Thursday, August 17, 2017

London Bridges

Watching Terence Davies' Of Time and the City, one of the movies discussed in our book on gay film. Beautiful movie, quasi-documentary, his reminiscences of growing up gay in Liverpool in the early 1950s. Great line: he quotes a judge of the time who, sentencing two gay men, said: 'Not only have you committed an act of gross indecency, you have done so under one of London's most beautiful bridges!'

Saturday, August 5, 2017

Having finished "In the Empire of the Air"

     Now having read all the contents of Philip Clark's edition of In the Empire of the Air: The Poems of Donald Britton (as I hadn't when the group met on Wednesday), my admiration is all the more. I wish/wonder if members of the group could do something to promote the reputation of this wonderful poet.
     Several people at the group meeting pointed to allusions to other poets in his work. I didn't get a chance to push in with John Berryman, alluded to by the title of 'Inner Resources' (one of the 'Four Poems', p. 43)—see Berryman 'Dream Songs 14' ('Life, friends, is boring. We must not say so / ... my mother told me as a boy / (repeatingly) "Ever to confess you're bored / means you have no / Inner Resources"'—and 'Mr. Interlocutor' in 'Plusieurs jours', p. 70, recalling Berryman's invocation throughout the Dream Songs of the byplay in minstrel shows between Mr Bones and Mr Interlocutor.
     So presences of Eliot, Crane, Berryman, ?Auden ('no radio goes dead' p. 52 makes me think of Auden, 'Stop all the clocks, cut off the telephone', and maybe the Yeats elegy)—quite a range, and probably other poets. An imagination not circumscribed in any school, but still with its own very distinctive character; a way of writing which is, as everyone says, like John Ashbery's—but better.
     Someone (Keith? Barry?) perceptively pointed to a tactic in some poems of seeming to come up to a point but then dropping back from it—cf. 'Unattached', p. 15: 'I have / developed, then, this / leaping-back motion as a device / for getting out of the way / of these next few things as / they happen ...'
     The construction of stanzas (often of the same number of lines within a given poem) and of individual lines (mostly of about the same syllable count within a given poem, though usually not a repeated rhythm) is another whole aspect. Poetry that's both very lyrical and very formal.
     I'm grateful to Philip for bringing these poems to the group, and to the group for such an excellent, impressive discussion of them. I really do hope that Britton's work survives and becomes more widely known. Like Keats he only had a short time to write, but he should not be 'one whose name was writ in water', as Keats thought he would be.

Sunday, July 30, 2017

"psychologically denatured"?

Here is the statement Donald Britton appended to his earlier published "The Winter Garden" when it appeared in Ecstatic Occasions, Expedient Forms:

Book Tar-Baby

I'm glad Steve has read all of A Little Life  and posted his reactions. It is the most controversial gay novel of our still adolescent century. Extreme positions have been taken by Garth Greenwell and Daniel Mendelsohn, each of whom has appeared in our "Books We Have Read" as will, I've no doubt, Hanya Yanagihara herself in due time. It's a big book but a quick read. Once you start you have to break away not to finish it. It's a treacly soap opera and even discontinuing it midway through I had to peek ahead several times to sate my taste for dish in this "shabby little shocker". I won't reread what I have read nor finish what I haven't but I will attend the discussion which I'm sure will be lively and divergent.

Friday, July 14, 2017

Wide Margins in the Publishing World

This perhaps should be a post about presses Harrington Park and Haworth—Routledge being a second or third marriage—but I don't have the time to redact nor the knowledge to redact from. Suffice it to say, that of all the odd books we BookMen have held in hand, Gay Travels in the Muslim World

may be the oddest yet. Donald Bathelme's early short story "Margins" presciently illuminates these "delicate sensibilities":

all-around wide margin shows a person of extremely delicate sensibilities with love of color and form, one who holds aloof from the multitude and lives in his own dream world of beauty and good taste.

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

OutWrite Is Coming!

Mark your calendars now for the DC Center's annual OutWrite festival, a celebration of LGBT literature, authors, writers and poets.

This year’s festival will kick off on Friday, Aug. 4, with an event in collaboration with Smut Slam DC; location and details to be announced soon!  On Saturday, August 5, there will be a full day of readings, panels, book sales, and exhibitors.  And the weekend will conclude with several writing workshops on Sunday, August 6.

This year’s keynote speaker is Cecilia Tan.  Cecilia is an author, editor and publisher at Circlet Press, which is celebrating its 25th anniversary this year.  

Sunday, July 9, 2017

Like Anal Sex?

A.L. Kennedy is supposed to have replied once to a query regarding her dense literary style: "It's like anal sex. If that's what I want to do to you and you're not into it, then go away, because that's what will keep happening."