Zoë Fay-Stindt, a French-North Carolinian hybrid, has been published in a range of online and print magazines, including Gauge, Concrete Literary Magazine, JASPER Academic Journal, and Coup d’Etat. During her time earning a B.A. at Emerson College, she was editor in chief of both The Common Voice and Concrete Literary Magazine. Since then, she’s led several creative workshops, including “The Lyric I” at the 2016 Austin International Poetry Festival, and, when she’s not interning at A Strange Object press, she works as a freelance writer/editor and the founder/sole contributor to The Floating Zo poetry blog. She also serves up gourmet popcorn and chases after kids for her other two jobs, and spends her free time drowning in Netflix and igniting patriarchal-dismantling conversations.
What is your greatest life, artistic, academic and creative
Diving in deep right off the bat, huh? Possibly my proudest, most concrete moment, was being published in Emerson College’s academic journal, JASPER, for a thesis I wrote on the subversions and expansions burlesque provides American women, and the complexities therein – class divisions, privilege, and the inescapable male gaze. To know I could reach a break in the muck and mess of writing such a long, complicated paper, and for the final product to be celebrated in such a way, made me dizzy, giddy. Otherwise, in a much less dramatic sense, I’ve been proud to watch myself evolve: being able to look back on a poem from a year ago, two years ago, three – and to see the jumps I’ve made in my writing. Slowly, I’m growing.
What roles are you playing in transforming your communities?
The Boys and Girls club has wrenched my heart open the last few months. The kids are crazy and wild, but also razor sharp, opinionated, proud. Monday through Friday, I make sure they keep their pride, acknowledge their intelligence, and aim high.
I am just a small tool in the organization’s toolbox, but it’s such an important part of Austin’s – and America’s – community, and I see it impact the lives of the club kids every day. We give them support, give them love, and challenge them to be their biggest selves.
It kills me to hear their stigmatized, societally inflicted “rights” and “wrongs” that make telling a girl she looks like a boy and telling a boy he’s acting like a girl the biggest insults they can give. I want to crack their boundaries and let them know it’s okay to express any gender they want to express, or none at all, and that being a girl is damn strong and tenderness and sensitivity in any human is an incredible thing to cherish and nurture. A small, beautiful victory was having a little girl look up to me and say, blue is for girls, too, isn’t it Ms. Zoe? All the colors are for everyone.
What are your future prospects in your career and your life?
Grad school. Grad school, grad school, grad school. That’s all I can think about right now – I’m starving for academic community, challenge, and to make the cogs in my brain spin again. I’m debating between an MFA in Poetry and an MA in Women’s Studies, because both subjects feed me equally. I want to give my poetry political backbone, and speak to the world I know in a way that can sculpt a stronger society that breeds love and equality, and bolsters its less represented members.
What is your parting shot to fellow women and girls?
Challenge everyone in your life. Don’t be afraid to pick the fight. If someone’s saying something that rubs against your identity, tell them so, and hold your ground – you have your voice, let it be loud.
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