Photo of man smiling. Set on a graphic of a rainbow prism in a circle on a pink background. Text reads: 2023 Pride Month, Trevor Ketner"

Pride Month 2023

Pride Month is here! June is a time for us to celebrate and commemorate the LGBTQIA+ community. Both authors and readers come from an incredible range of diverse backgrounds and we’re excited to celebrate Pride to honor that. As a part of our Pride celebration, we are dedicating to this blog post to our queer-identifying authors and those writing about gender issues.

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“This is Shakespeare in Emily Dickinson drag by way of Dodie Bellamy’s Cunt-Ups.”
–Eric Sneathen for Poetry Foundation, on The Wild Hunt Divinations by Trevor Ketner

The Wild Hunt Divinations: A Grimoire / Trevor Ketner

“Sexy, queer, and contemporary, Ketner’s thrilling anagrammatic sonnets reinvent and permute Shakespeare while exploring the possibilities inherent in the combinatorial game of language.”
—Lillian-Yvonne Bertram, author of Travesty Generator

The Wild Hunt Divinations: A Grimoire is a stunning second collection from National Poetry Series winner, Trevor Ketner. Comprised of 154 sonnets, each anagrammed line-by-line from Shakespeare’s sonnets, the book refracts these lines through the thematic lens of transness, queer desire, kink, and British paganism. The sonnets come together to form a grimoire that casts a trancelike and intense spell on the reader. Centered on love and desire in the English canon, this collection speaks to the ever-emerging and beautiful manifestations of queer love and desire. Relentless, excessive, wild, and tender, The Wild Hunt Divinations: A Grimoire sets itself to chanting from beginning to end.

bury it / sam sax

“sam sax’s poems are stunning variations on desire and death in our post-postmodern era: desire as death, desire for death, the death of desire. Yet even as he buries our many lost to the ravages of AIDS and cancer and suicide, he resurrects them, in deeply moving elegies that reject sentimental praise, in reliving encounters with them that pulse with the erotic, in language that is at once plain and reverential. We are thus immersed here in the mysteriously human, as even the technologies we seek to explicate ourselves and our world are revealed and embraced as themselves ultimately inexplicable. sam sax has created an astonishing poetry that is at once a grim meditation on mortality and yet a hymn to the glory of being alive.” —Rafael Campo, author of Comfort Measures Only

sam sax’s bury it, winner of the 2017 James Laughlin Award from the Academy of American Poets, begins with poems written in response to the spate of highly publicized young gay suicides in the summer of 2010. What follows are raw and expertly crafted meditations on death, rituals of passage, translation, desire, diaspora, and personhood. What’s at stake is survival itself and the archiving of a lived and lyric history. Laughlin Award judge Tyehimba Jess says “bury it is lit with imagery and purpose that surprises and jolts at every turn. Exuberant, wild, tightly knotted mesmerisms of discovery inhabit each poem in this seethe of hunger and sacred toll of toil. A vitalizing and necessary book of poems that dig hard and lift luminously.” In this phenomenal second collection of poems, sam sax invites the reader to join him in his interrogation of the bridges we cross, the bridges we burn, and bridges we must leap from.

Her Birth and Later Years: New and Collections Poems, 1971-2021 / Irena Klepfisz

“This book is an absolute treasure for the readers of Irena Klepfisz, for readers of poetry, lesbian literature, and/or Jewish literature…The poet’s voice simultaneously transcends time and is also deeply embedded within it.”
—Zohar Weiman-Kelman, author of Queer Expectations: A Genealogy of Jewish Women’s Poetry

A trailblazing lesbian poet, child Holocaust survivor, and political activist whose work is deeply informed by socialist values, Irena Klepfisz is a vital and individual American voice. This book is the first complete collection of her work. For fifty years, Klepfisz has written powerful, searching poems about relatives murdered during the war, recent immigrants, a lost Yiddish writer, a Palestinian boy in Gaza, and various people in her life. In her introduction to Klepfisz’s A Few Words in the Mother Tongue, Adrienne Rich wrote: “[Klepfisz’s] sense of phrase, of line, of the shift of tone, is almost flawless.” Her Birth and Later Years is the recipient of the 2023 Audre Lorde Award for Lesbian Poetry, from The Publishing Triangle.

Sukun: New and Selected Poems / Kazim Ali

“Exquisitely paced, Sukun is testament to Kazim Ali’s distinctive accomplishment as our wandering, ever-questing poet. As one word, one sound, gives birth to another, so these poems trace the path from son to a finally accepting family, from body to spirit, from earth to cosmos.”
—Gillian Conoley, author of Notes from the Passenger

Kazim Ali is a poet, novelist, and essayist whose work explores themes of identity, migration, and the intersections of cultural and spiritual traditions. His poetry is known for its lyrical and expressive language, as well as its exploration of themes such as love, loss, and the search for meaning in a rapidly changing world. “Sukun” means serenity or calm, and a sukun is also a form of punctuation in Arabic orthography that denotes a pause over a consonant. This Sukun draws a generous selection from Kazim’s six previous full-length collections, and includes 35 new poems. It allows us to trace Ali’s passions and concerns, and take the measure of his art: the close attention to the spiritual and the visceral, and the deep language play that is both musical and plain spoken.

In Springtime / Sarah Blake

“At this dark, late hour of our planet, there is grace in the way Sarah Blake looks through the lens of different species for a better gauge of our own human lives. In Springtime is where Blake also expands our perception of wounds, ‘Injury lends a certain steadiness. Like your whole life was spent uneasy in your body.’ This new book is a brilliant, bona fide page-turner.”
—CAConrad, author of AMANDA PARADISE: Resurrect Extinct Vibration

In Sarah Blake’s epic poem of survival, we follow a nameless, ungendered main character lost in the woods. There, they discover the world anew, negotiating their place among the trees and the rain and the animals. Something brought them to the woods that nearly killed them, and they’re not sure they want to live through this experience either. But the world surprises them again and again with beauty and intrigue. They come to meet a pregnant horse, a curious mouse, and a dead bird, who is set on haunting them all. Blake examines what makes us human when removed from the human world, what identity means where it is a useless thing, and how loss shapes us. In a stunning setting and with ominous dreams, In Springtime will take you into a magical world without using any magic at all—just the strangeness of the woods. Includes a stunning art feature by Nicky Arscott.

Magnified / Minnie Bruce Pratt

“Every leaf, flower, snowflake, butterfly in Magnified is impeccably coated and coded with existential time, anti-capitalist time. Magnified is a profoundly intimate record of personal sorrow as well as ‘poetry to action’—in its resistance against empire’s economic and military destruction.”
—Don Mee Choi, author of DMZ Colony

This collection of love poems draws us into the sacred liminal space that surrounds death. With her beloved gravely ill, poet and activist Minnie Bruce Pratt turns to daily walks and writing to find a way to go on in a world where injustice brings so much loss and death. Each poem is a pocket lens “to swivel out and magnify” the beauty in “the little glints, insignificant” that catch her eye: “The first flowers, smaller than this s.” She also chronicles the quiet rooms of “pain and the body’s memory,” bringing the reader carefully into moments that will be familiar to anyone who has suffered similar loss. Even as she asks, “What’s the use of poetry? Not one word comes back to talk me out of pain,” the book delivers a vision of love that is boldly political and laced with a tumultuous hope that promises: “Revolution is bigger than both of us, revolution is a science that infers the future presence of us.” This lucid poetry is a testimony to the radical act of being present and offers this balm: that the generative power of love continues after death.

Be Brave to Things: The Uncollected Poetry and Plays of Jack Spicer / Edited by Daniel Katz

Be Brave to Things shows legendary San Francisco Renaissance poet Jack Spicer at the top of his form, with his blistering intelligence, painful double-edged wit, and devastating will to truth everywhere on display. Most of the poetry here has never before been published, but the volume also includes much out-of-print or hard to find work, as well as Spicer’s three major plays, which have never been collected. Here one finds major unfinished projects, early and alternate versions of well-known Spicer poems, shimmering stand-alone lyrics, and intricate extended “books” and serial poems.

My Vocabulary Did This to Me: The Collected Poetry of Jack Spicer / Edited by Peter Gizzi & Kevin Killian

“As a measure of our historical distance from Spicer’s personality, a new generation of editors, the poets Peter Gizzi and Kevin Killian, moves beyond the Spicer ‘legend’ in order to present the full range of his poetry to readers both familiar and unfamiliar with his work.”
—Zach Finch, Boston Review

In 1965, when the poet Jack Spicer died at the age of forty, he left behind a trunkful of papers and manuscripts and a few copies of the seven small books he had seen to press. Now, more than forty years later, Spicer’s voice is more compelling, insistent, and timely than ever. During his short but prolific life, Spicer troubled the concepts of translation, voice, and the act of poetic composition itself. My Vocabulary Did This to Me is a landmark publication of this essential poet’s life work, and includes poems that have become increasingly hard to find and many published here for the first time.

Occasional Views Volume 1: “More About Writing” and Other Essays / Samuel R. Delany

Occasional Views, Volume 1 is an incredibly generous entry point to Samuel R. Delany’s pioneering insights about the intersections of genre, race, sexuality, Science Fiction and what it means to live through and amongst those categories. As he states, ‘What we need is not so much radical writers as we need radical readers!’ This collection helps us satisfy that deeply necessary and timely cultural need.”
—Louis Chude-Sokei, author of Floating In A Most Peculiar Way: A Memoir

Samuel R. Delany is an acclaimed writer of literary theory, queer literature, and fiction. This anthology of essays, lectures, and interviews addresses topics such as 9/11, race, the garden of Eden, the interplay of life and writing, and notes on other writers such as Theodore Sturgeon, Hart Crane, Ursula K. Le Guin, Hölderlin, and an introduction to—and a conversation with—Octavia E. Butler. The first of two volumes, this book gathers more than 30 pieces on films, poetry, and science fiction. These sharp, focused writings by a bestselling Black and gay author are filled with keen insights and observations on culture, language, and life.

Occasional Views Volume 2: “The Gamble” and Other Essays / Samuel R. Delany

“Delany’s prismatic output is among the most significant, immense and innovative in American letters.”
The New York Times

This anthology of essays, talks, and interviews addresses topics such as sex and sexuality, race, power, literature and genre, as well as Herman Melville, John Ashbery, Willa Cather, Junot Diaz, and others. The second of two volumes, this book gathers more than twenty-five pieces on films, poetry, and science fiction. This diverse collection displays the power of a towering literary intelligence. It is a rich trove of essays, as well as a map to the mind of one of the great writers of our time.

In Search of Silence: The Journals of Samuel R. Delany, Volume I, 1957–1969 / Edited by Kenneth James

“The simple fact is that I think Delany is one of the most important American writers, one who ought to be spoken of alongside any great American writer of the second half of the twentieth century … the recent publication of volume one of Delany’s Selected Journals in a gorgeous edition from Wesleyan University Press (brilliantly edited by Kenneth James) is monumental.”
—Matthew Cheney, The Mumpsimus

In these pages, Delany muses on the writing of the stories that will establish him as a science fiction wunderkind, the early years of his marriage to the poet Marilyn Hacker, performances as a singer-songwriter during the heyday of the American folk revival, travels in Europe, experiences in a New York City commune, and much more – and crosses paths with artists working in many genres, including poets such as Robert Frost, W. H. Auden, and Marie Ponsot, and science fiction writers such as Arthur C. Clarke, Michael Moorcock, Roger Zelazny, and Joanna Russ. Delany scholar Kenneth R. James presents the journal entries alongside generous samplings of story outlines, poetry, fragments of novels and essays that have never seen publication, and more; James also provides biographical synopses and an extensive set of endnotes to supply contextual information and connect journal material to Delany’s published work.

Un-American / Hazifah Augustus Geter

“Here is the history of this country in all its blood and complication, with all its promise and betrayal. These poems are an accounting, a testimony, a prayer—poems meant to quiet the animal inside us. A beautiful book.”
—Nick Flynn, author of I Will Destroy You

Dancing between lyric and narrative, Hafizah Augustus Geter’s debut collection moves readers through the fraught internal and external landscapes—linguistic, cultural, racial, familial—of those whose lives are shaped and transformed by immigration. The daughter of a Nigerian Muslim woman and a former Southern Baptist black man, Geter charts the history of a black family of mixed citizenships through poems imbued by migration, racism, queerness, loss, and the heartbreak of trying to feel at home in a country that does not recognize you. Through her mother’s death and her father’s illnesses, Geter weaves the natural world into the discourse of grief, human interactions, and socio-political discord. This collection thrums with authenticity and heart.

Edges & Fray: on language, prescence, and (invisible) animal architectures / Danielle Vogel

“The mind might learn to mimic the forms it considers, and so learn love’s fundamental lesson—how to disentangle us from ourselves, and be woven into the nest that is the world. Danielle Vogel is an “architect of relation,” and Edges & Fray is a book of thought’s loving, living obedience to form. It is one of the lessons we need most right now.”
—Dan Beachy-Quick, author of Of Silence & Song

Edges & Fray is an embodied meditation that cultivates receptivity and deep listening to the ways we inhabit language and its ethereal resilience. Combining close observation of birds’ nests and the writing process, Danielle Vogel brings the reader into communion with language as a mode of presence. Experimental and deeply grounded, its construction is intuitive and masterful, its many threads interwoven and intrinsically linked. This is a beautiful and inspiring book at the intersection of poetry, somatics, ecology, and divination.
Library of Light, by Danielle Vogel, is forthcoming in the spring of 2024.

Queer Arrangements: Billy Strayhorn and Midcentury Jazz Collaboration / Lisa Berg
Forthcoming Fall 2023

“This book challenges the manner in which historical frameworks have been constructed and have promoted a personal and creative hierarchy in jazz’s historiography. Most importantly it continues the much-needed work of detangling Billy Strayhorn’s musical legacy from that of the Ellington organization by making the invisible aspects of his life visible, and the silent facets of his music heard.”
—Tammy L. Kernodle, author of Soul on Soul: The Life and Music of Mary Lou Williams

The legacy of Black queer composer, arranger, and pianist Billy Strayhorn (1915–1967) hovers at the edge of canonical jazz narratives. Queer Arrangements explores the ways in which Strayhorn’s identity as an openly gay Black jazz musician shaped his career, including the creative roles he could assume and the dynamics between himself and his collaborators, most famously Duke Ellington, but also iconic singers such as Lena Horne and Ella Fitzgerald. This new portrait of Strayhorn combines critical, historically-situated close readings of selected recordings, scores, and performances with biography and cultural theory to pursue alternative interpretive jazz possibilities, Black queer historical routes, and sounds. By looking at jazz history through the instrument(s) of Strayhorn’s queer arrangements, this book sheds new light on his music and on jazz collaboration at midcentury.

Trad Nation: Gender, Sexuality, and Race in Irish Traditional Music / Tes Slominski

“This is a timely and exciting new work; its original approach and activist underpinning draws fluently from multiple contexts and disciplines. Scholars in musics, gender and sexuality, and Irish Studies will all find surprising revelations and meaningful points of discussion.”
—Sean Williams, author of Focus: Irish Traditional Music and Bright Star of the West: Joe Heaney, Irish Song-Man

Just how “Irish” is traditional Irish music? Trad Nation combines ethnography, oral history, and archival research to challenge the longstanding practice of using ethnic nationalism as a framework for understanding vernacular music traditions. Tes Slominski argues that ethnic nationalism hinders this music’s development today in an increasingly multiethnic Ireland and in the transnational Irish traditional music scene. She discusses early 21st century women whose musical lives were shaped by Ireland’s struggles to become a nation; follows the career of Julia Clifford, a fiddler who lived much of her life in England, and explores the experiences of women, LGBTQ+ musicians, and musicians of color in the early 21st century.

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