you are here: the journal of creative geographies, is published by graduate students in the School of Geography, Development & Environment at the University of Arizona. The journal is an annual publication that seeks to explore geographic themes through articles, fiction, poetry, essays, maps, photographs, and art and encourages submissions from anyone interested in exploring creative geography. Their latest publication, 'queer ecologies', explores the links between queer communities and geography, with a huge range of contributors.
So we sent a couple of our writers to see what 'queer ecologies' is all about!
The forward of this edition of you are here: the journal of creative geographies sets the tone for the entire journal; it outlines a personal journey and exploration of the theme of ‘queer ecologies’ and what it means. Eden Kinkaid, the editor, shares the steps of them hearing that combination of words, asking questions about it, seeing it everywhere and then the final document we see here: a place to hold experiences. It’s a document of people reaching outside and inside to connect fundamental parts of their work and themselves. It’s a very connective thing to read… although read may not be the right word. It is more of an experience. Something that seems to hold a depth.
Due to that depth, I have to say there is quite a lot in ‘queer ecologies’ that I don’t understand. A lot of long, complicated words and ideas that I found really difficult to get my head around. I did find myself skipping over or skimming these types of works and going back and forth through them, trying to find something I could hold on to. This tactic worked for some, but others remained elusive. However, I must say, it didn’t ruin the experience for me. These pieces, and everything else we see here, were created by people who are really knowledgeable about subjects which I am not. They have spent time, sometimes a lifetime, within the experience/knowledge base they are sharing. That’s the nature of a journal of this type—especially one where the theme seems to encapsulate so much. With that in mind, something I did find incredibly useful was the QR codes that brought these complex descriptions, sharings of knowledge and experiences to life with video and further content. These became ways to further explore what I was interested in; I could follow the intrigue through the links. I could follow the confusion and find out more to try and understand.
The journey of reading ‘queer ecologies’ really felt like I was going down different pathways. It is not a direct read that you start at the start and end at the end. For me it was far more complex than that. I splintered off into ideas, videos, more images, sources, and Twitter threads. I ended up pausing to google so many words to understand what I was reading that my search history is now confusing, and I am sure my ads in the future will be a mixed affair. I found common threads in what I enjoyed and gravitated to. I followed some of the creators on Instagram, and I look forward to a future time when time spent scrolling will become inherently richer.
In this way, the journey of reading and experiencing ‘queer ecologies’ is as complex as the subject matter itself. It is something that asks you to set aside some time and stay a while. And I’m glad I did.
My Highlights: the work of Gina Beca, agave queen, flora womb and marigold mamma.
Poetry by Lorlei Bacht, in particular, the map is a product
irreverence in the lunar logarithm by Kailin moore
the gardener by Morgan Swartz
mirror by Lucien darjeun meadows
The ‘queer ecologies’ edition of you are here promises to "imagine alternate ways of being in our bodies, our environments, our more-than-human relations, and each other," and it does not disappoint.
The collection is vast, I admit. The size of the work initially intimidated me. These days, my schedule doesn't allow for much reading of scholarly journals which (believe it or not) I used to enjoy seeking out if the topic was one of interest. But, I made time. Something about the term 'queer ecologies' really spoke to me. I'd never heard of it before.
To me, a former student of animal sciences and environmental studies, I understood ecology to be the study of how all living things interact with the physical environment that surrounds them; I'd never considered how that may look viewed through the lense of a queer experience.
The journal is broken into four distinct chapters, land, atmosphere, more-than-human, and place. Each chapter consisted of photographs, poetry, fiction, essays, and so much more. In other words, the array of voices and perspectives on display is dizzying.
Beginning with land, I am immediately immersed in a very literal exploration of humanities relation to the earth. ‘The burrows’ by Corrine teed depicts queer participants literally burrowing into the earth, exploring the animal instinct to shelter and nest. There are an eclectic range of bodies, clothed or naked, draped in soil and dust and curled up like a child in the womb. The artist's foreword mentions the strangely dystopian feeling of it all, but I instead see comfort. As if the subjects have settled somewhere they belong. Even those who's positions appear unnatural don't look particularly uncomfortable. I've never before felt the need to dig a hole in the ground and curl up in it, but now? Now I won't rule it out.
Also in this chapter I had the pleasure of reading ‘queer lands: gendered experiments in two green heterotopias’. This study aimed to explore how humanity implements strict gender roles onto the very land itself in an effort to construct heterotopias (a place that is "other", a world existing within a world and yet contradicting it). This study is introduced by explaining that the soil we require to grow food in only exists because of “polyamourous insects fornicating in the mud” and if that isn't enough to garner interest in their topic I don't know what to tell you.
‘Atmospheres’ continues the streak of impressive works, though this chapter in particular held less that I was blown away by. ‘Irreverence in the Luna logarithm’ contained some gorgeous imagery and the poem ‘i wake up thinking apocalypse, but the sky’ by Caleb Nichols is oddly moving in its simplicity; especially considering its harrowing references to false summers in our steadily warming climate.
In ‘More-than-human’ we find the artwork that also serves as the journal's cover, and I am enamoured with it just as much as I was when I saw it there. Titled ‘decay and regrowth’, it is thought provoking and beautifully crafted. It's an image of contradictions, a body positioned, lewdly spread, but kept modest by flowers and nature. The title itself speaks to the cyclical nature of it all, to die and to be born is the nature of any species. I believe, seeing arms reaching forth from behind the roses as if climbing from a slumped and grey individual's chest, that the whole point of the journal is summed up so well in this one image. The way we previously interacted with our physical environment is decaying, and from the decay regrows a better understanding of our own nature's and humanities relationship to it.
Personally, for me, ‘queer ecologies’ is a must-read if you have the time for it—especially any queer individuals with a passion for biology, environmentalism, geography and ecological studies.Even those who are perhaps not as scientifically minded can find things to enjoy here, stories and poems, sculptures and photographs. The topic is relevant and, frankly, important. I could have explored each work one by one, but our poor editors are already so busy. Instead I'll recommend finding the rest of the works yourself!