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C+nto & Othered Poems, Joelle Taylor: Navigates private unarticulated moments

Joelle Taylor’s C+nto & Othered Poems explores societal, grammatical and stylistic boundaries in a poetry collection detailing personal accounts of queer culture in the 90s.

Joelle Taylor’s newest poetry collection, C+nto & Othered Poems, is a personal account of butch lesbian counterculture in the 90s.“This is a book of silences,” she states in her preface, gesturing to how C+nto navigates deeply private, otherwise unarticulated moments. In separate parts, the author directs us to witness scenes of intimacy, friendship, togetherness, grief and revelry as they draw together Taylor’s personal stories, and those arising from archives and interviews with other butch lesbians.

This work is expressively lyrical in style and experimental in its punctuation. It traverses poetry and drama – shaping light and sound in what Taylor calls “scene poems”. In its riveting and intensely embodied pieces, C+nto explores stories of survival and community, of coming into one’s own queer identity; “all these lifetimes searching for a body,” Taylor writes; “Your body a /foreign country.” The book closes with “O, Maryville,” a powerful, semi-autobiographical sequence poem of 12 parts. In “the Unbelong” Taylor writes “i am birthed walking backward into the wind.” C+nto’s “maze of vitrines” is the author’s way to preserve history. It is a book that looks back as much as it looks ahead.

C+nto & Othered Poemsby Joelle Taylor is out now (Westbourne Press, £10.99)

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