Review: anOther Mythology by Maxwell I. Gold

cover of anOther MythologyanOther Mythology by Maxwell I. Gold
Interstellar Flights Press (September 4, 2023)
72 pages; $14.99 paperback; $9.99 e-book
Reviewed by Joshua Gage

Maxwell I. Gold, in his end author’s note, argues that his purpose in writing this book was that “it didn’t matter how we as queer people were seen, but it mattered how we saw ourselves…” and “These are myths that are meant for us.” It is understood that the target audience for this book is specifically the queer community, written almost as a triumphant reclaiming of thousands of years of heteronormative patriarchy. This energy permeates the poetry in this collection, and anyone reading it will thoroughly enjoy it.

One way Gold approaches this collection is to take a known myth and make one of the characters gay, thus subverting and reclaiming the narrative. For example, the original myth of Endymion and Selene tells the story of a man, either a shepherd or astronomer, so in love with the moon and she, in return, in love with him that she convinces Zeus to keep him eternally youthful and asleep so she could gaze upon him. In Gold’s retelling, Endymion is a beautiful, lithe gay youth who has no interest in Selene at all and “refused the advances of the terrible moon,” who in return, bleeds “light and lust from its rocky innards across the valleys, through the forests…” This is a dark retelling, but one that reclaims the myth by recasting the titular characters as a gay man.

Elsewhere, Gold reinterprets the idea of himself and his queerness as their own myths, such as in “The Myth of the Flood,” which begins “Smothered by the wrath and ruin of my tears, the cities were eventually swallowed by the myth that was my body.” This poem does not retell a myth, per se, but uses a mythic archetype as a vehicle in the metaphor of the speaker’s grief over personal shames and torments. The grief and suffering itself becomes mythic in scope, allowing the reader to fully ache along with the speaker of the poem. These poems work seamlessly with the other mythic retelling because Gold’s voice is consistent, which leads to a seamless collection.

Overall, anOther Mythology is a really strong collection. It’s a shorter collection, but it’s tight and consistent. Furthermore, because of its mythic retelling and scope, this book is rich and worth rereading. Maxwell I. Gold has created a series of new myths specifically for the queer community, myths that are both dark and scary as well as fierce and triumphant, and any fans of speculative poetry, specifically mythic and cosmic, will want this book on their shelf immediately.

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