Erasures of My Coming Out (Letter)
by Mary Warren Foulk
First Place Winner of The Poetry Box Chapbook Prize, 2021
In this hybrid erasure collection, Mary Warren Foulk is attempting a redaction, flipping the meaning of her “coming out” letter (and the act itself) on its head. What if she never had to “come out?” Never had to write such a letter? What if the process was rendered unnecessary—erased? What might she’d have done with that energy if it hadn’t been wasted on hiding, on passing, on fear, on denial? A few of the questions asked/answered in this powerful poetry.
About the Author
Mary Warren Foulk has been published in VoiceCatcher, Cathexis Northwest Press, Yes Poetry, Arlington Literary Journal (Gival Press), Los Angeles Poet Society, Pine Hills Review, Palette Poetry, Visitant, Silkworm, and Steam Ticket among other publications. Her work also has appeared in (M)othering Anthology (Inanna Publications) and My Loves: A Digital Anthology of Queer Love Poems (Ghost City Press). Her chapbook, If I Could Write You a Happier Ending, is forthcoming from dancing girl press (2021).
Mary has attended several writing workshops and conferences, including The Writers Studio and AWP events, as well as received several artist and educator grants, including from the National Endowment of the Humanities. She recently won the “Teach! Write! Play!” fellowship to the Martha’s Vineyard Institute of Creative Writing and her poem “The Inventory of Fumbling” received first place honors. Her poem “portrait of a queer as a young boy” has been nominated for the 2021 Best of the Net Anthology. A graduate of the MFA Writing program at Vermont College of Fine Arts, Mary lives in western Massachusetts with her wife and two children. She is an educator, writer, and activist.
Early Praise for Erasures of My Coming Out (Letter):
To uncover the human heart that quietly waits inside every life and every poem is no small feat and yet is what Erasures of My Coming Out (Letter) does with deftness and hope. Shaped by both the weight of secrecy and the release of recovery, the poems draw our eyes and minds into the page and the careful search taking place in, around, and beneath each word. “Erasure poetry” may sound like it is the rubbing out of meaning, but the poems within this beautiful volume show that it has the very opposite effect, allowing love and truth to surface and catch the light that is their birthright.
—Annie Lighthart, Contest Judge, 2021 and author of PAX and Iron String
Mary Warren Foulk’s Erasures of My Coming Out (Letter) is an invitation, not only to experience the repetitive, exasperating nature of coming out, but also to experience coming into oneself. Foulk’s poetry holds the roots of connection and understanding in its palms and offers them piecemeal to everyone who is willing to listen. Not only are the erasures in this collection moving, in every sense of the word, but also painfully necessary—today, tomorrow, always.
—Siarra Riehl, MFA, transdisciplinary novelist, teacher, and performer
Erasures of My Coming Out (Letter) is a true gift to the literary world, a fierce tour of the wild, nuanced gamut of the human emotional experience. Through poems that are so sparse they give the illusion of delicacy, Foulk demands space for her true self to bloom, shines light into both the darkest and tidiest corners of living and therefore, by extension offers her findings to everyone else who needs them. These poems defy fragility, are frank in their calling out the injustice of circumstances that even demand a coming out letter through the reclamation, the recasting, the redefinition of the self, and with love. This manuscript is an unequivocal triumph.
—Kate Senecal, MFA, award-winning writer, Asst. Director of Pioneer Valley Writers’ Workshop
This striking series of erasures plumbs the nature of redactions. Of the space between the words we write and the words we feel. Their bare, raw nature. Foulk’s reworkings of her own language are stunning, and while it is fundamentally a coming out letter, it is also an invitation to be worked and reworked. A struggle toward meaning and family within language itself.
—Kristy Bowen, editor, dancing girl press