Transcribing Moonlight (Downloadable PDF)
by Skylar Kay
Transcribing Moonlight is a collection of autobiographical haibun which outlines the life of a trans woman from December 2018 to December 2019. The form of the journal itself is traditional for haibun; while experimental at times, the haibun pay attention to the physical world and are therefore able to capture the changing seasons, moons, and phases of the narrator’s life. As the title may suggest, the moon is a point of focus for the collection, as the phases of the moon often match up and echo the phases and transitions of the narrator. In this way, the traditional trope of the moon and the traditional form of haibun become more nuanced and modern, as they represent a marginalized group and some of the struggles that trans women face, both externally and internally. These phases and struggles include gender (eu/dys)phoria, coming to terms with sexuality, life after graduation, relationships, and family issues.
Shortlisted for the 2023 Gerald Lampert Memorial Award.
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Skylar Kay is an emerging writer from Calgary, AB. She has an interest in Japanese literature, specifically haiku, and has been pursuing this interest in her poetry since 2016. In addition to being a haiku enthusiast in creative writing, Skylar also participates in the academic side of Japanese literature, seeing publication in both academic and literary journals.
As a trans haiku poet, Skylar Kay is breaking ground with her achingly beautiful and monumental collection of haibun in Transcribing (the perfect word) Moonlight. Haibun first appeared as a literary genre in Matsuo Bashō’s Oku No Hosomichi, a journey through Japan’s interior. Kay’s debut, also a journey to the interior, explores identity, the process of becoming self. She writes across, through, and into the body, all the while aware of the moon’s wax and wane, the subtle changes in seasons. And Kay has done her homework. Notable haiku publications include Autumn Moon Haiku, Haiku Canada Review, Presence, Haiku Page, Ephemerae and an honourable mention in the prestigious Betty Drevniok Award. Certainly Bashō would be proud of such an extraordinary gift to the world.
~ Terry Ann Carter, past president of Haiku Canada, author of Tokaido (winner of the Touchstone Distinguished Book Award).
“The moon is not available for guidance,” writes Skylar Kay, “so I learn from budding branches—surviving, thriving, transforming after a too-long winter.” So too does the reader find herself transformed by these exquisite and powerful poems, as we track the unfolding consciousness of a poet on her path toward love, acceptance and self-discovery. Raw and tender, tinged with humour and grace, Transcribing Moonlight reveals an essential new voice in Canadian poetry, one that will not easily be forgotten.
~ Lisa Richter, author of Nautilus and Bone (winner of the National Jewish Book Award for Poetry).