Shane Allison: He Remembers
by Theodore Kerr
“YOU HAVE TO DECIDE HOW HONEST YOU WANT TO BE IN YOUR WRITING: IF YOU WANT TO LEAVE IT IN YOUR DIARY OR PUT IT IN A BOOK. YES, THE EXPERIENCES ARE INTENSE BUT YOU HAVE TO ALLOW YOURSELF TO GO THERE, TO CROSS THAT LINE.”
At the heart of Joe Brainard’s I Remember is a counter-intuitive nostalgia for unbelonging. In his long form poem-cum-memoir, Brainard shares glimpses of his childhood and early adulthood that evoke lusty contradictions—the pleasure, pain, and curiosity of growing up different in America. It is a tribute to the self that survived, and the selves lost along the way.
In the same way Shane Allison’s own version of I Remember, published in 2012 by Future Tense Books, also evokes a sense of wonder, frustration, joy and sadness. Both books are rooted in the personal, yet through the mention of cultural touchstones, and the simple repetitive form of beginning each line with “I remember,” something communal is formed. A portrait of America emerges, as does a testimony to the survival power of writing, unflinching seeing, and a queer world-view.
Chatting over email, Allison is candid about why he wrote his version of I Remember, and his fears on how it will be read. He gives us a preview to the second I Remember he is working on, and discusses People Are Starting to Talk About You, an anthology he is editing. He also shares his longing to return to New York, and the role intergenerational relationships, and physicality, play in his work.
Read the entire interview Shane Allison: He Remembers | Lambda Literary.