The Willies

The Willies

by Adam Falkner


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“Prophetic in bleak times”


The Willies, Adam Falkner’s first full-length poetry collection, offers a sharp and vulnerable portrait of the journey into queerhood in America. In a voice that Dr. Cornel West heralds as “prophetic in bleak times,” Falkner departs from a more familiar coming out narrative to center the stories of dueling selves. Masquerading white boy. Child of an addict. Closeted varsity athlete.

Drifting seamlessly between the scholarly and conversational, Falkner’s poems showcase a versatility of language and a courageous hunger, unafraid of depicting the costumes we use to hide legacies of toxic masculinity. Through snapshots both tragic and humorous, merciless and humane, Falkner offers powerful new ways of understanding the intersectional linkage that binds queer shame to cultural appropriation. At its core, The Willies asks us to consider who we will become if we do not grapple with what scares us most.

Advance praise for The Willies

Adam Falkner has heard what hums at the marrow of men who deceive themselves in order to survive America.


This is truth that changes the air it reaches. This is poetry that, damn it, you can't shake.


In these urgent and sometimes mysterious poems, Falkner traces questions of identity, family, love and the self. His language is angular and surprising, his content intimate and profound.


Adam Falkner is a poet with a heart of gold and a spine of steel. We need his prophetic voice in these bleak times. —DR. CORNEL WEST

I am thankful for the incisive mind and eye of Adam Falkner. In the poems, the work of balancing several selves at once is done gently, deftly, and with the brilliance of someone curious about how limitless they can become.


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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781943735662
Publisher: Button Poetry
Publication date: 02/04/2020
Series: Button Poetry
Pages: 96
Sales rank: 506,870
Product dimensions: 5.40(w) x 8.30(h) x 0.40(d)

About the Author

Dr. Adam Falkner is an poet, educator and arts & culture strategist. He is the author of Adoption (Winner of the 2017 Diode Editions Chapbook Award) and The Willies (forthcoming from Button Poetry, 2020), and his work has appeared in a range of print and media spaces including on programming for HBO, NBC, NPR, BET, in the New York Times, and elsewhere. A former high school English teacher in New York City’s public schools, Adam is the Founder and Executive Director of the pioneering diversity consulting initiative, the Dialogue Arts Project, and Special Projects Director for Urban Word NYC.

Read an Excerpt

Let’s get one thing halfway straight: I have spent my entire life trying on costumes because no one told me I couldn't and the stakes were never that high which I've come to think is mostly what makes a white writer a white writer. The last time anyone referred to me by that name was exactly never but that’s also the point. I am a queer poet. Child of an addict. Masquerading white boy. My best friend died and it was sad and these are the stories I water into bloom: camp counselor test cheat choir boy cypher rapper / scratch golfer honor roll pothead point guard / and Whitman says very well you contain multitudes but he was a write writer too. The not-so-funny thing about spending a life proving you aren’t something is that any story that isn’t the story is survival or more like a brick for laying until the wall is high enough that you’re safe inside and you wake up and say whoops whose house is this who did I hurt to get here and is it too late to call for help.

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