a binary sex reassignment to become “proper members of society” or “ideal girls” if they could? Could they have even fathomed what we today call xenogenders & the nonbinary? I hope my work can do what queer theorist Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick called “reparative reading”–in my case, reparative writing. I hope my poems can crawl back through the tunnel of time & hold the doomed, lost, hurt. All of us monstrous angels. I hope we can make of our loss a beautiful, future joy.” ~ Rose Zinnia
Rose Zinnia shared some of their recent work in an online public lecture on Thursday, January 27th. Video recording available below: