Glasgow, Matty Layne. “Deciduous Qween”, Red Hen, 2019.
Nature, Masculinity, and Heartbreak
I find beauty in personal poems probably because I wonder if I should even be reading them. But then again, if the poet put them out there, why not? Such is how I felt as I read Matty Layne Glasgow’s “Deciduous Qween”. Glasgow takes us on a walk through the queer world in which we live and how we adapt who we are to that world. I was reminded of a poem by the Israeli poet, Zelda who writes that we each have a name depending upon the situation we are in. We have the name we are given at birth by our parents and we have the name our elementary classmates called us. We have the name that our fellow teens used on us and the name we acquired with later study. We have the name our colleagues at work use and we have the name the way we dress implies, and so on. It is easy to substitute the word identity for name and how we, like our world, change identities when the need arises. We gain an identity based upon how we perform, whether as an actor, a doer or one who does not do.
Poet Glasgow looks at those moments in which our own truths and fears are not only present but when he confront our fears regarding death, loneliness, and failure. Like Glasgow I am from the south (New Orleans [but left it long ago]) and so I recognize his reflections on Southern Gothic mysticism that those who are not from the South have trouble understanding. He shares his thoughts on his childhood spent in Houston’s bayous, his adolescence that was filled with curiosity and shame, and losing his mother when he was a young adult.
After the opening poem, “Beaver As a Fairy Drag Mother”, Glasgow divides his book among five sections in which he looks at the simple things we lose in life (i.e. teeth, body shape and do on). What we do not lose are the scars of what we lost. But all is not loss for there is also gain.
Each of the five sections begin with a poem named “Deciduous Qween” as if to remind us that not only are we reading these poems; we are experiencing what they have to say. The “Deciduous Qween” poems connect the five sections but you will have to feel that for yourselves. Each sections has its own special and unique feel.
For me, the most important aspect of this collection is that the marginalized speak here. We are seen and heard. Glasgow’s images are precise and sensual, the lines are musical, and his language is exciting.
This is a collection of free verse and prose poems that are haunting and give insight into experiences of the poet as a gay man in Houston’s bayous and there is universality here. I can promise you that you will see yourself more than once in the collection.
A word to remember; there is a lot of sexuality here especially in section four and it is graphic but then what is non-graphic sex?
I want to close this review with a short sample and for that here is “haiku for my first boyfriend on his twentieth-eighth birthday”:
queer, another year.
my how all those years (and queers)
have loosened your rear.