I am a widely published essayist and poet, literary scholar, and nationally known speaker on transgender issues. From 2003 to 2021, I held the David and Ruth Gottesman Chair in English at Stern College for Women of Yeshiva University; my gender transition and return to teaching in 2008 made me the first openly transgender employee of an Orthodox Jewish institution.
There has been a lot of good writing news in the past year or two, including The Book of Anna being awarded the National Jewish Book Award in Poetry; the Massachusetts Cultural Council awarding me a poetry fellowship; my tenth book of poetry, Shekhinah Speaks, being published; and my eleventh book of poetry, Family, being accepted by Persea for publication in 2024. DoubleBack Books is bringing out a new revised edition of Impersonation as a free downloadable pdf in 2023, and a book of selected essays on how gender is changing, Once Out of Nature, that is currently making the rounds. (To order my books, please go to the Books tab above, or, for discounted signed copies and out-of-print books, write me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.)
From 2020-2021, I did a weekly conversation show, “Containing Multitudes,” discussing identity, religion, and literature with a wide-range of guests (recordings available at the link above). In fall 2019, Keshet recognized my work with a Hachamat Lev award.
For selected videos of talks and readings, including my TEDx talk, “Ain’t I a Woman?“, my “On Being” interview with Krista Tippett, and “Beyond the Tower of Babel: A New Approach to Inclusive Policy,” a webinar offered through the Sol Price School of Public Policy of the University of Southern California, click here.
I am the author of twelve books, including the National Jewish Book Award-winning revised second edition of The Book of Anna (EOAGH, 2021); 2018’s The Soul of the Stranger: Reading God and Torah from a Transgender Perspective (Brandeis UP), a finalist for both a Lambda Literary Award and Triangle Award that received a starred review in Publishers Weekly; Through the Door of Life, a memoir of gender transition that was a finalist for a National Jewish Book Award and winner of a Forward Fives Award; and ten books of poetry, including 2022’s Shekhinah Speaks, Fireworks in the Graveyard (Headmistress Press), Psalms, Forward Fives award winner Coming to Life, and two Lambda Literary Award finalists, Transmigration and Impersonation. I have been awarded a National Endowment for the Arts writing fellowship, a Fulbright Scholarship, an American Council of Learned Societies Research Fellowship and two Hadassah Brandeis Institute Research fellowships, among other honors.
I hold a Ph.D. in American Literature from Princeton University, where I was awarded the Porter Ogden Jacobus Fellowship as top graduate student in the Humanities, an M.F.A. in Creative Writing from the University of Massachusetts (Amherst), and a B.A. from Sarah Lawrence College.(You can find links to my dissertation, “Soldering the Abyss: Emily Dickinson and Modern American Poetry,” as well as essays on poetry and transgender issues on my page on Academia.edu.)
Since coming out as transgender in 2008, I have become a nationally recognized speaker on transgender issues. I have been featured in many National Public Radio interviews, most notably “On Being with Krista Tippett,” which has been rebroadcast three times, as well as numerous interviews and profiles in numerous publications.
I have given invited talks and readings at many universities and colleges, including Harvard, Columbia, Princeton, Boston University, George Washington University, the University of Arizona, the University of Connecticut, the University of San Francisco, Mount Holyoke College, and Smith College.
I have also been a featured speaker outside academia, including delivering keynote talks at the 21st World Congress of LGBT Jews, and the 2015 Asanbe Diversity Symposium at Austin Peay State University. I have spoken to dozens of Jewish communities around the country, and served as scholar-in-residence at a number of synagogues. I am a member of the Board of Keshet, a national organization devoted to full inclusion of LGBTQ Jews in the Jewish world.
Please contact me at email@example.com if you are interested in engaging me as a speaker. For details about and examples of my work, please click on the relevant tabs.
Comments on: "Overview of My Work" (7)
Hey Joy, Just read your poem: https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poetrymagazine/poems/152965/forgetting-5e66c0adce9f7
That was awesome. I couldn’t help but wonder if you had been a caretaker for someone who went through something similar? Not to pry, I just thought that that was a work of art. – Ryan
Thank you, Ryan! Your intuition is right – the poem was inspired by an awful night in the emergency room with my mother, who has dementia. Best, Joy
Your poem “A Friendly Visit with God” in SDI’s Presence was so moving, relatable, and clever. I’ve been sharing it with all my directees. Thank you for this gift.
Thank you so much, Rachel!
Hi Joy, Thank you for your many many contributions to the world! I’m creating a children’s comic book anthology, short stories of trans people illustrated by trans artists. Would you be interested in being profiled? Please feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Joy, just finished your essay “This Consciousness that is aware” from Wider than the Sky. Brilliant, is all I can say! Of all the literary criticism of Emily Dickinson that I have read so far, your essay is by far the most cogent and accessible. You have reached into the heart of her. And I think you need to add one more subtitle: “Why Poetry”. From one reviewer of Heidegger, “Humans are beings in language”. Discovered Emily while in Panama City Beach. Sat on the beach every afternoon at 4 and was transported to another world! Jeff Leighton
Thank you so much, Jeff! And so glad you and Emily found one another on that beach!