Candy, the author of Sweet and Sour Candy, explores her identity as an MTF transgender in this poetry collection.
At the onset, the speaker alludes to her past self with “I Am She”: “Once I wuz but not who I really wuz, just becuz I didn’t want to make a fuzz…” As the collection continues, the poet gradually discloses her predilection for the trappings and ideology of femininity, recalling, for example, “Running to the Chester drawer of my mother’s youthful years, I stealthily slipped/ into beige stockings and poodle skirts of the 50s without a tremble or fear!”
In some pieces, she celebrates individuality, inclusion, or unconditional friendship. In others, she holds people accountable for their hypocrisy and homophobia, such as in “The love, the beauty and the fake!” where she talks about church, “Where the LGBT Community should be accepted and celebrated, but only the 4th/ part of this group is ever tolerated!”
Candy has a charming sense of warmth and glee (“An immature kid he is not, but he likes his Apple Jacks cereal a lot!”); her humanity and character is touching. Her work demonstrates many strong impulses, including a clear effort towards originality.
However, the collection is hampered by several flaws. Many lines awkwardly stretch to rhyme: “Let our friendship pursue and bloom like the raging waters of a monsoon.” Furthermore, while amusement can be desirable, here, the poems are often too silly, such as the previously cited “I Am She.” The whimsical tone risks losing a crucial note: Is this episode painful for the poet, or just a humorous aside?
Additionally, too often originality is undercut by cliche’: “When you reached rock bottom, cause you are feeling at an all time low, let me/ mend your broken heart…”
In the end, Sweet and Sour Candy is a congenial, earnest but uneven collection. While it has much potential, it requires revision with an eye toward deeper substance and clearer intent.
Also available as an ebook.