Queer Authors: Intersectionality in Poetry

Written by: Sam Bastille

Click on the cover to learn more about Jericho Brown’s The Tradition and read “Duplex” (Source: Copper Canyon Press)

As a poet, I am always looking for writers who catch my eye; poems that tell a story about the world around us, or the inner mechanisms of ourselves—these are some of my favorites. I love being immersed in someone else’s story, even if it’s just for a moment, while I’m digesting their work.

Poetry can also be a tool for change, a tool of self-expression used to convey emotion. I have found that some of the best poems are produced when the author is vulnerable. I know this seems like a simple idea, but sometimes it’s hard to talk about yourself, especially when your identity tends to be sidelined.

Intersectionality, a term coined by Kimberlé Crenshaw, defines an intersection of identities that open individuals up to multiple forms of oppression and explains the problems with ignoring that intersection. Now listen, I’m not here to lecture you about Crenshaw’s fantastic academic achievements, or to explain in detail the intricacies of intersectionality. I simply want to say that poetry can be a conduit of intersectionality. 

If I’ve piqued your interest, The Tradition, the winner of the 2020 Pulitzer Prize in Poetry, is a collection of some of Jericho Brown’s poems. It makes for a great place to start exploring his work. The book is broken into three sections, each with its own message about the terror of life, and why we accept it as a regular part of living. 

Take a look below to read some of my favorite poems by Brown. 

  1. Ganymede
  2. Of the Swan
  3. Duplex

Thanks for reading! 

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