Writer in Residence

17 for 2017: Mattilda Bernstein Sycamore recommends For the Children?: Protecting Innocence In A Carceral State

By Chase Joynt


14. For the Children?: Protecting Innocence In A Carceral State bErica R. Meiners recommended by Mattilda Bernstein Sycamore


Throughout my tenure as the December Writer-In-Residence, I will be assembling a list of 17 must-read-books for 2017. To accomplish this numerically satisfying task, I have asked 17 people whose work I adore to suggest one title for the list. Consult the end of each post for the growing list of recommendations! 

I knew Mattilda Bernstein Sycamore’s work long before I met her. From the edited collection WHY ARE FAGGOTS SO AFRAID OF FAGGOTS? to her Lambda Award winning memoir, The End of San Francisco, Mattilda’s writing fuses striking community commentary and critique with necessary calls for community action. While on tour with Vivek Shraya this fall, I had the pleasure of meeting Mattilda when she hosted us at Hugo House in Seattle. There, I was able to witness the power of Mattilda’s writing in person. Our conversation was never reduced to a simple exploration of text, but rather, always presented as an opportunity to engage with literature as a necessary activist engine. Are you in the greater Seattle area? Check out the next series of Mattilda's CONTAGIOUS EXCHANGES, they are not to be missed. 

From Mattilda:

“If only a select few—the children—merit care, access to resources, or a future, what of the rest of us?,” Erica R. Meiners asks, in this bold intervention in prison abolition activism that fuses politicized philosophical inquiry with intersectional queer analysis. Meiners challenges the hypocrisy of pro-prison rhetoric that relies on static notions of the innocent child to bolster white supremacy, and the ways in which anti-prison activism unintentionally falls into the trap of oversimplification that supports hollow reform. For the Children? is a stunning work of scholarship—I learned more just from reading the introduction than I do from reading most books. “Liberation under oppression is unthinkable by design,” Meiners declares, helping us to get there anyway.

Stay tuned as we build the ultimate 2017 reading list!

17 for 2017:

1. Mariko Tamaki recommends The Land of Forgotten Girls

2. Sheila Heti recommends The Normal Personality: A New Way of Thinking about People

3. Vivek Shraya recommends The Mothers

4. Kate Bornstein recommends Siddhartha

5. Casey Mecija recommends Tropical Renditions: Making Musical Scenes in Filipino America

6. Morgan M. Page recommends Small Beauty

7. Lauren Berlant recommends Long Division and How to Slowly Kill Yourself and Others in America

8. Chase Strangio recommends Exile & Pride: Disability, Queerness and Liberation

9. Jamie Keiles recommends The Group 

10. Sarah Joynt recommends The Hour of the Star

11. John Greyson recommends Citizen: An American Lyric

12. Yasmin Nair recommends Against Equality: Queer Revolution, Not Mere Inclusion

13. Trish Salah recommends AKA Inendagosekwe

December Writer-In-Residence

Chase Joynt is a filmmaker and writer. His latest two films Genderize and Between You and Me are now streaming live online with CBC Digital Docs. His first book, You Only Live Twice (co-authored with Mike Hoolboom) was published by Coach House Books and just named one of the Best Books of 2016 by The Globe and Mail and CBC. His second book The Case of Agnes (co-authored with Kristen Schilt) is forthcoming from Duke University Press.


The views expressed in the Writer-in-Residence blogs are those held by the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of Open Book.

Chase Joynt is a Toronto-based moving-image artist and writer who has exhibited his work internationally. He recently received a Mellon Fellowship in Arts Practice and Scholarship at the University of Chicago.

You can write to Chase throughout the month of December at writer@open-book.ca