Though I’ve spent my entire life in Philadelphia, I sometimes feel dishonest when claiming the city as my home. Put another way, I was raised in a secluded Northeast neighborhood known as Bridesburg, where nothing amazing has happened in years. Everyone I know attends the same local school and scuttles off to one of five churches on Sundays. Aside from the cemetery in the center of town, there aren’t many means of escape.
I realized early on that I didn’t fit in for a few logical (?) reasons. One: my family made up a sizeable portion of Bridesburg’s Jewish population. Two: I oozed audible queerness from the second I could speak. Three: when the former two traits put me at odds with the neighborhood’s social conservatism, I learned to prefer books over people.
While classmates spent their summers at Walt Disney World, I traveled to the Northeast Regional Branch of the Free Library of Philadelphia. I swallowed stories where boys swapped bodies with girls and no rule set in stone was ever sacred. Ordinary children were suddenly burdened with a dying alien’s powers. A pair of siblings constructed a new home within the walls of an art museum. Alongside the books themselves, their authors’ invisible presence filled me with hope—that one day, I’d meet others who had pushed past feeling strange and unwanted.
Over the past two years, I’ve been thrilled to have had a hand in Alien Magazine, a dedicated literary hub for outsiders, and to spearhead operations at Delicate Friend, including coordinating issues focused on marginalized forms of intimacy. I’m honored by the opportunity to learn from my fellow interns and staff at Sundress Publications, and I look forward to supporting much-needed perspectives in the publishing space.
Though nothing amazing happens in Bridesburg, I have to give credit where credit is due. Between silent summers and sidelong glances, I learned to hold close spaces in which fresh voices can be heard. To treasure stories I may not always understand, but which open my heart to a world of difference.
Fox Auslander is a nonbinary poet and editor based in West Philadelphia. They serve as the editor-in-chief of Delicate Friend, an intimate arts and literature magazine, and one of three lead poetry editors at Alien Magazine, a literary hub for outsiders. Their work appears or is forthcoming in beestung, Voicemail Poems, Eunoia Review, and beyond. They believe trans love will save the world.