“Getting By” Is a Thoughtful Story about Attraction and Personal Growth

"Getting By" Is a Thoughtful Story about Attraction and Personal Growth

Carver, a seventeen-year-old Black man, is a high school student facing a variety of challenges. Not only is he preparing to take the ACT, but he is also dealing with violent bullies and trying to figure out his sexuality while immersing himself in his first romantic relationship. When things start to come to a head, Carver must figure out how to deal with everything and emerge unscathed.

One of the first things that I enjoyed about the book was Carver’s voice, which is formal yet very detailed and honest. While some might find it stiff and lacking expression compared to those of other teen protagonists, it’s important to note that Carver’s voice is different because he—and the author—are autistic. At one point, Carver mentions that his stoic way of speaking caused someone to nickname him “robot,” but how he doesn’t mind, since he knows he isn’t too expressive.

Of all the thoughts Carver shares with the reader, his thoughts about different levels of attraction are some of the most surprising and validating. Given that some people assume that autistic people are too childish to understand romance and sex, it was gratifying to see Carver openly and privately lust after men. At the same time, watching him realize what he wants from a romantic relationship by dating his best friend, Jocelynn, demonstrates the complexity of navigating personal sexuality.

In addition to his thoughts on his personal orientation, Carver is also gregarious about other things, such as his passion for photography, his hobbies of drawing and playing guitar, and his love of Disney films. Not only does he discuss these things through internal dialogue, but he also expresses his feelings about them with others he feels comfortable with, especially Jocelynn. One scene that I enjoyed is when the two of them go on a picnic and Carver plays a few songs that he learned on guitar.

In addition to Carver himself, there is also a decent cast of characters that drive the story along. Jocelynn is a very sweet young woman, while bullies Tyrell and Raymond are typically superficial, with a disturbing disdain for queerness. Ava and Heather are loyal friends to Carver. One character who was a pleasant surprise was Donnell, the Black jock who Carver crushes on and lusts after. At first, Donnell appears to be someone Carver can only admire from afar, but a single conversation late in the book humanizes him.

One minor issue this book has is that it can get dull when Carver isn’t narrating, thinking, or talking to someone else. Since Carver is the protagonist, it is understandable that his voice is the most dominant one in the book. However, the richness of the novel’s portrait of Carver is rarely extended to secondary characters who he doesn’t regularly interact with. It would have been nice, for example, to learn about Carver’s parents through conversations similar to those he has with Jocelynn’s parents.

All in all, Getting By is a thoughtful coming-of-age story about attraction and personal growth. With an authentic main protagonist and a nice cast of characters, this is a vibrant read.

The Afro YA promotes black young adult authors and YA books with black characters, especially those that influence Pennington, an aspiring YA author who believes that black YA readers need diverse books, creators, and stories so that they don’t have to search for their experiences like she did.

Latonya Pennington is a poet and freelance pop culture critic. Their freelance work can also be found at PRIDE, Wear Your Voice magazine, and Black Sci-fi. As a poet, they have been published in Fiyah Lit magazine, Scribes of Nyota, and Argot magazine among others.

Top photo by nappy

Top photo by Thuanny Gantuss from Pexels

“Tiffany Sly Lives Here Now” Is a Dark Story of Family, Trauma, and Resilience

"Tiffany Sly Lives Here Now" Is a Dark Story of Family, Trauma, and Resilience

Content Warning

This review contains discussion of parental abuse, ableism against people with autism, alopecia, colorism, and racism.

After her mother’s death, sixteen-year-old Tiffany Sly goes to live with the family of Anthony Stone, her biological dad. However, Tiffany also has a secret: another man named Xavier Xavion thinks he might be her real dad, and he wants her to do a DNA test with him in seven days. With her life upended in more ways than one, Tiffany must make sense of who and what family could truly mean.

Speaking of families, one of the areas where this book shines is that it features a found family as well as a biological one. A found family is the family you make for yourself, as opposed to the family you were born into. Tiffany Sly gains a found family through her neighbors, a Black lesbian beautician named Jo Walton and her eccentric yet wise and kind son, Marcus. Jo Walton becomes a surrogate mother to Tiffany, allowing her to maintain her pride as a dark-skinned Black young woman and giving her a safe space to be herself. Marcus gives Tiffany the space to question how she feels about spiritual faith and death.

By contrast, Tiffany’s biological family is mostly awful, especially her father, Anthony Stone. Whether it’s because of his own self-hatred, his religious faith as a Jehovah’s Witness, or a combination of this with his own upbringing, Anthony Stone is a toxic and abusive parent for almost the entire book. As a light-skinned, mixed Black man who upholds respectability, he discriminates against or punishes anyone who does not fit his ideal, including his own family and his Black neighbors. When he first meets Tiffany, he demands she take out her braids even though they are her protective hairstyle for alopecia, a hair condition she developed due to stress and trauma. A few pages later, he also punishes his youngest daughter, Pumpkin, for being a person with autism.

Stone’s oldest biological daughter, London, is almost as bad as her father. Caught between a desire to please her family and rebel against them, she belittles or ignores Tiffany for most of the book. When London and Tiffany first meet, she makes a rude, colorist comment about how dark Tiffany’s skin is. Later, she films Tiffany falling on the basketball court and then shares the video with her friend, who uploads it with racist overtones added in. Although London swears she didn’t want things to go that far due to how her dad monitors his children’s social media, this is a really flimsy excuse.

In fact, the only family member with minor redeeming qualities is Anthony Stone’s wife, Margaret. Before Tiffany arrived, Margaret went along with whatever Anthony did in order to keep up appearances and prevent Anthony from being too harsh with her. Once Tiffany starts trying to make an effort to understand Anthony and his family more, however, she helps Margaret care for Pumpkin in a way that doesn’t trigger Pumpkin’s autistic meltdowns. Margaret, in turn, is helps Tiffany to understand Anthony’s past with Tiffany’s bio mom, Imani.

In addition to showing how complicated family can be, the book also portrays mental health, grief, and trauma in an authentic light, especially through the character of Tiffany herself. Some of her most memorable internal dialogue showcases her anxiety in a variety of situations, such as riding an airplane or a car. The way Tiffany’s anxiety and obsessive compulsive disorder are portrayed, moreover, breaks the stigma surrounding mental health by normalizing taking medication to manage ongoing conditions. Also, Tiffany’s alopecia demonstrates how trauma can affect your physical as well as your mental health.

Yet Tiffany Sly is so much more than her trauma and mental illnesses. She is shown to have a deep love of music as a guitarist; some of the best dialogue has her waxing poetic about albums by The Beatles or the artistry of Nina Simone and Gershwin. Tiffany is also shown to be both a daughter and a granddaughter through her relationships with family members, especially her deceased mother, Imani. Although Imani isn’t physically present in the book, her time with Tiffany lives on through flashbacks and one surprise that brought tears to my eyes.

In fact, Tiffany Sly’s personality and character growth are the sole reasons I was able to keep reading this book. Although Tiffany experiences great hardship, she manages to pull through thanks to her kindness toward her found family and her gradually increasing compassion for Anthony Stone’s family, which grows from her desire for a father. But Tiffany deserves a better bio family than the one she ends up with, and she deserves a chance to choose who she calls her family. As a survivor of an emotionally abusive parent, I can’t say that I was completely comfortable with the ending to this book.

While this book tackles mental health, loss, and trauma beautifully, the toxic and abusive parenting of Tiffany’s bio dad nearly undoes all the progress Tiffany makes throughout the book. Due to how harmful Anthony Stone’s parenting is for most of the book, I can’t wholeheartedly recommend Dana L. Davis’s Tiffany Sly Lives Here Now to readers. For readers who do decide to pick up this book, be aware that this book contains triggering content.

The Afro YA promotes black young adult authors and YA books with black characters, especially those that influence Pennington, an aspiring YA author who believes that black YA readers need diverse books, creators, and stories so that they don’t have to search for their experiences like she did.

Latonya Pennington is a poet and freelance pop culture critic. Their freelance work can also be found at PRIDE, Wear Your Voice magazine, and Black Sci-fi. As a poet, they have been published in Fiyah Lit magazine, Scribes of Nyota, and Argot magazine among others.

Top photo by nappy

Top photo by Mike Von on Unsplash.

Break Poetry Open Contest Winner

Break Poetry Open Contest Winner

Hannah Soyer

—C. Kubasta, Editor, BMP Celebrates National Poetry Month 2019

Winner

“what do i know about consent anyway” by Hannah Soyer

Short List

“A composing book, 1973” by Daisy Bassen

“FOR COLORED GURLS WHO HAVE CONSIDERED SUICIDE WHEN THE TWIST OUT WAS NOT ENUFF” by Levi Cain

“[mispronunciation]” by Uma Menon

Editors’ Picks

Week Five

“To: that nought in da jcemestry” by Penelope Alegria

“To Cry Out” by Cassandra Hsiao

“This Cosmic Dance” by Natasha McLachlan

what do i know about consent anyway

Contest Winner

Hannah Soyer

About Hannah Soyer

Hannah Soyer is a disabled creative writer and artist interested in perceptions and representations of what we consider ‘other.’ She is the creator of the This Body is Worthy project, which aims to celebrate bodies outside of mainstream societal ideals, and the founder of Freedom Words, a program to design and implement creative writing workshops specifically for students with disabilities. She has been published in Cosmopolitan, InkLit magazine, Mikrokosmos Journal, Hot Metal Bridge, Rooted in Rights, and her most recent piece, ‘Displacement,’ has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize.

thisbodyisworthy.com

Twitter/Instagram: @soyernotsawyer

A composing book, 1973

Short-List Selection

Daisy Bassen

The book is old.
The book has a yellow cover.
The book was given to me by my father.
My father was a teacher.

The book is simple.
The book is deceptive.
Deceit is valuable.
Deceit is proscribed.

The sentences are short.
The sentences make a song.
The sentences want involution.
A clause has claws.

The claws are yellow.
The claws are old.
The sentences are about bombs.
The sentences are about immolation.

The book belonged to a girl.
The girl was a student.
She learned about bombs.
The yellow of immolation.

The sentences are about runaways.
She ran away.
The girl.
Clawed.

About Daisy Bassen

Daisy Bassen is a practicing physician and poet. She graduated from Princeton University’s Creative Writing Program and completed her medical training at The University of Rochester and Brown. Her work has been published in Oberon, The Delmarva Review, The Sow’s Ear, and Tuck Magazine as well as multiple other journals. She was a semi-finalist in the 2016 Vassar Miller Prize in Poetry, a finalist in the 2018 Adelaide Literary Prize, a recent winner of the So to Speak 2019 Poetry Contest and was doubly nominated for a 2019 Pushcart Prize. She lives in Rhode Island with her family.

National Poetry Month

FOR COLORED GIRLS WHO HAVE CONSIDERED SUICIDE WHEN THE TWIST OUT WAS NOT ENUFF

Short-List Selection

Levi Cain

swear on my mama
no–swear on something more
simple and sacred.
swear on my brother’s future mixtape,
swear on pig fat in collard greens and
freshly whipped shea butter,
arroz con what the fuck ever–
that the cracked cushion chair of
my hairdresser’s closet is
in fact a cathedral,
packets of yaki and remy dotted
with the same angels,
skin the color of good brandy.
the nollywood movies blaring
on the thrifted television is
the preacher.
there is one constant truth–
the half-room in waltham is
a tabernacle for second generation girls
who never learned how to cornrow.

a blackgurl’s bond with a hairdresser
is tighter than the binding of isaac,
requires more faith than you
ever know how to give
after years of lye being applied
to your scalp,
after years of being teased by
whitegirls who crow that
your hair looks like brillo pads
that they wouldn’t let their housekeepers
scour the sink with.
the same whitegirls who now quiz you
on coconut oil
and ask you to anoint them
with the wisdom of
deep conditioning.

i and every other blackgurl
who grew up in the suburbs
are haunted by visions of hot combs
and strangers putting their hands in our hair,
pulling so sharply we swear
we hear the echo of a whip crack.

but those ghosts have no place here,
in this space that has only space enough
for you,
your hairdresser,
and maybe her friend from haiti
who you do not know the name of
but who twists braids so gently it is
as if she wants to be your mother.

this is an act of love,
but all gods are not filled with goodness
and so neither is the woman
who stands with jojoba in her right hand,
84 inches of kankelon in her left,
who asks why you never
seem to have a boyfriend,
who told you she would rather die
than break bread with faggots
but passes you plantains as communion,
presses your forehead
to her chest as madonna,
calls you daughter,
welcomes you with open arms
to a rented room
in a part of a town that would make
a principal’s lip curl
–this blackgurl bethlehem,
this satin covered resting place,
this plane of being where
you are you
are blackgurl,
are celebration,
are miracle,
are nothing but holiest of holies.

About Levi Cain

Levi Cain is a queer writer from the Greater Boston Area who was born in California and raised in Connecticut. Further examples of their work can be found in Lunch Ticket, Red Queen Literary Magazine, and other publications.

[mispronunciations]

Short-List Selection

Uma Menon

i try to pull out a chameleon’s
tongue from inside my throat,
change the color, change it all
before another
……………[mispronunciation]
leaves my colorless mouth

instead i find my mother tongue
stuck inside my throat, a lump
forgotten only by me
& i find a desire, tucked away,
to strangle her and choke myself
before another
……………[mispronunciation]
escapes without explanation

i am afraid that i have stained
the english that i speak
that it yearns to be bleached
in cold sand

i watch my mother chug down
womanhood,
let it slide through the grip of her
mother tongue,
into the stomach of America
……………[& her mispronunciations]

About Uma Menon

Uma Menon is a fifteen-year-old student and writer from Winter Park, Florida. Her writing has appeared or is forthcoming in the Huffington Post, The Rumpus, and National Poetry Quarterly, Sahitya Akademi’s Indian Literature, and the Cincinnati Review, among others. Her first chapbook was published in 2019 (Zoetic Press); she also received the 2019 Lee Bennett Hopkins Award in Poetry.

National Poetry Month

To: that noght in da jcemetsry

Contest Editors’ Pick

Penelope Alegria

Th city light s r beutiful 2night.
Sky twinkles starligt on sidwalks
with cracks that almost shape like ur
sillhouette in twinkling moondust.
Clay polish tatters blu on ashes of
cigar wrappers flickering burnt blac
n im thinkn of the time u rolled roun
in somebody else’s ashes in that gravyard
next to the church with the clouds
rdy to snow upside down crosses.

Did u kn o th grass smells lik tequila
n th boys breaths smells like lilac
flickering burn t blqck sparks n my
legs feel like pillow n l8ly it dpens’t feel
right wrapping myself up in white
bedsheets bc they dont feel wuite as
electric as ur fingertips n m drunk

Im drunk im dunk m drnk n i want
u nex to me w legs like pillows n
breath like lilac burnt black n u
rollin around in someboyd else’s ashes
n i dk y u wouldnt want that eithr

About Penelope Alegria

Penelope Alegria has participated in Young Chicago Authors’ artistic apprenticeship, Louder Than a Bomb Squad. Her work has been featured or is forthcoming in La Nueva Semana Newspaper and El Beisman. Penelope was among the top 12 poets in Chicago as a Louder Than a Bomb 2018 Indy Finalist and was awarded the Literary Award by Julian Randall. She has performed spoken word at The Metro, University of Chicago, and elsewhere.

National Poetry Month

To Cry Out

Contest Editors’ Pick

Cassandra Hsiao

yellow: the cold echo of collapse muddled muddied
house of decay return to the ground that bore me
grow betrayal roots below mold my fingertips
bleed flag i no longer show pale yellow: crayoned
sun shine shield i risk changing colors if i don’t
yellow: aroma that does not lie trapped in tin pots roasted
crisp red brown duck i can taste home cannot find home
sell home know home remember touch of yellow: lazy tongue
remarks sting firecracker never cool enough to swallow yellow:
taste morning hours sunrise son rise sweet victory to open shop
open bells jingle lucky cat licks its paws yellow: eyes
glass over cat looks white yellow: light

About Cassandra Hsiao

Cassandra Hsiao is a rising junior at Yale University, majoring in Theater Studies and Ethnicity, Race & Migration. Her poetry, fiction, and memoirs have been recognized by Rambutan Literary, Animal, Claremont Review, Jet Fuel Review, and National YoungArts Foundation. Her plays have been selected as finalists for national playwriting competitions held by The Blank Theatre, Writopia Labs, Princeton University, Durango Arts Center, California Playwrights Project, and YouthPLAYS. Her work is currently being produced in theaters across the nation. She has also won a Gracie Award for her entertainment journalism and was recognized as a Voices fellow for the Asian American Journalists Association (AAJA).

Instagram/Twitter: @cassandrahsiao

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/LoveCassandraHsiao/

National Poetry Month

This Cosmic Dance

Contest Editors’ Pick

Natasha McLachlan

About Natasha McLachlan

Natasha McLachlan is a poet currently living in Southern California. After losing her speech in 2018 due to unforeseen circumstances, she fell in love with reading all over again, as it helped her cultivate self-care–this, she hopes, will be a cure for others in a hectic and frantic lifestyle. She was a first-generation college student, graduating from California College of the Arts with a bachelor’s degree in Writing and Literature. As a minority, she takes pride in breaking the barriers and stigma around individuals of color by simply being herself. When she is not writing, she is spending time with her family or bonding with her 9 siblings, whom she considers her best friends. Her inspiration comes from the moons and stars around her, nature being her greatest muse.​

National Poetry Month
National Poetry Month

BMP Celebrates National Poetry Month — Break Poetry Open

For this year’s National Poetry Month, Brain Mill Press & Voices want to add to your #TBR pile, sing siren songs of unsung heroes, and signal boost living poets we should be reading more. By the end of the month, we hope you will have acquired 30+ new books of poetry and that they continue to multiply in the darkness of your library. Explore new voices & new forms — re-read some old favorites — play if you liked this poet, you’ll like... the old-fashioned way, algorithm-free — just poetry lovers talking to poetry lovers, as the Universe intended. Happy #NaPoMo2019 from Brain Mill Press.

Robin Gow, Jessica Nguyen, Danny McLaren, and Uma Menon

Editors' Choice Poems

Robin Gow, Jessica Nguyen, Danny McLaren, and Uma Menon

We are delighted to present this week’s selections from the Brain Mill Press Poetry Month Contest, Break Poetry Open, by talented poets Robin Gow, Jessica Nguyen, Danny McLaren, and Uma Menon.

We hope you’ll enjoy these editors’ picks as much as we did.

i had a dream they took out my uterus & handed it to me.

Robin Gow

my uterus was an ornate vase
& i asked, “what am i supposed
to do with this?”
the doctor shrugged
he was in a suite & tie &
had lavender gloves
he suggested i use it to collect something.
i stuck my hand in deep to see
if there was already anything in there,
found a ring i lost maybe four years ago
& i wondered how it got there.
silver claddagh waiting
scraping up against the glass
lining of the vase.
it had something to do with hope,
i think a uterus does even if you
take it out
& discover it’s
a shoe box or an urn or a vase.
i tried other items, starting
with buttons, snipping them off
all my clothes so that i would
have more. clear buttons, black buttons,
brown buttons, red buttons, all of them
inside the vase, i thought they might
transform, i thought that might
be the point of the strange object
but nothing happened. i slept
holding the vase & imagining
what it was like inside me
what kind of objects it hungered for.
i talked it, i told the vase that
i was sorry this was how
everything had to happen.
i bought flowers after flowers
to let sprout from the vase’s mouth:
lilies, carnations, roses
& i’d keep asking
the uterus, “are you happy?”
but the vase wouldn’t respond.
emptying out the greenish stem-water
left over from the flowers
i stuck my hand in again
only this time i felt an ache
in my chest as i did, a kind of
phantom connection, a hand under skin.
i wept, it was something about hope
for something; a hand searching
under skin for lost objects,
the ring like a kind of opening
for beetles or other insects
to crawl through. i was scared
it might always be like this
if i kept the thing around.
i had to break it.
no, not in the driveway or the street,
a push from the counter in the kitchen
where all glasses & plates
will eventually shatter.
the pieces on the floor like
teeth of an unknown monster.
i apologized to the uterus
as i cleaned up its pieces.
i took a bowl from the cupboard
& began filling it with buttons
out of habit or maybe
some kind of hope. from the buttons
grew the stems of flowers,
only the stems.

About Robin Gow

Robin Gow’s poetry has recently been published in POETRY, The Gateway Review, and tilde. He is a graduate student at Adelphi University pursing an MFA in Creative Writing. He is the Editor at Large for Village of Crickets, Social Media Coordinator for Oyster River Pages and interns for Porkbelly Press. He is an out and proud bisexual transgender man passionate about LGBT issues. He loves poetry that lilts in and out of reality, and his queerness is also the central axis of his work.

National Poetry Month

perks of a half-deaf wallflower

jessica nguyen

one.
it’s so much easier to sleep
lying in bed,
on my “good ear”
– whether it’s thunderstorms or my partner’s snoring,
I am able to slip past silently through the night
no baby can wake this baby up.
everyone envies my mornings
since they see no traces of dark circles
under my eyes
they’d ask,
“what’s your secret?”
who knew that my disability could be a celebrity-level beauty hack?

two.
the drill fire alarm comes in-oh wait, that’s not a perk.

two.
I can pretend to not hear you
and use my deafness as a legitimate excuse.

this especially works when I am not particularly fond of you.
this also works when I am not paying attention to something that I should’ve been paying attention to
“oh, sorry. what’s that? I couldn’t quite hear you the first time. can you repeat what you said? thanks.”
(smirks)
I swear it’s the truth sometimes.
.
three.
during trials and interviews,
“we can’t hire you because you-“ oops, that’s not a perk either.
.
three.
I got extra time on my ACT tests.
didn’t think that having my time limit doubled would help me on this kind of standardized testing, since only one of the four of the subjects required listening to begin with…
but I did get a small private room to myself with no pencil scratching and people breathing
.
four.
I got the same ACT score as my last one.
and I wasn’t even given the extra time last- wow, I need to stop. what is the definition of self-actualization again?
.
four.
I am everybody’s right hand person. the ones who’ve passed my friendship test re the ones who remembered to walk on my left. you can tell who the strangers are – they are the ones who I dance tango with as I quickly sashay to get to their right side.
.
five.
walking into every classroom
I wore an fm unit like a prop, which consisted of a hearing aid for me and a microphone for the teacher to speak into, which means having to blow my cover as I approach

now, I could expect the spotlight to be on me – yes, the star actor who deserved an oscar for passing as a full hearing person, coming up on stage to deliver her speech:
“I’d like to thank lip-reading and body language – I wouldn’t have been able to get to where I am today without them.”

all confused eyes would be on me,
sometimes awkward silence,
but mostly attention
to the quiet girl sitting in the front
because isn’t what being half-deaf means?
getting all the special attention?

six.
I can find my teachers easily when I need them. it’s great because if the teacher rushes out of the classroom, I always know where they go.

one time, the bell rang and it was the quickest I’ve seen a teacher leaving the room (I can understand his urge, though)
the problem was that he was wearing my microphone so I had to chase him down.
and of course, I thought it’d be cool to spy on what he was doing through my hearing aid. so, I did.

and what I first heard seconds in
was the sound of of a stream,
which lasted for…. a while.
then, a toilet flushing.

About Jessica Nguyen/Nguyễn Thị Mai Nhi

Jessica Nguyen/Nguyễn Thị Mai Nhi is a world traveler, activist, and writer. Though having lived in the U.S. for most of her life, she hops from one country to the next in hopes of discovering pieces of home to fill her Asian American soul. Known to be a soft-spoken person in the real world, she often channels her feelings through her writing as she finds written words to be just as powerful as when they’re spoken. Jessica plans to publish her own chapbook, “softly, I speak” in the near future. To learn more about her current projects, please visit her website at byjessicanguyen.com or follow her @byjessicanguyen on social media.​

National Poetry Month

Spark Joy

Danny McLaren

 

Do you ever wonder if your gender sparks joy?
If it fits you like a glove, if you love the way the words sound in your mouth or leave your lips,
How it feels to say ‘they’ with your own tongue
And know better than anyone else how to say your own name?

Does your gender excite you?
Does it hum in your veins, electric, ignited,
Keep you up at night, tossing from panicked to delighted, thinking
what if I’m a boy?
or what if I’m nothing at all?

But ‘nothing’ seems scary.
My gender isn’t scary.
Sure, it’s loud, and it’s big,
It takes up too many seats on the bus, makes the up-tight man on the left of me scoot over one.

But it’s dynamic, and powerful, and strong.
It repels close-minded like a magnet,
And pulls kind and ‘knowledgeable about feminist theory’ my way.

It’s ‘too many beers on a Saturday night’ euphoric,
It spills across my clothes when I’m not careful,
Or, on some days, when I try really hard to make it seen.

My gender beats in my chest when I run,
or while I wrestle into my binder.
Constricting my chest with freedom, just to look a little more me.

My gender kisses me goodnight, and greets me with the sunrise,
And marks up my skin with ‘I love you.’

Do you ever wonder if your gender sparks joy?
If you feel ‘just right’ with the words you choose to use
To tell others who you are?
Maybe you should
Because it feels damn good.

About Danny McLaren

Danny is a queer and non-binary writer who uses they/them pronouns. They are an undergraduate student studying Gender Studies, and beginning to dabble in queer, anti-racist, and anti-colonial theory. They have an interest in exploring themes related to equity, resistance, and intersectionality in their work, and often write about their gender, sexuality, and mental health through these lenses. They can be found on twitter at @dannymclrn.​

National Poetry Month

shopping for a necklace

Uma Menon

 

About Uma Menon

Uma Menon is a fifteen-year-old student and writer from Winter Park, Florida. Her writing has appeared or is forthcoming in the Huffington Post, The Rumpus, and National Poetry Quarterly, Sahitya Akademi’s Indian Literature, and the Cincinnati Review, among others. Her first chapbook was published in 2019 (Zoetic Press); she also received the 2019 Lee Bennett Hopkins Award in Poetry.

National Poetry Month
National Poetry Month

BMP Celebrates National Poetry Month — Break Poetry Open

For this year’s National Poetry Month, Brain Mill Press & Voices want to add to your #TBR pile, sing siren songs of unsung heroes, and signal boost living poets we should be reading more. By the end of the month, we hope you will have acquired 30+ new books of poetry and that they continue to multiply in the darkness of your library. Explore new voices & new forms — re-read some old favorites — play if you liked this poet, you’ll like... the old-fashioned way, algorithm-free — just poetry lovers talking to poetry lovers, as the Universe intended. Happy #NaPoMo2019 from Brain Mill Press.

Poems by Travis Chi Wing Lau from Rogue Agent

Poetry Month Spotlight

Poems by Travis Chi Wing Lau from Rogue Agent

A poet’s work that deserves to be highlighted is Travis Chi Wing Lau. Travis represents the ultimate Rogue Agent poet. His work is tender, forthright, elegantly crafted. He dares to reveal himself with his words. I’ve included the three poems he’s published with Rogue Agent.

Breathing Rites

Issue 13-14, Apr-May 2016

I think the struggle for a bearable life is the struggle for queers to have space to breathe.Having space to breathe, or being able to breathe freely … is an aspiration. –Sara Ahmed, The Promise of Happiness

Crescent lunge:
a prayer on bended
knee, for seconds do
become trials, as form
restricts function. Then,
a twisting open of what
is otherwise closed, of
shallow breaths shrinking
into shame. So he begs
my ability, to be victorious
(mighty capacity,
he demands): I am
fullest here even
as I extend my side
vulnerably into
bare space.

Eupnea even in this hour
of disorientation,
even when there seems to
be no space to breathe.

Night Terror

Issue 23, Feb 2017

Mooring shudders // beneath the // uneven balls // of my feet, // those that // seek the //
ground after // the freefall // between the // lightest of // hours (how // they grind // against //
the creaking // hands). // I turn // to face // the long // gravity // of a bed: // where the //
flashes pool, // where the // faces fan, // as the notches // become gothic // in between // the
march of // charred lines // (for one // can only // dance madly // out of // Piranesi’s //
prison).

Scoliosis, A Portrait

Issue 32, Nov 2017

Bold shape,
that marrowed
thing, thrumming
with some other
harmony,
a bastion coiled:
tighter,
tightly.

But forms
may reach
a point of
breaking,
golden bowls
more vulnerable
because they
bear the chance
of singing.

Here,
a balm for
the pressure,
a kiss for
the risk,
a laying on
of hand:
tender
tending.

About Travis Chi Wing Lau

Travis Chi Wing Lau recently completed his Ph.D. at the University of Pennsylvania Department of English and will be a postdoctoral teaching fellow at the University of Texas at Austin beginning in Fall 2018. His research interests include 18th- and 19th-century British literature, the history of medicine, and disability studies. His academic writing has been published in Journal of Homosexuality, Romantic Circles, Digital Defoe, and English Language Notes. His creative writing has appeared in Wordgathering, Assaracus, The New Engagement, The Deaf Poets Society, Up the Staircase Quarterly and QDA: A Queer Disability Anthology. [travisclau.com]

National Poetry Month
National Poetry Month

BMP Celebrates National Poetry Month 2018

Maybe you have lines living in you. Maybe you’ve been walking around like the speaker in Maggie Smith’s “Good Bones”: “This place could be beautiful, / right? You could make this place beautiful.” Maybe you’ve been inspired by Isobel O’Hare’s erasures, and have an urge to address some things. Maybe you’ve woken up in the spiked night, with a line swimming out of the deep. Maybe you have a story to tell. Or, maybe you memorized Jericho Brown’s “Colosseum” and have been repeating to yourself: “I cannot locate the origin / Of slaughter, but I know / How my own feels, that I live with it / And sometimes use it / To get the living done . . .”

These poetic efforts have touched me in the last few months, in that strange trigonometry of language, chance, and seeking, that we readers and writers do. Brown’s lines resonated with me, brought me low, and offered something – if not quite comfort, then a kind of recognition.

Poetry Month Feature

Poetry Month Spotlight

Rogue Agent

National Poetry Month
National Poetry Month

BMP Celebrates National Poetry Month 2018

Maybe you have lines living in you. Maybe you’ve been walking around like the speaker in Maggie Smith’s “Good Bones”: “This place could be beautiful, / right? You could make this place beautiful.” Maybe you’ve been inspired by Isobel O’Hare’s erasures, and have an urge to address some things. Maybe you’ve woken up in the spiked night, with a line swimming out of the deep. Maybe you have a story to tell. Or, maybe you memorized Jericho Brown’s “Colosseum” and have been repeating to yourself: “I cannot locate the origin / Of slaughter, but I know / How my own feels, that I live with it / And sometimes use it / To get the living done . . .”

These poetic efforts have touched me in the last few months, in that strange trigonometry of language, chance, and seeking, that we readers and writers do. Brown’s lines resonated with me, brought me low, and offered something – if not quite comfort, then a kind of recognition.