Queers Fail Better – Q / A with Antonette Rea

Queers Fail Better – Q / A with Antonette Rea

In her book ‘The Queer Art of Failure’ Judith Halberstam offers alternative ways of knowing and becoming. Instead of valuing the conventional paths of belonging, achievement and completion, she thinks about and champions the ways of “failure”: losing your way, giving in, being excluded, forgetting, awkwardness, coming apart. Not just rejecting the “normal,” Halberstam shows alternatives to success as paths that have always been there, moving away from mastery and coherence. In this series of Q&A’s with contributors to our upcoming Queer issue, we play with these ideas. When we aren’t trying to finish first (or finish anything) where do we end up?

Think back to when you started writing. What’s an earlier influence you outgrew, abandoned, or turned against?

The influence of not being influenced. I didn’t read other poetry or literature.

After my school days of reading mostly music, I read the paper, trade magazines and papers that had mostly to do with business and contracts of purchase or sale plus leasing agreements. I didn’t read for pleasure.

My writing began when my life fell apart and I embarked on a journey with Antonette.

When a piece of writing doesn’t work out, what do you do with it? Discard? Fold it into another project? Salvage parts?

I may do any one of the aforementioned suggestions. I most likely may file it away to be stumbled across at another time, another place.

What do you do with your rejection letters?

Rejection letters? I wait for the editors to contact me directly or indirectly, requesting a piece of my work or maybe something new that I might want to contribute.

Do you plan out the piece beforehand or find your way as you go along? A combination of both?

Yes, the creative process continually surprises me, a twist hear a lightning bolt there.

When a project is finished, how do you start the next one? Or do your projects overlap?

Yes again! Often I have several different projects on the go. The inspiration may jump around until my teeth sink into one project deeply, putting others on hold.

Have you ever not sent a piece of writing somewhere because it seemed “too gay/queer” for that publication? 


What do you do to procrastinate?

Eat! Read a good book. Listen to other artists. Listen.

Has anyone ever said something completely discouraging to you as an artist? Did it take the wind out of your sails or did it drive you forward? Or both?

Both. I seem to be the best at taking the wind out of my sails. Others can both inspire and cause me to reflect and take a look at myself, ask myself what can I do better or that maybe I should try something new or listen closely to what others have to say on the same or related topics.

Can a piece of writing fail, or is that a bullshit notion?

Yes it can fail, if it is your own piece and you feel it doesn’t do or live up to your own expectations. Then, hopefully, it spurs you on to greater heights and accomplishments. If the piece doesn’t deliver what was intended or expected, blah, blah blah...


I was born in Vancouver in 1953. I moved away and started a family and have two children. I returned to the Vancouver area after the break up of my marriage, and transition into Antonette. I often write about my struggles and challenges as a Transgender Woman who survived on the streets of Vancouver. My work has been published in Geist, Megaphone, V6A Anthology and Poetry Is Dead. I'm a member of Thursday's Writing Collective on D.T.E.S. and have my work in several Chap Books and Zines around the Vancouver area. I love to perform my work and have appeared at the Vancouver Writer's Festival, the V125 Poetry Conference, other Festivals as well as many readings and poetry Slams, like the VanSlam and others, in and around the Vancouver area.