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"About the Work" with Elizabeth Hoover

In our “About the Work” series, Olga Mexina and Tom Sokolowski ask recent contributors for insight into their writing or for current sources of inspiration. Read Elizabeth Hoover's work in SER Vol. 42.1.


“Our Waste and Our Potential” came out of the work I was doing on my book of poetry, the archive is all in present tense. A love letter to queer archiving practices, my book follows a researcher who is exploring a fantastical, limitless archive. There she keeps encountering objects from her past, as well as developing a relationship with a gender-bending archivist who leads her through memories of her first love and her first experience with homophobic violence. 

In researching archival practices for the book, I learned about accessioning and how some objects are never accessioned even though they “live” in an archive. It’s so interesting to me to think of the ornate stories archival objects carry with them and even more interesting to think of objects that never get to tell their stories. 

This seemed to resonate with my experience with gender-based violence, but I didn’t want to just stop there: at trauma and forgetting. Instead, I started thinking through how healing queer community has been for me and how it has helped me to clear out the cobwebs of heteronormative thinking that still creeps into my relationships.

And Kesha. I also write about Kesha.


ELIZABETH HOOVER is the author of the archive is all in present tense, winner of the 2021 Barrow Street Book Prize.  Her creative nonfiction has appeared in the North American Review, the Kenyon Review, and StoryQuarterly. She teaches in the English Department at Webster University in St. Louis.


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