Killer Rack by Sylvan Spring

Tragedy and levity are for the transgender writer an oscillatory register: jumping wildly from one to the other is an expression of the ways we survive a cis-centered and hetero-logical society. Killer Rack by Sylvan Spring presents a provocative debut collection of pop-infused poems that do just that: showcasing the joys and pitfalls of becoming who you truly are on the road to getting what you want. 

Killer Rack is a series of revelations, as Spring finds the path back to their authentic gender-queer-self desecrated by a teenhood of mixed messages; laid to bare in a book of poetry mimetic of an album Spring parties through the growing pains set to Cher, Caroline Polachek,  Madonna, The VengaBoys and Sophie. 

Across the two chapters ‘side a’ and ‘side b’ Spring beholds the beauty of trial and error, ultimately producing a bold and flirty first collection full to bursting with references to your favourite cult classics and club bangers!

To arrive at the crescendo of the final piece: ‘AFFIRMATIONS FOR YOUR HEAVENLY TRANS BODY’, ‘side a’ welcomes the unfurling of a sentiment that resonates throughout the entire collection:

From (side a) ‘spell to recite while clutching yourself in the science block toilets’

“don’t tell them that you found / the zipper in the girlsuit”, “/ (don’t pull the zipper)”, “/ (do not pull down the zipper)”, “/ (DO NOT touch that zipper)”, “/ (who is zipper?) i don’t know her)”, “bury the zipper / so deep in your bones you’ll never find it again”. 

With horny and heartfelt fantasies of Kim Sasabone of The Vengaboys and Charlie’s Angels interspersed throughout, sweaty adolescent discomfort undulates underneath the collection like heavy bass in the background at a house party:

From (side b) ‘Dear Drew Barrymore’:

“You were my first sexual awakening. I was six and I’d just learned that it felt quite good if I rubbed my crotch up against the edges of furniture – the bottom corner of a bed, a small bookshelf, a banister”.

Rendered halfway between fantasy and reality, the escapist discomfort that drives the collection brings each moment of self-acceptance into such stark relief that you can’t help but laugh along. As such Killer Rack is a wonderful blend of silly and seriously astute, making it a must read for lovers of both sexy and unabashedly honest poetry.  

You can purchase Killer Rack from your local bookseller, from BookHub, or directly from Te Herenga Waka University Press.

Featured image by Axel Deventer Olsthoorn via Te Herenga Waka University Press.


In a dream, you saw a way to survive, and you were filled with joy.


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