Connor & Seal: A Harlem Story in 47 Poems

Inspired by Rita Dove's groundbreaking Thomas and Beulah, Connor & Seal is a masterful queering of poetic lineage. We meet Connor, a native Nebraskan and fledgling grant writer, and Seal, a financial analyst from Kingston, Jamaica, as they flummox the space between desire and demise. With imaginative dexterity and stylistic flexibility, each poem in Connor & Seal becomes a cipher of the labor of tomorrow’s construction: “a bench where two old faggots had to stop,” an emblem of a future history, “as quiet as the siren / is alarming.”

Excerpt from Connor & Seal: A Harlem Story in 47 Poems

The Birds of Harlem

The birds of Harlem are the birds
of America, 
the brown nonentities
and the self-advertising glories.
They have returned from other lands
to a familiar bough
or the corner ledge of a brownstone.
To call them
the birds of Harlem 
is to give airy nothings 
a local habitation and a name.
It’s a way of saying we belong 
somewhere, a way of singing.

Sibling Rivalry Press
2020

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Jee Leong Koh

Jee Leong Koh is the author of Steep Tea, named a Best Book of the Year by UK's Financial Times, and a finalist for the Lambda Literary Award. He has published four other books of poems, a hybrid work of fiction, a volume of essays, and a collection of zuihitsu, The Pillow Book, which was shortlisted for the Singapore Literature Prize.