Queer literature isn’t just about representation. It’s about making room for fluidity, hybridity, experimentation, the complicated, difficult to define realities of the way we define ourselves, the ways we love, the ways we see and move through the world. This month, we celebrate LGBTQ+ authors — those we’ve covered in the past, and those we look forward to reading in the near future.
Favorites we recommend…
If Not, Winter, a translation of Sappho’s poems and fragments by Anne Carson, is a favorite collection of mine, one I return to again and again. A reminder that lesbian lit has a long and colorful history, even if its earliest roots have been worn away by time.
Some Animal is an incredible work of trans auto-theory in the vein of Maggie Nelson and others who like to toe the line between poetry and non-fiction. Ely Shipley is a poet to watch – his poems are gentle but demanding. The narrative they outline is one of gender dysphoria and what it means to live inside a body, any body – the violence of it, and the tenderness.
Sympathetic Little Monster by Cameron Awkward-Rich is a tiny book of poems, but don’t be fooled. It is a collection which sidles up close, gets into your heart, before turning the knife sideways. Awkward-Rich asks questions difficult questions: what do daughters owe their fathers? What about when those daughters are no longer daughters? What does it mean to be monstrous, to sympathize with monsters? A gorgeous work that plays with the essay form, pushing both prose and poetry in new directions (Check back soon for a long-form review of this one by our editor, Rebecca Valley!)
Books we want to read…
I absolutely can’t wait to get my hands on a copy of Carmen Maria Machado’s new memoir, In the Dream House. From the author of Her Body and Other Parties, a book of playful, creepy fiction, this memoir takes on the impact of psychological abuse in Machado’s own life. Machado is a master of expressing the physicality of trauma, and I am so excited to see how she revamps the memoir form.
The debut novel of beloved poet Ocean Vuong, On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous, came out this month. I’ve had the pleasure of seeing Ocean read a few times since he joined the faculty at UMass, and each event is like a precious ritual, a religious experience; I anticipate his new novel will demonstrate the same lifting up of language to an exalted, holy form.
Confessions of the Fox by Jordy Rosenberg is entirely its own beast – a historical thriller, a queer love story, a fresh take on the legend of a an 18th century London thief, an academic satire, a footnoted manifesto on queer theory. You can see why we can’t resist.
Though I haven’t read or heard much in the slam poetry community for ten years or so now, there is still a soft spot in my heart for Andrea Gibson. They put out two books in 2018 — Take Me With You and Lord of the Butterflies. Gibson has always expertly blended the political with the lyrical, and I expect the same in these two new collections.
The Grief Keeper by Alexandra Villasante was an accidental find for me, and one I am so excited about. It is just a wee baby of a book – only published three days ago – and it combines a young adult immigration narrative with sci-fi/speculative fiction about the embodiment of trauma in children. It’s also a story of young, f/f romance. I can’t wait to get my hands on this book.