The Willies, poet and scholar Adam Falkner’s first full-length collection, offers a sharp and vulnerable new portrait of the journey into queerhood in America. In a voice that Dr. Cornel West heralds as “prophetic in bleak times,” Falkner departs from a more familiar coming out narrative to center the stories of several dueling selves. Masquerading white boy. Child of an addict. Closeted varsity athlete. Grief-struck friend. Through snapshots of “Willies” both tragic and humorous, merciless and humane, Falkner offers powerful new ways of understanding the intersectional linkage that binds queer shame to cultural appropriation.
The Willies traverses Wu-Tang Clan listening parties to pine forests in the Catskill Mountains to rehab waiting rooms to depict the various costumes we hide within toward navigating the legacies of toxic masculinity, and the many interior tensions synonymous with queer life. At it’s core, The Willies asks us to consider not Who will we become if we give name to that which scares us? but rather Who might we become if we do not? Drifting seamlessly between the scholarly and conversational, Falkner’s poems showcase a versatility of language and a courageous hunger toward naming, as Aracelis Girmay proclaims it, “the ways we devastate one another daily but also the ways we might be opened into love.”
About Adam Falkner
Dr. Adam Falkner is a poet, educator and arts & culture strategist. He is the author of Adoption (Winner of the 2017 Diode Editions Chapbook Award) and The Willies (forthcoming from Button Poetry, 2020), and his work has… MORE