A finalist for the Publishing Triangle’s Thom Gunn Award for Gay Poetry, The Monster I Am Today: Leontyne Price and a Life in Verse by Kevin Simmonds is published by Northwestern University Press. The winner will be announced on May 11. Here is a poem from this collection:

Self-Portrait as Folktale of the Senses

The Soprano knew her best chance was to have Someone
hear her. Yet with Everyone’s sight to contend with, she had
to perform the inherited roles of those who looked as she did.
It was advised that those roles could touch Everyone or, at
least, Someone, in different ways and for different reasons.
Someone said her voice wasn’t to their taste. Someone said
her being there—in that costume, in that role, on that stage
with her hand in his hand—was bad taste. She was uppity
and they could smell it. The Soprano had good sense but
couldn’t bear trying to touch Everyone. She wasn’t to
Everyone’s taste. She could smell it. But despite Everyone,
she stuck to her own senses. Someone might understand this.
But it’s certain Everyone won’t.

“Self-Portrait as Folktale of the Senses” from The Monster I Am Today © 2021, by Kevin Simmonds. Reprinted with permission of Northwestern University Press. All rights reserved.