Saturday, March 20, 2010

April 7, Special Event

Readings from Persistent Voices: Poetry by Writers Lost to AIDS by co-editor Philip Clark, poets Richard McCann, Kim Roberts, Bernard Welt, and special guests Michelle Parkerson and Wayson Jones — in Sumner School, for one hour, starting at 7 o'clock (note "early" starting time). We had such a good discussion of our first selection from this book that we're going to have to read fewer poets per meeting and have more meetings. Everyone will want to attend.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Persistent Voices

I very much enjoyed Wednesday's discussion. It's good to be back. FYI: Joe Brainard is one of the poets for our next meeting. There is an interesting 8 pg. essay on him in Edmund White's "Arts and Letters," pg. 234.

Friday, March 5, 2010

All That I Will Ever Be missing translation

On p. 26 of Alan Ball's play, which we just read, the hustler Omar mutters a sentence after Cynthia sends him packing. It's in Armenian, as Tim thought, and I asked a friend of mine to translate it. The translation is: "I'll fuck your mother, you stupid bitch." Omar's not at loss for words in Armenian or English.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

More info on "All That I Will Ever Be"

Greetings, Fellow Bookmen--

As Tim rightly said in his posting, the half-dozen of us who gathered last night took part in a lively, wide-ranging discussion of Alan Ball's play, "All That I Will Ever Be." Ken was kind enough to share the following info:

Andrew Holleran sees great significance in the play despite ambivalence about it in theatrical terms. Here's his review.

And for those who would like to check out the actor who understudied the part of Omar when the play ran at Studio Theater two years ago, Aaron Tone, here's a photo of him with his husband Andrew Sullivan.

Cheers, Steve


once again to Terry, for having found a translation of Omar's scene-ending "Mayrot koonem eshoo chap akhtcheek!" (p. 26), which I remember as "I'll fuck your mother you stupid she-ass!" Any Armenians in the audience would have been tipped off to "Omar's" identity early on. Why does he break out in Armenian? He's hardly been reluctant to curse in English. Perhaps he's been so intimated by Cynthia (who has the biggest balls of anyone in the play!) that he wants to be sure she picks up nothing he says, no matter how far away she is, nor how much under his breath he mutters it.

(Along these lines, and parenthetically, I'm puzzled that Ball misses the opportunity in Scene 2 (p.8) to specify the "something in flawless French" that Omar says, "much to Cynthia's delight." It's an opportunity for commentary which maybe he'll take up in a future revision.)

Separate and Superior and Sly

I enjoyed last night's discussion of Alan Ball's All That I Will Ever Be immensely, came away with a much greater insight into the play, and convinced that ambitious, failed plays, as I think we all agreed this was, can be so much more worth discussing than successes like Douglas Carter Beane's The Little Dog Laughed (though entirely enjoyable on its own). Character and plot occupied us so thoroughly throughout the hour that we didn't get to the themes of the play, such as difference (which may answer the question why Omar is so socially inept and at thirty-five still a floor salesman at Circuit Guys). Nor did we have a chance to read out favorite lines, an activity that certainly would have occupied a good five or ten minutes. I'm going to do both of those with this post, quoting from Act 1, Scene 6, Dwight and Omar's second time together, when Omar extols sucking cock while denying he's gay:

DWIGHT. (Baffled.) So what makes one gay, then, if it's not enjoying sex with members of the same sex?
OMAR. (A distasteful face.) It's not sex. It's an energy, an uptightness, a closed-offness. A feeling of being separate and superior and sly. Of always being on the lookout, searching for bodies, for youth, for cocks, that can be taken and consumed and then cast aside like refugees [like Omar!] that nobody cares if they live or die.

Whether this applies only to a tiny segment of our community or even speaks merely to Omar's view of that tiny segment, I find this very provocative. I've never been so alive to the possibility of someone's being authentically homo/bisexual but not gay.

Aristophanes Revisited

I've posted poems by Henri Cole before. This one is from the January 10 issue of The New York Review of Books.


Do not show how jealous you are. Do not
show how much you care. Do not think the bunch
of flowers in his hand connects the hand to you.
Do not close your eyes and kiss the funny
lips. Do not twist your torso, touching yourself
like a monkey. Do not put your mouth
on the filthy place that changes everything.
Do not utter the monosyllable twice that is
the signature of dogdom. Do not, afterward,
appear mangy with old breath, scrutinizing
every hole. And do not think—touching his hair,
licking, sucking and being sucked in the same
instant, no longer lonely—that you
are two animals perfect as one.

One of these days I'm sure we're going to read one of his books. I like how "One Animal" becomes increasingly gender-specific (male/male!) and physical, and twisted—literally—from Aristophanes' original uncut human.