Small press! The poems by the women- and nonbinary-identified writers in this issue of White Stag are haunted by the bones of these checklists, by men and mothers and gods who tell us how to be. In them I hear the old drum of be quiet, don't say anything, don’t draw attention to yourself. Joshua Hegarty writes, “Without flaws / may very well / be the opposite of masculine. / The blemished record— / the poison fed to babies / at birth, / and every meal thereafter. / When the world is yours to break, / you’re free to break it.” And Ashley Mares tells of shame as our origin story: “What if she [Eve] explained how / a woman’s body slips into / clothes as easily as it /slips into shame.” But these poems refuse the silence. They refuse pretty and refuse shame. Chelsea Burden’s poem tells us to “Begin / by unhooking their names / like cat-claw from your skin,” to unhook from the need to do everything for everyone but you. Xuxa Rodriguez is noisy in her want: “I wanna be a Malibu Musked valley girl sun in hair sun blonde bright so light I want my eyes sea blue too to see so clear so super thick glasses won’t fall crack down glare and scare Cool Water boys mushroomed cut prepped out and baggy panting into crop mop topped New York Toasted lipped girls with their baby curls gel mousse teased bangs waving hair so high god high fives snaps daps I’m not cute cool or down...” These poems build an alternate world, like Burden’s bridge: “They know that you are on a bridge / made of matchsticks. / Do not stand still. Let the friction / of each footstep do as it will. / Revel in the flames at your back.” These poems revel in destruction as much as creation. Stacey Balkun gives us new bones to build from, reminds us “you / have to take it yourself.” This issue is not about being not-male; it’s about the noise and rage of becoming ourselves, and the many ways we’re in-between. From these writers I’ve begun to rethink all the cups the word goddess can fill, and all the things that can fill it. As Tammy Robacker writes, “Can’t you feel / the atmosphere / crack apart by / the lungfuls here?”
Featured Authors: Melissa Atkinson Mercer, Stacey Balkun, Julie E. Bloemeke, Erica Bodwell, Chelsey Burden, Sarah A. Chavez, Sharon Coleman, Juliet Cook, Gail DiMaggio, Kallie Falandays, Elizabeth Gross, Gillian Hamel, Joshua Hegarty, Allyson Jeffredo, Petra Kuppers, Steffi Lang, T.m. Lawson, Sarah Lilius, Jennifer Macbain-Stephens, Ashley Mares, Ashley Miranda, Catherine Moore, Sarah Frances Moran, Jesse Rice-Evans, Tammy Robacker, Xuxa Rodriguez, Nicole Ross Rollender, Kathleen Taylor, Kim Vodicka, Jessica L. Walsh, Sophie Weiner, Cassondra Wethers, Autumn Widdoes, & Sara Wilson with an introduction by Jill Kolongowski & cover photo by Mothmeister.
Edited by Jill Kolongowski. Paperback. 124 pages. Published by White Stag Publishing, 2016.