Touch: Sex, Sexuality and Sensuality is an anthology of stories curated and edited by Tiffany Kagure Mugo and Kim Windvogel. The anthology features essays, stories and poems from people across genders and sexualities about how sex features in their lives. Touch’s strength lies in its variety and that it can appeal to anyone, at any point in their sexuality.
The book is an eloquent collection about sexual experiences – some enjoyable, others not. There are trigger warnings for some stories. The book explores the physical acts, but also what each sexual encounter means beyond the flesh. What pulls you into the book is the vast amount of personal experiences. The experiences might be relatable or not but the reader can still be moved by it. Touch may be about sex but it transcends the physical acts through the emotive writing behind it.
When the sex is not so straight
Mx Blouse is a recording and performing artist. Their contribution is called “When the sex is not so straight”. Mx Blouse writes about a sexual encounter with a man, who is struggling with internal and negative feelings about his sexuality. The description of anticipating someone’s attraction is so relatable when catching a stranger’s eye across the room. The encounter ultimately leads to a disappointing climax of clandestine sex and regret. However it shows the lived reality of many queer non-binary folks. Mx Blouse reminds the reader that being queer doesn’t make navigating their sex life any easier than a cishet person.
Ava Mason is a language practitioner and activist, and her piece is called Moonburst. Mason writes about a torrential love and lust affair between herself and a man. The writing is deliciously “millennial” with her references to astrology, and use of internet slang. It is universal in that the reader can relate to loving someone, who does not reciprocate. Mason takes readers through their beginning and ending. The analogies are perfectly weaved into her piece. Even if the descriptions of sex are no-holds-barred, seeing how emotions accompany strengthen her story. It is not a love and lust narrative, but more of a life narrative. It is about a woman living her life, sex life, and working through her trauma.
Janine Samuels is a writer who contributed a poem called Strokes. It can easily be adapted to a spoken word performance with a few piano notes. It is hard and fast, soft and slow. The poem culminates in a description of religious iconography I gasped at. Samuels lets you into her mind on what she wants and doesn’t want from sexual encounters. The poem is a reflection of the maze that sexuality and experiences can be.
Touch has more narratives than the ones mentioned, and the contributors span the African continent. As graphic as it is, it wouldn’t have had the impact it does without it. The lived experiences of the contributors are so tangible and written with such flair and contemporary referencing. It would be hard to not complete in one sitting. It is sexual, sensual, visceral and authentically written.
The book is published by Kwela Publishers and is available at all good bookstores and online.