Friday, May 24, 2024

Steps with Frank O'Hara and friends

I'm embarrassed to have missed this PBS program that aired back on May 20, but am relieved to report that it is available online

Lavender Con is coming!

A tip of the hat to Michael North for alerting me to this upcoming event:

Friday, May 17, 2024

Never By Itself Alone

This past Wednesday evening, we had the pleasure of hearing from Philip Clark and Michael Bronski, editors of Invisible History: The Collected Poems of Walta Borawski.  (I encourage you to attend the Aug. 21 meeting where we’ll discuss the poems in the second half of the collection.)

Michael recommends the following Zoom event:

Author Talk with David Grundy

Thursday, May 23, 2024
Free RSVP, Donations accepted

Join David Grundy, the author of Never By Itself Alone: Queer Poetry, Queer Communities in Boston and the Bay Area, for a virtual talk in conversation with Michael Bronski and Julie Enszer.

Please note this event has been rescheduled from 5/16 to 5/23 at 6PM. RSVP on Eventbrite.

Providing an unprecedented exploration of key moments in queer literary history, Never By Itself Alone changes our sense of both the American literary and political landscapes from the late 1940s through the 21st century. Grundy presents the first comprehensive history of post-war queer writing in Boston and San Francisco, intertwining analysis of lesbian, gay, and queer writing, and insisting on the link between activism and literature.

The book centers a host of underrepresented writers, especially writers of color and those with gender non-conforming identities, and challenges the Stonewall exceptionalism of queer historiography. Starting with Robert Duncan's 1944 essay, 'The Homosexual in Society', one of the first significant public defenses of homosexuality in the US, Grundy takes the reader through pioneering works by queer voices of the era, including Adrian Stanford's Black and Queer, the first published book by an out, Black gay poet in the US; the Boston collective Fag Rag and their radical reconsideration of family, private property and the State; the Combahee River Collective, whose Black Feminist analysis drew together race, class, and sexuality; the anthology This Bridge Called My Back, in which women of color spoke truth to power, together; and New Narrative writing, which audaciously mixed Marxism, porn and gossip while uniting against the New Right. Linking these works to the context which produced them, Grundy uncovers the communities formed around activism and small press publishing during this era and elevates neglected voices to narrate a history that before now has never been told in its entirety.

Drawing on extensive archival research, Never By Itself Alone is a rigorous and unmatched work of both literary criticism and queer scholarship which underscores the vital importance of radical accounts of race, class, and gender in any queer studies worthy of the name.

Tuesday, May 14, 2024


Following up on our recent discussion of John Rechy's City of Night, I think this excerpt from a 2022 post will interest those of you who are fans of his work: "I am most grateful to Octavio Roca for sharing a fascinating profile The LAnd magazine recently did of John Rechy, a gay writer I am chagrinned to admit I wasn't familiar with." 

Repurposing that blast from the past also gives me a chance to rectify a sin of omission. Responding to the original item, our friend Richard Schaefers shared this link "to a video interview done at UCLA when Rechy was 88--the top two buttons still unbuttoned." 😊 Apologies for failing to post this info back then, but better late than never, I trust. 

All about Gilgamesh

Back in March 2021, we discussed Andrew George's translation of The Epic of Gilgamesh. And later this year, we'll discuss Sophus Helle's take on that saga. In the meantime, to whet your appetite for that, you can hear from the author himself: 

“I see [Gilgamesh] as a composite entity. I see it as a place where all sorts of things, all sorts of voices, all sorts of cultural scripts, all sorts of historical circumstances, all sorts of intentions, all sorts of readerly projections [...] come together.” —Sophus Helle

Join us for a deep dive into Gilgamesh’s poetry and history with Sophus Helle, celebrated scholar, translator, and cultural historian. 

Three sessions: May 22, May 29, & June 5
2:30–3:45 p.m. EDT 
Live over Zoom with recordings available
Book your spot
Become a member of the Academy to receive 20% off tuition.

For information on how to register, apply for a scholarship, access recordings and course materials, and more, visit the Literary Seminars FAQ page. For information about additional seminars being offered by the Academy, visit the Literary Seminars homepage.

Saturday, May 11, 2024

Happy Birthday to us!

Exactly 25 years ago today, on May 11, 1999, what was originally known as the Potomac Gay Men's Book Group convened for its first meeting.  And we're still going strong a quarter-century later! For more details on our origin story, see the article in the current Washington Blade (p. 16).

Tuesday, May 7, 2024

Alfred Chester? He hardly knew her!

(I'm posting this item on behalf of our colleague Philip Clark.)

If anyone would like to find out more about Alfred Chester, the gay author of The Exquisite Corpse whom I mentioned when someone referenced his nasty review of John Rechy's City of Night during last week's discussion of that novel, I highly recommend Edward Field's recent collection, Voyage to Destruction: The Moroccan Letters of Alfred Chester. There's a lengthy, detailed discussion of Chester (which doubles as a review of the book) on the Grand website that serves as a fantastic primer on who he was. That should give you an idea of whether you'd like to read the collection.