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Saturday, March 6, 2010

SPR Jan/Feb 2008 - Clifton Snider Reviews Austin Alexis's LOVERS AND DRAG QUEENS




Anaphora



Lovers and Drag Queens
By Austin Alexis.
2007; 16 pp; $6.25.
Poets Wear Prada,
533 Bloomfield Street,
Hoboken, N.J. 07030.


Clifton Snider



Excerpt reprinted from

Small Press Review


Jan - Feb 2008
Vol. 40 Nos. 1 - 2
Issues 420 - 421


Lovers and Drag Queens is a clear-eyed, queer exploration of urban characters and dilemmas from the perspective of the talented African-American New York Poet, playwright, and fiction writer, Austin Alexis. In free verse and prose poems, Alexis offers an enticing palette of ordinary and outré people who populate New York, including the sexually ambiguous cop in “Eyes,” the “Call Girl at 5 AM,” the “Drag Queen,” the “Bronx Woman,” and the murderous “psychopath.” Utilizing anaphora reminiscent of Walt Whitman, Alexis celebrates a gospel choir in “Gospel”:
And the gospel choir swayed
and the gospel members
hummed in harmony...
and the singers’ black faces
shone against
their loose white angel robes,
and the organ revved up like a
preacher
the congregation loved...

Alexis also used anaphora in the one poem clearly outside the city, “The Villagers, 2005”: “They were trying to say/ that gayness is wrong,/ that their rules rule,/ that they own/ the world’s corrosive poison:/ power.” Far from a celebration, this poem comments on “an African village...[where] a man was stoned to death because of his sexual orientation,” as the explanatory note says.

Alexis also remembers another killer of gay men in “H.I.V.” And he delicately explores troubled lovers, male and female, in such poems as “Choices,” “Love Poem,” and “Dilemma.” Lovers and Drag Queens contains an intriguing variety of poems in its sixteen pages: a fine chapbook, well worth perusing.



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