HIV in My Eye
by Thomas Gordon Green
Reviewed by Alina Oswald
HIV does not make people dangerous to know, so you can shake their hands and give them a hug: Heaven knows they need it,” the late Princess Diana once said. To some extent, her words ring true to this day. People living with HIV today still need that hug. Many do get it. Many more do not.
Thomas Gordon Green’s debut book, HIV in My Eye, offers a version of what can become of the latter. In his collection of poetry, the long-term AIDS survivor and activist, and now author, sketches out a candid, intimate image of the raw reality of living with HIV, especially in the South, while drawing from his personal experience of living with the virus—from the time of the diagnosis, some three decades ago, when his own mother refused to give him that much needed hug, to the present day.
The poems touch on real-life issues, some considered more taboo than others. While not all limited to the South, issues like poverty, rejection, abuse, drug use and lost innocence often mark the daily existence of someone living with HIV/AIDS.
The poem “Temporary” marks perhaps a turning point in the feelings and emotions evoked in HIV in My Eye, painting the world as a place in which HIV is only temporary, and, thus, offering a glimpse of hope. In “Temporary” the author offers his own gut feeling about the temporary nature of HIV:
This is the feeling I get in my gut.
It’s why I don’t mind HIV as much as I should.
I hear you talk bad about people with HIV.
Don’t you know it hurts those people?
Why not nurture a person living with HIV?
Ask me how I am today.
Would you be ok with HIV?
It won’t be here long!
Because it is Temporary!
The poems that follow change the tone of the conversation about living with HIV, documenting the author’s long journey back to recovery. In the process, he becomes not only a survivor, but also an activist.
HIV in My Eye is more than a poetry collection. It launches a new organization, which is meant to spread the word about HIV and AIDS to educational institutions across North America. Worldwide HIV/AIDS Information Initiative may be the answer for those whose voices are yet to be heard or for those living with HIV still searching for that much needed hug, and also hope.
HIV in My Eye is available on Lulu.com and Amazon.com. To find out more about this poetry collection and the new Worldwide HIV/AIDS Information Initiative organization, visit: www.hivaidsnorthamerica.webs.com.
Alina Oswald wrote about the Love Positive Women campaign in this issue.