In A Queen in Bucks County, our protagonist Turner, who both is and is not the writer, makes his pleasurable way through miserable space. Men “buy him things,” lovers drive across state lines, users down volatile cocktails to see what happens, landlords turn tenants out, and Turner writes poetic tracts to friends about it. Part pornography, part novel, all love letter, A Queen in Bucks County is an experiment in turning language upside down to see what falls out.
In A Queen in Bucks County, Kay Gabriel finds a connection between trans femininity and modernism as she documents one person’s winding journey from suburb to city.
This startling collection successfully highlights the precarious spaces of social exchange in a largely uncompassionate world.
“This thing,” Turner declares, “is multiform, contingent, ambivalent, and I call her my sex. Even if I make choices I still like everything.” Bucks County imagines desire as a constant, not a crisis, but it is a constant that is flexible and porous, with a poetics to match. Its formal omnivorousness makes it by turns friendly and rebarbative, breezy and firm, offering a solid reminder that the most heretical attitudes toward form often give the strongest evidence of what it can do. If form is a figure for the ways we are bound, always, to the demand to make sense to others, it is also a means by which we unravel, exultantly, from ourselves.
The cachet of Bucks County goes beyond booze and blues: The collection sparkles with revolutionary verve. […] Gabriel’s vision of the future works because it’s not an idyll of free love and endless sunshine—but a world where the pleasure of leisure has become banal reality. Bucks County gives us concrete aspirations cloaked in rail yard glamor and glitz.
Besides being an abolitionist organizer, Kay Gabriel is active in New York’s radical poetry scene. She coedited We Want It All: an Anthology of Radical Trans Poetics. Her epistolatory prose poems in A Queen in Bucks County combine radical poetics and politics with gossip, sex, and humor. It’s everything.
Click here to read a few poems from A Queen in Bucks County!
What do I have to say that Liz Phair didn’t, or my anxiolytics? I started writing you this letter in a California suburb, except for the vegetation and the high winds it could’ve been anywhere, like the non-place of an airport mall. Actually I think we were next to LAX. Anywhere was a delivery coming in overhead, and the office buildings: Siemens, for instance, World Courier Inc., and Air One Logistics, Air Sea Forwarders, Plexis Freight, Las Lilas Coffee, and a 24-hour Ralph’s, where I walked through the aisles and read the back of the cereal boxes at night, hoping to catch my own appetite. Who says you can’t be a flâneur in LA—the cocoa puffs agree, I’m the center of this stoplight town, I’ve arrived but nobody knows it!