Saturday, December 19, 2015

Quick Thoughts - Future Husbands

So my first poetry sale (not to the university magazine where I went to school) is out now at Strange Horizons! The poem is "Future Husband: A Letter" and I am thrilled to have it out there.

I will admit that this poem did not exactly come from a very happy place originally, but it did go through some extensive and more level-headed revisions to make the finished product that you'll see there. And this poem actually has a rather specific...uh...inspiration? Or rather, I wrote it from the anger at the song "Dear Future Husband" by Meghan Trainor. I'm...not the hugest fan of the song, though I can see why people might like it. It's just...I can understand the idea of a woman wanting to find empowerment in her preferences. To refuse to settle.'s just the way that it goes about doing that plays into just about every gender stereotype and binary that exists. The song plays on a sort of false retro that sets up an "empowered" woman who doesn't have to settle but instead gladly skips into standard feminine gender roles as long as she gets the man off her list. Perhaps that's harsh, but I have a weirdly visceral dislike of the song.

This brings me to actually writing the poem, which came out of dislike the song and imagining how it might change is the narrator were not assumed to be a woman. I kind of love queering music. There are so many songs that completely change if you drop the assumptions that they are coming from a completely cis-straight mentality. There are songs I like for exactly that reason, because the meanings deepen for me when I make the story they are telling not a standard straight romance but something different. I grew up listening to Garth Brooks and still do in part because so many of his songs (and many of his love songs) don't actually identify gender. So "The Night Will Only Know" becomes the story of two men finding love away from their "straight" marriages and then witnessing a crime they can't report because they would not only have to admit their cheating but their sexualities as well. "The Red Strokes" similarly does not allude to gender at all, to nothing at all of "Nobody Gets off in This Town." Long story short, queering music (like queering TV or movies or comics through fanfiction or shipping or whatnot) is something that I fully endorse.

"Future Husband: A Letter" is then my taking the idea of a letter to a future husband and flipping the script, as it were. The narrator here is a man speaking to another man who might exist. The counter voice is in some ways a Clippy-esque commentary on the letter, on the need and drive of it. Most people who have used word will probably recognize the Clippy reference, and the Clippy half of the poem (which is a bit heavier, denser, etc.) is seeking to impose some sort of structure on the Letter half of the poem. What results is this back and forth that I hope is both entertaining and meaningful. I'm not new to poetry, but I haven't been the most educated in it. I just...I play around sometimes and this poem felt better being split across the page like this. And in the end I can only hope that it works and maybe people will enjoy it.

So yeah, this is a poem kind of about a song, kind of about form and breaking form, kind of about being lonely and wanting something very badly. I have other poems but I find it much more difficult to send out poetry than short stories. I think I take their rejections harder or perhaps I just don't feel incredibly qualified to write poetry. But getting a poem published at Strange Horizons is amazing. I even tried to do the podcast portion myself, so people might actually get to hear my voice reading the poem when that goes up at the end of the month. Anyway, thanks for reading!

All the best,

Charles Payseur

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