cover image Mask for Mask

Mask for Mask

JD Scott. New Rivers, $19 trade paper (194p) ISBN 978-0-89823-403-9

The startling debut from Scott highlights the dissociation inherent in the “masc4masc” formulation of gay internet hookup culture. In “Equinox,” they write: “What I am doing is going to the nightgym/ In the locker room I drink lavender tea/ and lick shower steam off my lips.” In the second section, “Salvation Mask,” and the long poem that makes up the third section, Scott leans harder into the profane edge of the sacred/sexual dyad with strong results. The best poems here also feature robust typographical experimentation, exploring how deeply felt attempts to communicate can be thwarted by insecurities and technological mediation, such as emoji. “I am giving looks (!) I am generous with my beauty (!),” Scott writes in “Middle V, Or, a Diss-Hex to Ward Evil Ex-Boyfriends Away,” which exemplifies this kind of formal play. When Scott embraces the complexity of their subject, the poems buzz with a frantic excitement that also charges their moments of felt beauty: “Every poem is an occasion for revenge,” Scott writes, “except this one.” Readers will find this a memorable and energetic debut. (Apr.)