“The heartland is a perpetual state of mind, a place more pervasive than the literality of a land before them …”
In Among the Leaves, 18 queer male poets share stories what it means to live in the Midwest. We learn what it’s like for them to play football and come up short. We feel their lingering effects of bullying. We experience the undeniable power of seasons affecting their moods as they ache for a meaningful connection. We learn what it means to celebrate in spite of the odds against them. But more than anything, we discover anew through their poems the redemptive power of love and renewal among the leaves growing and falling.
The poets included in this anthology are: Walter Beck, Ahimsa Timoteo Bodhrán, James Cihlar, Jack Fritscher, Brent Goodman, George Klawitter, Christopher Leland, John Medeiros, Stephen S. Mills, Michael Kiesow Moore, Timothy Murphy, William Reichard, James Schwartz, Gregg Shapiro, Jim Stewart, Whittier Strong, Malcolm Stuhlmiller, and Scott Wiggerman.
“Late night drives across frozen lakes; eyes meeting in rear view mirrors at gas pumps; torturous journeys across school playgrounds: this vibrant collection explores the loneliness of isolation, the joy of recognition, the shiver of first love, and the comfort of companionship. Like the multitude of grasses on the prairie, these handsomely crafted poems teaches us all how to live and love fearlessly with authenticity, beauty, and honesty.”— Kathryn Kysar, author of Dark Lake and Pretend the World
“The poetry in Among the Leaves crackles to life across plains both arid and wintry, from first crushes on grain-fed jock boys to fathers brandishing Bibles, guns, and catcher’s mitts. The Midwest is brought into sharp focus by a group of top-notch poets unafraid to explode the myth of the American heartland and expose the gritty, hard-scrabble realities of growing up gay there. I can’t remember an anthology so full of varied voices and styles that so deftly defines a region.”— Collin Kelley, author of Render and Slow to Burn
“The Midwest still lines streets with trees and picture windows light up blue from TVs; there’s some farmland and a funnel cloud or two but always, beaming through: the icon of family. All of these things are reclaimed, realigned and repatriated with a boy on boy kiss in these poems of manhood and coming to it Queer. Full of multiple desires and a hankering for home, this anthology is comforting, even clean cut. We are reminded that the cleanest cuts go deep.”— Heid E. Erdrich, author of Cell Traffic: New and Selected Poems
“These anthologies [Among the Leaves and When We Become Weavers] feel ground-breaking, because they provide a loving Midwestern home for queer people. Some of the poets write with nostalgia about the rural homes they left for the city. It’s never easy to turn your back completely on the place you grew up, even if you suffered there. . . .The poems in these companion anthologies bring beauty and healing to the so-often ugly and harsh experiences of queer readers in the Midwest. It’s heartening at last to hear these voices from the Heartland.”— Mary Meriam, for The Gay & Lesbian Review