Category Archives: GLBT poetry

“A Rainbow Thread: Queer Jewish Texts from the First Century to 1969” by Noam Sienna— An Infinite Rainbow

Sienna, Noam. “A Rainbow Thread: Queer Jewish Texts from the First Century to 1969”, Print-O-Craft, 2019.

An Infinite Rainbow

Amos Lassen

I first heard of “A Rainbow Thread” via a friend who told me he had just ordered a copy and while my friend gave me no details aside from this book Jewish and gay, I went ahead and wrote to the publisher to get a review copy. When the book arrived I was first astounded by the 425 page length and then by the tremendous amount of research that it must have taken to compile such a book. Writer Noam Sienna tells us that the book maintains a balancing act between “LGBTQ Jewish history as an infinite rainbow, with no beginning or end, and with no clear boundaries between its different facets” (great analogy and the fact that there is “a thread: a continuity that links our lives, our joys, and our struggles today to an ancestral heritage in the past and to our inheritors in the future.” Sienna does not see history as a march toward a universal goal. Rather he sees it as processes that are made up of  connections, interruptions, and innovations. While we cannot push who we are on those who came before us but we also cannot ignore their history that has become some of our behaviors and shared practices; traditions  that take stories to other places and times, and that are often relevant in our lives today.

I can imagine Sienna going through the history of the Jews looking for examples to back his thesis and to find so much (that many of us never thought about— my adult life has been consumed by my wanting to find a way to preserve the LGBT Jewish literary canon so that the wealth of information it holds can be shared by everyone. Yet with all the work that I have done in the past, I did not come across many of the selections in this anthology.

Sienna explains how to encounter primary historical documents as a way of imagining new futures. He uses classical midrashim as two texts and lets us reread them through queer eyes thus expanding our ideas on what Jewishness is today. We see that Jewish sexuality and gender in practice was not as restricted by boundaries of gender, sex, nationality, or religion as we might have thought. Sienna is not pushing any kind of gay agenda but rather pointing out that we must rethink Judaism. In doing so, we question assumptions about how Jews have understood sexuality and gender throughout our long history as a people during which Jewish identity is often imagined as existing in spite of, or in opposition to,—the world of Jewish tradition. We are encouraged to read and reread, reimagine and revise what today’s Judaism can mean. process of constantly rereading, reimagining, and revising our understanding of what Judaism has meant, and what it can mean for us today.

What is contained in the book spans two millennia, five continents and translations from fifteen different languages. “A Rainbow Thread” is, in effect, queer Jewish history that includes poetry, drama, commentary, law and memoir. Like so many others, I have doubted that there is a place for me in Judaism and I thought I was forging a new path when I remain determined to be an active practicing Jew. I have since learned differently and now have a way to prove it— with this book. I am overwhelmed by the amount of information in “A Rainbow Thread” and I find myself lingering over each text included here and wondering why I had never read it before. We are done sitting on Judaism’s margins and we can now pitch our tents where we want. It may not be easy to do so but remember that it was once impossible to do so. I am in awe of what I see here and can’t wait to use it as a teaching tool.

“LGBTQ Fiction and Poetry from Appalachia” edited by Jeff Mann and Julia Watts— A Nice Surprise

Mann, Jeff and Julia Watts, editors. “LGBTQ Fiction and Poetry from Appalachia”, West Virginia University Press, 2019.

A Nice Surprise

Amos Lassen

Those of us who live in urban centers really are not aware of the LGBTQ population in non-urban areas and here specifically, I mean Appalachia. Jeff Mann and Julia Watts have done a wonderful job collecting and editing this collection, the first of its kind of fiction and poetry from lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer authors from Appalachia. From what I understand, literature from Appalachia Like much Appalachian literature, is often filled with an attachment to family and the mountain landscape while balancing queer and Appalachian, a complicated undertaking and filled with conflict. The pieces we read here face these problems head on and deal with the intersections of place, family, sexuality, gender, and religion with which LGBTQ Appalachians often struggle.

Included are works by established writers whose names may surprise you— Dorothy Allison, Silas House, Ann Pancake, Fenton Johnson, and Nickole Brown and emerging writers like Savannah Sipple, Rahul Mehta, Mesha Maren, and Jonathan Corcoran. Some of what we have here is previously published while the rest is original and appearing in print for the first time. This collection is a celebration of a literary canon made up of writers who give voice to what it means to be Appalachian and LGBTQ.

The book also contains a wonderful selected bibliography of same-sex desire in Appalachian literature and this alone makes the book worthwhile but there is so much more. We have the wonderful diversity of multigenerational voices, styles, and attitudes along with the theme of loyalty to place alongside of queer identity as represented in poetry and fiction. Here is the queer ecology of Appalachia and the voices that exist in relation to the landscape and the cultural imagination of the place. We see the paradox of both belonging (being from and of a place) and nearly total alienation.

Here is the Table of Contents:

Contents

Introduction   

Editor’s Notes

Dorothy Allison          

            Roberts Gas & Dairy   

            Careful

            Butter 

            Domestic Life 

Lisa Alther      

            Swan Song     

Maggie Anderson       

            Anything You Want, You Got It         

            Biography       

            Cleaning the Guns     

            In Real Life     

            My Father and Ezra Pound     

Nickole Brown

            My Book, in Birds      

            To My Grandmother’s Ghost,

            An Invitation for My Grandmother   

            Ten Questions You’re Afraid to Ask, Answered        

Jonathan Corcoran     

            The Rope Swing         

doris diosa davenport           

            verb my noun: a poem cycle 

            After the Villagers Go Home: An Allegory     

            Halloween 2011         

            Halloween 2017         

            for Cheryl D my first lover, 41 years later     

            Three days after the 2017 Solar Eclipse        

            Sept. 1  Invocation     

            a conversation with an old friend     

            Upon realizing

            “The Black Atlantic”   

Victor Depta   

            The Desmodontidae  

Silas House    

            How To Be Beautiful  

Fenton Johnson          

            Bad Habits     

Charles Lloyd  

            Wonders        

Jeff Mann       

            Not for Long   

            Training the Enemy    

            Yellow-eye Beans      

            The Gay Redneck Devours Draper Mercantile          

            Three Crosses

            Homecoming 

Mesha Maren

            Among

Kelly McQuain

            Scrape the Velvet from Your Antlers 

            Brave  

            Vampirella     

            Monkey Orchid          

            Alien Boy        

            Mercy 

            Ritual 

Rahul Mehta  

            A Better Life               

Ann Pancake  

            Ricochet         

Carter Sickels 

            Saving

Savannah Sipple        

            WWJD / about love    

            WWJD / about letting go       

            Jesus and I Went to the Wal-Mart    

            Catfisting       

            Pork Belly       

            A List of Times I Thought I Was Gay  

            Jesus Signs Me Up For a Dating App  

Anita Skeen    

            Double Valentine       

            How Bodies Fit           

            Need  

            Something You Should Know

            The Clover Tree         

            The Quilt: 25 April 1993         

            While You Sleep         

Aaron Smith   

            Blanket           

            There’s still one story

            Twice 

Julia Watts     

            Handling Dynamite    

“How to Love a Country: Poems” by Richard Blanco— Issues of Our Times

Blanco, Richard. “How to Love a Country: Poems”, Beacon, 2019.

Issues of Our Times

Amos Lassen

“How to Love a Country: Poems” is a new collection from Obama inaugural poet Richard Blanco who here  explores immigration, gun violence, racism, LGBTQ issues and more.  Blanco is so much more than a poet— he is a memoirist, public speaker, educator, and advocate who cares about connecting to “the heart of human experience and our shared identity as a country.”  With this new book, he continues to invite a conversation with all Americans “through an oracular yet intimate and accessible voice”. He looks at the complexities and contradictions of our nationhood and the unresolved sociopolitical matters that affect us all.”

The topics of the poems vary from the Pulse Nightclub massacre; an unexpected encounter on a visit to Cuba; the forced exile of 8,500 Navajos in 1868; a lynching in Alabama; the arrival of a young Chinese woman at Angel Island in 1938; the incarceration of a gifted writer; and Blanco’s love for his partner, who he is finally allowed to marry as a gay man. Even with each poem’s topic they are all struggling with the question of how to love this country.

As he looks for answers, Blanco probes the history and sensibility of the United States and interrogates our past and present, grieve our injustices, and pay heed to the  flaws. He but also remembers to celebrate our ideals and hold on to our hopes. Blanco reveals himself to readers in a disarming and kinetic sequence of stanzas of the poem that is the centerpiece of his collection and in which he tries to find his place in the physical and emotional landscapes of our country.

Blanco’s poems fray the fabric of the American narrative and pursues a resolution to this country’s” inherent contradiction of our nation’s psyche and mandate: e pluribus unum (out of many, one).” The poems “assert that America could and ought someday to be a country where all narratives converge into one, a country we can all be proud to love and where we can all truly thrive.”

Today we are a country at odds with itself and with its history and Richard Blanco’s is one of indignation and insurrection. By writing about the  stories that nurture us and the stories we’d rather forget, we learn anew the ways to love our country and our people.  The poems are
“vibrant, tragic, exhilarating, deeply in love with people and their stories and heartbreakingly engaged with our struggling nation.” Blanco sees America as a work in progress.

Richard Blanco’s new collection is a  hymn of love to those who make America their home and give her their loyalty.

“Spectral Pegasus / Dark Movements” by Jeffrey Beam and Clive Hicks-Jenkins— A Very Special Book

Beam Jeffery. “Spectral Pegasus / Dark Movements”, Clive Hicks-Jenkins, artist, Kin Press, 2019.

A Very Special Book

Amos Lassen

There is an unwritten rule somewhere that reviewers are not to have favorites and I am a supreme breaker of that rule. I have my favorites but I do not usually say who they are even though some of my readers will say that it is obvious. Speaking of poetry, Jeffery Beam holds a special place in my heart and I make no secrets about loving his poetry. However it has been quite a few years since I had something new by him to read. Even better than that is a CD that comes with Beam’s new collection which is intense and knocked me over. I had almost forgotten how much I love the language we speak and write with.

”Spectral Pegasus / Dark Movements” is, quite simply, glorious and it could not have arrived at a better time. I have always been the kind of a guy who turns to poetry when things are not so good (that does not mean that I don’t read poetry when times are good). Not only are these poems special, they come with wonderful illustrations thanks to Welsh painter Clive Hicks-Jenkins. Beam and Hicks-Jenkins take us  on a wonderful journey— a hero’s journey that goes through “death, resurrection, psychological and spiritual trials, and revelations into redemptive vision.” The places where we stop form a microcosm of our own society. We begin with the  death of the painter’s father,  we have two narrations going on at the same time—the poetic narrative and the visual narrative and these come together in myth and dreams. There is something feral about the poems which is probably the result of confronting with dark forces and bringing back knowledge that had fallen away over time. To know is to heat and to heal is to look within oneself remembering that pain is there to remind us that something is not right. Pain, be it mental or physical comes to guide us to where it can be alleviated.

“The dead have died a thousand times

for they have died in me

I climb the signal tower each time I bend my knee…”

This collection has twenty-one full color illustrations, sixteen poems, and illuminating essays by Sarah Parvin, Mary-Ann Constantine, and Claire Pickard.  From what we read we are able to get a vision of hope. William Rossetti reminds us that we will not be waylaid by those who came before us. We must look to our alienation and face it head on if we are to heal. We can renew ourselves and our world. We see that in the poetry and its illustrations here and we are reminded that the early drawings on the walls of caves was communication back then and it is the lack of communication that forces us into isolation. I could feel a sense of renewal as I read.

We are also reminded that art began in the caves of the Paleolithic world and in those caves ritual, religion, painting and song were born. By its very nature this is a provocative book and we need to remember that the purpose of literature was to provoke. Ever since I read ‘Frankenstein:, Mary Shelley has provoked me to understand that we all read differently. I found a sense of rebirth with this book and the way it sees  modern suffering.”  Of course it helps that Beam is a wordsmith and writes beautifully and that Hinks-Jenkins draws from his inner being. I always find poetry difficult to review because it appeals to the emotions and it forms a bond between writer and reader. What I see is just that; my perception of the magical verses that Beam writes and the stunning artwork of Hicks-Jenkins becomes mine and I am not sure that I want to share what came to me from what I read and experienced here. I totally fell in love with “The Big Bang: River Jordan” and was amazed at the research done to try to find out what this poem is  all about. I lived on a kibbutz in Israel in the Jordan Valley and I thought my knowledge of the area was good if not perfect. I was surprised to see how much I did not before.

“I am the Bastard Angel and the Virgin Devil

I am  Again and Then and Was and Ever”.

In closing, let me just say that I am overwhelmed as often happens when reading something new. Here I read of old ideas clad in semi-modern or modern  finery and they are very different now but then so are we. I urge you to read and savor what is here.  Think of this book like wine— it gets better as it ages.                                                                                 

“Valley Blues” by Cher Guevara— An Epic Poem

Guevara, Cher. “Valley Blues”, Writing Knights Press, 2018.

An Epic Poem

Amos Lassen

One of the things I love best about reviewing is watching writers mature both in content and in style. A young poet named Walter Beck approached me in 2012 and asked if I would be interested in reviewing his work and of course I agreed as I always do with new writer. Between 2012 and 2015, I wrote thirteen posts about young Beck and then quiet. I just assumed that the well was dry and besides I had so much to do, I didn’t really think about it. Then one day, I noticed a familiar face on Facebook and I realized that Walter Beck had become Cher Guevara.

“A cold voice,

what are you doing here, Beck?

My spirit replies,

I’m hearing the beautiful music

From the dry hills

And my name is Cher”.

I must say that I was not really surprised by the physical transformation. I had always thought of Beck as someone quite radical and I felt that there would always be surprises. His poetry was always radical but I must admit that I had not thought about the poet (I am trying to be careful with pronouns) and gender but that was my problem and not Beck’s.

“Valley Blues” is an ambitious undertaking just as changing from Walter Beck to Cher Guevara is ambitious and they both succeed. I love that Cher, the person, stands up for what is right and I certainly saw that in Beck’s early poems which now seem to me to be more angry that what I read in “Valley Blues”. Do not misunderstand me, there is anger but it more like being discontent than really boiling.

I understand that Cher wrote “Valley Blues” while in the western desert and I cannot think of a better place to find one’s stream of consciousness. I remember when I was a young (and good-looking) graduate student having gone to spend some time in Arizona for a Proust weekend. With great people and a little help from some substance, I appreciated Proust more than I had before or since. I have often wondered if when becoming someone else. One has to destroy the former being. If I understand Cher correctly, the new being came about as a result of destruction and self-discovery. Cher uses images that hit close to home:

“Dressing in fishnets and make up

in the July moonlight…

An old friend calls

tells me home is burning

The land of my rebirth

Is collapsing in chaos.”

This is the saga of the search for a road out of an exile that has lasted nearly a decade. Cher Guevara is from Avon, Indiana , not place where I imagine there are many gender queer people living so I can’t help but see him as a marked person and I can only imagine what life must be like for the poet. Nonetheless, Cher has made a name as a poet of the Indiana underground. Believe it or not this is his tenth book and in my opinion, the most mature of them.

There is a great deal that I can say about what the poetry brings us but I do not want to ruin the reading experience for anyone else. This is not just a read but a full and total experience. Cher mentions that they have become selfish over the years and would like some credit for the many changes that have come about. This, for me, was the only place I saw indulgence. What I do see more than anything else is a cry for acceptance. While we may not all be the same, there is humanity that unites us and we want to revel in that freely and liberated.

“Forget ‘em”.

Don’t let the bastards

Get you down.”

The poetry comes with wonderful pictures of Cher. He see him on his voyage and we are with him when “he keeps his blues songs alive”. Don’t miss this chance to meet a dynamic voice about the way we live.

“bury it” by sam sax— Looking at Death and Desire

sax, sam. “bury it”, Wesleyan Press, 2018.

Looking At Death and Desire

Amos Lassen

sam sax’s “bury it” opens with poems written responding to several highly publicized young gay suicides in the summer of 2010. sax gives us visceral meditations on death, rites of passage, the Diaspora translation, personhood and desire. We, with the poet look at the choices and the mistakes we make and we question them. These are poems of discovery and just in case we have forgotten, sax reminds us that the heterosexual world has ruled over us, dismissed us and tried to erase us totally. Many have been driven to take our own lives and sax will not let us forget those who did. In the poems, we read the silent desires of those who were unable to vocalize them because of shame and fear. We question the society that has allowed this to happen and we say Kaddish for them remembering that it is a prayer that does not mourn but rather praises where no praise is due. Personally, I find Kaddish the most difficult prayer to recite for someone I have loved and I have done so many, many times. It is the finality of those words that maker death so real.

I love that sax also resurrects those beautiful men we have lost as he writes about death and desire. Regardless of cause of death (disease, cancer, suicide, AIDS), they return to us through remembering them and their lives, their eroticism and their humanity. They were part of us but are gone and gone with them are their worlds. We did not have to know them; they existed and they were part of us just as we were part of them.

Drawing on his queer and Jewish identities, sax morns the physical and what it might have been. He challenges gender with “i never wanted to grow up to be anything horrible as a man […] i prayed for a different kind of puberty […]”: “it’s not that we’re all born” “genderless, though we are.” Art is a commentary on society and these poems offer an alternative to what have becomes traditional perspectives on gender and suggest that identity itself is not fixed.

The poems look at mourning from many different perspectives and from many different aspects, “maybe i can’t see you now without also seeing you dead.” Mourning can also come before death like when an illness is discovered. We are all impermanent and we all will die. We must accept this while at the same time keeping a loved one alive in our mind.

Rejecting the notion of death as permanent just as he rejects fixed gender reminds us just how nuanced death is and what it means to bury not just the body but everything else as well.

“Of Kings and Things: Strange Tales and Decadent Poems by Count Eric Stanislaus Stenbock” by Eric Stanislaus Stenbock— A Decadent Writer

Stenbock, Eric Stanislaus. “Of Kings and Things: Strange Tales and Decadent Poems by Count Eric Stanislaus Stenbock”, MIT Press, 2018.

A Decadent Writer

Amos Lassen

“Of Kings and Things” is an introduction to the decadent writer Stanislaus Eric Stenbock for the general reader. It is made up of morbid stories, suicidal poems, and an autobiographical essay. W. B. Yeats, the poet, called Stencock a “scholar, connoisseur, drunkard, poet, pervert, most charming of men,” Count Stanislaus Eric Stenbock (1860–1895) is the greatest exemplar of the Decadent movement of the late nineteenth century.

He was a friend of Aubrey Beardsley, patron of the extraordinary pre-Raphaelite artist Simeon Solomon, and contemporary of Oscar Wilde. Stenbock died at the age of thirty-six as a result of his addiction to opium and his alcoholism, having only published three slim volumes of suicidal poetry and one collection of morbid short stories. He was a gay man and a convert to Roman Catholicism who owned a serpent, a toad, and a dachshund called Trixie. It was said that toward the end of his life he was accompanied everywhere by a life-size wooden doll that he believed to be his son. His poems and stories are filled with queer, supernatural, mystical, and Satanic themes and original editions of his books are highly sought by collectors.

“Of Kings and Things” is actually the first introduction to Stenbock’s writing for the general reader, offering fifteen stories, eight poems and one autobiographical essay.

Lilith’s Legacy: Prose Poems and Short Stories” by Renee Vivien— First English Translations

Vivien, Renee. “Lilith’s Legacy: Prose Poems and Short Stories”, Snuggly Books, 2018.

First English Translations

Amos Lassen

“Lilith’s Legacy” is made up of four entire collections of the prose poems and short stories of the lesbian Symbolist “Renée Vivien” that have never before appeared in English. These are “Fjord Mists”, “From Green to Violet”, “The She-Wolf Lady”, and “Christ, Aphrodite and Monsieur Pépin”.

This is the first of a projected three volumes of Vivien’s work in translation., collects all the short work published under that name. Vivien is the pen name of Pauline Mary Tarn (1877–1909), a London-born woman who settled in Paris in the late 1890s and became part of the famous lesbian literary and social circle surrounding Natalie Barney; all of her published work was written in French. Her poetry and prose unite symbolist and decadent language and influences with the realities of her life as a lesbian. Some of the work collected here is minor, such as the early snippets and prose poems that begin the book. Vivien’s reworkings of folk tales and Bible stories (such as “The Veil of Vashti,” in which Vashti refuses her husband’s summons to emulate Lilith are original and beautiful). Her series of horror stories in which male narrators fail to understand or work well with the competent and spectacular women around them reflect society of the time and are quite dark. Some of Vivien’s writing has been translated before, but these new translations are comprehensive and readable and give the English speaking world a chance to read her.

Embracing her sexuality as a lesbian in Paris in and her introduction to Natalie Clifford Barney, an American lesbian heiress in Paris greatly influence her work. Vivien’s poetry was influenced by Keats, Swinburne, Baudlaire and Hellenic culture. After bouts of sexual indulgence, drugs and anorexia, Renee died from pneumonia in 1909.

During her lifetime, she published fourteen books of poetry, two novels and three books of short stories. she is credited with bringing Sappho’s sexuality out of the shadows and spent time translating the known works of Sappho into French, illuminating the Greek poetess’ lesboerotic passions. It is through Renee’s works that Sappho has attained the level of muse, goddess of lesbian passion and love.

 Vivien was a woman ahead of her times. She wrote stories and poetry on strong-willed heroic women facing seemingly insurmountable problems in a time when women were encouraged to embrace the domesticity of a drab housewife. Although Renee was a very prolific writer, it is her relationship with Natalie Clifford Barney that interests readers the most.

30th Annual Lambda Literary Award Winners (2018)

30th Annual Lambda Literary Award Winners (2018)

Lesbian Fiction

Her Body and Other Parties, Carmen Maria Machado, Graywolf Press

Gay Fiction

After the Blue Hour, John Rechy, Grove Press

Bisexual Fiction

The Gift, Barbara Browning, Coffee House Press

Bisexual Nonfiction

Hunger, Roxane Gay, HarperCollins

Transgender Fiction

Transcendent 2: The Year’s Best Transgender Speculative Fiction, Bogi Takács (ed), Lethe Press

LGBTQ Nonfiction

How We Get Free: Black Feminism and the Combahee River Collective, Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor, Haymarket Books

Transgender Nonfiction

Black on Both Sides: A Racial History of Trans Identity, C. Riley Snorton, University of Minnesota Press

Lesbian Poetry

Rock | Salt | Stone, Rosamond S. King, Nightboat Books

Gay Poetry

While Standing in Line for Death, CA Conrad, Wave Books

Transgender Poetry

recombinant, Ching-In Chen, Kelsey Street Press

Lesbian Mystery

Huntress, A.E. Radley, Heartsome Publishing

Gay Mystery

Night Drop, Marshall Thornton, Kenmore Books

Lesbian Memoir/Biography

The Fact of a Body, Alexandria Marzano-Lesnevich, Flatiron Books

Gay Memoir/Biography

Lives of Great Men: Living and Loving as an African Gay Man, Chike Frankie Edozien, Team Angelica Publishing

Lesbian Romance

Tailor-Made, Yolanda Wallace, Bold Strokes Books

Gay Romance

Love and Other Hot Beverages, Laurie Loft, Riptide Publishing

LGBTQ Erotica

His Seed, Steve Berman, Unzipped Books

LGBTQ Anthology

¡Cuéntamelo! Oral Histories by LGBT Latino Immigrants, Juliana Delgado Lopera, Aunt Lute Books

LGBTQ Children’s/Young Adult

Like Water, Rebecca Podos, Balzer + Bray

LGBTQ Drama

The Gulf, Audrey Cefaly, Samuel French

LGBTQ Graphic Novels

My Favorite Thing is Monsters, Emil Ferris, Fantagraphics Books

LGBTQ SF/F/Horror

Autonomous, Annalee Newitz, Tor Books

LGBTQ Studies

Punishing Disease: HIV and the Criminalization of Sickness, Trevor Hoppe, University of California Press

“all of it is you.: poetry” by Nico Tortorella— Exploring “All of It”

 

Tortorella, Nico. “all of it is you.: poetry”, Crown Archetype, 2018

Exploring “All of It”

Amos Lassen

In all fairness, I must admit that until I heard about this book, I had no idea who Nico Tortorella but after reading the poem that he wrote about his penis, I knew he has to be an OK guy. However, I am not sure that a career as a “penis poet” will give him a comfortable style of living.

This is Tortorella’s debut poetry collection and in it we hear his voice that is filled with curiosity, awe and love. Nico is an actor, an advocate and a podcaster who lives with no boundaries. He takes us on a sensuous journey into who we are and how we deal with the world around us. He lets us know that the connections that we make in life are important to the understanding of who we are. His poems are provocative and filled with emotion and they hit us hard. While this is a debut collection, I cannot believe that Tortorella is a debut poet. Every word, every verse is important and he knows what he is doing here and his poems are both raw and real.

In his poetry, Tortorella looks at his own identity, gender, addiction and sex. Yes, he writes about his penis but he also writes about menstruation. It seems that to him, nothing is out-of-bounds. His interest in human sexuality is well felt here.