cover image All the Gay Saints

All the Gay Saints

Kayleb Rae Candrilli. Saturnalia, $16 trade paper (82p) ISBN 978-1-947817-12-8

The visceral second book from Candrilli (What Runs Over) is a series of love poems offered through ekphrastic responses to the paintings of Hernan Bas. The first piece, “WHEN I TRANSITION, WILL I LOSE MY TASTE FOR THE STORM?” corresponds to Bas’s painting of “a landscape to swallow you whole,” and references the speaker’s impending “top operation,” in which they will lose their breasts. The body is a central concern in these poems, complicated by questions of power and agency, as the speaker notes: “I have a right to take what’s not mine:// this is what men and the earth have taught me” and “sometimes I dream I never left the fields/ in which I was unwelcome.” In “MY HOROSCOPE IS MY FUTURE HUSBAND’S HORO-SCOPE & WE ARE BOTH CHANGING SO QUICKLY,” the speaker contemplates physical changes to the self and its implications: “Husband nothing is holy/ like self-construction.// Our fathers built staircases/ & we are bringing/ sledgehammers to our bodies so gently/ only we can hear this pleasure.” Through vivid language and subtle insights, Candrilli offers a sensitive, beautiful exploration of the body’s transformations. (May)