This is Probably the Most Personally Touching Poetry I’ve Read in a While

Jim Whiteside came to my attention via Twitter, though I don’t remember the details.

Maybe a poet I followed retweeted one of his tweets. Or, maybe I saw him mentioned in a tweet. Either way, tweets played a role.Photo of Jim Whiteside's, Writing Your Name On the Glass

And shortly after discovering Whiteside’s Twitter account, I learned a few things:

  • He’s a poet with his first chapbook.
  • He’s gay.
  • The publisher of his chapbook is Bull City Press.

As I’m someone who tries to highlight authors and poets, I reached out to Bull City Press for a copy of Whiteside’s chapbook, Writing Your Name on the Glass.

I’ve been devouring the book’s poems since I first cracked its cover. These are words that speak to me in unique, relatable ways.

Jim Whiteside and Writing Your Name on the Glass

The poems in Writing Your Name on the Glass focus on love, intimacy, and relationships. And, as Whiteside is gay, this means the poems are by a man about being intimate with other men.

Admittedly, my exposure here is limited. Most of the poetry I read is by straight people, or it’s by people who because of the time in which they lived, could not live openly and freely as a gay person.

And so it is from Jim Whiteside these are poems that could easily have been about my experiences as they are about his. After all, we’re both white, gay men with rural American upbringings and are roughly in the same age category.

But it’s a disservice to Whiteside’s poetry to only say that his poetry is excellent because I find him relatable.

There is a crispness to his poems, pieces that simultaneously illuminate and sting. They expose our own concerns of adequateness, of wanting to love and be loved, of alternating moments of joy and pain.

For example, in “Held to the Wall, Driven as a Nail,” Whiteside writes:

“They say the great discovery is that

of the lover’s body, the way they must be
touched, how to love them properly.

But what if it is less discovery
and more command — touch me here,

and here, and here — the body schematic?

These are poems all of us can savor. It’s just that I relish them perhaps a little more because they feel ripped from my experiences.

Jim Whiteside’s Writing Your Name on the Glass is now available through Bull City Press.