millner will to make

The Second First Love: On Maggie Millner’s “Couplets”

ADOLESCENCE, THAT alchemical torment, is a time to which few of us wish to return. We remember too well that maturity comes at a cost. And yet, stories of baptisms by fire are common and commonly loved. These coming-of-age tales have the narrative neatness of a hero's journey — departure, risk, trial, disillusioned growth, and humbled return. And who doesn't savor a bittersweet mouthful of wisdom, hard-earned? But what of coming of age after coming out ? Becoming queer is a passage rarely aligned with development timetables. “The adolescence — like the second first love,” writes poet Maggie Millner, “is a time we have few legends of.” What kind of self-knowledge is wrought from this rarely memorialized transformation? And at what cost? Millner explores this question in Couplets: A Love , an autobiographical novel told in verse that follows the illusions and disillusions of the narrator's “second first love,” this time with another woman. Like any love story, Couplets positions this deep affection, or affliction, as the node around which all other experience, for a time, is oriented. Political and poetic considerations of storytelling — the pitfalls of narrativizing one's own life and the lives of others — infuse this absorbing tale of falling out and in and out of love. So, into the tunnel of love, we go. With well-attuned sense of metaphor, we know we are in good hands. Her verse is neat and supple. She describes the experience of separation as being like […]

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