by Jem Henderson, Jonathan Kinsman and J.P. Seabright
my womb whispers / life gives you a single task – / but i don’t listen. / i am selfish like that.
‘Genderfux’ is a collaborative pamphlet of 27 poems by three authors: Jem Henderson, Jonathan Kinsman and J.P. Seabright. Henderson (she/they) is a genderqueer poet from Leeds with an MA in Creative Writing from York St. John’s University. Kinsman (he/him) is a polyamorous, bisexual transmasculine poet from Manchester and Seabright (she/they) is a queer writer living in London. All have been extensively published over the past few years.
None of this trio are new to me: I’ve watched them on Zoom, and I’ve read their work in other publications. Singly, they are poets of power and force, with strident and compelling voices. Put them together however, and something truly remarkable happens. Here is presented a queer narrative that makes you think long and hard about what that really means, and the myriad consequences it presents.
What’s in it for Me?
Here are three poets very much capable of illustrating sexuality in surprising (Crocuta crocuta) and amusing forms (jack and jill went up the hill), whilst form and function are warped and bent with ease (from the Book of Demons, some possible genders). However, it is the historical insights, unsurprisingly, that carry the biggest emotional heft, and here is where the true strength and depth of each of this trio really shines through, versions of history so bright and intense that they will leave imprints on your retinas for many days afterwards.
This is also a testament to Colin Bancroft’s superlative curation: three approaches so distinct that they do not need to be individually attributed, and aren’t. When they are, at the end of the text, it becomes obvious where the overlaps are placed, but with this narrative so fluid and well-created, so confident and honest, you really don’t need the signposts in the first place. Again I find myself thinking that not a single word is wasted in this pamphlet. Every poem is essential to the collective whole, and together they are virtually invincible.
A lot of queer poetry has been a tough ask since coming out, and finding pieces that speak to my feelings and situations remains problematic. Every experience here is a lifetime and a heartbeat away from anything this mind could begin to imagine, but the power and force of the words has gripped and altered me in ways that are still being decoded. This pamphlet has been criminally overlooked, and is a searing collection of life and pain, wrapped around the need to be authentic and honest. I urge everybody to read it.
Kayfabe for the imagery
Fault / Lines for the inference
ninth circle for the impact
Any Other Business
Honestly, this is one of the best things I’ve read for a VERY long time. You don’t need two paragraphs of hyperbole: it was nominated for a Saboteur Award for Best Collaborative Work in 2022. Honestly, your life will be better with this pamphlet in it.
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