“If the Bible were to be rewritten in contemporary times from the viewpoint of a queer Latinx poet/former pier queen who came of age in the Ball scene, then Emanuel Xavier would be one of its scribes. In Xavier’s own words, ‘There are gods amongst us in these ghettos so black, so fierce, so brown, so beautiful.’ This collection is a necessary one that gives voice not only to Xavier’s journey of becoming a poet and survivor but also to the forgotten, discarded and invisible.” — Pamela Sneed, poet & activist
Love(ly) Child is a thought-provoking collection of poetry that delves into themes of identity, love, and self-discovery. Each poem is a journey into the complexities of the human experience navigating sensitive topics with honesty and vulnerability. With a unique blend of personal anecdotes and social commentary, Love(ly) Child offers a captivating exploration of life's highs and lows, leaving a lasting impact on those who immerse themselves in its pages.
Influenced by the homophobic hip hop of the time, in the early ‘90s, there were few openly gay poets in the spoken word scene. Enter a former homeless hustler from the Paris is Burning ball/House community, Emanuel Xavier helped open the doors
for queer poets of color to take centerstage and speak their truths. Without so much as passion and perseverance, he became an LGBTQ+ Icon, as proclaimed by The Equality Forum. Long before diversity, equity, and inclusion were buzz words, he gave voice to his unique experiences and tackled politics, sexuality, and religion
with poetry. His earlier works, all published by Rebel Satori include the poetry collections: Pier Queen, Americano, If Jesus Were Gay, Nefarious, Radiance and Selected Poems of Emanuel Xavier; the novel Christ Like; and the anthology Me No Habla with Accento:
Contemporary Latino Poetry (published in partnership with El Museo del Barrio).
Read two poems featured in A Gathering of The Tribes from Love(ly) Child
PRAISE FOR LOVE(LY) CHILD
““Violence was an artform.” Thus writes poet Emanuel Xavier about growing up while fiercely witnessing and surviving the terrorism that lurks in the family, the streets, and sexual encounters. In Love(ly) Child – his most powerful work yet – anger cuts through memory and propriety as he methodically dismantles cultural platitudes: love, care, safety, and innocence. Specters of family brokenness, colonialism, desolate cityscapes, outlaw love, and AIDS haunt these poems. Here DEI stands for “disenfranchise, exclude, and ignore,” and death hovers over these poems like the stillness of a quiet city night that is always vanquished by the hope of dawn. In Love(ly) Child, Xavier reminds us that as dire as our pasts may be, “Compassion is our only inheritance/ bold to love what we cannot hold.””
“Emanuel Xavier’s inborn bi-culturism enriches Love(ly) Child with a unique palette of language, emotion, and experience. Emerging from an imperiled youth where he was “lip-synching for his life” and worse, he’s become an accomplished and crucial Queer Poet for our time.”
“When poetry was at its apex in the 1990s—after the Second Coming of the Nuyorican Poets Café—Emanuel Xavier leapt up—and out—onto the scene with the boldness of an Allen Ginsberg and Audre Lorde, in the tradition of Essex Hemphill and Assotto Saint long before the tenuous longitude and latitude afforded LGBTQ+ and non-binary artists today. Love(ly) Child, his latest collection, coming in his 5th decade, is a testament to his proficiency and prowess as a survivor and fighter whose poetry has always been about the difficult dynamics determining personhood, place, familial love and love of language(s) and culture(s). At times existential, elegiac, extricable, Emanuel Xavier’s Love(ly) Child is lovely and elucidating as a bouquet of hand grenades, a razor blade tucked between tongue and cheek with 30 memoir poems navigating and negotiating the difficult terrain of racism, colorism, abandonment, invisibility, identity, marriage, violence (towards queer and trans people), and the hardscrabble childhood spent hustling the streets and haunting the stage where his words first took flight earning their angel wings. Love(ly) Child is full of dulce, dynamite, and duende.”
—Tony Medina, Author of Che Che Colé and Death, With Occasional Smiling
“In ‘Autonomous’ the poet writes, “Maybe I lived too fast & my soul // is as old as my presence is young.” This book is indeed the work of an old soul, of the writer as Witness, as the “dream for all our angels who never had this/moment.” The poems wrestle with issues of race, sex, trauma, and survival while growing up an abused queer brown kid in New York. But there are also joys here, found in close friendships, chosen family, and memory. Stunning, raw, and beautiful, Love(ly) Child continues Emanuel Xavier’s remarkable career as poetic truth teller.”
“Xavier’s fierce verses blaze across the page like a Willi Ninja duckwalk! These words Dip, Pop, Loft and Spin in the Nuyorican poetry tradition, letting the reader know that this griot speaks truth, always representing for la gente! Pa’lante!”
—Shaggy Flores, Author of Obatala’s Bugalu: A Nuyorican Book of Sights and Sounds
Photo Credit- Brian Berger, Instagram: bab623
Emanuel Xavier was born in Brooklyn, New York, and became involved in the ball scene as a homeless gay teen. Over a span of twenty-five years, Xavier has received recognition as a spoken word artist from national colleges and universities. He has been named an LGBTQ Icon by The Equality Forum and has been presented a New York City Council Citation Award. Xavier has received an International Latino Book Award, Lambda Literary Award nominations and American Library Association Over the Rainbow Books selections for his collections which include: Pier Queen, Americano, If Jesus Were Gay, Nefarious, Radiance and Selected Poems of Emanuel Xavier. He is also editor of Me No Habla With Acento: Contemporary Latino Poetry, Bullets & Butterflies: queer spoken word poetry and Mariposas: A Modern Anthology of Queer Latino Poetry. He is the recipient of a Gay City Impact Award and The Marsha A. Gomez Cultural Heritage Award. Xavier founded the Penguin Random House LGBTQ Network and is on the Board of The Publishing Triangle. The author and editor of several books, Xavier continues to read his work across the country.
"I would like to be remembered as someone who dared pursue his passion despite many hardships and all the challenges faced making that dream come true. My work may not be the most prolific or profound, but it is a genuine voice representing many queer Latinx stories. Our experiences may be unique but, if you read between the lines, we share a universal truth." — Emanuel Xavier
by Emanuel Xavier
(from Selected Poems of Emanuel Xavier)
This poem is very dear to me because it was written as a tribute to the ball House scene, which I have been part of and provided me with the thick skin I needed to survive in the world and as a spoken word artist. The first time I had the opportunity to read it publicly in front of the community was at a memorial event for Pepper LaBeija from Paris Is Burning. However, my most memorable and personal moment with this poem was when my ‘sista’ Willi Ninja (also from Paris Is Burning) was on his death bed at Mount Sinai hospital in Uptown New York City. I would visit him often and one day he asked me to read this poem for him. I knew then that it would be the last time I would see him alive. It was as if he had asked for me to read him his last rites. These were the final words I ever said to him. He passed away a few days later.
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In the classic poetry collection Pier Queen, Emanuel Xavier's words shimmer and spark with all the audacious energy of streetwise queer Latino culture. It goes right to the heart of the matter of his world and shines a bright spotlight revealing beauty, scars and the bared souls of its inhabitants.
— Charles Rice-Gonzalez
Once in a generation, a new voice emerges that makes us see the world in a dazzling new light. Emanuel Xavier is that kind of writer exciting, vibrant, unique, a visionary bard.
In the religious light of these poems the everyday gets revealed as a miracle again and again. Two boys having sex ( your mother in the other room ) are without contradiction entirely hot and holy. Emanuel Xavier is a poet who takes wild comfort in the world and knows god is watching too.
— Eileen Myles
Nestled in the folds of the red, white and blue, he moves the audience with words about how complex and multi-dimensional American-ness is. In many ways, his call to redefine America-ness mirrors the spoken-word poetry phenomenon, a call to redefine poetry.
— Writer Magazine
Death comes like wind sudden and unexpected . . . The poems in If Jesus Were Gay, inform, instruct, rouse revolution, and liberate. In these poems, I have found family, cleansed my heart, and let the tears flow. Heartfelt! Rousing! Necessary!
— Cheryl Boyce-Taylor
Emanuel Xavier's extraordinary If Jesus Were Gay is a fevered communion of spirit, sex, and heart. These poems hot, fierce honesty burst the thermometer with their unflinching open-eyed embrace of being human. Buckle up! These are his queer embodied poetics you eat. This is his love-bursting blood you drink. What would Jesus do? He would read this book!
— Tim Miller
Love, sadness, lust and reverie, every poem in If Jesus Were Gay engages with a haunting tenderness that never abates. Xavier delivers a masterful, enduring work.
— Steven G. Fullwood
Emanuel Xavier's Nefarious is raw, brutal. And necessary. The harrowing and mesmerizing language in this book will cut you open, but it will also blow like a 'breeze against your skin.'
— Eduardo C. Corral
These poems are eloquent snapshots from a real life, full of emotion, fact, and surprise. Emanuel Xavier can take you from the brutal to the tender to the sexual to the religious in the blink of an eye--or from the prosy to the lyrical to the laugh-out-loud funny. His poems put you in touch with the whole man, his bone and gristle, heart and soul.
"Sometimes a crumb falls / from the table of joy," Langston Hughes wrote, and Emanuel Xavier, in evoking those small pleasures--the taste of mangoes, smell of coffee--is capturing those crumbs ... He does so amidst much testament to the horrors of injury, loss and mortality. These poems move and speak: one can imagine their delivery at the microphone, and yet at the same time they so powerfully address the reader as private experience.
— Lambda Literary
Radiance is dedicated to survivors everywhere, bringing urgent attention to the perils of the marginalized in the wake of the Pulse Orlando Massacre and the challenges of the Black Lives Matter movement.
— Charlie Vazquez
The Black and Latinx New York club scene of the '80s and '90s is having a 2019 moment. With TV shows like the New York House scene-centered "Pose" and the ball culture callbacks embedded in "RuPaul's Drag Race", this moment of unadulterated queer expression is tapping into the current zeitgeist. With perfect timing, Queer Mojo recently released the Twentieth Anniversary Revised Edition of Emanuel Xavier's cult novel "Christ Like". Navigating a landscape of petty thieves and clubheads, Mikey's hero tale is one filled with a powerful mix of unfettered pleasure, squalor, and excess.
It feels shallow to say these poems are beautiful, as if that's the best art could aspire to, so I'll say that and add by beautiful I mean, if you can be taken through this life, and pull this from your heart to offer us, this trip through a life and a city and the people here, then yes, this book is beautiful, majestic, a triumph for the way poetry can take the small story of a person, and the enormous one, of a country, or two or three, and make these songs that explain each to the other. The result is a powerful testament to Xavier's poetic talents and his legacy.
A provocative voice of the Latinx liminal space, Xavier takes turns seducing and alerting the reader with a fearless sensuality and a knowing lack of regret. A much-needed, streetwise collection living at the intersection of raw desire and a deep compassion for a marginalized people.
— Ed Morales