Dodie Bellamy


I am a novelist, poet, and essayist. I’ve published many books and a handful of chapbooks. I specialize in genre-bending work that focuses on feminism, sexuality, cultural artifacts both high and low, and all things queer. I champion the vulnerable, the fractured, the disenfranchized, the fucked-up. I believe the spiritual and the political can be found in the most unlikely places. I love the essay as a form for I feel it can encompass everything; it’s the closest prose can get to poetry without mimicking it. I am the 2018-19 subject of the CCA Wattis Institute for Contemporary Art’s On Our Mind program, a year-long series of public events, commissioned essays, and reading group meetings inspired by an artist’s writing and lifework. As part of my season, the Wattis is sponsoring a year of Mirage/Period, the monthly Xeroxed zine my husband Kevin Killian and I published 155 issues of between 1992 and 2009. Charles Bernstein once said that Mirage/Period represented the absolute low end of high art. We take that as a compliment. In 2015 Semiotext published When the Sick Rule the World, my third collection of memoirs/essays, following Pink Steam (2004) and Academonia (2006). When the Sick Rule the World centers around questions of health and illness, both personal and societal. Written over a span of eight years, the collection begins with an investigation of whistling as a gender practice in a racially-torn and class-divided society. The book ends in tech-colonized San Francisco, with an urban witch performing a ritual that rips up the sidewalks. A chapbook version of one of the pieces in the collection, The Beating of Our Hearts, was included in the 2014 Whitney Biennial. With Kevin Killian I edited for Nightboat Books Writers Who Love Too Much: New Narrative 1977-1997, which was published in 1997. Writers Who Love Too Much is the first major anthology of New Narrative writing; it contains the work of forty-two recognized and little-known authors. Struggling to come up with snappy copy to describe New Narrative, Kevin and hailed it as “the movement fueled by punk, pop, porn, French theory, and social struggle to change writing forever.” We launched our book at City Lights in San Francisco. But once was not enough, and we took the anthology to Oakland, Berkeley, Los Angeles, Orono (Maine), Portland (Oregon), New York, Paris, Cambridge, and Glasgow. Since the early 80s I’ve been an active member of San Francisco’s literary avant-garde, and am one of the original practitioners of New Narrative. Beginning in 1995, for five years I was the director of Small Press Traffic Literary Arts Center. Before that for twelve years, with Kevin Kevin, I curated a reading series there as a volunteer. From 1999 to 2004 I was a regular book reviewer for the San Francisco Chronicle. My and Kevin’s papers are collected at Yale’s Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library. Among our papers one can also find the papers of Sam D’Allesandro. I have close ties to the art world and have collaborated with many artists, including Raymond Pettibon and Lutz Bacher. I’ve written pieces for exhibits at SFMOMA, the Contemporary Jewish Museum, the Berkeley Art Museum, the Fales Library and Special Collections, and various galleries. I was a guest columnist for SFMOMA’s Open Space, I’ve been published in Frieze and ArtForum, and I’ve written creative essays for several art catalogues. The exhibit I curated of Kathy Acker’s clothes was staged both at New Langton Arts in San Francisco and at White Columns in New York. I’m not a prizes and awards type writer, but I did receive a SF Bay Guardian Goldie Award for Literature and, for Cunt-Ups, a Firecracker Alternative Book Award. Time Out New York name Barf Manifesto “Best Book Under 30 Pages” for 2009. The TV Sutras and Cunt Norton were included in a few best-of-the-year lists online. I also teach creative writing, predominantly at San Francisco State University and California College of the Arts. I’ve taught at and been a visiting writer at many other schools. During the summers, I teach a private workshop, which I look forward to all year.

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