National Poetry Month 2021: 5 Queer Poets Who Create Outside the Margins

By Hannah Eko Apr 26, 2021

Re-is a prefix that means “back” or “again”, a way of looking back and forward simultaneously. We reimagine, remix, and reinvent. These powerful words are the perfect accompaniment to queer poetry, which is forever filling in silences and creating new worlds. Though queerness and queer artistry have gained visibility in recent years (especially within social media channels) there are still significant gaps to be addressed.
rnToday, we celebrate five poets who dare to re-envision the human experience in all its multifarious glory.
rnXandria Phillips

rnWhy You Should Know Them: Xandria Phillips is a poet whose work reconfigures the Black queer experience. They are a visual artist, Whiting award winner, and the most recent fellow for the Center for African American Poetry and Poetics. They describe their work as a translation between “the scholarly and poetic”. Their debut collection HULL was lauded for its ability to “seamlessly bridge formal play with thematic substance”, as it bravely explored the effects of anti-Blackness and queer erasure. 
rnAppetizer: Black Heroism is Unskilled Labor
rnMain Course:  HULL (nightboat books, 2019)
rnKay Ulanday Barrett

rnWhy You Should Know Them: Describing themselves as a “Transgender, Disabled, Non-Binary, Queer Filipinx person” Barrett is a poet whose work dances between multiple worlds and identities. Their honest poem “Tibo” speaks to the conflict between Filipinx cultural expectations and one’s queer identity. They are an in-demand workshop facilitator, speaker, activist and were named by Vogue Magazine as one of the top nine trans and gender non-conforming artists to know in 2018. Their work continually “names, makes visible, and feeds those who’ve been erased, made voiceless, misgendered, colonized, and experienced various forms of violence…”

Appetizer: Right to release
rnMain Course:
  “More Than Organs” (Sibling Rivalry Press, 2020)

Dawn Lundy Martin
rnWhy You Should Know Her: Lundy Martin is a poet, essayist, and professor whose poetry earned a Kingsley Tufts Poetry Award in 2019. A long-time activist and arts professional, she co-edited Letters to the Future: Black WOMEN/Radical WRITING and currently serves as Director for the Center of African American Poetry and Poetics at the University of Pittsburgh. Her work moves between the “seemingly expressive and seemingly expressive” and disrupts facile definitions of blackness, queerness, and the Other.
rnAppetizer: Violent Rooms”
rnMain Course: Life in a Box Is a Pretty Life (nightboat books, 2019)
rnJari Bradley
rnWhy You Should Know Them: Jari Bradley is a genderqueer poet originally from San Francisco, California, currently based in Madison, Wisconsin. Their poetry has been widely published in such places as “Callaloo”,BOAAT Journal, and “The Virginia Quarterly Review”. Their work frequently confronts assumptions of the body, centers the possibilities of blackness, and interrogates gender performance. They are a former Cave Canem Fellow and the 2020-2021 First Wave Poetry Fellow at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

rnAppetizer: Poem for a Black Boi
rnMain Course: “
Unruly” (Northwestern University Press, forthcoming)

Willie Lee Kinnard III

Why You Should Know Him/Them: A poet, sound artist, art director, and performer “forged in the South”, Kinnard is a native of Newberry, South Carolina. His work contemplates the many shapes of desire alongside “surrealistic portraiture, gospel deep cuts, Black folklore and superstition.” Their work has been published in Slush Pile, Foundry, and WILDNESS. They are a Pittsburgh Foundation awardee and a 2020 finalist for the Ruth Lilly and Dorothy Sargent Poetry Awards.

Appetizer:Bird in the Rain
rnMain Course: chroma. (Blurb, 2021)

Hannah Eko is a Black-Nigerian writer, teaching artist, and creator of honeyknife, llc. Her work has been featured in Buzzfeed, Bust, b*tch, make/shift, and Aster(ix) magazines. She is the author of Honey is the Knife, an eclectic essay collection grounded in peace, power, and pleasure.