A Review of “Pricks in the Tapestry” by Jameson Fitzpatrick

Daniel Felsenthal in The Believer:

HIV infects the body through a protein on the surface of white blood cells. A tiny percentage of people have no functional receptors for this protein, meaning they can have sex with whomever they want and never risk contracting the virus. Other people, like the poet Jameson Fitzpatrick’s uncle, have fewer working receptors, so HIV is harder for them to contract, develops more slowly, and leads to less abundant viral loads. “Roughly,” about his uncle, is the longest poem in Fitzpatrick’s new collection Pricks in the Tapestry, a book that often views queer cultural inheritance in the 21st century from the vantage of past generations.

In “Roughly,” Fitzpatrick, who was born in 1990, stares across the Millenial-Boomer divide with bifocals on. A speaker modeled on the poet tells the narrative of his late uncle’s life, while another speaker based on Fitzpatrick’s mother offers her own account in the form of footnotes. Spanning nearly twenty pages of mostly unbroken lines, the poem asks the reader which voice has better access to the reality of a man who was born in 1955, ran away as a teenager, likely worked as a rent boy, turned a chaotic youth into a stable adulthood, and ultimately died of AIDS.

More here.