Masks are everywhere these days… and not just because Halloween is just around the corner. Sometimes we don’t even realize the masks that we’ve been wearing — the patterns and themes and synchronicities that have been lurking behind the mask of random chance in our lives — until someone else points them out to us.
That’s sort of what happened to me when, by sheer coincidence (or was it?), a curiously thematic bunch of my poems all were accepted for publication during the month of October. Five poems, written over the span of a decade, accepted by three different journals. I didn’t even realize they had anything much in common until I sat down to write up this little blurb — and then suddenly it was staring me in the face!
Each of these poems grapples with the liminal — the boundary between inside and outside — essence and appearance — and how we navigate, negotiate, construct, deconstruct, interpret and re-imagine those edges as part of the on-going processes of exploring self-identity.
Another poem of mine, “Golem,” appears in the latest issue of Eye to the Telescope, a quarterly journal of speculative poetry produced by the Science Fiction & Fantasy Poetry Association. The guest editor for Issue #26, Sandra J. Lindow, sought work on the theme of “Evolving Gender”:
Each of us comes from the union of a man and a woman, but, by definition, the DNA of conception provides a spiral staircase of genetic evolution, an intermixing of male and female characteristics. In her introduction to the 1976 paperback edition of The Left Hand of Darkness (1969), Ursula K. Le Guin wrote that human “psychological reality” can be “androgynous” “at certain odd times of day in certain weathers” and she concludes that “truth is a matter of imagination.” In other words, in recent years society has allowed individuals, mayhap grudgingly, the right to express the inner lives they imagine to be true.
You can read more about this theme in her Editor’s Note. (Also, don’t forget to check out the other contributing poets in this fascinating issue!)
More light-hearted, these three poems shift focus from the performance of gender to the performance (often playful, always double-edged and two-faced) of self-identity more broadly speaking in the strange and wild environs of social media. They poke (and poke fun) at the ways in which our public personas conceal just as much as they reveal. What are the choices we continually make about what we want our “outsides” and “insides” to look like, and who gets to decide which is which?
I hope you’ll check them out! And, as always, if you enjoy them, please support the arts and artists by sharing the love! Let me know your thoughts in the comment section below, or hit me up on — you guessed it — social media! (Mostly on Twitter these days, @alileighlilly.)
Photo Credit: “Wellhead 6336,” by Richard Milnes (CC) [source]