Doing It Together, The Gay Way: Queer Coupling in Marilyn Hacker’s Love, Death, and the Changing of the Seasons and Carl Phillips’s Cortège

Jason Bryant

Arizona State University



This article explores the poetry of Marilyn Hacker and Carl Phillips by drawing attention to the poems’ representations of same-sex couples living in domestic space via two basic strategies. First, the article examines how Hacker’s Love, Death, and the Changing of the Seasons dramatizes the performative work of “doing coupledom” as opposed to depicting same-sex lovers intent upon inclusion within the normative frame of marriage. The second approach the article takes is to examine the ways that Phillips’s Cortège describes intimate, often unflattering, love narratives that reveal a queer sensitivity to the subject of joy/pain/desire, reflective of the degree to which queers are forced to meditate on such topics as why, how, and whom one can desire. Phillips seeks to describe a queer sensitivity, an alertness and aliveness to social and sexual relations implicit in many queer discourses on the subject of love. In their respective poetics, Love, Death and Cortège contemplate ordinary domestic space as a site of performative processing of partnered relationships, and they recommend queer living and loving practices sensitive to the complexities of joy/pain/desire.


Keywords: queer coupling; love; performativity; Marilyn Hacker; Carl Phillips