Thanks to our audience and four wonderful speakers for a fascinating evening of poetry and prose readings, followed by an illuminating discussion on LGBT issues. Gay writers are first and foremost writers; but there is a wider issue of visibility, raised by general attitudes towards non-heteronormative perspectives. We are not all white, male, macho-heroes like Bruce Willis – and yet we are so often expected to identify with such figures, while other possible voices remain marginalised.
Hal Duncan inaugurated the evening with a horror-fairytale entitled The Wolf and the Three Wise Monkeys; this queer fairytale theme permeated much of the readings, through some spontaneous synchronicity. Elizabeth Reeder regaled us next with her melodic Chicago accent, and an extract from her intriguing second novel: Freemont.
Then Katherine McMahon conjured tears, with her very touching and honest poems about love and feminism, and the struggle to be yourself in the world when ever faced with “snide remarks”. Many memorable phrases left us searching for more: “The day we took the words back”, “the day we proved that everything was natural and nothing was”, “…we learned how to raise our bodies into barricades, the hammers of their fists reversed to serve us”. Finally, Kirsty Logan – who deserves great credit for pulling the evening together – gave us the title story from her collection, The Rental Heart: a dark and chilling allegory in which the pain and risk of love and relationships is externalised by the image of shining mechanical hearts, exchanged between lovers.
Several new friends were made in the bar afterwards, and much common ground discovered between sane people seeing each other as souls, not bodies.