Welcome to WWPH Writes 52…our special PRIDE issue with the winners of our first annual WWPH PRIDE poetry and micro-prose contest! First-prize winners received $100, runner-ups $50, and all are publication here. Thank you to all who submitted. A special shout to our WWPH Fellow and judge Piérre Ramon Thomas–thank you for working with us.
Caroline Bock & Jona Colson
co-presidents and editor, WWPH Writes
WWPH WRITES: POETRY
Much deserved flowers and fanfare to Kathi Wolfe for winning First Place in our WWPH Pride Poetry Contest. Geniusly, fruit is used as a motif in this poem to communicate the author’s relationship and experience with their queerness. Several couplets throughout the poem give readers insight into what pride means to the poet– Piérre
Kathi Wolfe is a poet and writer. Her work has appeared in Poetry, The New York Times, Beltway Poetry Quarterly, Beauty Is a Verb: The New Poetry of Disability, and other publications. Wolfe’s most recent collection is Love and Kumquats (BrickHouse Books). She was a 2008 Lambda Literary Emerging Writer Fellow and has been awarded Writers grants from Vermont Studio Center. Wolfe is a contributor with the Washington Blade, the LGBTQ+ paper.
THIS IS JUST TO SAY
after William Carlos Williams
I am gay
it is so sweet
I have eaten the plums
which so many
say I should not eat
especially at breakfast
I bite their lavender skins,
as so many
if the juice spurts
on the plate
I do not ask
I am so gay
it is so sweet
we carry plums
in our grocery bags
one summer night
we remember how
at the beach
that June day
we wanted to cool
off in the ocean
after the Pride parade
being proud can
make you sweat
“Dykes,” two guys yelled,
spitting on us,
throwing our groceries
on the sidewalk
ants circled the plums
I still eat the plums,
that so many
we shouldn’t eat
I’ll savor the taste
as thugs in khakis gun
for our taste buds
target our flavors
I am gay
it is so sweet
©Kathi Wolfe 2023
Congratulations to D.E. Frias for winning Runner-up in our WWPH Pride Poetry Contest. In painting a scene of a Capital Pride event, the author shares what pride means to them by letting us see what they see. —Piérre
D.E. Frias (they/them) is a queer poet studying literature at American University, whose writing examines contemporary social issues and topics of queer identity. They enjoy drinking tea and taking long walks in the rain, and hope to publish their first book of poems before they graduate. If you would like to read more of their work, you can reach them on Instagram at @danielfriasthesecond or through email at email@example.com.
We roam the festival.
Shoulder to shoulder, hand to palm;
I did not know I could love like this.
You gave me rainbow-tinted shades,
and I have found a rainbow-striped
bucket hat to match.
Tangy overpriced lemonade
keeps away the heat.
A bag holds
water, first aid kit,
earrings, stickers, a lovely fan,
a print of plants in person-shape.
I am encompassed in life:
Your fingers take mine, and we find
pop-up bookstores with graphic novels
and sapphic lit. Blind date with a book.
Weed—pre-rolls and edibles—
and shroomery of all sorts.
Trucks with funnel cake
and too many types of meat.
Someone has a dick popsicle.
I point out a lesbian couple
with matching shirts that say
#vagitarian, and we share
in the joy of the pun.
An artist sells tasteful nudes,
and is raking in cash.
Another person with a dick popsicle.
Kings and queens of drag
consort with furries.
There are so many shirtless men,
and the asexuals
have founded a small nation
on the steps of a grey-brick building.
You and I float in this brackish of queers,
grounded only by the weight of our bodies.
When I find the dick popsicle stand
I learn they also sell vagina popsicles,
which they call a lickety split.
All of us sweat in the sun:
black and brown and white
and every other shade;
big and skinny, fit and flabby;
everyone who’s overdressed
or in their underwear;
anyone of any ability and class;
tits out; ass out; thick hairy chest out.
We’re all so hot. We’re all a little tired.
Some of us want to go home. And we do.
You say there is a blister on your ankle,
and ask for a band-aid. I provide.
As we walk, I can only think to myself:
I love you, I love you, I love you.
©D.E. Frias 2023
WWPH WRITES: MICRO-PROSE
A round of applause to Andrea Dulanto for winning First Place in our WWPH Pride Micro-Prose Contest. The author uses the environment of a Pride event to ruminate on how Pride makes them feel about their queerness, truly capturing a resonant moment in prose —Piérre
Andrea Dulanto is a Latinx queer writer currently living in Frederick, Maryland.In 2022, they were awarded a Create and Activate Now (C.A.N.) Recover Stipend from the Frederick Arts Council. Publications include Writers Resist, Bending Genres, FreezeRay Poetry, peculiar, SWWIM Every Day, Court Green, Sinister Wisdom, and others.
Be Sure To Wear Rainbow Flags in Your Hair
I moved against the shoulders of strangers past all the vendors and their booths, the travel agencies and community theaters, the realtors and cell phone companies, none of us stopping, or unable to stop. I couldn’t get near some of the tables, told myself that I would get that rainbow pin later (and didn’t), where did people get those handheld rainbow flags, have people always put them in their hair or is it like the large flags as capes, always re-inventing the use of merchandise. I wouldn’t have minded a small rainbow flag, something to put over the desk in my rented room.
There were a lot of families at Pride. More than I had ever noticed before.
What would it be like to be queer and to have your parents bring you to Pride? To have queer parents bring you to Pride? To have that be part of how you grew up. Chosen family, the family that you grew up with, all kinds of family around you as support.
Despite the booths trying to sell kayaking trips or a gym membership, despite the prevalence of the model home version of Pride, I felt this peaceful connection to my queerness. Maybe it was all the kids wearing flags as capes or the drag performers or the people in Teva sandals holding hands or the different ways to be queer in one place, but I felt like I always feel at Pride. I felt like I belonged.
©Andrea Dulanto 2023
Kudos to Evan O’Connor for winning Runner-up in our WWPH Pride Micro-Prose Contest. Using a conversation with their friend about whether to be open or discreet concerning their identity during a family trip, the author reflects on what their friend’s answer means, how it reflects on the societal view of queerness, and what it means for them.–Piérre
Evan O’Connor is a new-grad nurse and future psychiatric patient. He lives with his girlfriend and dog in Washington, D.C. and enjoys reading, writing, and sailing.
PRIDE IS TRUTH
When I asked my friend in Virginia if I should be “in the closet” while I was visiting his family’s house, he told me I should treat it like being vegetarian: just don’t mention it too much. This was a poor time to tell him that I had gone vegetarian, but more importantly, his answer reflected a popular view of queerness. It’s okay as long as I don’t see it. I don’t have any problem with it, as long as it’s not in my face. This line of thinking is comfortable because it keeps the concept of queerness distant. But it breaks down in proximity; tolerance of queerness only when unseen is not tolerance at all. It will not be enough to be tolerant in the abstract when their child wants to go by different pronouns or confesses a same-sex crush. They will have to be proud – and they should be. It is no small thing to live your truth in this way.
©Evan O’Connor 2023
Piérre Ramon Thomas is a Washington, D.C.-metropolitan native. He holds a Bachelor of Arts in English with a concentration in Writing and a minor in Journalism from Marymount University. Thomas was a Spring 2023 Washington Writers’ Publishing House Fellow. His published works can be seen in BlueInk (2021 and 2022), Magnificat (2022), and The Nomadic Poet: A Collection of Poetry & Prose. Thomas is currently working on a memoir of his life. Read more at www.pierreramonthomas.com.
WWPH Community News
KUDOS to our 2022 Jean Feldman Poetry Award-winner Tonee Moll (You Cannot Save Here) –for being among the finalists for the 2023 Baker Artist Awards, a program of the Greater Baltimore Cultural Alliance. They are among 36 artists selected from 600 entries in 2023. “The 2023 finalists were selected by an anonymous jury. Selected artists exemplify excellence in three areas: mastery of craft, depth of artistic exploration, and a unique vision,” notes the Baker Artist Award website. Winners will be announced at the end of June. More on Tonee Moll’s work here.
Thinking of submitting to WWPH ? We are reading now for our fall issues of WWPH WRITES. Submit to us! And we are always looking for work that celebrates, unsettles, and questions our lives in the DC, Maryland, and Virginia area (DMV) and our nation. New perspectives, diverse voices, and voices with craft and fierceness are strongly encouraged to submit. It’s FREE to submit, but you must live in the DMV. Please send us your best work–challenge us with your ideas and writing. Submit here. And SEPTEMBER 1-November 1, we open our annual manuscript contests in fiction, poetry, and literary nonfiction! More about submitting to your Washington Writers Publishing House here.
Co-President & Fiction Editor, WWPH Writes
Co-President & Poetry Editor, WWPH Writes