A love letter to queer desire, to language, and to loss, Kevin McLellan's latest collection spins intimacy and loss into new a strand: titanium-tough, precise and fine as spider-silk.
Kevin McLellan's newest collection of poems captures an era (a lifetime?) of longing, fulfillment, and loss. Vulnerability, a thirst for beauty, and desire fuel the search for how to get beyond the truth that "we are unreliable narrators." As McLellan venerates gay male love, the " / " that haunts the lines of every poem comes to signify both our connectedness and our split-ness, naming the torsion where we live, suspended. The intermittent prose poems that each begin, "Dear You" speak to those who carry the speaker's history, from "a hate crime in the Castro" to "the N.H. valley where the worn down mountains protected?—me?" An 80s sound-track runs through these poems because "I came out when this song came out," because the HIV-AIDS crisis blew up in those years, and because these poems are as fierce and clear as the songs that flourished then.
"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 monostiches 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, contest judge
"Vulnerable, sexy, hopeful, and in every way human, Kevin McLellan’s in other words you / is a wonder. I was brought so deeply into the intimacy, the neighborliness of the worlds McLellan opens to. The bros putting sunscreen on each other. The robin the size of a pigeon. Bodies morphing into dream bodies on endless screens. In this beautiful book the invitation of the / is also testament to a world where AIDS and so many ruptures have robbed us of generations: that devastation, that yearning for new connection. But how? How do we keep reaching out, running through the rain past the neighbors, asking someone to meet for a cheese and pickle sandwich? I loved these poems and felt like crying almost the whole time. Is this elegy? Insofar as it is also deep, deep celebration. The world goes on somehow. This book is the somehow." — Gabrielle Calvocoressi
"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. McLellan vividly conjures those moments of emotional panic and sadness 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
Poetry. Hybrid. Music. LGBTQ+ Studies.
Kevin McLellan is also the author of the full-length poetry collections ORNITHEOLOGY (2019 Massachusetts Book Awards recipient) and TRIBUTARY; the book objects Hemispheres (in the Poetry Center at the University of Arizona and other collections) and [box] (in the Blue Star Collection at Harvard University and other collections); and the chapbook Round Trip. Kevin makes videos under the name Duck Hunting with the Grammarian, and his video Dick showed in the Tag! Queer Film Festival, the Berlin Short Film Festival, the Vancouver Queer Film Festival, and others.