Dani Putney’s Playlist for Her Poetry Collection “Salamat sa Intersectionality”

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In the Book Notes series, authors create and discuss a music playlist that relates in some way to their recently published book.

Previous contributors include Jesmyn Ward, Lauren Groff, Bret Easton Ellis, Celeste Ng, T.C. Boyle, Dana Spiotta, Amy Bloom, Aimee Bender, Roxane Gay, and many others.

Dani Putney’s poetry collection Salamat sa Intersectionality offers an intensely drawn portrait of the poet.

In their own words, here is Dani Putney’s Book Notes music playlist for their poetry collection Salamat sa Intersectionality:

My debut full-length poetry collection, Salamat sa Intersectionality, from Okay Donkey Press is a coming-of-age triptych full of queer desire, cowboy sex, genderfuckery, Filipinx heritage, and many other facets that constitute the speaker’s (read: my) kaleidoscopic identity. The collection moves from youth to a period of sexual exploration to a contemplative close, with the speaker more assured in themselves and their strange existence by the book’s end. Although I don’t listen to music while writing poetry (I generally compose poems silently, on my phone, in the dark, lying on my bed), I listened to each song on the “Salamat sa Music” playlist numerous times while crafting this book. Indeed, every one of these songs appears on my go-to Spotify playlist, simply titled “Jams,” which I listen to in the car, in the shower, on jogs, etc. And because my book represents a journey, I decided to arrange “Salamat sa Music” to reflect a similar trajectory. Enjoy the ride.

Shawn James, “Through the Valley”

What better way to start a journey than through a valley? I first heard this song on a trailer for The Last of Us Part II several years ago, and I immediately fell in love. I’m not a religious person, but this song’s faith-based lyrics create the perfect opening for the multidirectional, and often harrowing, path along which my book’s speaker travels. And, as Shawn James sings that he’ll “kill [his] enemies when they come,” so, too, will my collection’s speaker. Power to the underdog, baby.

Of Monsters and Men, “I of the Storm”

There’s a storm in the valley. The speaker’s journey is turbulent, their body “shaking like a leaf,” as Nanna Bryndís Hilmarsdóttir from Of Monsters and Men sings. In fact, there are literal storms the speaker encounters, as in the poem “Don’t Freeze with Me.” (But personally, this is my mom’s favorite Of Monsters and Men song, so I had to include it.)

Perfume Genius, “Die 4 You”

One of the queerest artists alive today, Perfume Genius (a.k.a. Mike Hadreas) gives me life. I listen to him every single day. As a young twinkboi first coming into their queerness, I saw a lot of myself in his songs. More specifically, though, the music video for “Die 4 You” helped me further evolve into my non-binary identity a couple of years back—a part of myself exists in Hadreas’ fierce blue dress-suit, fiery eye shadow, and gravity-defying movements. This song makes me think of the word “flux,” which is also an excellent description of my book’s contents.

Lord Huron, “The Night We Met”

I see this song as marking the transition from “Youthful Absolution,” the first section of my book, to “Salted Pores,” the middle (sexy) part. This is where the collection tackles lust, sex, cheating, heartbreak, etc. While “The Night We Met” is about a romantic kind of yearning, the song also represents a journey; Ben Schneider sings, “I’ve been searching for a trail to follow again.” In “Salted Pores,” the speaker is lost, too, trying to find a way back through their sexual explorations.

Beyoncé, “Daddy Lessons”

It would’ve been impossible to create this playlist without at least one Beyoncé track. Of course, I had to choose her most “country” (and, in my controversial opinion, her best) song. My Western-focused book offers the perfect terrain for Queen Bey’s grit in “Daddy Lessons.” (Plus, the speaker of Salamat sa Intersectionality has a lot of daddy issues themselves.)

Anna Ternheim, “No, I Don’t Remember”

This song has been lurking around my Spotify account since 2011, making it one of the oldest tracks I continue to enjoy. There’s something about the lyrics’ sense of nostalgia, mixed with a pained acceptance of what can never be again, that compels me to return to this song. I think such ambivalence reflects the sentiments explored in “Salted Pores,” especially within the second half of the section, quite well.

Orville Peck, “No Glory in the West”

If I could be anybody, it would be Orville Peck. He’s everything I want to be and more. There was no way this playlist was going to be made without his fringed mask gracing it. I chose this song in particular, though, because it pairs well with my poem “Western Mythology”—the West is a dangerous place, despite the ways in which it continues to be romanticized.

Syd Matters, “Obstacles”

To me, this song marks the beginning of the end of my collection. The speaker has survived many storms and is stronger for it; however, such turbulence will always be a part of the speaker’s life. As Jonathan Morali of Syd Matters sings, “Someday we will foresee obstacles / Through the blizzard, through the blizzard.” While obstacles are guaranteed to arise in the future, the collection’s speaker is better prepared to face them.

The Head and the Heart, “Ghosts”

You can’t go through life-changing shit without there being ghosts to haunt you. While many of the experiences documented in Salamat sa Intersectionality are firmly in the speaker’s past, they’re (read: I’m) still haunted to this day. But why not dance with these ghosts instead? The Head and the Heart offers a playful take on haunting: “One day we’ll all be ghosts / Trippin’ around in someone else’s home.”

Animal Fiction, “Hold On”

This is probably the least well-known song on the playlist, but I wanted to end with this track because (1) I first heard it on Borderlands 3, the video game that inspired my poem “Repping in the Borderlands,” which appears in the third section of my book, and (2) I wanted to close out “Salamat sa Music” on a hopeful note, similar to how Salamat sa Intersectionality concludes (specifically with the poems “Memento Mori,” “Convergent Boundary,” and “Sidewind into the Universe”). The speaker will hold on—I will hold on—no matter what has happened or happens next

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