Bethany Mary on “Loathe/Love/Lathe” by Alain Ginsberg

You may stumble upon Alain Ginsberg if you’re trying to find Allen Ginsberg, but there’s no need to be disappointed by this poet mix-up. Alain’s writing is a melancholy autobiography of what it means to not only survive, but also to live, and how hard it can be for queer individuals to do the bare minimum. This Ginsberg dives into society’s harmful misdirections and stereotypes with justifiable ferocity, while maintaining a focus of creating tranquility within oneself despite outside dangers.

“There is nothing of me that he has not already tried to take.”

The relatable experience of heartache is given a special spin, a hollowness unique to a partner who “doesn’t realize that there is nothing of me that he has not already tried to take.” Bodies are painted as complimentary breakfast, free and expected, for anyone to sample. Bodies are jokes, bodies are amorphous, something to build up to, to soften or sharpen the edges until the mind says it’s right. The background music is boy but the words of the song are girl.

Vaginas blooming like flowers, a conversation between a cock and god, all of Ginsberg’s imagery depicts a world of creation that the queer community needs. Their unabashed speech, pure openness and possibility, is the only way to talk about things that are real and hard. Some poems discuss rape, trying to beat the statistics of transgender people not living very long, feeling threatened by men flexing muscles and kissing docile girls at the metro.

“I hope at my funeral no one asks if my parents meant for this”

“I hope at my funeral no one asks if my parents meant for this,” one poem reads, perhaps a bowed head to young queer deaths, especially recently. Ginsberg questions, what would a rose’s parents say if they chose to be another kind of flower, just as beautiful, merely different than the expected, usual, normal? Why is there ever shame and guilt around authenticity and love?

Ginsberg explores what makes a man or a woman, a human or a ghost, a life or a death. Anything can be changed, shaped by the mind into something else, something that many eyes don’t see or understand. Imagine a queer utopia, where the minority is flipped to the majority: “in the queer future cis people aren’t allowed to look at me unless they are using everyone’s correct pronouns.” What a drastic consequence, a simple wish. It should not be hard for people to learn how to address others. It should be as easy as learning your own name.

“In 2017, I wake and see everyone’s mouth but I can’t make out if they are saying ‘I love you’ or ‘I loathe you.’ “

“In 2017 I wake and see everyone’s mouth moving but I can’t make out if they are saying ‘I love you’ or ‘I loathe you,’” Ginsberg writes, and this line resonates throughout not just their entire book, but also this entire year.

 

Keep up with Ginsberg at their website https://www.alainginsberg.com/, and look up their name to follow them on pretty much any social media platform. You can even order cool merch from https://www.anotherginsberg.bandcamp.com, and keep an eye out for this traveling spoken word artist to perform near you!

 


BETHANY MARY works in Minnesota as a life enrichment programmer for older adults with dementia. She was once the poetry editor of Green Blotter Literary Magazine and read submissions for Spark: A Creative Anthology and Zetetic: A Record of Unusual Inquiry. As an emotional advocate for a sexual assault center, she focuses on boundaries and mental health in her own writing. She rants and shares photos of her ragdoll cats on Twitter @bethanylmary.

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