Wednesday, 4 October 2017
LGBT POETRY REVIEW: WHEN I WAS STRAIGHT BY JULIE MARIE WADE
When I Was Straight
Author: Julie Marie Wade
Publisher: A Midsummer Night's Press
Reviewed by: Sandra Scholes
I adore these small paperback books of poetry from LGBT authors from around the world.I got the impression that Julie Marie Wade wrote this series of poems to fully exorcise her demons about coming out.
Julie explores what it is like to feel the way she does; liberated and satisfied she goes on to mention what it was like to come out to her family, friends and work colleagues. She labels the two chapters Before and After as if she felt like she was on the transition between two people. After: When I Was Straight is the first chapter with 12 poems with When I Was Straight as the title. It is only when looking at the Contents page there are sub titles in brackets that make more sense.
In Before, Julie explains her past feeling and experiences of being straight that she has insatiable with her lust for men and as a heterosexual she was never questioned on her sexuality as she was considered normal. All her life she watched how her mother and father had acted around her and what her attitudes were to her boyfriends. Was there love in her heart for them or were they experiments?
Julie makes the poems seem like a short look at her life without the drawn out feel of a novel. When Julie was straight she was ordinary like everyone else, not flamboyant, not making waves as there are so many like her.
In After Julie lists her poems in order of importance, to her mother first, then her work colleague and police officer at her private school. In this chapter there are 11 poems that show how various people have reacted to Julie coming out. What surprised me were their attitudes towards her being a lesbian; acting as though she was going through a phase or not believing her choice of sexuality. Some even respond as if what she said was a joke.
The inspiration for When I Was Straight for Julie came from her having read two poems; When I Was Straight by Maureen Seaton and When I Was A Lesbian by Denise Duhamel. These rank as the two who have provided the inspiration for her work today and though I haven't read other novels by Julie, I am aware of her work and interested in reading it based on this compilation of poetry and lesbian studies.
For me the impressive part of this book was the transition from Julie being straight to becoming a lesbian and the reactions of those in her life; her mother and last of all in the later poems, her father who gives his own opinion of her transition in his silence.