Coming of Age
American Beauty (1999)
All the girls say they are women. Wovenlike terry cloth. Straddling groinsto watch sternums gargle moans.All the men never stop singing Becauseby the Beatles. Crossed. Mouth gaped.Confusing sap for home. Even I caughtin the snare traps of Calvin Klein spandex,lap up sweat. Delighted blood was tantalizedby sculpture. Storytelling, in American standarddefinition: Rose gardens, tragedy, no Blacksfaded in. Copper girls like me don'tget a character arc. Some skullssplatter mid-dialogue. That's the mirageof screenplay. Imitation meat. Menappearing as if they will holdthemselves accountable.
“Coming of Age” from A DEAD NAME THAT LEARNED HOW TO LIVE: by Golden.
Published by Game Over Books on August 29, 2022.
Copyright © 2022 by Golden.
All rights reserved.
Reproduced by Poetry Daily with permission.
Golden (they/them) is a Black gender-nonconforming photographer, poet, & community organizer raised in Hampton, VA (Kikotan land), currently residing in Brooklyn, NY (Lenapehoking land). They are the author of A Dead Name That Learned How to Live (Game Over Books) and the photograhic series On Learning How to Live, documenting Black trans life at the intersections of surviving & living in the United States.
Golden is the recipient of a Pink Door Fellowship (2017/2019), an Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum Luminaries Fellowship (2019), the Frontier Award for New Poets (2019), a Best of the Net Award (2020), a City of Boston Artist-in-Residence (2020-2021), a Mass Cultural Council Fellowship in Photography (2021), a Women Photograph Project Grant (2021), & a Tufts University Art Galleries Creative Futures Fund Grant (2022). They hold a BFA in Photography & Imaging from New York University. Their published & collaborative work can be found on Instagram (@goldenthem_) or through their website goldengoldengolden.com.
“In A DEAD NAME THAT LEARNED HOW TO LIVE, poet Golden is larger than the line. This collection egged on the haughty, maniacal, expansive queer aliveness in me. This collection is all glitter and grit, all eye-of-the-storm clarity, all fist and bullet and Black love and queer war. Golden is a confrontation of gender, a play on God’s first name, a beautiful mess of family archival, and a brilliant and dextere voice. These poems are conduit and conductor, leading readers across the memorial landscape of the author’s Virginian upbringing. Everybody knows somebody who needs this chapbook. Cheers to these black nebula gifts, to all of us beyond XX and XY, to coming of age, and to never dying, but multiplying. Thank you, Golden, for the freedom and family in your mouth. This collection is a reunion all of us should attend decked in our Sunday’s best.”
— Aurielle Marie
“A DEAD NAME THAT LEARNED HOW TO LIVE is a testimony of life ripe with weaponry and dire witness. These formally diverse poems and beautiful photographs incant spit and blood into and beyond ceremony, where 'home is north & south, southern & city/ skull, bone & breast milk from// the most marvelous magicians/ this world done’ever called mother.' This is a time capsule in honor of immortality if to be immortal is 'How God might be/ another word for family in the south,' if forever is the nation of a self prevailing.”
— Phillip B. Williams
"Upon completion of this great work I was drawn back to the last three words of the title 'how to live'. There is a tension between form and family that permeates Golden's work. In one piece, form takes the place of family as the structure in which the narrator must rely on. In another piece, family supersedes form as the root in which the poetry springs. Yet, within this tug of war ever exists the instructional foreground of 'how to live'. Throughout these precious pages Golden permits us the right to life. Each poem acts as an unchaining. Each poem it's own liberatory dance. What I am saying is, Golden is someone we should be thanking. Thank you!"
— Timothy DuWhite