7 Queer Poets You Should Know

Poems from LGBT writers Richard Blanco, Frank Bidart, Eileen Myles, Mark Doty, Judy Grahn, CAConrad, and Tim Trace Peterson explore what it means to be queer in America.

BY Daniel Reynolds

November 18 2013 6:00 AM ET

“Queer” by Frank Bidart

Lie to yourself about this and you will
forever lie about everything. 

Everybody already knows everything 

so you can
lie to them. That's what they want. 

But lie to yourself, what you will 

lose is yourself. Then you
turn into them.

For each gay kid whose adolescence 

was America in the forties or fifties
the primary, the crucial 

scenario 

forever is coming out—
or not. Or not. Or not. Or not. Or not.

Involuted velleities of self-erasure.

*

Quickly after my parents
died, I came out. Foundational narrative 

designed to confer existence. 

If I had managed to come out to my
mother, she would have blamed not 

me, but herself. 

The door through which you were shoved out
into the light

was self-loathing and terror.

Thank you, terror! 

You learned early that adults' genteel
fantasies about human life 

were not, for you, life. You think sex 

is a knife
driven into you to teach you that.

Excerpted from Metaphysical Dog by Frank Bidart. Copyright 2013. Excerpted with permission by Farrar, Straus, and Giroux.

Frank Bidart’s most recent full-length collections of poetry are Watching the Spring Festival (FSG, 2008), Star Dust (FSG, 2005), Desire (FSG, 1997), and In the Western Night: Collected Poems 1965–90 (FSG, 1990). He has won many prizes, including the Wallace Stevens Award, and, most recently, the 2007 Bollingen Prize for American Poetry. He teaches at Wellesley College and lives in Cambridge, Mass.

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