It’s apparent that contributors to Poetry magazine compose their own biographical snapshots, which allows for a gamut of voicings and modes of self-assertion. A grammar nerd notices how these established and establishing technicians of the word mold language to their purposes. A lively mobilization against “he-she” is observable in recent issues I’ve read. To give it a name, I’ll call it “genderflecting” when gendered pronouns are used in the conventional way.
In non-genderflected reference a singular person talks about themselves in the plural. Jennifer Huang’s profile is one of the best examples I’ve seen:
Jennifer Huang* is a Taiwanese-American writer… They received their MFA from… They live in Michigan, where they are working on a novel. [May 2021]
Here are other instances:
Jinhao Xie* is a UK-based poet… Their poetry, inspired by… [September 2021]
Xandria Phillips* is a Whiting Award-winning poet… They are the author of… [July/August 2021]
Kemi Alabi* is coeditor of… They live in Chicago. [December 2020]
Aubrey King’s* poem is inspired by… They teach at the Jack Kerouac School of Disembodied Poetics. [October 2021]
Kitchen McKeown* won… Their debut chapbook is forthcoming… [October 2021]
Miriam Karraker* is a writer… Their writing has appeared… [November 2021]
Marlanda Dekine Sapient-Soul* (she/her/they/them) is a poet… She is the author… [June 2021]
Gender identity and ethnicity often enter the picture:
Ever Jones* is a queer/trans writer… They are the author of the transliberatory lyric… [November 2020]
Tarik Dobbs* is an Arab American, queer writer… They are an MFA candidate… Their chapbook… [May 2021]
Aurielle Marie* is a Black and queer poet… Their debut collection… [December 2021]
The student of Spanish notes how adopted ethnic adjectives can be purged of genderflection with “x,” and sometimes not:
V. Ruiz* is a Queer, Xicana bruja [witch]… Their debut is… [February 2021]
Elena Ramirez-Gorski* is a Chicanx writer… They are an MFA candidate at… [May 2021]
Isabella Borgeson* is a queer, white and Filipina poet… She is cofounder of… [December 2020]
Ina Carino* is a Filipinx American poet… [September 2021]
TC Tolbert flies a larkish banner that snaps in its own breeze. I’ve seen “s/he” before, but “they” seems to be winning.
TC Tolbert* (he/him/hey grrrl) is a trans and gender-queer monkey-goat who never ceases to experience a simultaneous grief and deep love any time s/he pays attention to the world. [July/August 2021]
It’s noteworthy that every contributor in this sampling of profiles is marked by an asterisk, which is Poetry’s way of flagging first-timers to the magazine. I take it to signal an opening up to undersung constituencies which are richly represented by LGBTQ+, minority ethnic, Native American, and incarcerated writers.
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