Nestore, Angelo. “Impure Acts”, translated by Lawrence Schimel, Indolent Books, 2019
I have always wanted to be a poet but have been shy about sharing my poetic words with others yet I am perfectly comfortable sharing my prose. One of my guilty pleasures is, however, reading others poems and I do so every day. I have my poetry time set aside in my daily schedule. I came upon Lawrence Schimel’s translation of Angelo Nestore’s “Impure Acts” and literally wept as I read is brutal and beautiful lyricism wishing that I had been the one to put down such wonderful words. Schimel has always provided me with poetic food for thought and he has really outdone himself here. I experience fabulous joy and deep heartbreak as I read. Nestore writes of a different kind of desire than most of us have ever experiences. He is sure of himself and what he desires and the communicates that with his readers in a way I have yet to experience and until I do, my heart will probably be broken a bit. Nestore is liturgical to a degree and is well aware of the distance between himself, the poet his audience, the reader. We may never cross that bridge yet he shares ideas on how to do so.
“I want to raise suspicions,
have men shout at me in the streets…”
Using the Catholic idea of communion, he brings it a new meaning as he experiences as he takes it at his gym,
“The blonde boy looks exhausted.
I’m turned on by the sweat on his chin,
The candor of those beads soaking his towel.
I imagine myself crossing the threshold that separates us.
I open my mouth beneath his chin and stick out my tongue,
like a child kneeling before the altar.”
Néstore’s “Impure Acts” examines and explores ideas that have been passed down to us about gender, reproduction and desire and I shudder as I read the differences between what we have been told and what we actually experience ourselves. I certainly do not stand before the same altar as those that came before me and those that come after me will, too, have a different altar.
Looking at the four divisions of the collection, “The Body Almost”, “Pelicans Die of Hunger”, “Imagined Daughter” and “Songs to an Empty Crib”, we get an idea about what we are going to read before we actually do. Nestore announces that he belongs to a new kind of men, a race of this time that both celebrates and avenges the thoughts of something bigger out there. Yet, Nestore looks at fatherhood/motherhood and the idea that we, ourselves, are able to go against biological laws and civil codes. We are the masters of our fate and as such we can do and will do to remain so.
Nestore’s voice is filled with power and he should be read by every gay male, every gay female, every bisexual, every transgender, every cis-person. He should be read by everyone and as you read, revel in what he has to say. Let me just say that were it not for Lawrence Schimel’s stunning translation, we might have missed this altogether. Now that we have it, we should take it up.
“I shake off the hand that grips me, calls to me.
A foreign mass forms within and grows in the mystery.
I attain ecstasy.
I stain the earth with the final see of hope.”