“I read the poems over and over again before I began to grasp their meanings. It wasn’t just that the words were musical notes my eyes could sing. It was the discovery that women and men, long dead, had left messages about their feelings, emotions I could compare to my own. I had finally found others who were as lonely as I was. In an odd way, that knowledge comforted me.”
—Stone Butch Blues, by Leslie Feinberg
Leslie passed away this past weekend. Leslie was an activist in every sense of the word, and a philosopher that challenged the way we see the world and encouraged us with new ways of thinking about what we had always assumed to be true.
For almost the past year, I have had a hard time focusing on reading books. This is coming from a person who has LIVED in and among books my whole life. I would disappear into them for weeks at a time, a whole stack of them piled on my desk in middle school. For some reason, I just have not been able to focus. I don’t why I haven’t been able to read recently – probably lots of things, but I’m not sure exactly.
What I do know is, I saw a friend post something a about Leslie’s death last weekend. The way he wrote about how Leslie had transformed his life and way of thinking, I walked right down stairs and grabbed the book, Stone Butch Blues, off the library shelf, and began to read that evening.
I could read. I could not only focus, but I devoured. And beyond reading the words in the page I FELT them – the many layers. A friend asked why I thought this book finally clicked, and I said because I think I could relate indirectly and somewhat directly to what the characters were experiencing – like the quotes featured here.
I explained that I was taking my time reading the book, appreciating and noticing the many layers of craft, detail, word choice, depth, rawness, and emotion.
This morning walking to work it struck me how incredibly moved I was by this book and the way the author conveyed their story. I want to write like this. I am on a path to become a professor, but I also want to be a writer. And Leslie helped me crystallize this today. Thank you Leslie, and peace be upon you.
“I laughed and rolled over on my back. The sky was crayon blue. I pretended I was lying on the white cotton clouds. The earth was damp against my back. The sun was hot, the breeze was cool. I felt happy. Nature held me close and seemed to find no fault with me.”
— Stone Butch Blues, by Leslie Feinberg