Friday, June 16, 2017

Out of Darkness, Light

On this, the first anniversary of the terrible shooting at Orlando's Pulse nightclub, "Prospero," The Economist's Books, Arts and Culture blog, offers a lovely tribute to the healing power of art, and the enduring qualities of queer art, in particular. An excerpt from the commentary:

"In Orlando, Everybody Is an Artist" 

The rainbow has become the branded merchandise of the modern LGBT movement, a symbol that allows anyone to pledge their support for the freedoms of others. It fulfills an important public role. But it is important that the rainbow exists alongside the art produced by LGBT people themselves, for a blunt political symbol should not drown out the authentic stories underpinning its creation.

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

"The World Turned Upside Down" — NOT!

Fifty years ago the British Parliament decriminalized homosexuality in England and Wales … between adults (21 years or older) … in private. Gregory Woods, whose History of Gay Literature we are now reading, discusses how little was changed with the new allowance of "hugger-mugger buggery between two bodies hidden away in shame".

Monday, June 5, 2017

Selected and Rearranged

Unless one is familiar, even intimate, with a poet's production, one can have little understanding of why which poems are collected in a volume. But once they're there, any reader can, and perhaps should, speculate on why they are grouped and arranged as they are. This is something we may discuss in two days in our meeting on Mark Doty's My Alexandria. This third book of poems was his break-out collection. Fifteen years later in his eighth collection Fire to Fire in addition to new poems some poems were selected from the preceding seven. The third volume did very well. Only four poems ("Heaven," "The Wings," "To Bessie Drennan," and "Becoming a Meadow") were omitted. But the remainder were degrouped and rearranged:

   The Ware Collection
   Days of 1981

   Human Figures

   Almost Blue

   Esta Noche
   Night Ferry

   With Animals
   Bill’s Story
   The Advent Calendars

I'd love to hear anyone's thoughts on this matter.

More Reasons to Go …

—as though any more were ever needed (for as the Great Cham once proclaimed: "when a man is tired of London, he is tired of life…")

Be that however as it may, the Tate Britain is presenting the first exhibition dedicated to Queer British Art 1861-1967. Entry is only free for members but it runs until Sunday, October 1.

(And if anyone either before or after can tell me why Tuke's charming picture is entitled "The Critics", I'll be much obliged.)

Gay UK: Love, Law and Liberty

That's the title of a big exhibit on gay history at the British Library in London this summer. It's free and continues until Tuesday, September 19. There's a whole series of talks/panel discussions in connection with this.

Sadly, this may seem like a bad moment to recommend a trip to London, and anyone thinking of going will need to make his own decision about the risks.

Jon Hamm Reads Walt Whitman's Lost Novel!

Back in February, I posted a report here that a  researcher  had turned up Walt Whitman's long-lost, never published novel, The Life and Adventures of Jack Engle.  Published anonymously, and presumably serially, in the New York Sunday Dispatch 165 years ago, only one copy survives—in the Library of Congress.  But you can read the whole thing  here.

In the Book World section of the June 4 Washington Post, Katherine Powers reports that Jon Hamm is the narrator for an audio book version that was released on May 30, the day before Whitman's 198th birthday.  Powers notes the appropriateness of that casting, given that Whitman's protagonist is an orphan with a mysterious past—and so was Don Draper, Hamm's breakout role in "Mad Men."

Sunday, June 4, 2017

For Those with the Books and Wanting More

Those who go back far enough (almost fifteen years) now have occasion to recall that in the first book of poetry we read — J.D. McClatchy's Love Speaks Its Name — we read two of Mark Doty's poems: "The Death of Antinoüs" (from the earlier collection Bethlehem in Broad Daylight) and "The Embrace" (from the later Sweet Machine). The McClatchy is a nice anthology and worth owning.

More familiar perhaps because three years later (or many more months in the discussing) Timothy Liu's encyclopedic Word of Mouth had our own "Difference," "Crêpe du Chine" from Atlantis, and "Where You Are" from Sweet Machine again.