20 LGBTQ Collections of Poetry, Short Stories, and Essays
Some of our favorite new collections of short-form writing by queer, trans, and gender-nonconforming authors.
January 02 2020 5:15 AM EST
January 02 2020 10:09 PM EST
Some of our favorite new collections of short-form writing by queer, trans, and gender-nonconforming authors.
Almost Home by Madison Kuhn, the Instagram-famous poet and author of Please Don't Go Before I Get Better, is a mesmerizing new collection of poems and prose exploring the meaning and concept of "home," and the process of discovering it within one's self. At 23, Kuhn had already lived in 24 places. Almost Home is her attempt to reconcile her feelings of displacement in the world and achieve at least an emotional and spiritual sense of permanence and stability. Told from the framework of a figurative house, from front porch to bedroom, Kuhn takes you on a spellbinding journey through some of the most intimate parts of her life -- from childhood traumas to learning how to give and receive love. (Gallery Books) -- DG
We Still Leave a Legacy by Philip Robinson is a moving collection of verses by the award-winning poet and well-known activist, dedicated to his own friends and loved ones who transitioned from this world due to HIV/AIDS, cancer, or some other life-altering, debilitating condition. The Black gay writer actually began writing the book nearly 30 years ago when he started his lasting role as a volunteer and activist for HIV/AIDS causes. This touching memoriam, now available in paperback, lovingly gives honor to the many in Robinson's life who were gone from this realm too soon. (We Still Leave a Legacy Press) -- DG
Lord of the Butterflies by Andrea Gibson, the renowned queer spoken-word poet, is a captivating collection of writings that take a delicately nuanced and artistic look at gender, love, heartbreak, and family -- in addition to being a book of protest. Within her exciting prose, Gibson fiercely tackles some of today's most pressing and controversial issues as a society. Whether she's lashing out at gun violence, homophobia, or white supremacy, the winner of the first Women of the World Poetry Slam in 2008 goes right for the jugular with her powerful and unapologetic style. (Button Poetry) -- DG
Boss Broadby Megan Volpert, the acclaimed queer feminist teacher, poet, and author, is a new collection of over 40 of her most riveting poems in which she creatively utilizes iconic pop-culture references, from Bruce Springsteen lyrics to Steven Colbert and Patti Smith mentions. "I like working behind enemy lines to knock down powerful, sinister people," Volpert recently told Arts ATL. "In their place, I put queer feminism with splashy, campy, rock 'n' roll attitude." Don't miss out on this timely and exciting commentary that flips the script on an antiquated, patriarchal mindset with brilliant, insightful results. (Sibling Rivalry Press) -- DG
Aviva-No by Shimon Adaf, originally written in Hebrew, is a small collection of poems that artfully combines contemporary Hebrew, Arabic, and Old Armaic languages with ancient biblical, Talmudic, and Rabbinic text. Much of the prose focuses on Adaf's perspective as a member of Israeli society and the daily violence he's witnessed, as well as his sister's untimely death at 43. Now carefully translated into English (alongside its original Hebrew) by Yael Segalovitz in this new paperback edition, all can devour Adaf's often surreal and though-provoking writings. (Alice James Books) -- DG
Feed by Native-American poet Tommy "Teebs" Pico continues to prove his mastery of longform poetry with his fourth installment in a series of short books (IRL, Nature Poem, and Junk) that carry on a single narrative. In the semi-autobiographical series, we've seen the narrator through an intense love affair, and its eventual demise. Now in Feed, we witness our protagonist struggle with the aftermath of these events, mixing authentically modern cultural touchstones with thoughts of deep introspection. And lots of humor. Focusing on his relationships with culture and food, or lack thereof due to his post-colonization existence as an Indigenous person, Pico delivers an insightful, often hilarious, and too-rarely-told perspective of modern Native American life. (Tin House Books) -- DG
Frame of Mind: Punk Photos and Essays from Washington D.C. and Beyond, 1997-2017 photographed by Antonia Tricarico captures the gritty heart and soul of the late '90s punk scene in all its sweaty, raging glory. Focusing on bands born out of the D.C. area -- like Fugazi, Deep Lust, Lungfish, and Stinking Lizaveta -- this decadent coffee table book also features dozens of bands and artists (L7, Babes in Toyland) beyond the D.C. demographic who have drawn inspiration from this particular sect of punk. Though the photos feature artists of all genders, the fascinating essays that accompany them were penned by an impressive roster of women in rock (Joan Jett, Alice Bag, and Lori Barbero, to name a few). These writings, alongside renowned rock photographer Tricarico's unforgettably visceral images, make you feel like you've won the ultimate backstage pass. (Akashic Books) -- DG
Delicate Tiger. Ferocious Snowflake. by Christopher Soden is a carefully chosen selection of the famed critic's reviews of theatrical productions. Whereas other reviewers often focus almost primarily on what did or did not work in a staging, Soden approaches from a different point of view. His perspective focuses instead on what he finds uplifting in a production, with purpose as much as execution. As a result, his reviews are less an attempt to shape reaction to a particular performance as much it is to subtly realign the perspective and perception in general of the audience. This unique view of the reviewer as a more priest than judge has endeared him to both his devoted readers as well as the professionals who stage the productions. In addition to teaching and writing reviews, Soden's Queer Anarchy performance piece won the Dallas Voice's award for Best Stage Performance. (Lulu) -- Donald Padgett
Step Lightly by Kendall Klym, PhD, is a powerhouse collection of 15 short stories exploring the art of dance, movement, and the ongoing journey of connecting our hearts, souls, and bodies. A former professional ballet dancer, Klym channels the power of self-expression through dance in an array of human tales -- from an amateur ballerina in her 40s who forms a bond with her dance class, to a woman with a broken marriage whose newfound love for belly dancing sparks a sexual awakening, to a fantasy tale of a magical dessert that summons the ghost of legendary Russian ballerina Anna Pavlova to anyone who eats it. The award-winning storyteller's debut short story collection tickles the imagination while encouraging us to form a better relationship with our bodies. (Livingston Press) -- David Artavia
Running Upon the Wires by Kate Tempest secures the 34-year-old poet's place as one of the greatest young writers today. An incredibly personal collection of poems divided into three parts (The End, The Middle, and The Beginning) is a special experiment crafted beautifully by Tempest to show that love, the driving theme in the book, knows no direction. Her intuitive craftsmanship is on display in various forms of ballads, formal lyrics, and a bit of impetuousness laid out in the form of fragmented sentences beautifully written to represent peace within chaos. A true wordsmith, the London-born poet, playwright, and spoken word performer has managed to create a piece of work that stays ingrained in your mind long after putting it down. (Bloomsbury Publishing) -- DA
The Moth Presents Occasional Magic: True Stories About Defying the Impossibleedited by Catherine Burns brings everything we love about the acclaimed radio show and podcast, The Moth, into a suspenseful written narrative. Burns, The Moth's long-time artistic director, brought together people from across the globe to offer their tales of when they had to face the odds, and won. All stories were handpicked from the best narratives ever told on the hit show, meticulously translated for the page. A true emotional ride from start to finish, Occasional Magic will make you laugh, cry, and ponder about how fascinating humankind really is. (Crown Archetype) -- DA
Whereas is Layli Long Soldier's debut collection of poetry highlighting the cultural erasure of Native Americans by the United States. Its unapologetically strident and evoking language shines a light on the broken promises and evolving barriers the government has placed on Native tribes for centuries. Originally published in 2017 and now available in paperback, the Oglala Sioux author's collection of poems is still relevant today and is beautifully expressed through complex historical narratives. The winner of the 2016 Whiting Writers' Award, Long Soldier's work justifiably raises our level of consciousness to new heights. (Graywolf Press) -- DA
Heed the Hollow is Malcolm Tariq's captivating collection of poetry beautifully examining what it means to simply... be. More specifically, the poet explores the full scope of how to rebuild ourselves from the in and out, to be full while at the same time being hollow, to be aware of our humanity, our Blackness, our sexuality, while at the same acknowledging our past, present, future, and what it all means. With deeply moving metaphors and sharp imagery with backdrops of the American South, Tariq plants an emotional seed that dares us to examine our history while remaining conscious of our present path. (Graywolf Press) -- DA
This Wound Is a Worldby Billy-Ray Belcourt is an anthology of poems from Canada's first First Nations Rhodes Scholar. Describing himself as "one of those hopeless romantics who wants every blowjob to be transformative," his poems upset genre and effortlessly play with form. They pave a path for a new perspective and interpretation on queer and decolonial theory, and Indigenous poetry in Native America. His words leap from the page as they challenge coloniality of the present, and the tyranny of sexual and racial norms. Equal parts manifesto and memoir, This Wound Is a World is an introspective call to turn to love and sex to understand the plight of Indigenous peoples, and offer a path to dealing with sadness and pain without sacrificing history and identity. Belcourt is from the Driftpile Cree Nation and has won numerous awards for his poetry. (University of Minnesota Press) -- DP
Black Lightby Kimberly King Parsons is a lush, gritty, dark, and delicious collection of short stories by the award-winning writer. Told with wit, style, and unapologetic honesty, Parsons's writings unearth the places deep within ourselves that most of us prefer would remain buried. From describing cool, indifferent family dinners to hot-blooded trysts at a Texas pay-by-hour motel, Parsons creates vivid scenes most can relate to at some point or other in their lives, whether they'd like to admit it or not. Queer feminist author and critic Carmen Maria Machado (Her Body and Other Parties) called the stories in Black Light "grimy and weird, surprising, [and] utterly lush." (Penguin Random House) -- DG
Dearest Lenny: Letters from Japan and the Making of the World Maestro by Mari Yoshihara offers a fresh perspective on the life of world-renowned classical musician Leonard Bernstein. Through never-before-seen letters from two relatively unknown Japanese individuals, readers get an intimate peak into the famous maestro's personal life and relationships. One of the individuals in question was Kazuko Amano, a woman who started sending Bernstein fan letters in 1947 and grew to become a close family friend. The second set of letters were from Kunihiko Hashimoto, a young man who fell in love with Bernstein in the late '70s and eventually became his business representative. Through reading these beautifully written letters, one can see the powerful impact and influence the man, and his music, had on those around him. (Oxford University Press) -- DG
Allen Ginsberg: South American Journals (January-July 1960) edited by Michael Schumacher is the second of a three-volume series of Ginsberg's personal journals (the first volume being Iron Curtain Journals and the final volume, The Fall of America Journals, is forthcoming). Ginsberg went to South America in 1960 to attend a literary conference and ended up staying for an adventuresome six months. Writing more during this period than in any of his other journals, the great Beat poet's entries are peppered throughout with poetry, notes on his dreams, and other random existential thoughts and ideas. In the South American Journals, Ginsberg recounts his travels through Chile, Peru, particularly his visit to Machu Picchu, and his quest for the source of ayahuasca (also called yage) -- a natural hallucinogen made from local vine that was recommended by his friend and fellow adventurer, William S. Burroughs. (University of Minnesota Press) -- DG
Nonbinary Memoirs of Gender and Identity edited by Micah Rajunov and Scott Duane is a collection of first-person narratives that explore the lives of individuals across the gender spectrum. The book is divided into five sections ranging from stories that help define our concepts of gender and representation to the development of community and a greater acceptance in the mainstream. The reader will find plenty with which to connect and identify. There are stories dealing with self-realization and coming out, creating one's own person, learning how to stand up, and also stand out. Contributors to Nonbinary Memoirs reads like a who's-who list of LGBTQ, trans, and genderqueer icons -- including activist and author (and the first to coin the term "gender queer") Riki Williams, journalist S.E. Smith, scholar Genny Beemyn, author and social media personality Jeffrey Marsh, poet Christopher Soto, and many others. The voices given agency here speak to everyone who has ever questioned their identity and the rigid roles assigned to them by a non-accepting society. (Columbia University Press) -- DP
Evolution by Eileen Myles, now in paperback, is a collection of the writer's lively and wonderfully creative poems. From the author of the wildly inventive and critically acclaimed Afterglow, a clever dog memoir, comes a fresh collection of vivid prose that conjures everything from exotic imagery of far-off travels to everyday walks through Marfa, Texas, with Honey the pitbull. Don't miss this latest treasure from the queer, award-winning poet who prefers they/them pronouns and has authored over 20 books, including Chelsea Girls and Cool for You. (Grove Paperback) -- Desiree Guerrero
Disintegrate/Dissociate by Arielle Twist, a Cree, Two-Spirit, trans femme poet and sex educator whom you may know from a widely circulated piece for Them on what it's like to be an Indigenous trans woman on Thanksgiving. This impressive debut collection of Twist's poetry was initially part of Arsenal Pulp Press's series of works exclusively written by queer BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, and people of color) writers. In Disintegrate/Dissociate, she delves into the intricacies of being human, not shying away from topics like death and transformation. With sparse yet powerful words, Twist's poems explore the depths of grief, trauma, displacement, and identity -- both cultural and sexual. Balancing her rage with delicacy and tenderness, she navigates through what it means to be an Indigenous trans woman in our modern world. "With few words, she conveys so much about the legacies of colonization, the terror of transmisogyny, and the colossal force of them both," said Alok Vaid-Menon, transfeminine activist author of Femme in Public, adding, "In a political moment hell-bent on erasing Indigenous trans voices, Twist's Disintegrate/Dissociate is here to stay." -- DG
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