A textual and historigraphical odyssey imbued with queer intergenerational yearning and loss.
Don’t Leave Me This Way blends archival research with sexual fantasy to produce a series of sonnets inspired by Gaétan Dugas, named by Randy Shilts as “Patient Zero” of the AIDS epidemic in North America. Committed to the utopian possibilities of elegy and pornography, Don’t Leave Me This Way exploits the absurdist beauty of the cut-up technique to voice a chorus of lost spirits: poignant, vengeful, and ready to ball.
Eric Sneathen is a poet and queer literary historian living in Oakland. He is the author of Snail Poems (Krupskaya, 2016) and Don't Leave Me This Way (Nightboat Books, 2023). With Lauren Levin, he edited Honey Mine (Nightboat Books, 2021), the selected fictions of Camille Roy.
"From the salty, gorgeous fragmented segments of the opening section, Telemachy, to the slurping and fucking of a Dugas section—Sneathen artfully and archly builds something urgent, erotic, elegiac, and vitally archival." —LitHub, Best New Poetry
"To spend time with [Don't Leave Me This Way] is an immense gift, as the poems continue to surprise and reveal themselves anew to me— it is as if upon each reading, a new texture of signification and history becomes apparent. . . brilliant."—Ted Rees, bæst
"I am deeply pleased to see a new poetry title by Oakland, California 'poet and queer literary historian' Eric Sneathen... shared blend of first-person narrative, wild energy and lyric experimentation, simultaneous sense of joy and impending doom, queer content and the AIDS crisis, and for their use of deeply person biographical material." —rob mclennan's blog
"Ever a lover eager for experience, Eric Sneathen queers the sonnet by placing a different kind of impossible love at its center: the dead of the AIDS era, whose archives so infuse these lines that our shared history comes alive. With the poet’s 'promise to tell of thee like flesh forever,' this book of sticky blisses slips its readers the key to a room in literature’s bathhouse, where the voices of gay lives past and present commingle." —Brian Teare
"These beautiful, searing poems give us angels of history with bodies. They move in and out of its rubble, finding and losing themselves in pasts that are at once erotic, heartbreaking, and comforting—always flashing up words that arrest the reader." —Elizabeth Freeman
"These beautiful, searing poems give us angels of history with bodies. They move in and out of its rubble, finding and losing themselves in pasts that are at once erotic, heartbreaking, and comforting—always flashing up words that arrest the reader." —Gabriel Ojeda-Sagué
"Snipped and pasted together, this cacophony of voices becomes a strangely coherent vision of a fantastical, phantasmagoric, and deliciously filthy sexual bacchanalia—or as coherent as any hazily remembered snapshots after a debaucherous night out."