The astounding poems that comprise–vividly inhabit–Kevin McLellan’s In other words you/ waver between biblical lamentations and a contemplative sense of memorialized irony. They are a series of snap shots–an embodiment of–gay male longing and queer desire told through a series of time fractured images, song fragments, objects, and muted emotions: a remembrance of the past, vividly illuminated:
/ a poor
historian / alert
like a mockingbird
at nightfall / the
notes / chatter
the form of waiting.
McLellan vividly conjures those moments of emotional panic and sadness–“/ your breathing [stanza break] a leak in the silence”–that jolt us from consciousness into a dream world of not just regret but a veneration, a reverence that borders on holiness. The enormous power of these poems is embedded in their quietness, their contemplation, transfiguration of the loss of the everyday.
Michael Bronski author of A Queer History of the United States and editor of Taking Liberties: Gay Men’s Essays on Politics, Culture, & Sex
This book traffics in the second person. These queer meditations are both directly addressed to and overheard by a beloved You—Self / Other / Reader conjoined in a dance of enjambed vocables, a syntactic pas de deux of monostichs and couplets punctuated by fragmentary prose epistles. We are reminded of the demands that the libido makes, the joys of (w)rote habits ruptured by the new, all of it backed up by an Eighties soundtrack pulsing hard out of the Castro all the way to the U.K. So fasten your seatbelts. The you you left with will not be the same you upon return.
Timothy Liu author of author of Of Thee I Sing, Say Goodnight, and Vox Angelica, and editor of Word of Mouth: An Anthology of Gay American Poetry.