cover image A Queen in Bucks County

A Queen in Bucks County

Kay Gabriel. Nightboat, $17.95 trade paper (104p) ISBN 978-1-64362-149-4

Gabriel’s exciting hybrid collection deals primarily with sex, whether as work, leisure, transaction, or its own kind of discourse. The text moves freely from epistolary prose to poems, and from essayistic passages to genres as far afield as questionnaires and playwriting, mirroring the shifting voice of Turner, a persona whose sexual escapades make up the bulk of the collection. While the aptly named Turner narrates the majority, Gabriel’s writerly persona “Kay” makes an appearance in the middle of the book to vent: “I’m vexed at the tendency of writers living and dead to use transsexuals as the window-dressing of social decay, a metonym for public space seductively in crisis.” Later in the same poem, Kay passes the baton to Turner again mid-sentence, cheekily probing the performative limits of selfhood and persona: “If I lie, rob and insinuate it’s because I’m a cheat, a villain and a leading lady—oh, here’s Turner again, would you like to speak with him?” The lines “All I’ve got is men,/ poems, rent, work, disgust,/ and transit. Don’t you want/ to come inside?” capture the speaker’s existence in a state of fluidity. This startling collection successfully highlights the precarious spaces of social exchange in a largely uncompassionate world. (Oct.)