Faulkner, Adam. “The Willies”, Button Poetry, 2020.
The Willies” is a poetry collection that gives us a look at the journey to being queer in America. It focuses on the two sides that battle each within the body and mind of the child of an addict and closeted varsity addict. Through language that is both versatile and strong, we see what is behind the masks that hide “toxic masculinity” and its legacies. Vignettes that are both smile inducing, lack of mercy and humanity, we see what brings queer shame to today’s culture as we question what we fear most
Faulkner’s poetry is powerful in the way that it portrays the queerness of youth and how far we will go to come across as straight and anything that we are not. Faulkner shows the importance of honesty as we read about white guilt.
Faulkner has something to say about whiteness and struggling with black cultural appropriation. The poems cover many themes— queerness, alcoholism, mental health and how Black culture has been used to frame white guilt. They are raw and filled with emotion, and honesty. We see the struggle for familial acceptance, and learning how to accept oneself.
There are sharp critiques of whiteness and the poet’s own sense of white privilege. I am amazed at the poet’s self-awareness yet I wish that he can gone a bit deeper. There is intimacy and profundity here and they hit hard.