Published by Caitlin Press
Jane Byers’ Acquired Community is both a collection of narrative poems about seminal moments in North American lesbian and gay history, mostly post-World War II, and a series of first person poems that act as a touchstone to compare the narrator’s coming out experience within the larger context of the gay liberation movement.
The “parade” poems such as “Celebration Was a Side Effect, 1992” explores the important role parades have played in the queer movement and how they have transformed from activism to celebration. “St Patrick’s Day Parade, 2014” takes the Boston St. Patrick’s Day committee’s homophobia to task, reminding us that this is not ancient history, but an ever-transforming experience. In her long poem, “Keen,” Byers imagines a dialogue between a young queer university student and Michael Lynch, an AIDS activist, poet and scholar who helped found many gay community institutions. In this compelling poem we are reminded that the AIDS epidemic had a rippling effect, touching the lives of everyone within the gay community and well beyond.
In this second book by Byers her poems go beyond the historical perspective of LGBT rights and are living examples of progress. Acquired Communityexamines and celebrates community resilience.
Published by Caitlin Press
Why do some of us learn to bend? Others break? How do we move from shame to being “enough”? How do we bounce back stronger after adversity and then embrace our own humanity with its flawed beauty?
In her first full collection of poetry, Jane Byers explores her personal experience with resilience, beginning with her own difficult birth, which she describes as “inoculation against despair.” As a young adult, the writer moves from complicity and its illusion of power to building a pliant self. Byers turns an unflinching eye to parenthood, as the mother of adopted twins, and examines the workplace through the eyes of a female safety specialist working alongside firefighters, transportation crews and heavy equipment purchasers. The author draws on the steeling effects of being queer to imbue her children and injured workers with suppleness.
A late fall swim in an alpine lake; a woman in the twilight of life, risking delight. “Red thermometers of grass shed their glistening mercury” in a “fever of gratitude”; to tumble from the divine is to be alive in the pungent beauty that the so-called mundane has to offer.
STEELING EFFECTS asks whether what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger and lives its way into the pliant beauty that gratitude affords.
Best Canadian Poetry 2014, “Scrape”
Gosse, D. Out Proud: Stories of Pride, Courage and Social Justice – Breakwater Books, Summer 2014, essay “Conceiving Family”
Gillespie, B. & Van Luven, L., Somebody’s Child: Essays on Adoption – Touchwood Editions, September 2011, Victoria, essay entitled “Becoming Real”
Carver, J. & Degrace, A., Seasonings: A Year in Local Flavour and Words – Fall 2010, Nelson, BC, “Raspberry Pancakes”
Fraser, D., Close To Quitting Time, Ascent Aspirations Publishing, Spring 2011, “Coming Out”
Thorpe, J., Very Short Stories – Off Cut press, 2003, “Lime Green Popsicle”
Plenitude, Spring 2014, “Where the Women Went”
Our Times, Volume 33, # 2, “Blind Spot”
Grain Magazine, Summer 2013, “A Body is Seduced By Damages”
The Antigonish Review, Spring 2013, “Precision Tool and Die”
Descant, Spring 2013, “Scrape, Transportation Department-City of Toronto, The Adaptable Shall Inherit The Earth and To A Politician”
Adanna: Women and War Issue, Spring, 2013, “Stabgrass, Ubuntu”
Between The Lines-Canadian Journal of Hockey Literature, Winter 2012, “Pond Hockey”
Rattle, #35 Spring 2011, “Baseball”
New Orphic Review, Spring 2011, “Populist, Inaugural Flight, Women At Forty, 13430 Religion, Independence Day”
Ars Medica, Fall 2010, “Intensive Care”
Horsefly, Fall 2010, “Emptiness in the Night Sky, Solstices, Redemption”
Horsefly 2008, “Beauty Cast Off In Advancing Autumn, Fever of Gratitude, Not Distracted By Gravity, The Wild in Me”
Our Times 2006, “Chop The Day, Trinket”
Fireweed Literary Journal 1999, “Yellow”
Plentitude Magazine, “What Lesbians Wear to the Mall”
Monday’s Poem by Leaf Press, April/11, “South Pole (working title: Lost and Found)”
Poets Against War, 2007, “Third Generation, Five Star Generals”