Major Arcana: Minneapolis

by Trevor Ketner

Winner of the 2017 Burnside Review Chapbook Contest. Selected by Diane Seuss.

“It is rare to find a sequence of poems as intimate, empathic, and attentively-shaped as those you will discover in Major Arcana: Minneapolis. From the first line, this collection pulls on the dress and drops the act—’When I say of course I mean to say I’m queer as fuck’—so that by the time I finished reading I felt I had met a graspable, dimensional someone who’d graced me with the ‘subtle rippling,’ uncategorizable, living truth about themselves. The tarot’s major arcana provides a columnar foundation and a path of transformation, shadow-selves, gods and archetypes. They are echoed in characters who populate the speaker’s Minneapolis neighborhood, the ‘millennial glow of iPhones cooling the mint walls,’ like Cooper, the waiter, with two irises stitched into their arm who ‘live(s) where I do,/in the middle, between two cardinal directions,’ and the High Priestess, a woman who wears ‘a cap with a moon stitched in,’ who must remember to ‘shave /to keep her five-o-clock shadow from coming in,’ on the joyful verge of beginning her estrogen injections. God hides here too, in the closet where a black velvet dress hangs, God, ‘genderqueer, or I hope They are.’ For all of its nuances and shadows, the book journeys toward a hard-won, intelligent, intimate delight, where giving the lover their injections helps to ‘balance the body with what dwells within the body’ and where the world has so much potential for joy ‘that it dwells in us/like a light left on accidentally coming/back from a night out.’ These poems reside in the ‘beautifulnothing’; they expand beauty and empty it of its signifiers, so we’re left with our unmitigated selves, and each other.”

—Diane Seuss



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