This flirty collection traces unruly paths of becoming; its sprawling poems build towards an expansive world celebrating fluidity while casting a critical lens on state power, ecological precarity, and the yearning for queer utopia on stolen land. Referencing lineages of poets, musicians, workers and neighbors, as well as conversations between lovers and friends, stemmy things is a vision unraveling, breaking open to make space for glimmering while reckoning with the body’s multiple contexts. Layered, lush, and lavish, these poems offer up tangling, blossoming desire.
I’ve read many of these brilliant poems half a dozen times now and still find some unexpected texture, some slippery new layer at every turn. The magnificent imogen xtian smith sticks tongues and fingers in earholes, pigeon holes, rabbit holes, pillage holes— any holes that need feeling. These poems fill our vacancies with company, they fill our hollows with music. stemmy things is a verdant, fervid, worldly debut. It fills me with words. It fills me with feeling. It’s extraordinary. -Terrance Hayes
In imogen xtian smith’s poetic imaginary, tears are phrased as genders. In other words, we can only hurt ourselves into reliable languaging. After all, I’ve never known a queer who didn’t—in mulling over the body’s horrific (and ecstatic) illegibility—find themself embroiled in the hellish, scrambling landscape of the word. As transsexual babes, then, we issue forth as alien encounters, both in embodied life and on the page. And so, stemmy things is that alien encounter. This collection is a velvet-draped gift, a study of queer morphology, a little gay edge. In poem after poem, smith lovingly mirrors back our impossible trans darkness. -Anaïs Duplan