Date of Award
Master of Fine Arts
Creative Writing and Environment
Through the creaking of bedazzled branches and the soft rustle of jeweled leaves, deciduous qween explores the queer world all around us—how we, like our environment, wear and shed different identities in our performance as human, as drag queen, as ancient tree. This collection seeks to find in the natural world those ephemeral moments which reflect our own truths and confront our fear of death, of loneliness, and of failure.
With an air of southern gothic mysticism, the poet reflects on a childhood spent in Houston’s bayous, an adolescence rife with curiosity and shame, and a young adulthood marred by the loss of his mother. How do our bodies and minds find equilibrium as we learn to let go, yet long to remember? The title poem, “deciduous qween, I-V,” binds the collection in a five-part sequence, pondering those things in our lives that are lost: teeth, antlers, body, shape, and leaf.
Frequently returning to the poet’s experiences in amateur drag, the book questions how one can define oneself by performing for others: Call me Twiggy. Call me Jazz June. Call me / Sharon Stoned. Call me anything but a man’s name / because I was never a gospel. I’m all branch & blade / & cool summer shade...” The poet goes on to envision beavers as fairy drag mothers and a lone willow as a fresh queen—her canopy a threaded wig, her girdled trunk a slim waist.
Beneath the shimmering weave of forest and the phallic pulsing heads of big bluestem, the poet aims to blend verse grounded in place and queer ecology with formative pop culture artifacts—from superhero love affairs to Robin Hood’s Merry Men ragtag swag. Poems like “I grew up wanting” and “the power(bottom) is yours” exude a carnal thirst for the supple animation of Superman and Captain Planet, while “I fell for Christian Slater” reveals a child’s lust for Will Scarlet and sharp, shiny things. And it’s those sharp edges and the scars they leave behind that linger here, like bark stripped from a swaying willow, or a family bereft of its matriarch.
Matthew Layne Glasgow
Glasgow, Matthew Layne, "deciduous qween" (2018). Graduate Theses and Dissertations. 17192.