New poetry collection Periodic Boyfriends explores the pain and purity of queer love

Eoghan Lyng gives us an insight into the stunning new collection of poems, Periodic Boyfriends by Drew Pisarra.

The image is a split screen. On the right is the cover of the new poetry collection Periodic Boyfriends. On the left is a photo of the book's author Drew Pisarra. He has cropped hair and a moustache and is standing against a blue background with white stars.
Image: @mistermysterio via Instagram

By condensing You’re Pretty Gay‘s incendiary ambition into a series of focused and deeply reverent poems, writer Drew Pisarra has transformed the burgeoning view of queer literature for his new collection Periodic Boyfriends to a composition that’s strangely beautiful in its resolve. 

The primary revelation of Periodic Boyfriends is what a little clarity does for a poet’s standing as an orator. Pisarra’s earlier work was more cerebral, but this is a more tender work, a collection of gently written odes to sex in the 21st century. 

The poems grapple with mundane, everyday detail, capturing a reality that invites readers to engage with the proceedings, regardless of sexual or religious orientation, but laced against the back of Pisarra’s barbed wit, the pieces take on added dimensions, creating a collection that’s rippling with energy and intellectual abandon. 

“You had no scent or maybe I smoked way too many cigarettes at the time, so everything tasted like street meat fried in cheap beer or rum-glazed pork,” Pisarra writes in ‘Hydrogen’, the second poem in the selection. Gently presenting a newer, more sanguine view of love in a material world, Pisarra draws our attention to the cigarette that burns and withers like the love it observed. 

What Pisarra brings isn’t conjecture but form, inviting readers to observe their personal truth during the process. The book opens up by welcoming everyone into a kaleidoscopic template (‘Helium’), then plunges into the secondary colours that make up a remindful painting (‘Cobalt’), his indifference to rumour among the sexual classes (‘Zinc’), and society’s fascination and primal disdain for companionship (‘Bromine’). 

By the time the book has hit its 50th page, the themes have been well established, and the table is set for another character to enjoy their dalliance in public. 

The timbre is universal (like many Irish people, I could relate to “Why did the weather turn cold and drizzly driving us two to seek shelter inside?” only too well!). 

When the regret enters the proceedings as it does in ‘Molybdenum’, the work takes on another angle, giving it a polemical slant; by the time the author concedes that he’s enjoyed his fair share of lovers – “some strange bedfellows will enter the ranks..” – the collection acknowledges that life is transient, and needs to be cherished. 



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A post shared by Drew Pisarra (@mistermysterio)

Whether or not this will be Pisarra’s last foray into queer literature or not is a moot point, but what’s more apparent is that the poetry is based on integrity and authenticity: nary a feeling nor a couplet is misplaced. 

If the collection can boast a standout, it’s ‘Xenon’, written almost entirely in the voice of an uncertain person coming to terms with the world they have created for themselves. 

Xenon traditionally comes in the form of a space-bound chemical, which emits a blue light from its body. In a sense, the chemical serves as a tidy nature for the book’s overarching theme: No matter how allusive or intangible love is, it’s the one thing we cannot live without. Love can be pure, painful, and periodic – it’s still love.

Periodic Boyfriends by Drew Pisarra releases on June 18, 2023, and is available to purchase online.

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