A Transgender Gospel Poetry Reimagining of Christ’s Apostles!
When I first heard that transgender poet of both page and stage fame, Jonathan Kinsman, was releasing a poetry chapbook centred on Christ’s Apostles I was surprised and bewildered. Most of the trans people I know want nothing to do with the church, the bible, or God because they’ve been hurt so much by all three. Yet here was Jon not only interested in writing poems about God but eager to share them with the world.
Witness consists of 14 poems. One for each of the original 12 Apostles of Christ, one for Matthias who replaced Judas Iscariot, and a poem for Mary Magdalene. Readers who are unfamiliar with the biblical texts will be able to explore the relevant biblical inspiration for each poem via the bible verses and/or verse fragments quoted before the start of each poem.
But Jonathan hasn’t simply written the story of each Apostle as they are recorded but in poetic form. No, he’s leaned into what would have made the stories so interesting and revolutionary and outright dangerous at the time they were actually happening. He’s recast the characters in unexpected ways that will surprise you. He’s re-contextualised the setting as well. In short, he’s taken the gospels and used them as a lens not to look outward at God but to turn inward to examine ourselves.
Within the confines of these pages you will find beauty, shame, truth, disgrace, hope, and love, which is the greatest of all these. You will be challenged, offended, encouraged, and confused. But ultimately, I’m certain you’ll find yourself saying, “You gotta hear this. You’ve all got to hear this!”
If you’re interested in reading a bit more about Witness from Jon’s perspective, he’s written an insightful article about it here. Also, you can buy, “Witness” and Jon’s other chapbook, “&” at his website and you can follow him on twitter, instagram, or facebook.