Poets Resist: Jane Byers
Jane Byers’ Acquired Community (Caitlin Press) is a poetic history of lesbian and gay movements in North America along with first-person poems about coming out, and a truly powerful example of the political being personal. Below we share the poem "Gay Bashing" from the collection, and get Jane's thoughts on poetry as resistance.See more details below
This year we feel everyone could see a little more solidarity and community, so we're getting poetically political with Poets Resist, a series dedicated to poetry as a form of resistance. Every day on the blog we will feature a poet whose work explores one of these topics: colonialism and violence, homophobia and transphobia, environmental destruction, and/or the !@#$% patriarchy.
Jane Byers’ Acquired Community (Caitlin Press) is a poetic history of lesbian and gay movements in North America along with first-person poems about coming out, and a truly powerful example of the political being personal. Below we share the poem "Gay Bashing" from the collection, and get Jane's thoughts on poetry as resistance.
ALU: What are some books that inspired or informed Acquired Community?
JB: Michael Lynch's out-of-print poetry anthology, These Waves of Dying Friends, Linda Hirshman’s Victory: The Triumphant Gay Revolution, Leslie Feinberg’s Stone Butch Blues, Paul Monette’s Borrowed Time: An AIDS Memoir, and Mark Doty’s poetry collection, My Alexandria.
ALU: If you were protesting homophobia and/or transphobia, what would your protest sign read?
JB:I would go back to an old classic LOVE>HATE.
ALU:Why did you write this collection?
JB:I wrote this collection because I was consumed by shame and coming out in the early ‘90s that I didn’t contribute much to the gay community. This is a way of giving back, of telling stories that need to be told, that none of us learned in the history books in school.
ALU:What does poetry as resistance mean to you?
JB: It is an expressive form that in itself requires us to find our power in order to have a voice, so it is empowering. I feel most in my own power when I’m writing poems. Poetry of resistance is potent. Condensed bits of insight and a call to action that despots fear.
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Jane Byers lives with her wife and two children in Nelson, British Columbia. She writes about human resilience in the context of raising children, lesbian and gay issues, and health and safety in the workplace. She has had poems, essays, and short fiction published in a variety of books and literary magazines in Canada, the US, and the UK, as well as two poetry collections, including Steeling Effects (Caitlin Press).
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Buy Acquired Community or any of our other featured poetry month collections and get your own Poets Resist pack of a patch and buttons to wear to your next protest. And if you need some more resistance poetry inspiration, check out our poetry bot!
Keep up with us all month on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook with the hashtag #poetsresist.
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