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Amber Tamblyn’s Poetry Corner: Stephanie Burt’s New Poems “We are Mermaids” Are A Reflection On Identity, Closure, and Peace

by Amber Tamblyn

Amber Tamblyn’s Poetry Corner

 We Are Mermaids (Graywolf Press) is a potent meditation on personal excavations, written with wit, honesty, and introspection by the singular trans writer, cultural critic, and poet-at-large Stephanie Burt. Burt’s poems are illuminations of life’s many transitions; of living between worlds, identities, beliefs, and stories. In the poem “My 1994,” Burt writes: “I didn’t know. But I knew. I took off the dress/Kay offered and apologized for my striped boxers./I called myself a kid in a candy store/When I was a teen in a lingerie store. I wanted.” And in the title poem, “We Are Mermaids,” Burt declares: “You can live with your doubt,/that’s why it’s yours./ Some of us are going to be okay.” In a volatile world where so much makes us ask whether or not we will, in fact, be OK, Burt’s poems don’t aim to answer that question for us—to give peace or closure on existential uncertainty—but they do ask us to participate in our own lives, in the magical act of our own living, in commiseration, and celebration of our fullest potential, no matter the journey to get there. 


header photo by Danielle St. Laurent

This article originally appeared in the Fall 2020 print edition of BUST Magazine. Subscribe today! 

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