One of Book Riot's Must-Have New Poetry for Fall 2023
The remarkable debut collection by a young Nigerian queer poet.
“here / i am not his image / & i envy it / i shut my eyes against what is left / the crackling softness of life / like communion / desire is a marathon / a baton waiting for your grip / here / i am not running / neither is he / i sit with a man for the first time / & we talk about war . . .”
—FROM “BEAUTIFUL BOY WITH GARLANDS AROUND HIS WAIST”
In Gorgeous Display, by Nigerian poet Ugochukwu Damian Okpara, is a volume dedicated to the memory of those lost to anti-queer violence in Nigeria and elsewhere. In this first full-length collection of his work, Okpara examines queer male identity, effeminacy, and exile, offering meditations on desire and sanctuary, freedom and estrangement. Forty-three poems pierce familial relationships, safety, fear, and anxiety portrayed through the outward sign of hand tremors, queer lynching, survival, hope, the emptiness of exile, and reclamation of the self. Embracing the ephemeral and spiritual nature of physical beauty, Okpara also reveals the scars of queer displacement, illuminating the ways that leaving home is never quite the utopia one hopes for and how often the ache of abandonment can haunt a life lived in the present.