Title: QUEER: LGBT writing from Ancient Times to Yesterday
Author: Various (edited by Frank Wynne)
Genres: Short Stories, Poetry, Graphic Novel, Memoir, Novel (extracts)
Release Date: Jan 21, 2021
Head of Zeus • Bookshop.org (UK)
Queer history and queer experiences of all forms are captured so well in this anthology. This book validated my own queer identity, whilst expanding my definition of queerness.
As a queer person of colour, I can assure you this anthology is NOT another white man recycling the same few ”queer” writers for consumption. Frank Wynne has very much done his homework.
This anthology has so many varied and nuanced definitions of queerness – from the great Western LGBTQ+ figureheads like Sappho and Achilles, to modern Eastern writers I had never heard of, like A.Revanthi and Yau Ching. And what’s more, we see queerness in so many different forms. I personally found this very cool! We have our usual poetry and short stories, but we are also given Alison Bechdel’s graphic-novel memoir-story, Coming Out Story.
SO, WHY IS QUEER WRITING IMPORTANT?
Queer writing is important, therefore, not just to validate people like me, but to help change the way we write. If the same kind of people are telling the same kinds of stories over and over again, there’s no room for evolution. Our stories will be boring.
There were two really great examples of this in the anthology:
1) Zhang Yurean’s Binary
In this short story, prose-poem hybrid, Yurean plays with the idea of ‘binaries’. It starts with a quote:
“This is how it works: 0 moves to 1, and 1 moves back to 0.
An endless cycle.”
And so, each section is titled either 0 or 1, moving back to the other. This of course, plays on the idea of binary code vs binary identities. I don’t know about you, but I thought that was such a cool way to play with the concept of binary identites and queerness.
2) A.M. Home’s A Real Doll
From this title, what are you expecting? A story about a girl playing with a Barbie, perhaps? Well, you’re right. Except Barbie is an alcoholic and closeted gay. And I cannot even explain how beautiful the writing is in this, despite its very dark concept. But in other words, Home takes a very well-known, relatable concept, and puts a queer spin on it. She creates queer art from a non-queer experience.
TRYING TO CREATE QUEER ART FROM QUEER ART
To celebrate the beauty of the writing in this anthology and International Women’s Day, I created my own art from queer art.
I decided to explore the many definitions of ‘woman’ the QUEER anthology offered – from hijras to transgender women to intersex people.
After tabbing my favourite quotes from female, queer writers, I typed them up. Each writer was given a specific colour, which co-ordinated to the colour tab I had used in the anthology.
Then, after counting syllables (as you can see above), I wrote this sonnet using the lines I liked most:
And honestly, I really enjoyed this exercise. Not just because I got to celebrate and read more queer writing, but because my own understandings of queerness expanded.
I learnt that, queerness is everywhere – in people, in gender, in sexuality, in community, in writing, in art, and also, in you. Because in truth, everyone is in their own way, a little bit queer.
Disclosure: I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. All views are my own and are not sponsored by Head of Zeus.