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100 Poets for the Present and Future.
The Essential Voices series intends to correct misrepresentation and misunderstanding in the broader culture. It has at its heart the ancient idea that poetry can reveal our shared humanity. This anthology features 100 poets who illuminate the queer experience in the U.S., including Kaveh Akbar, Rick Barot, Frank Bidart, Richard Blanco, Jericho Brown, Franny Choi, CAConrad, Natalie Diaz, Mark Doty, Nikky Finney, Nikki Giovanni, Marilyn Hacker, Robin Coste Lewis, Timothy Liu, Eileen Myles, Carl Phillips, Justin Phillip Reed, Kay Ryan, Sam Sax, Richard Siken, Danez Smith, Ocean Vuong, and many others. Diverse in styles, subjects, and demographics, the book is a mirror to the lived experience of nearly one century of gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender poets.
Poetry. LGBTQ+ Studies.
“I come to this anthology having languished, having felt benumbed, having come to question, at my very core, poetry’s value, its potency, as we contend with our current brand of American tyranny, our Hour of Lead. As I read ESSENTIAL QUEER VOICES OF U.S. POETRY, I experience an incremental awakening, or re-awakening. Every poem, every phrase in every poem, clicks a small switch in me that had been shut down, repairs a blown fuse, brings a wound into the light, provokes it into being, or staunches it. The exhilarative truth-telling and wit, the poems that walk the page with a humble gait, and those that ego-strut, the foundational voices and the newly arrived, remind me of what poetry has been in similarly oppressive times, its capacity for liberative endurance. From the first lines of the opening poem, Frank Bidart’s ‘Queer’—'Lie to yourself about this and you will / forever lie about everything'—an entreaty against self-deception, we find ourselves in veracity’s realm, where language reigns free. … The lines of these poems accordion, inhale, exhale, serpentine, straighten, curl. A carnival of approaches to diction, positionality, structure, song. This anthology is not representative of a sector of American poetry. It is American poetry. The party contains multitudes and hints at multitudes to come. When I reach the last lines of the final poem, torrin a. greathouse’s ‘On Using the Wo|men’s Bathroom,’ I am no longer numb.”
—Diane Seuss, winner of the Pulitzer Prize
Christopher Nelson is the author of Blood Aria (University of Wisconsin Press, 2021) and four chapbooks, including Blue House, winner of a Poetry Society of America Chapbook Fellowship. The recipient of the 2023-24 Amy Lowell Traveling Scholarship, he is the founding editor of Under a Warm Green Linden and Green Linden Press, a nonprofit publisher dedicated to poetic excellence and reforestation. His anthology ESSENTIAL VOICES: POETRY OF IRAN AND ITS DIASPORA (Green Linden Press, 2021) received a Midwest Book Award and was named one of the best poetry books of 2020-21 by Entropy Magazine.