The first version of this piece was a poem I wrote called “Wagon Jack,” which was essentially “Appendix to a Harassment Report” but without the parenthetical interruptions that are in there now. “Appendix…” became a kind of assemblage of various experiences I had this summer, which included both a blissful bucolic stretch helping my girlfriend raise three baby goats on a farm, as well as a distressing time I had in a writers workshop with a well-known gay poet, which I ended up leaving early and—as this piece’s title implies—filing a harassment report (based on a hostile educational environment with regard to transgender identity). “Appendix” was my attempt to put these two summers in conversation with each other. I tried, at first, to just write about the goats in a separate piece altogether, but it didn’t feel finished or honest. I didn’t feel quite ready, either, to only write about the workshop and the harassment—I hadn’t had enough headspace yet to sustain it in a poetic way, though or maybe because I had eked out a lengthy formal written report of the events leading up to my departure of the workshop. This piece for The Volta, then, serves as a creative appendix to that report, and the parenthetical parts are direct quotes. ‘Appendix’ as in a postscript is what I intended, but I’m also just remembering now that it’s the same word for that organ that most of us disregard until it needs to be removed. When I read the piece now, I still read it as the original “Wagon Jack” poem I wrote—my eyes glaze right over what the parentheses hold—which at first made me doubt my decision to add them, but now I see it as fitting, as a kind of silencing the utterances that so unhinged me at first, fading them into a larger narrative of animals and embodiment and community and love.
November 2012, Madison, Wisconsin