Reading Queer: Poet L. Lamar Wilson on the Struggle to Love God, and Each Other, Freely

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Wilson seemed to be a prophet of his own word, reading with the addition of beautiful spiritual vocal arrangements and interludes of both joyous and somber tones. The performance was poignant and rustled up feelings of both inclusiveness and individuality through themes of spirituality, Christianity, race, love, sexuality, the HIV/AIDS epidemic, and what it means to be an American.

After the reading, guests had the chance to celebrate in the garden, talk to Wilson and amongst themselves about their experiences with what Villar-Portella calls "shilt," a combination "shame," and "guilt," often an emotional consequence of trauma.

A veteran was moved to tears at Wilson's reading, and spoke of his post-traumatic stress disorder. Others mentioned abuse, homelessness, and other traumas, and how the various struggles we experience relate to spirituality, religion, class separation, and the thinly-disguised pain and truth experienced as individuals and on a collective basis -- the "legions" of the underdog Americans, which Lamar describes beautifully in his closing poem, "Ars Poetica: Nov. 7, 2008...'mutts like me -- Barack Obama:'"

I am the what-are-you...

See. I am not afraid of facing you, or me,

or the notion of we the people anymore.

I am your darker brother.

I am vast. I contain multitudes.

I am the what-are-you.

I am the brown, the red, the white, the sometimes blue.

& I am all-American.

What are you?"

Wilson spoke with us about his poetry, the black gay community, and what he hopes to accomplish through his writing.

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Miami New Times staff