Crab Fat Magazine—already a publication seeking more diversity in literature—presents their January 2016 “QPOC Issue,” featuring work by 14 queer poets of color. This issue is a strong one, filled with a variety of poetic styles that will leave readers entranced, their eyes opened. Crab Fat Magazine—already a publication seeking more diversity in literature—presents their January 2016 “QPOC Issue,” featuring work by 14 queer poets of color. This issue is a strong one, filled with a variety of poetic styles that will leave readers entranced, their eyes opened.
deziree a. brown opens the issue with two pieces, the first of which entitled “ritual for staying alive as a black body.” In this poem, brown creates a numerical list which includes items such as “2. do not eat in public,” “5. scrape that brown epidermis from your skin,” and “17. look in the mirror, say / I am not human. Repeat as necessary,” finally ending with “20. be white.” In this page-long poem, brown details the heartbreaking reality of life in a black body in our society, a society “searching for an excuse to end you.”
jayy dodd’s “Some mornings you wake feeling especially Black boy” (beginning with the same line) follows a similar vein. The manipulation of language creates engaging parallels between the two verses, the second verse: “Some Black boys especially wake feeling you mourning,” matched with the first line. In the first verse we see “some mornings, vultures circle corners of school children / black boys stand ready,” the black boys an active presence, and in the second comes the mirrored, more passive presence “you, mourning them quietly,” perhaps now taking on the role of those circling vultures.
Later in the issue, Ally Ang takes a look at womanhood in “Woman,” asking the reader what their womanhood means to them and then following up with what Ang’s own womanhood means to her. The religious imagery she utilizes both strengthens the piece and makes it more accessible. Most of us have heard of Adam and Eve: “in Sunday school, I learned that my inheritance / was original sin: daughters of Eve were doomed,” which leads us to better understand the final lines of the poem, “I am not strong. I am not Woman. / I am still bleeding from my foremothers’ wounds.”
The variety of style within in this issue is vast, never allowing readers’ eyes to glaze over. In his two included poems, Asdrubal Quintero utilizes the Spanish language, his words jumping and jittering down the pages. Hamnah Shahid smashes words together in “Skywalk,” and then stretches them apart again in “Philia Neikos,” both captivating reads. Trey Amos presents his poem “Let the Church Say” in the form of something that reads as half prayer, half manifesto:
Thou shalt not lie in the graves they’ve dug for you
Who art in heaven,
I am not the names they gave me
A quick scroll through the issues demonstrates just how much variety in style is inside.
The “QPOC Issue” of Crab Fat Magazine offers a breath of fresh air, the voices inside sure to follow readers around, an echo in their ear, long after they’ve finished the issue.