DC: In the chapter “Backroom” you describe reciting W.S. Merwin’s “For a Coming Extinction” to two lovers. In the poem, Merwin says to the whale, “We who follow you invented forgiveness / And forgive nothing” (5-6). So given your upbringing and its challenges, where are you on forgiveness?
AC: That’s a beautiful segue. It’s a beautiful question. My biggest guilt with the book and the biggest thing that I was afraid of is that it was too harsh on my parents. I told the truth. Everything in the book happened. But I’m a loved kid. I was raised well. I went to college. I’ve had a great life. I’ve had privileges and opportunities few people have. Despite everything, I was able to go to school and be a writer. I owe my entire career to them. And then I write a book that paints them in a harsh light. There’s nothing left for me to forgive…
I had the pleasure of meeting with Alex Cheves, author of My Love is a Beast (Unbound Edition Press, 2021) in the garden of New York’s LGBT Center. We discussed this searing collection of lyric essays and some of the key topics they raise: sex work, agency, disclosure, and forgiveness (above)
The Interview is live on Lambda Literary’s site.
Thanks to Molly Thornton for the meticulous edit.