Release the Beast by Bimini Bon Boulash
Published by Viking, 2021
Rating: ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐
Cynics will likely assume this to be a quick cash grab designed to capitalise on Bimini’s meteoric rise to fame following their appearance on Drag Race UK, but it’s so much more than that.
Bimini is smart, articulate, and compassionate. Yes, there are fun, lighter moments, but they tackle a number of important topics, including gender identity, politics, sexuality, and substance abuse. Drawing on personal anecdotes, they always adopt a self-reflective, intersectional approach to their views; their warmth and wisdom emphasising the importance of community among queer people.
My Spirit Burns Through This Body by Akwaeke Emezi
Published by The Paris Review, 2020
Rating: ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐
In this short but powerful essay, Emezi paints a harrowing picture of life with a chronic illness; the physical and mental ramifications of suppressed trauma.
They write with honesty and flair, capturing the frustration of a disconnect between what the mind wants and what the body can cope with. Ultimately, it’s about learning to be kind and patient with yourself, by recognising your own boundaries and living with rather than against the pain.
Summon by Elizabeth Ridout
Published by Myriad Editions, 2020
Rating: ⭐ ⭐ ⭐
As with many poetry collections, I found the pieces here pretty hit or miss, but the highlights made it well worth checking out. Rideout’s regular use of bold, visceral imagery ensured every piece was interesting to read, even if I didn’t necessarily connect on a personal level.
My favourite lines, from Dinner Table: “By addressing these divides, we are embroidering / in red along the branches of the family tapestry, / deadheading bloodlines that were dripping / down the generations and on to your tablecloth.”