What to Read When You Want to Celebrate Pride
June is Pride Month, and while we celebrate LGBTQIA+ folx year-round at The Rumpus, we wanted to share a list of books written exclusively by queer authors this month. This year, we’ve asked our editors to share new and forthcoming books from LGTQIA+ community that they’re especially excited for—and we hope you’ll consider ordering and pre-ordering more than a few in support of these amazing authors!
If a title is marked as a Rumpus Book Club or Poetry Book Club upcoming selection, you can receive this book before its release date and participate in an exclusive conversation with its author—while also supporting the magazine. Just head to our store and subscribe today!
Girlhood by Melissa Febos
When her body began to change at eleven years old, Febos understood immediately that her meaning to other people had changed with it. By her teens, she defined herself based on these perceptions and by the romantic relationships she threw herself into headlong. Over time, Febos increasingly questioned the stories she’d been told about herself and the habits and defenses she’d developed over years of trying to meet others’ expectations. The values she and so many other women had learned in girlhood did not prioritize their personal safety, happiness, or freedom, and she set out to reframe those values and beliefs. Blending investigative reporting, memoir, and scholarship, Febos charts how she and others like her have reimagined relationships and made room for the anger, hurt, and grief women have long been taught to deny. Fierce and breathtaking, written with Febos’s characteristic lyricism and searing insights, Girlhood is an anthem for women, a piercing exploration of the forces that seek to confine them, and a searing study of the transitions into and away from girlhood, and toward a chosen self.
Wound from the Mouth of a Wound by torrin a. greathouse
”Wound from the Mouth of a Wound is a remarkable excavation, multitasking in the best and most unforgettable ways. This collection attends to both beauty and ’the ugly of my tongue / lolling serpent curled in the slick of my jaw,’—presenting visionary mediations and diagramming maps across the galaxy of a body, all while serving others as a guide or oracle. In these pages, the fragments and fusion of public and private desires dig into exhilarating terrain I didn’t quite realize I had been thirsty for all along. The everlasting and intimate result of this book feels like we’re holding a small thunderstorm in our hands.” – Aimee Nezhukumatathil A Rumpus Poetry Book Club upcoming selection!
The Freezer Door by Mattilda B. Sycamore
The Freezer Door records the ebb and flow of desire in daily life. Crossing through loneliness in search of communal pleasure in Seattle, Mattilda Bernstein Sycamore exposes the failure and persistence of queer dreams, the hypocritical allure of gay male sexual culture, and the stranglehold of the suburban imagination over city life. Ferocious and tender, The Freezer Door offers a complex meditation on the trauma and possibility of searching for connection in a world that relentlessly enforces bland norms of gender, sexual, and social conformity while claiming to celebrate diversity. A Rumpus Book Club upcoming selection!
Inheritance by Taylor Johnson
Inheritance is a black sensorium, a chapel of color and sound that speaks to spaciousness, surveillance, identity, desire, and transcendence. Influenced by everyday moments of Washington, DC living, the poems live outside of the outside and beyond the language of categorical difference, inviting anyone listening to listen a bit closer. Inheritance is about the self’s struggle with definition and assumption.
Memorial by Bryan Washington
Benson and Mike are two young guys who live together in Houston. Mike is a Japanese American chef at a Mexican restaurant and Benson’s a Black day care teacher, and they’ve been together for a few years—good years—but now they’re not sure why they’re still a couple. There’s the sex, sure, and the meals Mike cooks for Benson, and, well, they love each other. But when Mike finds out his estranged father is dying in Osaka just as his acerbic Japanese mother, Mitsuko, arrives in Texas for a visit, Mike picks up and flies across the world to say goodbye. In Japan he undergoes an extraordinary transformation, discovering the truth about his family and his past. Back home, Mitsuko and Benson are stuck living together as unconventional roommates, an absurd domestic situation that ends up meaning more to each of them than they ever could have predicted. Without Mike’s immediate pull, Benson begins to push outwards, realizing he might just know what he wants out of life and have the goods to get it. Both men will change in ways that will either make them stronger together, or fracture everything they’ve ever known. And just maybe they’ll all be okay in the end.
Bestiary by K-Ming Chang
One evening, Mother tells Daughter a story about a tiger spirit who lived in a woman’s body. She was called Hu Gu Po, and she hungered to eat children, especially their toes. Soon afterwards, Daughter awakes with a tiger tail. And more mysterious events follow: Holes in the backyard spit up letters penned by her grandmother; a visiting aunt arrives with snakes in her belly; a brother tests the possibility of flight. All the while, Daughter is falling for Ben, a neighborhood girl with mysterious powers of her own. As the two young lovers translate the grandmother’s letters, Daughter begins to understand that each woman in her family embodies a myth—and that she will have to bring her family’s secrets to light in order to change their destiny.
Thrown in the Throat by Benjamin Garcia
“Tongues make mistakes / and mistakes / make languages.” And Benjamin Garcia makes a stunning debut with Thrown in the Throat. In a sex-positive incantation that retextures what it is to write a queer life amidst troubled times, Garcia writes boldly of citizenship, family, and Adam Rippon’s butt. Detailing a childhood spent undocumented, one speaker recalls nights when “because we cannot sleep / we dream with open eyes.” Garcia delves with both English and Spanish into how one survives a country’s long love affair with anti-immigrant cruelty. Rendering a family working to the very end to hold each other, he writes the kind of family you both survive and survive with. A recent Rumpus Poetry Book Club selection!
The Death of Vivek Oji by Akwaeke Emezi
One afternoon, in a town in southeastern Nigeria, a mother opens her front door to discover her son’s body, wrapped in colorful fabric, at her feet. What follows is the tumultuous, heart-wrenching story of one family’s struggle to understand a child whose spirit is both gentle and mysterious. Raised by a distant father and an understanding but overprotective mother, Vivek suffers disorienting blackouts, moments of disconnection between self and surroundings. As adolescence gives way to adulthood, Vivek finds solace in friendships with the warm, boisterous daughters of the Nigerwives, foreign-born women married to Nigerian men. But Vivek’s closest bond is with Osita, the worldly, high-spirited cousin whose teasing confidence masks a guarded private life. As their relationship deepens—and Osita struggles to understand Vivek’s escalating crisis—the mystery gives way to a heart-stopping act of violence in a moment of exhilarating freedom.
Tomboyland by Melissa Faliveno
In this debut collection of essays, Melissa Faliveno traverses the liminal spaces of her childhood in working-class Wisconsin and the paths she’s traveled since, compelled by questions of girlhood and womanhood, queerness and class, and how the lands of our upbringing both define and complicate us even long after we’ve left. Part personal narrative, part cultural reportage, Tomboyland navigates midwestern traditions, mythologies, landscapes, and lives to explore the intersections of identity and place. From F5 tornadoes and fast-pitch softball to gun culture, strange glacial terrains, kink party potlucks, and the question of motherhood, Faliveno asks curious, honest, and often darkly funny questions about belonging and the body, isolation and community, and what we mean when we use words like woman, family, and home.
Pass with Care by Cooper Lee Bombardier
Cooper Lee Bombardier weaves together a lyrical blend of personal essays, poetry, and interview transcripts, set against the backdrops of working-class New England, the queer punk scene of early 90s San Francisco, and the gritty deserts of New Mexico. By documenting trans history through his life in the arts, trans elder Bombardier lends much-needed insight into the lives, coming out, and transitions of older transgender people. Pass with Care offers a bridge between queer and trans generations, revealing a unique reckoning with what it means to become a man today.
True Love by Sarah Gerard
Nina is a struggling writer, a college drop-out, a liar, and a cheater. More than anything she wants love. She deserves it. From the burned-out suburbs of Florida to the anonymous squalor of New York City, she eats through an incestuous cast of characters in search of it: her mother, a narcissistic lesbian living in a nudist polycule; Odessa, a single mom with even worse taste in men than Nina; Seth, an artist whose latest show is comprised of three Tupperware containers full of trash; Brian, whose roller-coaster affair with Nina is the most stable “relationship” in his life; and Aaron, an aspiring filmmaker living at home with his parents, with whom Nina begins to write her magnum opus. Nina’s quest for fulfillment is at once darkly comedic, acerbically acute, and painfully human—a scathing critique of contemporary society, and a tender examination of our anguished yearning for connection in an era defined by detachment.
You Exist Too Much by Zaina Arafat
On a hot day in Bethlehem, a twelve-year-old Palestinian-American girl is yelled at by a group of men outside the Church of the Nativity. She has exposed her legs in a biblical city, an act they deem forbidden, and their judgement will echo on through her adolescence. When our narrator finally admits to her mother that she is queer, her mother’s response only intensifies a sense of shame: “You exist too much,” she tells her daughter. Told in vignettes that flash between the US and the Middle East―from New York to Jordan, Lebanon, and Palestine―Zaina Arafat’s debut novel traces her protagonist’s progress from blushing teen to sought-after DJ and aspiring writer. In Brooklyn, she moves into an apartment with her first serious girlfriend and tries to content herself with their comfortable relationship. But soon her longings, so closely hidden during her teenage years, explode out into reckless romantic encounters and obsessions with other people. Her desire to thwart her own destructive impulses will eventually lead her to The Ledge, an unconventional treatment center that identifies her affliction as “love addiction.” In this strange, enclosed society she will start to consider the unnerving similarities between her own internal traumas and divisions and those of the places that have formed her.
The Groom Will Keep His Name by Matt Ortile
When Matt Ortile moved from Manila to Las Vegas, the locals couldn’t pronounce his name. Harassed as a kid for his brown skin, accent, and femininity, he believed he could belong in America by marrying a white man and shedding his Filipino identity. This was the first myth he told himself. The Groom Will Keep His Name explores the various tales Ortile spun about what it means to be a Vassar Girl, an American Boy, and a Filipino immigrant in New York looking to build a home. As we meet and mate, we tell stories about ourselves, revealing not just who we are, but who we want to be. Ortile recounts the relationships and whateverships that pushed him to confront his notions of sex, power, and the model minority myth. Whether swiping on Grindr, analyzing DMs, or cruising steam rooms, Ortile brings us on his journey toward radical self-love with intelligence, wit, and his heart on his sleeve.
Fairest: A Memoir by Meredith Talusan
Fairest is a memoir about a precocious boy with albinism, a “sun child” from a rural Philippine village, who would grow up to become a woman in America. Coping with the strain of parental neglect and the elusive promise of US citizenship, Talusan found childhood comfort from her devoted grandmother, a grounding force as she was treated by others with special preference or public curiosity. As an immigrant to the United States, Talusan came to be perceived as white. An academic scholarship to Harvard provided access to elite circles of privilege but required Talusan to navigate through the complex spheres of race, class, sexuality, and her place within the gay community. She emerged as an artist and an activist questioning the boundaries of gender. Talusan realized she did not want to be confined to a prescribed role as a man, and transitioned to become a woman, despite the risk of losing a man she deeply loved. Throughout her journey, Talusan shares poignant and powerful episodes of desirability and love. Her evocative reflections shift our own perceptions of love, identity, gender, and the fairness of life.
All My Mother’s Lovers by Ilana Masad
Intimacy has always eluded twenty-seven-year-old Maggie Krause—despite being brought up by married parents, models of domestic bliss—until, that is, Lucia came into her life. But when Maggie’s mom, Iris, dies in a car crash, Maggie returns home only to discover a withdrawn dad, an angry brother, and, along with Iris’s will, five sealed envelopes, each addressed to a mysterious man she’s never heard of. In an effort to run from her own grief and discover the truth about Iris—who made no secret of her discomfort with her daughter’s sexuality—Maggie embarks on a road trip, determined to hand-deliver the letters and find out what these men meant to her mother. Maggie quickly discovers Iris’s second, hidden life, which shatters everything Maggie thought she knew about her parents’ perfect relationship. What is she supposed to tell her father and brother? And how can she deal with her own relationship when her whole world is in freefall?
Boys of Alabama by Genevieve Hudson
A sensitive teen, newly arrived in Alabama, falls in love, questions his faith, and navigates a strange power. While his German parents don’t know what to make of a South pining for the past, shy Max thrives in the thick heat. Taken in by the football team, he learns how to catch a spiraling ball, how to point a gun, and how to hide his innermost secrets. Max already expects some of the raucous behavior of his new, American friends―like their insatiable hunger for the fried and cheesy, and their locker room talk about girls. But he doesn’t expect the camaraderie―or how quickly he would be welcomed into their world of basement beer drinking. In his new canvas pants and thickening muscles, Max feels like he’s “playing dress-up.” That is until he meets Pan, the school “witch,” in Physics class: “Pan in his all black. Pan with his goth choker and the gel that made his hair go straight up.” Suddenly, Max feels seen, and the pair embarks on a consuming relationship: Max tells Pan about his supernatural powers, and Pan tells Max about the snake poison initiations of the local church. The boys, however, aren’t sure whose past is darker, and what is more frightening―their true selves, or staying true in Alabama.
We Had No Rules by Corinne Manning
A young teenager stays a step ahead of her parents’ sexuality-based restrictions by running away and learns a very different set of rules. A woman grieves the loss of a sister, a “gay divorce,” and the pain of unacknowledged abuse with the help of a lone wallaby on a farm in Washington State. A professor of women’s and gender studies revels in academic and sexual power but risks losing custody of the family dog. In Corinne Manning’s debut story collection, a cast of queer characters explore the choice of assimilation over rebellion. In this historical moment that’s hyperaware of and desperate to define even the slowest of continental shifts, when commitment succumbs to the logic of capitalism and nobody knows what to call each other or themselves—Gay? Lesbian? Queer? Partners? Dad?—who are we? And if we don’t know who we are, what exactly can we offer each other?
Catrachos by Roy G. Guzmán
A name for the people of Honduras, Catrachos is a term of solidarity and resilience. In these unflinching, riveting poems, Roy G. Guzmán reaches across borders—between life and death and between countries—invoking the voices of the lost. Part immigration narrative, part elegy, and part queer coming-of-age story, Catrachos finds its own religion in fantastic figures such as the X-Men, pop singers, and the “Queerodactyl,” which is imagined in a series of poems as a dinosaur sashaying in the shadow of an oncoming comet, insistent on surviving extinction. With exceptional energy, humor, and inventiveness, Guzmán’s debut is a devastating display of lyrical and moral complexity—an introduction to an immediately captivating, urgently needed voice.
Good Boy: My Life in Seven Dogs by Jennifer Finney Boylan
In Good Boy, Boylan explores what should be the simplest topic in the world, but never is: finding and giving love. Good Boy is a universal account of a remarkable story: showing how a young boy became a middle-aged woman―accompanied at seven crucial moments of growth and transformation by seven memorable dogs. “Everything I know about love,” she writes, “I learned from dogs.” Their love enables us to pull off what seem like impossible feats: to find our way home when we are lost, to live our lives with humor and courage, and above all, to best become our true selves.
Wow, No Thank You. by Samantha Irby
Irby is forty, and increasingly uncomfortable in her own skin despite what Inspirational Instagram Infographics have promised her. She has left her job as a receptionist at a veterinary clinic, has published successful books and has been friendzoned by Hollywood, left Chicago, and moved into a house with a garden that requires repairs and know-how with her wife in a blue town in the middle of a red state where she now hosts book clubs and makes mason jar salads. This is the bourgeois life of a Hallmark Channel dream. She goes on bad dates with new friends, spends weeks in Los Angeles taking meetings with “TV executives slash amateur astrologers” while being a “cheese fry-eating slightly damp Midwest person,” “with neck pain and no cartilage in [her] knees,” who still hides past-due bills under her pillow.
The Gutter Spread Guide to Prayer by Eric Tran
In The Gutter Spread Guide to Prayer, Eric Tran contends with the aftermath of a close friend’s suicide while he simultaneously explores the complexities of being a gay man of color. Grief opens into unraveling circles of inquiry as Tran reflects on the loss of his friend and of their shared identity as gay Asian American men. Through mourning and acute observations, these poems consider how those who experience marginalization, the poet included, may live and fall victim to tragedy. Tran explores how his life, even while in the company of desire and the pursuit of freedom, is never far from danger. Like grief that makes the whole world seem strange, Tran’s poetry merges into fantasy lands and rides the lines between imagined worlds and the reality of inescapable loss. A recent Rumpus Poetry Book Club selection!
Later: My Life at the Edge of the World by Paul Lisicky
When Paul Lisicky arrived in Provincetown in the early 1990s, he was leaving behind a history of family trauma to live in a place outside of time, known for its values of inclusion, acceptance, and art. In this idyllic haven, Lisicky searches for love and connection and comes into his own as he finds a sense of belonging. At the same time, the center of this community is consumed by the AIDS crisis, and the very structure of town life is being rewired out of necessity: What might this utopia look like during a time of dystopia? Later dramatizes a spectacular yet ravaged place and a unique era when more fully becoming one’s self collided with the realization that ongoingness couldn’t be taken for granted, and staying alive from moment to moment exacted absolute attention. A recent Rumpus Book Club selection!
Everyone on the Moon is Essential Personnel by Julian K. Jarboe
In this debut collection of body-horror fairy tales and mid-apocalyptic Catholic cyberpunk, memory and myth, loss and age, are the tools of storyteller Jarboe, a talent in the field of queer fabulism. Bodily autonomy and transformation, the importance of negative emotions, unhealthy relationships, and bad situations amidst the staggering and urgent question of how build and nurture meaning, love, and safety in a larger world/society that might not be “fixable.”
Fiebre Tropical by Juliana Delgado Lopera
Uprooted from her comfortable life in Bogotá, Colombia, into an ant-infested Miami townhouse, fifteen-year-old Francisca is miserable and friendless in her strange new city. Her alienation grows when her mother is swept up into an evangelical church, replete with Christian salsa, abstinent young dancers, and baptisms for the dead. But there, Francisca also meets the magnetic Carmen: opinionated and charismatic, head of the youth group, and the pastor’s daughter. As her mother’s mental health deteriorates and her grandmother descends into alcoholism, Francisca falls more and more intensely in love with Carmen. To get closer to her, Francisca turns to Jesus to be saved, even as their relationship hurtles toward a shattering conclusion.
Postcolonial Love Poem by Natalie Diaz
Postcolonial Love Poem is an anthem of desire against erasure. Natalie Diaz’s brilliant second collection demands that every body carried in its pages―bodies of language, land, rivers, suffering brothers, enemies, and lovers―be touched and held as beloveds. Through these poems, the wounds inflicted by America onto an indigenous people are allowed to bloom pleasure and tenderness. In this new lyrical landscape, the bodies of indigenous, Latinx, black, and brown women are simultaneously the body politic and the body ecstatic. In claiming this autonomy of desire, language is pushed to its dark edges, the astonishing dunefields and forests where pleasure and love are both grief and joy, violence and sensuality. Postcolonial Love Poem unravels notions of American goodness and creates something more powerful than hope―in it, a future is built, future being a matrix of the choices we make now, and in these poems, Diaz chooses love.
Real Life by Brandon Taylor
A novel of rare emotional power that excavates the social intricacies of a late-summer weekend—and a lifetime of buried pain. Almost everything about Wallace, an introverted African-American transplant from Alabama, is at odds with the lakeside Midwestern university town where he is working toward a biochemistry degree. For reasons of self-preservation, Wallace has enforced a wary distance even within his own circle of friends—some dating each other, some dating women, some feigning straightness. But a series of confrontations with colleagues, and an unexpected encounter with a young straight man, conspire to fracture his defenses, while revealing hidden currents of resentment and desire that threaten the equilibrium of their community.
Here for It: Or, How to Save Your Soul in America by R. Eric Thomas
In essays by turns hysterical and heartfelt, Eric redefines what it means to be an “other” through the lens of his own life experience. He explores the two worlds of his childhood: the barren urban landscape where his parents’ house was an anomalous bright spot, and the verdant school they sent him to in white suburbia. He writes about struggling to reconcile his Christian identity with his sexuality, the exhaustion of code-switching in college, accidentally getting famous on the internet (for the wrong reason), and the surreal experience of covering the 2016 election, and the seismic changes that came thereafter. Ultimately, Eric seeks the answer to these ever more relevant questions: Is the future worth it? Why do we bother when everything seems to be getting worse? As the world continues to shift in unpredictable ways, Eric finds the answers to these questions by re-envisioning what “normal” means and in the powerful alchemy that occurs when you at last place yourself at the center of your own story.
My Autobiography of Carson McCullers by Jenn Shapland
While working as an intern in the archives at the Harry Ransom Center, Jenn Shapland encounters the love letters of Carson McCullers and a woman named Annemarie—letters that are tender, intimate, and unabashed in their feelings. Shapland recognizes herself in the letters’ language—but does not see McCullers as history has portrayed her. Shapland is compelled to undertake a recovery of the full narrative and language of McCullers’s life: she wades through the therapy transcripts; she stays at McCullers’s childhood home, where she lounges in her bathtub and eats delivery pizza; she relives McCullers’s days at her beloved Yaddo. As Shapland reckons with the expanding and collapsing distance between her and McCullers, she sees how McCullers’s story has become a way to articulate something about herself. The results reveal something entirely new not only about this one remarkable, walleyed life, but about the way we tell queer love stories. A recent Rumpus Book Club selection!
Homie by Danez Smith
Homie is Danez Smith’s magnificent anthem about the saving grace of friendship. Rooted in the loss of one of Smith’s close friends, this book comes out of the search for joy and intimacy within a nation where both can seem scarce and getting scarcer. In poems of rare power and generosity, Smith acknowledges that in a country overrun by violence, xenophobia, and disparity, and in a body defined by race, queerness, and diagnosis, it can be hard to survive, even harder to remember reasons for living. But then the phone lights up, or a shout comes up to the window, and family―blood and chosen―arrives with just the right food and some redemption. Part friendship diary, part bright elegy, part war cry, Homie is the exuberant new book written for Danez and for Danez’s friends and for you and for yours. A recent Rumpus Poetry Book Club selection!
The Tilt Torn Away from the Seasons by Elizabeth Lindsey Rogers
The Tilt Torn Away from the Seasons imagines a human mission to Mars, a consequence of Earth’s devastation from climate change and natural disaster. As humans begin to colonize the planet, history inevitably repeats itself. Dystopian and ecopoetic, this collection examines the impulse and danger of the colonial mindset, and the ways that gendered violence and ecological destruction, body and land, are linked. Featuring a multiplicity of narratives and voices, readers are presented with sonnet crowns, application forms, and large-scale landscape poems that seem to float across the field of the page. With these unusual forms, Rogers also reminds us of previous exploitations on our own planet. Striking, thought-provoking, and necessary, The Tilt Torn Away from the Seasons offers a new parable for our modern times. A recent Rumpus Poetry Book Club selection!
Cleanness by Garth Greenwell
Sofia, Bulgaria, a landlocked city in southern Europe, stirs with hope and impending upheaval. Soviet buildings crumble, wind scatters sand from the far south, and political protesters flood the streets with song. In this atmosphere of disquiet, an American teacher navigates a life transformed by the discovery and loss of love. As he prepares to leave the place he’s come to call home, he grapples with the intimate encounters that have marked his years abroad, each bearing uncanny reminders of his past. A queer student’s confession recalls his own first love, a stranger’s seduction devolves into paternal sadism, and a romance with another foreigner opens, and heals, old wounds. Each echo reveals startling insights about what it means to seek connection: with those we love, with the places we inhabit, and with our own fugitive selves.
In the Dream House by Carmen Maria Machado
In the Dream House is Carmen Maria Machado’s engrossing and wildly innovative account of a relationship gone bad, and a bold dissection of the mechanisms and cultural representations of psychological abuse. Tracing the full arc of a harrowing relationship with a charismatic but volatile woman, Machado struggles to make sense of how what happened to her shaped the person she was becoming. And it’s that struggle that gives the book its original structure: each chapter is driven by its own narrative trope―the haunted house, erotica, the bildungsroman―through which Machado holds the events up to the light and examines them from different angles. She looks back at her religious adolescence, unpacks the stereotype of lesbian relationships as safe and utopian, and widens the view with essayistic explorations of the history and reality of abuse in queer relationships.
Shine of the Ever by Claire Rudy Foster
Shine of the Ever is a literary mixtape of queer voices out of 1990s Portland. By turns tender and punk-tough, fierce and loving, this collection of short stories explores what binds a community of queer and trans people as they negotiate love, screwing up, and learning to forgive themselves for being young and sometimes foolish.
HoodWitch by Faylita Hicks
In this collection about resilience, Hicks speaks about giving her child up for adoption, mourning the death of her fiancé, and embracing the nonbinary femme body—persevering in the face of medical malpractice, domestic abuse, and police violence. Exploring the intersections of Christianity, modern mysticism, and Afrofuturism in a sometimes urban, sometimes natural setting, Hicks finds a place where “everyone everywhere is hands in the air,” where “you know they gonna push & pull it together. / Just like they learned to.” It is a place of natural magick—where someone like Hicks can have more than one name: where they can be both dead and alive, both a mortal and a god.
HULL by Xandria Phillips
In this debut collection by African American poet Xandria Phillips, HULL explores emotional impacts of colonialism and racism on the Black queer body and the present-day emotional impacts of enslavement in urban, rural, and international settings. HULL is lyrical, layered, history-ridden, experimental, textured, adorned, ecstatic, and emotionally investigative.
How We Fight for Our Lives by Saeed Jones
Haunted and haunting, Jones’s memoir tells the story of a young, black, gay man from the South as he fights to carve out a place for himself, within his family, within his country, within his own hopes, desires, and fears. Through a series of vignettes that chart a course across the American landscape, Jones draws readers into his boyhood and adolescence—into tumultuous relationships with his mother and grandmother, into passing flings with lovers, friends and strangers. Each piece builds into a larger examination of race and queerness, power and vulnerability, love and grief: a portrait of what we all do for one another—and to one another—as we fight to become ourselves.
Space Struck by Paige Lewis
Zig-zagging through the realms of nature, science, and religion, one finds St. Francis sighing in the corner of a studio apartment, tides that are caused by millions of oysters “gasping in unison,” an ark filled with women in its stables, and prayers that reach God fastest by balloon. There’s pathos: “When my new lover tells me I’m correct to love him, I / realize the sound isn’t metal at all. It’s not the coins rattling / on concrete, but the fingers scraping to pick them up.” And humor, too: “…even the sun’s been sighing Not you again / when it sees me.” After reading this far-reaching, inventive collection, we too are startled, space struck, our pockets gloriously “filled with space dust.”