LGBTQ+ Voices: Interview with Kristi Carter
Dr. Kristi Carter, poet, author, LGBTQ+ advocate and lecturer of English and Women's and Gender Studies at UNL, was interviewed by Luke Wegener on December 15, 2017 in Lincoln, Nebraska. Carter shared information about growing up in rural North Carolina, her traumatic childhood, her love of art and poetry, discovering her queer identity, teaching at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, and her relationship with partner, Alan.
Dr. Kristi Carter, born in Stokes County, North Carolina, is a queer, white poet, author, LGBTQ+ advocate and lecturer in English and Women's and Gender Studies at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. Carter earned a BA in Creative Writing from Appalachian State University in 2009, an MFA in Creative Writing-Poetry from Oklahoma State University in 2012, and a PhD in Creative Writing-Poetry with a specialization in Women's and Gender Studies from UNL in 2017. Her work examines the intersection of gender and intergenerational trauma in 20th century poetics. She has contributed to numerous literary journals and anthologies, and published Cosmovore (Aqueduct Press, 2017), chapbook Daughter Shaman Sings Blood Anthem (Porkbelly Press, 2017), and chapbook Red and Vast (Dancing Girl Press, 2018).
Carter has received numerous award nominations and accolades for her literary work, including a 2017 Pushcart Prize nomination for her poem in Naugatuck River Review's Narrative Poetry Contest. She was also a finalist in 2017 for the Sundress Competition for her chapbook Daughter Shaman Sings Blood Anthem, as well as the Jacar Press Competiton for her chapbook Red and Vast.
When she's not on campus teaching students or writing, Carter volunteers her time at community organizations and has worked as a victim advocate and incident liaison for survivors of sexual and domestic violence. She currently resides in Lincoln with her long-time partner, Alan Blair.
Dr. Kristi Carter, poet, author, LGBTQ+ advocate and lecturer of English and Women's and Gender Studies at UNL, was interviewed by Luke Wegener on December 15, 2017 in Lincoln, Nebraska. Carter was born in rural Stokes County, North Carolina to a conservative, working class family. Growing up with a difficult, unstable mother and disengaged father in a dysfunctional family, Carter learned to escape and survive through art and writing. It was later through this exposure to literature, poetry, and art that Carter began to discover she was queer.
In high school during the early 2000's, Carter began to date girls, but felt her male friends did not take her pansexual identity seriously, while her grandparents believed it was just a phase. She was forced to sneak around with her girlfriend, since both knew there would be serious repercussions if their relationship was discovered outside of school. Finding no support outside of her circle of friends and relationships, and no accessible depictions of LGBTQ+ people in the media she consumed, Carter felt the stress of hiding and constantly being invalidated in her identity.
In 2005, Carter graduated high school and started college at Appalachian State University in Boone, North Carolina. She began to find her voice as a writer and graduated with a BA in Creative Writing in 2009. With encouragement from professors who believed in her talent and vision, Carter went on to earn an MFA in Creative Writing-Poetry from Oklahoma State University (Stillwater, OK) in 2012 and PhD in Creative Writing-Poetry with a concentration in Women's and Gender Studies from University of Nebraska-Lincoln in 2017. Influenced by the complicated and dysfunctional relationship with her mother, Carter's PhD work focused on examining the intersection of gender and intergenerational trauma in 20th century poetics.
While in her MFA program at OSU, Carter struggled to find other LGBTQ+ people for support. In her undergraduate years, she had struggled with dating men who invalidated her identity, but that changed when at the beginning of her MFA, she met her long-term partner, Alan. He embraced his own gender fluidity and queerness in a way she had not experienced with a male partner before. Conversely, Carter has known her sexuality would be "violently rejected and admonished" by her immediate family, and she is no longer in contact with them.
While still presently struggling with feelings of invisibility in the LGBTQ+ community as a pansexual woman with a male partner, Carter has found a good community in Lincoln. With support from mentors such as Stacey Waite, Kwame Dawes, Maureen Honey, and her partner Alan, Carter has continued to evolve in her writing and exploration of identity.
In this interview, Carter also discusses how her pansexual identity influences her teaching, the development of her feminist identity, the impact of the current Trump administration, and reads aloud her poem Apology, For E published in literary zine Alyss (2017).
A few doors slam in the background during the interview.