Gay Poems for Red States
Published by: The University Press of Kentucky
Imprint: The University Press of Kentucky
Sales Date: 06/06/2023
No one will protect you. Months after being named the 2022 Kentucky Teacher of the Year, Willie Edward Taylor Carver Jr. announced his decision to leave the public school system. His career as a high school English teacher had spanned more than a decade but ended abruptly—another casualty of the cruel and dangerous anti-LGBTQ+ discrimination that is creeping back into the halls of government and the homes of Americans. At the beginning of Carver's career, an administrator warned him about discussing his otherwise openly gay identity at work: "No one will protect you, including me." A new administration allowed for more freedom, but the initial warning eventually rang true. School officials failed repeatedly to address harassment of students and of Carver himself, until he could no longer endure such a purposeful deterioration of human rights. While Carver's testimony before the House of Representatives brought much-needed attention to the need for protections for LGBTQ+ people in schools, the damage was done.
In Gay Poems for Red States, Carver counters the injustice of a persistent anti-LGBTQ+ movement by asserting that a life full of beauty and pride is possible for everyone. More than a collection of poetry, Carver's earnest and heartfelt verses are for those wishing to discover and understand the vastness of Appalachia, and for the LGBTQ+ Appalachians who long for a future—for a home—in an often unwelcoming place.
Willie Carver, award-winning teacher and truth-teller, has written a memoir of narrative poems that poignantly explore his experience as a gay man in Appalachia. Through food, religion, heartache, and a bone-deep love for the hollers, the hills, and the people. These poems hold your gaze and your ear.~Crystal Wilkinson, author of Perfect Black
Willie Carver is a humane and necessary voice from the hills of Kentucky. He writes with stunning insight, vivid imagery, and enormous courage. This is a powerful book that should be read by everyone.~Chris Offutt, author of Country Dark
Prepare your heart and soul along with your humanity and intellect to feel and be seen by this book. Each line of this incredible text allows the reader to, like his love Josh says, 'find beauty just by expecting it.' Carver reminds us of the gentle yet fighting spirit in us all and why we must keep building a joyous and just world where every student and educator not only belongs but thrives. Oh, how I wish for a world where all students are lucky enough to have an educator like Mr. Carver.~Juliana Urtubey, 2021 National Teacher of the Year and White House committee member of the Advisory Commission on Advancing Educational Equity, Excellence, and Economic Opportunity for Hispanics
In Gay Poems for Red States, Willie Carver extends grace in two directions: back to the child he was, and forward to the queer young people living in rural places today. Through poems that explore the relationships and dynamics that shaped his identity, Carver creates a mirror for queer youth—the kind of mirror he never had. The kind of mirror we all need in order to find our way into our truest expressions of self.~Neema Avashia, author of Another Appalachia: Coming Up Queer and Indian in a Mountain Place
Gay Poems for Red States will be a centerpiece at my Equity-Driven BookShop. Willie's gorgeous personality shines brightly and the methods he uses to communicate the impact of his intersecting identities is inspiring and insightful. His ingenious use of literary devices both provokes and comforts the reader. He somehow manages to be paradoxically vulnerable and whimsical at the same time and I can't get enough of his writing. Beautiful. Authentic. Compelling. An incredible work of art.~Kelly D. Holstine, MN State Teacher of the Year and owner of WordHaven BookHouse