Online Lit Mags

A Response to Our Absence Elsewhere: PANK’s Queer Issue

by Posted on November 15th, 2010 at 5:34 pm

One of many rotating images from PANK website

PANK’s Queer Issue, edited by Tim Jones-Yelvington, presents some of the finest writing from around the globe. In his introduction, “Why Queer?” Jones-Yelvington writes a eloquent if circumspect analysis of Queer identity and writing. He writes,

For an issue of a literary magazine to mark itself as Queer is necessarily a political act. It is a response to our absence elsewhere. Or in certain circumstances, even to our active exclusion…. But this issue is not solely a response to lack. It’s also a generative project. We are taking advantage of the opportunity Queer affords not only to obliterate (or at least destabilize) “normal,” but also to imagine new possibilities for both our lives and texts—or for our lives as texts. Or for the texts in which we find ourselves living.

Much of the writing is, indeed, generative in its openness and accessibility in terms of vernacular and structure. For instance, in Crystal Boson’s “she’s a prayin’ kind,” the speaker’s malediction is a blessing for the accursed:

i am fifth in the line of twelve men prayin for the night to end
some can wrap a prayer in gravy and straight conversate His name
some marinate in ass sweat soaked up to the spine
some can dark the hell outta a church door
the eighth will get home to find steak still cooking
the first will go home to find beer just turn warm
the one behind me thinks of a woman
they all feel Him turn over when i open up my mouth

Sofia Rhei’s Cinderella presented in Spanish in print and audio and its English translation by Lawrence Schimel, is marvelous in its inventive articulation of longing and mystery at the core of this folktale.

Cenicienta

La puerta del aseo está llena de inscripciones amorosas. Si no me
hubiera entretenido leyéndolas, no habría oído cómo alguien entraba en
el cubículo contiguo y se masturbaba lentamente, susurrando, entre
jadeos, un nombre muy poco frecuente: el mío.

Tan sólo pude ver sus extraños zapatos, ya que se fue de repente,
antes de que yo misma pudiera ahogar mis últimos gemidos mordiendo mi
brazo.

Ahora sólo tengo que encontrarla.

Cinderella

The stall door was full of erotic inscriptions. If I hadn’t gotten distracted reading them, I wouldn’t have heard how someone entered the next cubicle and masturbated slowly, whispering, between gasps, an uncommon name: mine.

I could only see her strange shoes, given that she left suddenly, before I could muffle my own last moans by biting my arm.

Now I just need to find her.

The piece I return to again and again for its stunning economy is Doug Paul Case’s “Bottom,” which captures the project of “imagin[ing] new possibilities for both our lives and texts—or for our lives as texts. Or for the texts in which we find ourselves living.”

That boy’s smile
opens to his molars.

PANK’s Queer Issue is a politically potent and exhuberant collection that shatters heteronormative boundaries and instead builds on the idea of inclusiveness, both as an aesthetic vision as well as a transformative community.