Writing the Walls Down


Editors:Helen Klonaris, Amir Rabiyah
Cover Image: Amir Rabiyah
Layout/Book Design: A.J. Bryce
Published: October 2015
ISBN: 978-0-9851105-9-8
LOC: 2015947924
259 pgs. Paperback

Writing the Walls Down is a multi-genre gathering of US and international voices in an effort to generate a cross cultural and nuanced dialogue that not only examines the power of walls to divide, but walls as sites of resistance, (re)connection, and community.

What People Are Saying about Writing the Walls Down…

Rabiyah and Klonaris have compiled works that redefine sexuality and brownness with a spirit that brings us back to the earth, and gives comfort in the atrocities of labels, lines and edges that have long confined, shamed and silenced our queer realities. Writing the Walls Down contains a cadre of troubadors who, with moxie and wisdom, redefine who we are with lyrical libation, beauty and vulnerability. Here is where an exciting mythology is born, the Genesis of a new queer fierceness in literature. These artists delve into the very canyons of their being to birth poetic truths and meditations of healing. Every piece in this anthology is packed with poignant self-reflection and gospel hymnals that inspire compassion in the cruelest times.”


Bravo, Amir Rabiyah and Helen Klonaris, for curating such an extraordinary community in the pages of Writing the Walls Down. What rises up is a chorus of poetry, story, and testimony that substantiates our varied queer experiences. Anyone who enters here will not feel isolated or alone because this book is an invitation into the heart of the powerful, life-saving word–a crucial place where many of us find our kindred spirit, our blessed haven, our tribe, our home.


Eugenics. Colonialism. Familial, religious, and state violence. These are not the stories about LGBTQ lives and struggles that we hear about in the mainstream media. Thankfully, the artists in Writing the Walls Down stitch together words and images to tell a different story, one that resists simple “equality” or “inclusion.” This collection brings together the full complexities and realities of our lives to topple the all of the walls that crisscross our homelands, bodies, and spirits.

-Qwo-Li Driskill, author of Walking with Ghosts: Poems


The texts included in this fierce, beautiful weave of LGBTQ texts (groundbreaking in many ways, including in the rich inclusion of Arab and Indigenous contributors) speak, shout, and sing past the different kinds of walls that imprison, exclude, and alienate, whether personal, societal, economic, religious, geographical, or political. Challenging barricades ranging from class to homophobia to anti-queer violence to Israel’s apartheid wall to the US-Mexico exclusionary border, these writers celebrate bodies and spirits both broken and sacred, reclaim healing and wholeness, and map the way toward new definitions of home.

-Lisa Suhair Majaj, author of Geographies of Light

This collection of poetry, fiction, non-fiction and visual art crackles with urgency, emotion and intelligence.  It bursts forth from the pressurized isolation created by assumptions and ignorance, ushering into the world transformative stories that are vital to our survival.

Helen Klonaris is a Greek Bahamian writer living in the Bay Area, California, where she teaches creative writing and mythology at the Academy of Art University. Her work has appeared in numerous journals including The Caribbean Writer, SX Salon, Tongues of the Ocean, Poui, ProudFlesh, and Calyx, and several anthologies, including Our Caribbean: A Gathering of Lesbian and Gay Writings from the Antilles, and The Racial Imaginary: Writers on Race in the Life of the Mind. Her story “Cowboy” was shortlisted in the 2014 Commonwealth Short Story Prize, and she has completed her debut collection of short stories, The Lovers.

As a queer white woman from a Caribbean society, I’m troubled by the tradition of walls that have been used to keep people of color out, and in. Plantation walls, prison walls, church walls, and now the walls of gated communities; these walls control access to resources, they control the way we think about where we belong, and our power in the world as black and brown and white people. They’ve been used to protect white people’s assets and entitlement, and to reinforce a world view of ‘us’ vs. ‘them’. I’m hoping this anthology will bring forward a critique of walls from a unique perspective – queer and trans people of color and their white allies.

AmirAmir Rabiyah is a queer, disabled and two-spirit writer of Lebanese, Syrian, Cherokee, and European ancestry. Amir has been published in Mizna, Sukoon, The Feminist Wire, Bird’s Thumb, Troubling the Line: Trans and Genderqueer Poetryand Poetics, Enizigam, Collective Brightness: LGBTIQ Poets on Faith, Religion and Spirituality, and more. Amir currently lives in San Diego with their partner, and is working on completing a full length collection of poetry.

We don’t have enough conversations about how physical barriers cause internal barriers. On the outside, they have a purpose, to put people in their place. But how do these walls show up in our relationship to ourselves, to the world, and to each other? They show up in stories like ‘I don’t trust people’ and an internalization of scarcity.


Janine Mogannam, H. MeltEli ClareJerrold YamRajiv MohabirMoon Flowermicha cárdenasAhmunet Jessica JordonMinal HajratwalaJuly Westhale, deborah brandon, Dane Slutzky, Joy Ladin, librecht baker, Margaret Robinson, Alex SimõesIndira Allegra, Heidi Andrea Restrepo Rhodes, Patricia Powell, Vickie VértizCeleste ChanAlexis Gumbs, Hannah J Stein, TC Tolbert, Jordan Rice, Andrea Lambert, Alfonzo Moret, Trish Salah, Tiffany HigginsVanessa Huang, Daniel Chan, Amal RanaAhimsa Timoteo BodhránAaron M. Ambroselee boudakianThokozane Minah, Nayrouz Abu Hatoum, Jennie Kermode, fabian romeroKay Ulanday Barrett, Vivian Lopez, Danez Smith, Aiyyana Maracle, Sônia Maria Chaves Nepomuceno, adrienne maree brown