So pleased that my new book of poems CONNOR AND SEAL will be published by Sibling Rivalry Press in 2020. Thank you, Bryan Borland and Seth Pennington, for believing in the work.
My publishing journey has been one of twists and turns. My very first book PAYDAY LOANS was published by Roxanne Hoffman's Poets Wear Prada, a small press based in New Jersey. Encouraged by the late John Stahle, my second book EQUAL TO THE EARTH and third book SEVEN STUDIES FOR A SELF PORTRAIT were self-published in New York under the imprint of Bench Press. My fourth book THE PILLOW BOOK was picked up by Singaporean indie publisher Kenny Leck and his Math Paper Press. STEEP TEA, my fifth book, was released by Michael Schmidt's Carcanet Press in the UK.
I'm glad that my new book has found a home in the USA. It's the most American and queerest of my books. It owes its inspiration to Rita Dove's THOMAS AND BEULAH and its life to my life with Guy Humphrey in Harlem. Based in Little Rock, Arkansas, Sibling Rivalry Press (SRP) has been publishing some of the most vital voices in LGBTQ literature here. The Library of Congress acquires all of SRP’s printed titles, past and future, for induction into its Rare Books and Special Collections Vault, where they will be “housed among history’s greatest writers for all of perpetuity.” Now, doesn't that sound nice? I mean to be "housed." The word has a special ring to this writer who migrated from Singapore, via the UK, to the USA, betting all his savings and some on an MFA program at Sarah Lawrence College, an international student, a visa applicant, a house guest, an apartment-sharer, and a tenant still, in many ways, in the house of this crazy country.
I've been trying to make myself at home here, knowing that it will never be home, just as Singapore will never be home, truly, again, and CONNOR AND SEAL explores not homecoming but coming home. Here's the poem that ends Connor's section of the book:
The Birds of Harlem
The birds of Harlem are the birds
the brown nonentities
and the self-advertising glories.
They have returned from other lands
to a familiar bough
or the corner ledge of a brownstone.
To call them
the birds of Harlem
is to give airy nothings
a local habitation and a name.
It’s a way of saying we belong
somewhere, a way of singing.
(First published in Birmingham Poetry Review)
Sibling Rivalry's announcement video