hey everybody, i’m rex, a new mfa poet and place for writers t.a. hailing from nyc. this week i’ll be sharing my top 5 city-based books by lgbtq authors:
in no particular order…
1) so many ways to sleep badly by mattilda bernstein sycamore
this collection of short stories? essays? prose-poems? is a fantastic, genderfucking whirlwind roping together fast-paced and slow-moving elements of queer life in san francisco into perspective. we get camp, thrill, chronic pain, booze, bugs, marches, sex, go-go boys, vegging out, you name it. all the things lgbtq outcast activist insomniacs do to fill up the time when they aren’t sleeping.
2) giovanni’s room by james baldwin
giovanni’s room is one of the saddest books i’ve ever read, but also one of the most honest, daring, and gripping. la vie boheme in paris isn’t what it’s all cracked up to be, because “gay” may mean happy, but it also means isolation, uncertainty, and internalized homophobia—all produced by cultures that don’t give us enough leg room to live openly and proudly.
3) rat bohemia by sarah schulman
because this book takes place partially in jackson heights, where i grew up. because it challenges the changing cultural landscapes of new york city as a result of gentrification, mass AIDS-related deaths, etc. all of its characters are both searching for and finding themselves, which feels like a constant process for most lgbtq folks.
4) pier queen by emanuel xavier
emanuel xavier is just where it’s at. he’s angry, visionary, fabulous. he’s all about slam, performance, glitz, riling you up, and reminding you what’s what.
5) the beautiful by michelle tea
my copy is busted— full of dog-ears, underlines, margin notes, and is curled up from stuffing it in my pocket. i’ve taken it with me wherever i’ve moved and know many of the poems in there by heart. the whole collection is an empowering, sad, raging, hilarious, angry, fabulous homage to being young, queer, feminist and trying to figure out what the hell to do with it all.