By Belinda Betker
Cover by Jamie Marie Olson
In Phases, Belinda Betker deftly captures what it is like for those who don’t fit within rigid notions of what it means to be a “boy” or a “girl”. Capturing different phases in a life, with power and nuance she takes readers on a luminous journey of a young girl’s coming-of-age, her burgeoning sexuality (and the confusion and disorientation therein), the pitfalls of an unhappy marriage, the triumphant release of coming out, and the liberating power of drag.
In these poems, readers will find a celestial and transcendent re-discovering of the self, an unraveling of society’s expectations of gender roles, love, and desire and how these falsehoods threaten to eclipse our truth. Phases slides through time, summoning profound memories of the loss of childhood innocence through each gendered ritual, yet the resilient heart of a tomboy who stands up to bullies and can “tie a tie better than anyone” is too powerful to suppress. Betker then takes us into adulthood-an experience cut sharp by the “dark side of the moon” with a health crisis and surgery-and the victorious recovery and unearthing of buried desire and resplendent sensuality. Phases is mercurial and unpredictable, a celebration of the non-conformist in each of us.
“Belinda Betker’s debut poetry collection, Phases, is a significant contribution to LGBTQ2S+ literature. The collection explores the trials of a lifelong journey toward knowing—toward identity—and the wayfinding power of embracing the body’s sensual nature…The poems…lean intimately into moments of great vulnerability and great strength. As a reader, I am grateful for the discrete and sustained attention she has brought to each poem, breathing through the pain toward a “place of knowing.” – Clea Roberts, The Humber Literary Review
“In Phases, Betker traces the transition of sexual identity through marriage, ‘coming out’ and drag persona. Gritty, funny, eloquent and most definitely relevant.” – Judges, Creative Saskatchewan Publishing Award, 2020 Saskatchewan Book Awards (Finalist)
“An honest look at the fluidity of the self, Phases pushes back against normative expectations of gender and sexuality in a series of poems that’s both deft and defiant. Belinda Betker, also known as Dyke van Dick, is an uncompromising cultural observer, the perfect guide to warn readers against past mistakes and renew their faith in the future. The poems in Phases are bona-fide manifestos, and a must read for those interested in how to live well in the 21st century.” – Judges, SK Arts Poetry Award Honouring Anne Szumigalski, 2020 Saskatchewan Book Awards (Finalist)