Guaranteed reading with intelligence

Guaranteed reading with intelligence
Guaranteed reading with intelligence

Friday, 23 August 2013

Everybody’s Gay! [Come With Us To Be Free] by German Alcala – Mini Book Review

4 out of 5 stars

Torch-song for those young enough to suffer

A group of teenagers pass through the doors of a gay club, past the bouncer and into the spectacular and dreadful company of a drag queen.  Inside the club everybody is unconventional, themselves, gay.  The world of rules and regulations, with priests, parents and piers, is outside.  Inside the club everybody is free just to be.

This is a book of poems especially for youth and particularly for gay youth.  As the ‘It Gets Better’ campaign has revealed, life for gay youth is not easy; in fact, it can be downright cruel and dangerous.  Our youth are suffering and our gay youth suffer much more.  These poems are written in the persona of an older gay man who has a protective wish for the young.  He is battle scared, but still fighting.  In the guise of a drag queen he bellows songs of anger for the torturers, and warbles messages of encouragement to the young.  (German Alcala, the poet, is in fact a 15 year old youth.)

Sometimes using rhyme, but mostly in completely free verse, this book of poems is interesting and energetic.  Imagery is heavily used, but there is nothing in this book that is beyond the ordinary reader.  One or two poems do require a little thought, but a rereading with a fresh mind easily solves this minor difficulty.

The title poem, which is at the centre of the book, sums up what most of the book is about.  You might protest, “But everybody is not gay!”  But this is to miss the subtly of what gay people have to offer.

Of course this book certainly will offend the conservative, but we all need to be stretched at some point in life, and how can we really know why we don’t like something if we don’t explore places, people, ideas?

Accompanying the text are a series of photographs, mostly in colour, of German himself, his clothes speckled with glitter, posing with a globe in his hands.  The thought behind these pictures is also in the title poems.  These pictures are a nice touch.

This book is certainly worth reading.  Its sharp and soft words have a worthwhile message, and its extravagance is entertaining in a bold surprising way.

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