Guante - “Ten Responses to the Phrase ‘Man Up’ ”

“We teach boys how to wear the skin of a man, but we also teach them how to raise that skin like a flag and draw blood for it.”

Two-time National Poetry Slam champion Guante, performing at Madame in Minneapolis.


Guante - “REACH”

“Don’t paint my house white and tell me it’s heaven. Don’t bring me a sack of beans and tell me they’re magic. Bring me magic.”

Two-time NPS champion Guante, performing at the Saint Paul Soap Boxing Poetry Slam.


Guante - “Quicksand” (Saint Paul Poetry Slam)

“My third response, upon stumbling by chance upon a man neck deep in quicksand, is obviously to recite a poem. To throw some spirit energy his way. To describe, out loud, just how heavy my heart is.”

Performing at the September 2014 Soap Boxing Poetry Slam. Subscribe to Button on YouTube!


The poem that started my obsession…

Guante - “Ten Responses to the Phrase, ‘Man Up’”


Sierra DeMulder has a new book! This is the “title track,” so to speak. I’ll be performing at her release show this Saturday at honey mpls, 7pm, free, all-ages!



1. Fuck you.

2. If you want to question my masculinity, like a schoolyard circle of curses, like a swordfight with lightsaber erections, save your breath. Because contrary to what you may believe, not every problem can be solved by “growing a pair.” You can’t arm-wrestle your way out of chemical depression. The CEO of the company that just laid you off does not care how much you bench. And I promise, there is no lite beer in the universe full-bodied enough to make you love yourself.

3. Man up? Oh that’s that new superhero, right? Mild-mannered supplement salesman Mark Manstrong says the magic words “MAN UP,” and then transforms into THE FIVE O’CLOCK SHADOW, the massively-muscled, deep-voiced, black-leather-duster-wearing superhero who defends the world from, I don’t know, feelings.

4. See I don’t drink a lot of beer… you know, because I’m not a “real man,” but I’m pretty sure that, of all the beers in the world, Miller Lite… is not the most flavorful brew. It kind of tastes like… whatever insecure jackass wrote these “man up” commercials got rejected by a beautiful, no-nonsense bartender, drank a six pack of REAL beer alone in his apartment, and then Miller bottled his tears.

5. You ever notice how nobody ever says “woman up?” They just imply it. Because women and the women’s movement figured out a long time ago that being directly ordered around by commercials, magazines and music is dehumanizing. When will men figure that out?

6. “Man Up” assaults our self esteem by suggesting that competence and perseverance are uniquely masculine traits. That women—not to mention any man who doesn’t eat steak, drive a pickup truck, have lots of sex with women and otherwise conform to gender norms absolutely—are nothing more than, background characters and props in a movie where the strong, stoic, REAL man is the hero. More than anything, though, it suggests that to be yourself—whether you, wear skinny jeans, listen to Lady Gaga, rock a little eyeliner, drink some other brand of light beer, or write poetry—will cost you.

7. How many boys have to kill themselves before this country acknowledges the problem? How many women have to be abused? How many trans people have to get assaulted? We teach boys how to wear the skin of a man, but we also teach them how to raise that skin like a flag and draw blood for it.

8. Boy babies get blue socks. Girl babies get pink socks. What about purple? What about orange, yellow, chartreuse, cerulean, black, tie-dyed, buffalo plaid, rainbow… there are so many beautiful colors and combinations of colors. Yet boy babies get blue socks. And girl babies get pink socks.

9. I want to be free, to express myself. Man up. I want to have meaningful, emotional relationships with other men. Man up. I want to be weak sometimes. Man up. I want to be strong in a way that isn’t about physical power or dominance. Man up. I want to cry if I feel like crying. Man up. I want to ask for help. Man up. I want to be who I am. Man up.

10. No.


Guante - “Consent at 10,000 Feet”

“Have you ever had sex while skydiving?  Like, where you talk about consent the same way you talk about wearing a parachute, no grey areas, no assumptions.  Like, ‘I’m pretty sure I’m wearing a parachute.’  No questions.”

Guante, performing at the March 2015 Saint Paul Poetry Slam.  Subscribe to Button on YouTube!


Guante - “Ten Responses to the Phrase ‘Man Up’ ”

Not only is this beautifully written and performed, the message is incredibly important.