by Bridget Hart
As one of our trademarks at BE, we like to push the first-time author into the world of books, having something physical to share with the world, and to let them in on the sometimes sacred process of pulling work together to be bound. In 2016 Leilah Jane King was performing at the farewell show of a Bristol punk band. Taking up space between the microphone and the kick-drum, Leilah’s loud, outwardly queer narrative was shared to a room almost-silent: A man was talking at the bar to his friend, not understanding the social etiquette of a poetry gig – to be quiet. Leilah stopped her poem to confront this, which resulted in hilarious back-and-forth and the man indeed, shutting up. I think this was the first time I wanted to publish her.
For poets like Leilah, performance is a key component to the poetry on the page. There is an ease with uncomfortableness that is hard to capture, and the truth of her work is laid out like a heart on a sleeve. The poetry in these pages will make you think more openly about queer identity within a non-white context, the marriage of feminism, sex and visually captivating stories. Take Midnight Picnics in Tehran wherever you go as a reminder to laugh at the world, and embrace yourself.
‘Politically in-your-face, but always authentic, always original, Leilah writes with intelligence, wit and nuance in precise and vivid language. She poses questions instead of giving simplistic answers in powerful poems of exquisite lyrical beauty.’
A book launch will be held in Bristol on 6th August, with more details to come. In the meantime follow Leilah on Facebook for more updates.