Bring Radar & Queer Lit to Your Campus in 2015/16!

RADAR brings thoughtful programming focused on the Queer Literary Arts to your Campus! Read on & share widely…

Radar Productions is a San Francisco based non-profit focused on queer literary arts. Radar produces 25+ events each year, introducing our audiences to emerging queer artists for low or no cost. Radar prioritizes the experiences of writers and poets who are trans* and queer identified as well as those of people of color. Bring Radar to your campus to introduce students to the vitality of the queer literary scene in the Bay Area!

For questions and booking rates inquiries please email:

2015-2016 OFFERINGS

Professionalizing the Arts

Radar realizes that many young artists face anxieties about professionalization: will I be able to find a job in the arts? how can I monetize my art? In this talk, Radar’s Executive Director and Managing Director team up to bring your students an hour-long presentation and Q&A focused on strategies for professionalizing. This presentation offers concrete tools we have used to develop Radar artists.

Radar Artist Talk

This hour-long talk will begin with a performance from one of Radar’s artists, followed by a facilitated conversation on process, method and politics with Radar’s Executive Director, Juliana Delgado Lopera.


Founded in 2003 by writer Michelle Tea, RADAR Productions nurtures queer artists and audiences by organizing literary arts programs that authentically reflect Queer communities’ experiences. RADAR’s presenting, commissioning, touring and professional development programs give voice to innovative Queer writers and artists and explores the community-building role played by literature and the arts.


Juliana Delgado Lopera is an award-winning Colombian writer/educator/oral-historian based in San Francisco. The recipient of the 2014 Jackson Literary award, and a finalist of the Clark-Gross Novel award, she’s the author of ¡Cuéntamelo! an illustrated bilingual collection of oral histories by LGBT Latin@ immigrants awarded the Regen Ginaa Grant from Galería de la Raza and a 2014 National Queer Arts Festival Grant from the Queer Cultural Center. Her work has been published in Four Way Review, The Bold Italic, Weird Sister, Revista Canto, Transfer Magazine, Raspa Magazine, Black Girl Dangerous, and SF Weekly among others. She’s performed in countless events around the Bay Area including Action Fiction!, Red Light Lit, Beast Crawl, Lit Quake and lectured at Wayward Writers, SFSU, 826 Valencia.

For questions and booking rates inquiries please email:


Joshua Jennifer Espinoza’s poetry gives me the feels. I met this glasses-wearing goddess at a poetry reading at the ONE National Gay & Lesbian Archives at USC. She went like second among a group of contributors to NEPANTLA: A JOURNAL DEDICATED TO OUEER POETS OF COLOR. The evening’s emcee, Christopher Soto, wHispered to me (thru the internets) that Nepantla’s goal is to preserve diversity, and one güey Nepantla accomplishes this is by drawing a diversely sexy oddience. No exaggeration, the queerdos listening to verse and the queerdos reading verse at ONE another were all just really good-looking peeple. Not that that matters but it does.

Okay, so what grabbed me about Joshua Jennifer Espinoza’s poetry? This. And I mean this with TOE-tull sincerity. Eye can be a lexical ( and Mexican) asshole. My word choices <insert a snobby synonym for drip> with elitism. Like I have been known to say the word pernicious before 8 a.m. My writing suffers from baroque assholishness. I think. Joshua Jennifer Espinoza, however, pulls from a grab bag of wordz I’ve watched teenagers text to one another over and over and over, alphabetic sentiments that ought to be printed on queer valentimes candy, and Joshua Jennifer Espinoza assembles her alphabits into poems that manage to push all the tender buttons the muses-Calliope, Eutwerp, Erato, and Polyhymnia-finger best. Fingers, fingers, fingers, butter butterfingers writing verse connected to heartstrings, and that’s not to say that Joshua Jennifer Espinoza’s work goes overboard. With sentimentality. It flirts with doing that but then cuts back with a ferocity, a sharpness, a jab, a turn of phrase that moves us towards a whoa image or an encounter with Joshua Jennifer Espinoza’s body (which is there and not there, much like the present). Dead, alive, and dead and covered in daisies that float against pale denim. Its as if we’re moving forward. All the time. We’re discovering the future together, and we choose to like it. Its Joshua Jennifer Espinoza’s version of over the rainblow.

The cover of her book is blue.

Joshua Jennifer Espinoza is blue.

I bought Joshua Jennifer Espinoza’s I’M ALIVE/IT HURTS/I LOVE IT and just looking at the cover makes my brain go to work placing her writing in conversation with the work of one of my favorite creative peeple, Sarah Faith Gottesdiener.


SARAH FAITH GOTTESDIENER: The <insert moon emoji> is Feminist Art.

JJE: She is waiting for you, pulling at you softly.


JJE: she is not delicate and she is not weak

SFG: Witch! Witch! Is Witch?

JJE: She will outlive everything you know.


Where does dis poetry fit into the larger scheme of queer poetics and bee yond?

Well, it tetrises into the schemas of internetty and texty poetry that hearken to the werk of twitter’s poet laureate, Patricia Lockwood. And then Joshua Jennifer’s Espinoza’s work also cuddles up to Tao Lin’s prose, which happens to be in luv with linguistic bunality. It forsakes the baroque by saying no thanks. It’s so fresh. Clean. Minty and crisp. If American Apparel was uncomfortable in her body AND wrote poetry, she would churn out a book and call it I’M ALIVE/IT HURTS/I LOVE IT.


RADAR: How did you come to get involved with Nepantla?

JOSHUA JENNIFER ESPINOZA: Christopher Soto sent me a Facebook message asking if I’d like to read my poetry for Nepantla and I was happy to say yes! We then ended up meeting and reading together in San Francisco and Oakland this past July while I was on the Trans Planet poetry tour (with Manuel Arturo Abreu, Jos Charles, Die Dragonetti, and Sarah June Woods). I really enjoyed the time I spent with Soto and was so excited to hear their work.

R: How do you feel about having your work classified as “trans?” Sometimes it bugs me to have my work labeled as “Hispanic” or “lesbian” or whatever because I feel reduced to that as a thing, like that is the principal part of my identity and therefore the principal part of my work.

JJE: It doesn’t bother me a whole lot. I mean, I’d love to be able to make great work and just be recognized for that, but my transness is inextricable from my work, from my life in general. I can’t go anywhere or do anything without being reminded that I’m trans. Of course, there is a difference between me experiencing my work as “trans” and others labeling it that way—unfortunately, I can’t control what others mean when they understand my work as “trans,” so I do often have the sense that I’m being reduced to a label. But, again, it’s not something I can escape and I’m not sure I’d want my work to be seen as “normal”, since that’s just code for “cis”. As long as this world wants people like me dead, my work will be trans.

R: My favorite poem of yours is THE MOON IS TRANS. Describe your relationship to the moon.

JJE: The moon is cool. There are these two giant spheres in the sky and you’re only allowed to look at one of them. That’s fucked up. I have lots of dreams about being on the moon. They used to scare me, but now I look forward to them. THE MOON IS TRANS is sort of about me having empathy for this object that people stare at and write about. I think she just wants everyone to recognize her beauty and power and leave her alone.

R: I really like how you dress. Everybody I was sitting with at the reading was stoked about your glasses and kept commenting on them when we went out for tacos afterwords. Also, I really do think poets have some of the best style. What influences your personal style? How does style matter to you?

JJE: That’s so kind, thank you! I missed out on being able to wear the stuff I wanted to for the first twenty-something years of my life, so style is definitely something I love experimenting with. My partner has been really helpful with giving advice about putting together outfits. I have extremely femme tendencies, and she can be a bit more androgynous in her style, so she helps balance me out. She’s kind of my style icon.

R: When do you remember poetry really digging its claws into you? Was there a particular writer, a particular work, or a particular performance that got you and gave you a profound aha about yourself as a poet?

JJE: Nothing makes sense in the whole world. Everything about life is confusing and frightening. I’ve found poetry to be slightly less confusing and frightening than most other things. I stopped reading poetry for a while but in the past few years I became excited about it again after being introduced to the work of Caribbean poets like Aimé Césaire and M. NourbeSe Philip. This summer I went on tour with several other trans poets whom I mentioned above and hearing them read every night made me feel extremely excited about poetry. I truly believe that poetry written by trans people, especially trans people of color, has the potential to fuck shit up in a good way.

R: As a writer, I really like knowing what other writers’ creative processes are like. Please share yours.

JJE: Sometimes I’ll say, “I’m going to write a poem,” and then I’ll sit on my couch and write a poem. More often than that I’ll be driving or at the grocery store or whatever and I’ll start writing in my head, or I’ll hear a line over and over and I’ll have to get it down before I forget it. In my phone I have hundreds of notes of lines, fragments, and poems I’ve thought of at some inconvenient moment. A recent poem I wrote came from literally one sentence I had saved in my phone for several months, and all it said was “I dreamt of horses eating cops.” Another time I was having a really bad panic attack while driving on the freeway and I started writing a poem in my head to counter it and, in order to avoid typing while driving, I used my phone to record myself reciting the poem aloud. I was crying and shit. It was quite an image. Those poems that come in moments like that best represent my “process,” I feel.

R: What role do you think politics play in poetry?

JJE: The same role they play everywhere. Every single injustice and oppression you can think of is replicated in poetry, in both the work itself and in the particular scenes the work emerges from and exists within. This is why things like the Trans Planet tour and Nepantla are so important. We can’t just pretend poetry is this neutral space where politics don’t matter. There are people in poetry scenes who wish everyone would be quiet and stop complaining. These people love the status quo because they directly benefit from it. The rest of us are tired and bored and angry.

R: How frequently do you text? Are you into texting? If you could text with any writer, dead or alive, who would it be and what would your introductory text look like?

JJE: I hate texting. I am the most awkward texter in the world. I never know what to say and every time a conversation starts I’m counting down the seconds until it’s over. My dream introductory text to everyone would be: “i apologize in advance for who i am as a person”.

order I’M ALIVE/IT HURTS/I LOVE IT from boost house right now


Dark Passage: A Review of Myriam Gurba’s, Painting Their Portraits In Winter by Nikki Darling

We are not only being told a tale we are going back in time. Myriam Gurba, author of Dahlia Season and Wish You Were Me, straps us in much like the Disneyland, Haunted House, Doom-buggies of her youth and sends us on our way. From the get go we are ushered into the early 1980’s, small Mexican village of a ghost-telling abuelita who paints portraits of the narrator and her sister, during the few weeks away from school spent visiting. The girl’s homework approved by some LAUSD elementary, deemed fit to continue the semester un-interrupted upon return, is pushed aside for daily outings with Abuelita. Told in the narrative fairytale style of what can be described as ‘old country’ Abuelita links the reader to a colonial European sensibility that at the time still clung to older parts of the country. The baby fuzz of a twentieth century pinking new industrial revolutions and globalizations lurking and waiting behind unseen corners.

In this way the book is reminiscent of Federico Fellini’s great and final Masterpiece, Amarcord. The coming of age tale which loosely translates to ‘I remember’ in Italian follows the life of young Titta, his family and the characters of a small coastal village in 1930’s Italy. Unfolding in a series of vignettes Fellinini never gives us Mussolini in great sweeping gestures, instead we are told details of a life lived in the land of Mussolini, the beforehand knowledge that things will and will not turn out all right, lending itself to a greater sense of melancholy. Gurba, like Fellini gives us life in the every day and shines a mirror across it’s multi faceted surface, letting each shine in small slices. Life lived in ‘simpler’ more imaginative times, a time that in actuality, exists only in the minds of children. Throughout the book Gurba revisits this metaphor of child like reduction and innocence, wonder and blunt honesty. Weaving myth against a backdrop of contemporary ills, to show in some way how our collective child like refusal to take on issues such as racism and misogyny still haunt our contemporary lives, tangled and misinterpreted by our children and finally held back up in that multi fractured mirror. What Gurba gives us is a world on the cusp of change, for the narrator, and the century. Indeed these are ghost stories.

When Mom was the age I was that winter, ten, Mexican death was prettier, slower, and more public. Mom would laze in front of the house, in a strip I guess you could call a front yard, in front of her mom and dad’s bedroom window dangling her chicken legs off the stone bench, a spectator. A breeze might shiver the vines wriggling around the window and bring the smell of cemetery flowers. Mom would hear a signal, horseshoes clacking. She’d look right and see a gelding chosen to do his job because of his color, black, clopping up the avenue, chugging towards her block. The horse would near houses that were twins of the kind Mom lived in, two-story rectangles shaded with mold, loquat trees by the driveways, vines climbing wherever they chose. The animal would be yoked to an old fashioned funeral carriage that truly honored death, its lace gilded windows giving Mom a chance to appraise the size of the coffin – baby, child, or full – and then, once the carriage was past, Mom could observe the ribbon, or ribbons, of mourners in black outfits, weeping, yawning, scratching their necks, wringing one or both fists, adjusting their balls, breastfeeding, moving their feet and taking care of their living bodies’ needs on their way to bury someone. 

When we emerge into the second story we have been fully dropped into the recent past, 90’s Los Angeles, and Gurba hits us with the present in the only way to reap the full impact of leaving Abuelita and that child’s imagination. Gangs, music videos, AIDS. Abuelita, Mom and Dad remain, but the world has transformed and Gurba once again thrusts us in. Each short story weaves in the fable of death, sometimes subtlety other times overt, in the case of killing animals on the road in favor of swerving and risking your own life. Ever present is the idea that life is ephemeral and that story telling in the most basic way possible, makes it last a little longer and in the process helps us make sense of it. The universal, existential por que?

Perhaps the most chilling and beautiful story in the book, Chaperones offers us Gurba at her irreverent and spectacular best. She takes on the legend of La Llorona, the Mexican mother who drowned her children in a river, committed suicide and now spends her remaining nights in purgatory looking for them, and perhaps you, too, so she can drown you in her sorrow. Again, linking us to a passage of time that moves like smog through our lives but never turns new leaves. What sticks in our throat is the way Gurba loosens the moral outrage around these narratives, Susan Smith, et cetera, but smacks us with our own hypocrisy. Women’s bodies are always in a state of mourning, wringing out our expectations socially and historically while trying to reconcile them with emerging identities wrung like rags into the bodies of water we drown our babies in. Metaphor for Gurba is a vacuum that sucks the river bed dry until we are left with only a mountain of bones and questions. Not all of them likely offering the answers we want to hear. Each however, rattling howls of dusty streets, the kind Gurba pushes us to walk down, pick up your candle, pull up your night gown and never mind the shadows, they only flicker as we pass, and look, they are just a product of the light.

5 Reasons to Support Queer Lit on May 21!







May 21 is National GiveOUT Day, a day that mobilizes thousands of individual donors across the country during a 24-hour period to give in support of LGBT nonprofits. And we are here today to give you 5 reasons to give to Radar (you can find our page by clicking here & searching for “Radar Productions”) come Thursday!

1. We give you cookies

Where else can you hear 4 incredible artists followed by an intimate Q&A where your inquisitiveness is rewarded with a fresh home made cookie? Literally NOWHERE except our monthly Radar Reading Series at the San Francisco Public Library.

2. We talk about failure

Unlike most respectable literary non-profits, we are not afraid to broach complex and uncomfortable subjects.. like FAILURE. In fact, we have an entire festival dedicated to the topic called #QUEERFAIL, happening in San Francisco June 15-21 and featuring amazing artists and intellectuals like Jack Halberstam, Dynasty Handbag, Maggie Nelson and CA Conrad.

3. We offer an ungodly amount of free and super cheap programming

We get that you’re broke and that you were hit hardest by the global economic collapse. We’re here to help you save those precious dollars on the hoop earrings you need for self care with our 50+ events a year, most of which are free or under $20.

4. We love you

Yeah, it’s kinda early to commit to such a bold statement, but we’re ready to be co-dependent if you are.

5. We’re doing something really amazing in a city with a shrinking queer lit scene AND WE’RE COMMITTED TO STAYING

It’s increasingly difficult for artists and even art administrators to remain in San Francisco, but we love the Bay Area and we’re in it for the long haul. Help us keep this work local.

So, yeah, give us $10 or $100 on National GiveOUT Day and then tell us you did at the next free/cheap literary event you come to and we’ll smile at you and give you a cookie.


A Letter from Michelle Tea on 12 Years at Radar

Michelle Tea will be leaving her post as Artistic Director of Radar Productions after 12 amazing/weird/amazing years. Radar welcomes a new Artistic Director, Juliana Delgado Lopera, as of July 1, 2015. Here’s some words from Michelle: 


Dear World,

At the end of June I will be leaving my position at RADAR Productions. RADAR is probably the best thing I’ve ever made in my life, with the exception of my son, and he’s the main reason I’m leaving. How in the world did I think I would be able to have a baby and run a non-profit and be a writer and have a social life / spend time with my wife and not lose my mind? Running a non-profit is hard, even with the support of so many amazing organizations over the years. Realizing I cannot be present for my son and prioritize my writing and do a good job at RADAR, I am leaving the organization in the inspiring hands of Virgie Tovar, who will continue on as Managing Director, and Juliana Delgado Lopera, who will step into the Executive Director role come July 1st. If you know Juliana you know why I asked if she would take over RADAR, and if you don’t know her you’re psyched because you’re about to familiarize yourself with a fantastic writer and literary organizer. Juliana had been coming to RADAR to years, but I met her at a queer book club hosted by the writer Rhiannon Argo. Rhiannon hissed to me, You should put Juliana in RADAR, she’s really good. And I did, and she was! Really, really good! The more I learned about Juliana the more my respect and admiration grew (and continues to grow). She edited 14 Hills while getting her masters at State. Her oral history of queers who immigrated to San Francisco from Latin America in the 80s is amazing and crucial. Maybe you caught it on the cover of SF Weekly a few years ago or maybe you went to the sold-out party for the book, Cuantemelo! Juliana organized that event and it was one of the best and best attended of that year’s National Queer Arts Festival. She works at the GLBT Historical Society Museum in the Castro, and has experience doing grant and project management and community-based non-profits. And she’s queer! I could not be happier that RADAR is moving into her hands, and I’m excited to see what she does with it.

This is the second version of this letter; the first ran seven pages long because I went cuckoo trying to thank all the people who have made this organization happen over the past decade-plus. Guess what? It was boring and a little megalomaniacal. I hope I’ve expressed my gratitude through the years to everyone who has helped, volunteered, funded, supported, read with, came to, worked for, collaborated with, donated to RADAR. It is really astounding, the hundreds and hundreds of people who helped me do this thing!

Listen. Please continue to support RADAR. It is a triumph to be able to hand over a healthy, queer literary non-profit to the next generation. RADAR will continue existing programs such as The RADAR Reading Series and the Sister Spit tours, and it will surely introduce new programming as well. Please stick by its side, come to events, promote shows you think your people might want to know about, make a donation when the metaphorical hat is passed around. Even with the foundational support, running a non-profit will always be a labor of love, and all contributions really make a significant difference. And, if you’re a writer who has read at RADAR events (or would like to) please friend Juliana on Facebook (and like RADAR while you’re at it!) and reach out to her at and introduce yourself.

Okay that’s about it. I’m going to bed.



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