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About the Writer

Hi, i'm Em :-)

Em Townsend (they/she) is a queer nonbinary writer and student from the Washington D.C. area who has been writing since elementary school. An English / poetry major and radio station DJ at Kenyon College in Gambier, Ohio, Em enjoys watching ’80s teen movies, reading, and looking at trees. Their work is published in Frozen SeaRising Action ReviewUnbroken JournalNew Note PoetryRough Cut PressFish Barrel Review, The Purposeful Mayonnaise, Blue Marble Review, Club Plum Literary Journal, and HIKA magazine, and is forthcoming in Mister Magazine, Shō Poetry Journal, and West Trade Review. Townsend's debut poetry collection chapbook, growing forwards / growing backwards, which explores the connections between memory, coming-of-age, nature, and identity, is out now with Bottlecap Press!

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growing forwards / growing backwards

growing forwards / growing backwards is a reflection on memories, from preschool to college, surrounding identity, coming-of-age, and the monotony of time during transitional periods of life. With a strong connection to childhood –– and its influences on my adolescence –– throughout the manuscript, each piece explores the concept of place-based memory. From the waters of northern Michigan and the woods of northern Virginia, to the complex headspace following a friend’s death and the perpetual joy of a healthy queer relationship, these poems traverse literal and figurative locations alike. The title, and the corresponding two sections, refer to the dichotomy between growth as a result of a positive experience, and ‘forced’ growth or self-reflection coming out of a negative situation: the moments of shame and grief that have the potential to humble, enlighten, reveal, and rebuild. Because of the inherent ambiguity of the theme, I didn’t want the poems to simply represent events in my life in chronological order; in fact, the depicted relationships with both people and time only seem to get more ambiguous as I grow up. Instead, the ending motifs in this collection are cyclical and intertwined with each other: ‘growing backwards’ often feeds into ‘growing forwards,’ and vice versa. In these poems about ever-evolving identity and its roots in the places that change us, I attempt to illustrate how memories are affected, and enhanced, by the new knowledge we gain in hindsight. growing forwards / growing backwards is about fluidity in all its forms –– and how experiences that lack clear resolution can still be poignant and resonant, much further down the line.

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"Midwestern Reunion" in Shō Poetry Journal, Issue #5

Forthcoming release: July 2024

"poem (i know queer joy is real because i exist)" in West Trade Review

Forthcoming release: March 2024

"I Sing the Body Optimistic" in Mister Magazine

Forthcoming release: February 2024

February 2024

January 2024

January 2024

January 2024

November 2023

June 2023

June 2023

June 2023

"That First Summer" and "Potomac" in HIKA, Spring 2023

May 2023 (print only)

April 2023

"Keys for a Good Life (or a Sticky Lock)" and "the grove" in HIKA, Spring 2022

May 2022 (print only)

Home / About: My Work
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