The Sissies by Evan Kennedy



Softcover / 6 x 8 in / 104 pp

ISBN 978-0996002530


Composed on bicycular excursions through San Francisco, Evan Kennedy’s The Sissies aims to ‘be subjugated’ and speak as animal—wolf, ox, sheep, donkey. A ballpark seagull settling on the Giants’ outfield. The casual, mannered pun on St. Francis of Assisi (patron saint of the city and of animals) and ‘a sissy’ undergirds Kennedy’s argument against the ‘crummy superiority’ of humans, and for the ‘dissolution of animal taxonomy.’ The speaker strives toward, but does not reach, a creaturely transfiguration: ‘when I say wolf I mean something else I want to reach,’ a horizon continually vanishing. Amid echoes of the medieval argument against homosexuality as ‘contrary to kynde’ or against nature, Kennedy suggests that our species-exclusivity (homo, human) is our apparent peril—‘we have only kept identical to ourselves.’ Like the troubadour’s desire for another’s spouse, by definition unobtainable, or the longing for one’s creator and that-other-shore, these poems bray and graze toward a fuller empathy with creatures, a beatific meekness in the face of queer-bashing, where the body can be ‘stilled as meat.’ — Julian Talamantez Brolaski