For those who want to be loved-up or have their souls destroyed, we’ve catered to all tastes
Meat Lovers by Rebecca Hawkes (Auckland University Press)
‘some are threats / and others, victims. the trick is to deflect / suspicion. to stay human / seeming.’ – Werewolf in the girl’s dormitory
Hawkes, a founding member of the Show Ponies poetry cabal who recently brought an entirely queer lineup of poets to two sold out shows at Basement Theatre back in Pride Month, channels the glamour and the grit of the spoken word troupe into her first full-length collection, Meat Lovers. She combines her rural country upbringing with vivid body horror and engorged imagery to create a sexy, disgusting, vivid knockout of a debut that reads like a queer, en/gross/ing Country Calendar.
Didn’t Nobody Give A Shit What Happened To Carlotta by James Hannaham (Europa)
This is the story of Carlotta, an Afro-Colombian woman who transitioned while in a men’s prison, and is unexpectedly released after 20 years. The narrative takes place within the cacophony of a single weekend—while Carlotta’s mind tells us her past, her eyes show us the current chaos and beauty of Brooklyn, writhing within a post-gentrification New York so different from the one she remembers from before she went in. It is a gut-wrenching testimony smoothed over by Carlotta’s sharp dialogue, slang-heavy, poetic, and sprawling sentences, and hilarity in the face of awful humanity.
Nights in the Gardens of Spain by Witi Ihimaera (Raupo, Penguin Random House NZ)
An undeniable classic of Aotearoa LGBTQIA+ fiction. First published in 1995, the novel endures and is still in print and widely available today. It follows David, closeted and navigating a double life between his days with his wife and kids, and his nights in the safe spaces of the ‘Gardens of Spain’. It’s a compelling, dramatic plot that pulls you through, but the gems of this book are the side-characters—navigating culture and identity alongside David’s dilemmas.
ECHIDNA by essa may ranapiri (Te Herenga Waka University Press)
A dazzling, full-fleshed narrative poetry collection unlike any collection of writing before or since. Combining creatures of mythologies, religion, pūrākau into a deftly woven story of the monster Echidna and her traversing of Greek, Christian, and Māori worlds. She is an incredible protagonist, half-woman and half-snake—she goes clubbing with atua, she has sex with legends of folklore. With every poetic form used and celebrated, and a steamy side plot featuring Māui and Prometheus’ relationship, it would be difficult for anyone not to devour this book whole.
Dress Rehearsals by Madison Godfrey (Allen & Unwin)
With one of my favourite dedications ever opening this book: “For all those beside me in the mosh pits of gender”, this genre/gender-bending book starts gorgeously and only gets better. A memoir told in verse, Godfrey memorialises their past life of femininity before coming out as non binary. Aside from the beautiful words, it features some of the best titles I’ve seen, such as: “Harry Styles Is Interviewed On A Beach And The Horizon Aligns With His Sigh”’, and “Retired From Slutdom, New Career In Gingham“. It is their love letter and farewell to womanhood, and features darkly humorous confessionals and breathtaking poems.
Dream Girl by Joy Holley (Te Herenga Waka University Press)
Gentle, bright, endearing, and clear—this collection of short stories holds queer love in all its forms. From maniacal exes to tender crushes, gothic horror to hazy romance, each story is so different yet perfectly placed alongside each other. It is lush and present and unequivocally relatable for those who love love. Easy to burn through but one to savour, this debut collection is due to be published in May and is absolutely one worth waiting for. Thank you to THWUP for the advanced reading copy!
- Set My Heart On Fire Immediately, Perfume Genius
- If I Could Make It Go Quiet, Girl in Red
- Hold On Baby, King Princess
- Self-Titled, MUNA
- BUBBA, Kaytranada
- Night Sky with Exit Wounds, Ocean Vuong
- Limbic, Peter Scapello
- Tōkū Pāpā, Ruby Solly
- Boomerang Valentine, Andrea Gibson
- Amen, Dan Goodwin
- Super Model Minority, Chris Tse
- The Transgender Issue, Shon Faye
- Blue Hunger, Viola Di Grado
- A Minor Chorus, Billy-Ray Belcourt
- A Cup of Water Under My Bed, Daisy Hernandez
- Cherry Beach, Laura McPhee Brown
- I Have Loved Me A Man: The Life and Times of Mika, Sharon Mazer