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If I Had the Wings
If I Had the Wings

If I Had the Wings

Short Stories


160 Pages, 5.25 x 8.25

Formats: Trade Paper

Trade Paper, $17.95 (US $17.95) (CA $23.95)

Publication Date: August 2017

ISBN 9781845233464

Rights: US & CA

Peepal Tree Press Ltd. (Aug 2017)

Price: $17.95


Growing up gay in the small Greek-Bahamian community, which feels its traditional culture and religious pieties are under threat, is fraught with constraints and even danger. The main characters in Helen Klonaris's poetic, inventive and sometimes transgressive collection of short stories confront this reality as part of their lives. Yet there are also ways in which young women in several of the stories search for roots in that tradition – to find within it, alternatives to the dominant influence of the Orthodox church. These include attempts to make connections between their Caribbean lives and the figures and narratives drawn from Greek mythology. Klonaris focuses closely on family relationships, in particular the compexities of father/daughter relationships – ranging from over-bearing authority, absence and incest. Klonaris's characters are very much part of the wider realities in Bahamian society, including the presence of unregistered immigrants from Haiti, and the interplay between fear, repression, hypocrisy and resistance in the relations between the state, the churches and the LGBT community. Running through the stories is an intensive focus on the body. In "Flies" bodily dissolution becomes a powerful metaphor for Marjorie St George's elite White fear that her world is disappearing with the islands' independence, whilst in "Weeds" two young women use their bodies, quite literally, and wittily, to fight back against the thou-shall-nots of the church. These wonderfully realised collection of stories range from the realistic to the speculative and fantastical. It is rich with metaphors of flight and submersion, creatures of the sea and birds of the air, providing threads that tie the stories together in a satisfying whole.


From Courtney Arnold, Reviewer of the anthology Our Caribbean: A Gathering of Lesbian and Gay Writings from the Antilles, edited by Thomas Glave "It is a Saturday night, Independence weekend, and there is not one church on this island that would welcome me and my kind publicly, speak our names openly, with respect, and honor us for who we are." In "Independence Day Letter," Helen Klonaris's contribution to Our Caribbean: A Gathering of Lesbian and Gay Writing from the Antilles, the author describes the social exile experienced by gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgendered people in her native Bahamas. Klonaris writes eloquently about the internalized colonialism at the root of her country's pervasive homophobia; yet her outrage—and the deep hurt it belies—point beyond just a "niche" cause in some "other" place. Indeed, the Caribbean's notorious and often violent intolerance toward those who are, or are perceived to be, in some way queer is part of a far bigger issue.

"Klonaris uses memory and dialogue as valuable tools to convey her stories, introducing a compelling voice to short fiction." —Jeff Fleisher, Foreword Reviews

Author Biography

Helen Klonaris is a Greek-Bahamian writer and teacher who lives between the Bay Area, California and Nassau, Bahamas. Her early years in the Bahamas were spent working as a human rights activist, raising awareness around issues that ranged from capital punishment to violence against women to discrimination against LGBT Bahamians. She was a member of the Bahamian feminist organization DAWN (Developing Alternatives for Women Now) and of the regional CAFRA (Caribbean Association for Feminist Research and Action). She co-founded several socially significant organizations, including The Rainbow Alliance of the Bahamas, and several literary journals, associations, and organizations including WomanSpeak: A Journal for Caribbean Women's Literature and Art, The Bahamas Association for Cultural Studies, (BACUS) and the Bahamas Writers Summer Institute (BWSI). Her nonfiction and fiction have been published in a number of North American journals including Calyx, So to Speak, Mission at Tenth, and The New Guard, and in Caribbean journals including The Caribbean Writer, Poui, Small Axe Salon, Sargarsso, Proud Flesh, Anthurium, Tongues of the Ocean, Yinna, and Lucayos. Her work also appears in numerous anthologies including Our Caribbean: A Gathering of Lesbian and Gay Writings, edited by Thomas Glave, Caribbean Erotic, edited by Opal Palmer Adisa and Donna Weir, Let's Tell This Story Properly, edited by Ellah Wakatama Allfrey, Haunted Tropics: Caribbean Ghost Stories, edited by Martin Munro, and The Racial Imaginary: Writers and the Life of the Mind, edited by Claudia Rankine and Beth Loffreda. Most recently, her short story "Cowboy" was shortlisted for the Commonwealth Short Story Prize. Helen is the co-editor with Amir Rabiyah of the anthology Writing the Walls Down: A Convergence of LGBTQ Voices, published by Trans-Genre Press, 2015. A writer and performer, she co-curated The Walls Project, performed at the 2011 National Queer Arts Festival, and collaborated on and performed in Mixed, Blended, and Whole, NQAF 2012. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in Religious Studies from Wesleyan University, studied with renowned Caribbean writers at the Caribbean Writers Summer Institute at the University of Miami, explored feminist liberation theology at the Women's Theological Center in Boston, Massachusetts, and earned a Master of Fine Arts in Writing and Consciousness from New College of California, a program now at the California Institute of Integral Studies (CIIS). Helen is the founder and director of The Gaulin Project, a migratory narrative storytelling program that believes in imagination as a source of power, and stories as a place of exquisite transformation and possibility. She teaches mythology and comparative religion at the Academy of Art University.