GAY HEAVEN IS A DANCE FLOOR BUT I CAN’T RELAX
by charles theonia
7 x 7 in.
The breakout poetry collection in a multiform, poetic conversation between queer and trans artists and writers.
Like meeting under a disco ball, or listening to Arthur Russell on the Staten Island Ferry, Gay Heaven Is a Dance Floor but I Can’t Relax proposes reading as a form of friendship. Conversational, inquisitive, and scrutinizing, this book goes out to anyone who has loved someone they’ll never get to meet.
“Gay Heaven Is a Dance Floor but I Can’t Relax gives me the same kind of excitement and imaginative heat that obsessing over the glossy photo middles of queer biographies does. These poems collectively form a watery slide between past and present, care and anxiety, form and formlessness, verb and noun. We can live large in the slippage between the relational and the overwhelmingly mysterious. It would be so easy to fall into a nostalgic hole, but charles isn’t that kind of poet. Rather, we dance (or write) into the polymorphous dawn, “the extended cut, a technology for sensing forever.” I’m grateful to have these poems for how they welcome us in through surreal syntax that then somehow forms a new grammar where metabolic harmony with cats and capybaras, zinnias and rambutans, is the norm, is the gay heaven.”
“The poems in Gay Heaven Is a Dance Floor but I Can’t Relax possess astonishing depths of love in their arrangements of words and sounds, in their amusement with and within exuberant complexities, and in their utter resistance to giving in to harm and harm’s byways. The long title poem, on and for and with Arthur Russell, is a cascade of forms and voices channeled through dance and the untouch into the continuousness of collective knowledge, movement and grief in the face of devastation. And then like Martin Wong, among many other sources of art and hope, charles theonia digs the way firemen smell, listens for sounds waiting for an open mouth, and knows ‘Begin can be replaced with any word that brings you closer.’ This book is a companion for life.”
“Lucky for us we dream in landscapes / beyond our experience,” writes charles theonia in the long poem opening their electric debut collection, and readers are all the luckier for it. Brimming with a sense of the possible, among its many offerings are ‘other arrangements of the self;’ the dance of bodies (textual and not) entangled in sound; portals to multiple elsewheres—’Utopia: a compulsion to keep remaking this world.’ This world can’t become on its own, hence its gregarious erotics. Jump in!”
–MÓNICA DE LA TORRE
“charles theonia’s poems are everything!”
“Nothing is not gay, and neither space nor time can prevent people from touching in charles theonia’s new collection of poems, Gay Heaven Is a Dance Floor But I Can’t Relax, in which language is motioned to meet desire, to rouse it, spark it, make it public and then make it echo—because why shouldn’t it? theonia’s poems are for creatures of feeling who want both/and. They arouse, resound and satisfy.”