Tuesday, January 12, 2010


I am moving my blog to my new pad over at WordPress -- Outside the Lines, so please click on that link.  I don't foresee coming back to this site, but never say never, right.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

New post

I continue to test the waters over at WordPress.  Just posted a new post on that site.  Check it out.  Some important advice you'll want to hear from Matthew Hittinger.

Friday, January 08, 2010

New blog site

I'm pretty certain that I'll be moving this site over to a WordPress platform I'm tinkering with.  Though, I will keep this site as an archive.

Wanna take a peek?

Gay big bad reading list, addendum

I decided I could also post my Amazon wish list as part of the reading list I began here. (not everything on this wish list is gay related, though most of it is)

Wonderful reader Marshall pointed out that I should say something about what this reading list is for, e.g. what kind of focus my dissertation will take. Good question! I am still formulating things, but basically I hope it will use contemporary gay poetry as its subject and, via a queer hermeneutics, will examine how identity shapes poetics. But I imagine it will also look at queer theory, gay culture interpreted by all kinds of writers, gay fiction, gay autobiography, etc.

Hope that clarifies. It's the best I can do right now.

Here's that wish list I mentioned.

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queersexlife: Autobiographical Notes on Sexuality, Gender & Identity by Terry Goldie (Author)

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Gay Artists in Modern American Culture: An Imagined Conspiracy (Caravan Book) by Michael S. Sherry

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Queering the Underworld: Slumming, Literature, and the Undoing of Lesbian and Gay History by Scott Herring

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Close Calls with Nonsense: Reading New Poetry by Stephen Burt

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The Art of the Poetic Line by James Longenbach

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Closeted Writing And Lesbian And Gay Literature: Classical, Early Modern, Eighteenth-century by David M. Robinson

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The Queer Renaissance: Contemporary American Literature and the Reinvention of Lesbian and Gay Identities by Robert McRuer

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Sex, Art, and American Culture: Essays by Camille Paglia

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Best Gay Poetry 2008 by Lawrence Schimel (Author)

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A Human Eye: Essays on Art in Society, 1997-2008 by Adrienne Cecile Rich

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Poetry and Commitment by Adrienne Cecile Rich

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Poetic Voices Without Borders by Robert L. Giron (Editor)

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The Art of Syntax: Rhythm of Thought, Rhythm of Song (Art of...) by Ellen Bryant Voigt

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Mapping the Territory: Selected Nonfiction by Christopher Bram (Author)

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The Culture of Queers by Richard Dyer

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Out in Culture: Gay, Lesbian and Queer Essays on Popular Culture (Series Q) by John Hepworth (Author), et al.

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In Another Part Of The Forest: An Anthology of Gay Short Fiction by Alberto Manguel (Editor)


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The Penguin Book of International Gay Writing by Mark Mitchell (Editor)


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Reflecting Narcissus: A Queer Aesthetic by Steven Bruhm

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Outline of My Lover by Douglas A. Martin, Douglas A. Martin


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The Writer's quotation book: A literary companion by James Charlton (Editor)


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Spindrift by Allen Steele


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The Accidental Time Machine by Joe Haldeman


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Rollback by Robert J. Sawyer

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Ink: The Book of All Hours by Hal Duncan

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Vellum: The Book of All Hours by Hal Duncan

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The New York Times Guide to Essential Knowledge: A Desk Reference for the Curious Mind by John Leonard (Introduction)


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Everything You Pretend to Know And Are Afraid Someone Will Ask by Lynette Padwa

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An Incomplete Education: 3,684 Things You Should Have Learned but Probably Didn't by Judy Jones, William Wilson

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First Person Queer: Who We Are (So Far) by Richard Labonté (Editor), Lawrence Schimel (Editor)

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Soul Says: On Recent Poetry by Helen Hennessy Vendler, Helen Vendler

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Where Shall Wisdom Be Found? by Harold Bloom (Author)


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Vamps & Tramps: New Essays by Camille Paglia

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Break, Blow, Burn: Camille Paglia Reads Forty-three of the World's Best Poems by Camille Paglia

Thursday, January 07, 2010



I never used to eat breakfast:
nerve damage from cocaine culture.

When it's time to eat, I mostly want
the throat culture, or Imitrex overnight,

a pink ecstasy, the Viagra, or plain old
alcohol. Our market has been very barren.

Eggs, sausage, potatoes, and a side of pig’s blood
is the snack food of the street. Taken with political coffee.

This 'oral culture' : 

orange chiffon pudding recipe,
fresh chestnut recipes,
pressure cooking pet food,
maple leaf chicken strips,
and upset stomach remedy and jook recipe)

was eventually supplanted by a print culture,
which was displaced by couch potatoes.

Eat your damn cherries
and give me the stones.
I’m not made to live on herrings'
heads, as close to the animal
as dirt, same as Culture
with a capital ‘C’

Wednesday, January 06, 2010

Breaking gay poetry news! -- John Wieners

A new John Wieners book on its way!  This rocks!  I encountered this poem by Wieners in graduate school and started looking into him.  When he passed, I wrote a lengthy memorial piece for him.

So here's the news from Bootstrap Press.   (via)

And here's the background, from John's friend, and fellow gay poet, Charles Shivley:
After John’s passing, Jim Dunn and I went through the notebook (red leather with gold trim) which Bill Berkson had given John who was locked up in a Long Island asylum in 1969. (Wieners wrote his Asylum Poems from that unhappy place.) With the notebook in hand, Jim and I (with great help and encouragement from John Mitzel) sought to identify unpublished complete poems from that red book. We sent photocopies to Raymond Foye whose great care, love and attention produced the Black Sparrow editions of Selected Poems, 1956-1986 and Cultural Affairs in Boston: Poetry and Prose 1956-1985. Now Jim Dunn has transcribed and scanned Wieners remarkable notebook to bring us previously unpublished poems, perhaps worked into something of a stained glass window version reminiscent of the chapel of St. Louis IX in Paris.

Outrageous: Missouri and its search for a genteel poet

This is utterly ridiculous!  Check out this article about Missouri's Governor and his "application for the post [of poet laureate, which] includes questions asking an applicant whether there’s anything in his or her background that could embarrass the governor." 

Um....if you're a poet who hasn't written ANYTHING at some point that's able to embarrass a Missouri governor, then you've probably not written anything all that worth reading.
Carl Phillips declined to apply!  Good for him!  Puh-lease.  He was nicer than most would have been, I suspect.

I refuse to be considered as a candidate because I believe in being completely open,” he said. “I’m open about being gay, and I’ve no interest in anything that compromises that kind of honesty. My work is known for being quite controversial in terms of writing about sex and morality, and I would imagine that would not be palatable to the governor.”
The part of the article I most love is a former poet laureate who did NOT have to fill out a similar application but did have to reveal if there 'was anything the governor [at that time] should know about.'  His repsonse: "Bargen told them, “I grew up in the ’60s,” and that he once used the word “nipple” in a poem. "  Call the police!  He said "nipple"!

"I don’t think I’m in any position to judge anybody when it comes to personal life,” said Kevin Prufer of Warrensburg, a poet and editor of Pleiades: A Journal of New Writing. Kris Kleindienst, co-owner of Left Bank Books in St. Louis, said she understands the purpose of the application questions but admitted it seemed “funny when applying them to a poet.”

Literary history is laced with controversial poets, including Missouri-born writers Samuel Clemens and Maya Angelou, both of whom have had books banned in libraries and schools.

Tuesday, January 05, 2010

The great big bad dissertation reading list

New year, big goal! I've decided I need to start a list of books and essays I want to read for my dissertation and/or use for its bibliography. I thought by posting it on my blog...

1) I'll enjoy it a little more because I will feel like I'm sharing with others who share my interests
2)  I'll get great suggestions for more of what to add (**hint hint**)
3) It will get let my visualize just what I have to accomplish and perhaps guide me toward how I want to shape this beast I'm supposed to be writing soon.

Of course, this is all very very provisional, folks, just me thinking out loud in some respects, so please, please don't freak out on me if you don't see something listed right away or you think, 'Why in the world is that listed?'  And as for the poets I say I'm considering, alas, that's likely to change as well...but it's where I'm starting.

I'm listing things as I come across them, often times including a link that reminded me of the text or in some cases introduced me to it.  Not all texts have links.

All that being said, please feel free to offer suggestions and/or links.  You can put in comments or email me at christopher dot hennessy at gmail dot com.  I'd also like to hear from anyone who thinks this is a bad idea. (e.g. a time-waster, procrastination, etc.--it has crossed my mind, or does it make me look bad, just not something that's done, I dunno!)

You'll note from what I've already listed that I'm open to anything, not just high falutin' literary theory/criticism. ;-)

I am sure this is going to be updated quite a bit.  But it's one of those things ya just got to start.  So here goes.

Major gay poets I am considering (list could go on and on!)
Hart Crane
Jack Spicer
John Weiners
James Schuyler
Robert Duncan???
W.H. Auden???
James L. White, Thomas James, Tim Dlugos

Major contemporary gay poets to consider (list could go on and on!)

Reginald Shepherd
Frank Bidart
Thom Gunn
Aaron Shurin
Carl Phillips
Henri Cole
Wayne Koestenbaum

Essential non-poetry texts from poets
Cleavage, Wayne Koestenbaum
The Queen's Throat, Koestenbaum
Orpheus in the Bronx, Reginald Shepherd
Coin of the Realm, Carl Phillips
Shelf Life and The Occasions of Poetry, Thom Gunnn
Your Body Figured, Douglas Martin

Major secondary texts
 A History of Gay Literature, Gregory Woods
Articulate Flesh, Gregory Woods
Gaiety Transfigured, David Bergman
Camp Grounds, David Bergman
The Homosexual Tradition, Robert K. Martin
Culture Clash, Michael Bronski
Gay Men's Literature in the Twentieth Century, Mark Lilly
Queer Optimism, Michael Snediker
Between Men, Eve K. Sedgwick
Episteomology of the Closet, Sedgwick
Against Interpretation, Susan Sontag
Homographesis, Lee Edelman
Young Robert Duncan: Portrait of the Poet as Homosexual in Society, Ekbert Faas
Walter Holland's dissertation
At the Barriers: On the Poetry of Thom Gunn, by Joshua Weiner
[I know I'm missing a lot here! Just tip of iceberg.]

Other primary poetry texts to consider

Ceremonies, Essex Hemphill
Carnivorous Saints, Harold Norse
James Broughton

Jonathan Williams

Adjacent MUST-reads

Gloria Anazulda's Borderlands/La Frontera 

The Sexual Outlaw, John Rechy
Words to Our Now, Thomas Glave
Gay Sunshine Interviews, vol. 1 and 2, Winston Leyland
Gay Roots: Twenty Years of Gay Sunshine, Leyland

Classic must-reads and re-reads

The Portrait of Dorian Gray
The Poetry of H.D.
The Poetry of Robin Blaser
Jean CocteauJean Genet
Marcel Proust
Andre Gide

Adjacent secondary texts
Gay Male Fiction Since Stonewall: Ideology, Conflict, and Aesthetics

Identity Poetics: Race, Class and the Lesbian-Feminist Roots of Queer Theory by Linda Garber

Stand-alone essays and interviews, etc. to consider

"Come Back to the Raft A'gin, Huck Honey," Leslie Fielder
"Gay Poet as Critic," Alfred Corn
"Writing Gay" by Edmund White
'Some Stars Aren't Like You and Me' : A Talk with Wayne Koestenbaum on Andy Warhol (Journal of Homosexuality)
Walt Whitman: Our Great Gay Poet?  (Journal of Homosexuality)
"The American Sublime: Living and Dying as an Artist” by Edmund White
 "Write Something on My Wall: Body, Identity, and Poetry" by Kazim Ali
Editorial statement on "Queering of Langauge Poetry," Jack Kimball
"The Elegiac in Howard and Merrill," (diss)
"The End of Sexual Idenity," Stacey D'Erasmo
"Sex, Drugs and Thom Gunn," Tom Sleigh

The Golden Age of Gay Fiction
Lorca: A Dream of Life
Gentlemen Callers: Tennessee Williams, Homosexuality, And Mid-Twentieth-Century Drama 
Queering the Pitch: The New Gay and Lesbian Musicology 
  Bedford, Christopher, “Marcelino Gonçalves Reclaiming a Gay Male Aesthetic,” Angle: A Journal of Arts + Culture, Issue 16, September/ October, 2004.


In my inbox this morning.....  [full disclosure, three of my poems appear in the next issue]

GANYMEDE #6 issue now out (272 pages)
--DAVID SEDARIS on loving his man
--British gay author DENTON WELCH (1915-1948), enjoying a big cult following
in the UK, returns to America thanks to Ganymede: SIX sample stories over
three issues!
--The Dirt on the Duchess: From Charles Higham's new memoir, learn what
Chinese vaginal technique the Duchess of Windsor used to cure her man's
impotence. Who needs the throne of England when your wife makes you cum?
--EDMUND WHITE¹s new memoir ³City Boy² and other book and film reviews
--MY DIVA: six gay authors on the great divas they love [YAY! I'm in this book]
--a rare homo-erotic mystery story by ROBERT LOUIS STEVENSON
--14 gay poets, 5 gay story writers, gay photographers and artists

POETRY by Edward Field, Walter Holland, Steven Cordova, Gregg Shapiro, R.
Nemo Hill, Stephen S. Mills, Brandon Lacy Campos, Jeff Mann, Lee Houck, Eric
Norris, Bryan Borland, Christopher S. Soden, Sergio Ortiz, Mark Milazzo
FICTION by Denton Welch, Charlie Vásquez, Cyrus Cassells, Wayne Hoffman,
Eric Karl Anderson, Andrew J. Peters
And more, including art and photography. Details and readable sample pages:
http://www.ganymedenyc.com/ Purchase (print or download):

Mark Bibbins talks on the interwebs

Joe Milford's popular poetry radio talk show talks to gay poet Mark Bibbins.

Click above and then click to listen!

Wow, two multi-media posts in one day!

Here's the interview's teaser copy:

"Bibbins . . . has the courage to stop, to pin down the always irrational present moment, and the reader is eager to follow, to inhale its scathing or enticing perfume. . . . A brilliant young poet."--John Ashbery In his second collection, The Dance of No Hard Feelings, Lambda Award winner Mark Bibbins pressures language into a performance of surprising, invigorating movements across syntax and line. Vulnerable, yet suspicious and sharp-witted, he responds to a nation responsible for and besieged by a bankrupted presidency, employing concise lyrics and longer sequences while in the process inventing a new form, the exploded double haiku. Incited by progressive blogs, ad campaigns, elegy, and Eros, Bibbins addresses environmental catastrophe and grotesque political posturing in our nascent millennium, as well as the corporate media's willingness to front for the worst offenders as it both panders and condescends to audiences drunk on doublespeak. These are songs of passionate and ambivalence sung in a dark time.

Frank Kameny says good by to Lambda Rising Bookstore

I don't think  I need to comment.  Very sad.  But, on the bright side, I've got to say, how cool is it that Frank still reads hot-boy magazines!

Monday, January 04, 2010

Book parlor games

Okay, all you book lovers, here's a so-called parlor game called simply "List Five Books" in which players have to list five books (I said "simply"!) based on a particular keyword(s) they are given.  I can't say I'd be able to do this myself, but I bet some of you out there could do.  It crossed my path because one of the players used Wayne Koestenbaum's awesome book The Queen's Throat.  

The version I came across uses for its keywords, "Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes."

So for example, one player gave:

The Four-Chambered Heart, by Anaïs Nin
The Queen's Throat: Opera, Homosexuality, and the Mystery of Desire, by Wayne Koestenbaum
What's Bred in the Bone, by Robertson Davies
The Eye of Jazz, by Herman Leonard
On Foot, by Adam Nicolson

Cool idea, no?

The Genius of Thom Gunn

How can you not want to read an article called "The Genius of Thom Gunn"!

Now, add to that that it's right by Colm Toibin.

Here's said article.

Here's the bad news.  Requires subscription.

(thanks marshall)

Monday, December 28, 2009

It's the most list-ful time of the year...the Best LGBT Books of 2009

The Best LGBT Books of 2009: 56 Writers Select Their Favorites:
...[last summer] when a reader asked the Washington Post for recommendations of “new gay books,” critic Dennis Drabelle responded in writing, “Not many of these are being published anymore, mostly, I think, because the great gay storyline — coming out — isn't such a big deal anymore and has been done to death.” Drabelle’s only suggestion was a British boarding school novel from 1967 long out of print.

Well, Band of Thebes 'redresses that failure', and good on them!  The blog "asked a few dozen authors ranging from eminently established prizewinners to emerging kickass wunderkinds to name the best lgbt books of 2009. In turn, their list of favorite reads will become readers' favorite resource for its staggering scope and illumination of the year's finest lgbt novels, story collections, essays, memoirs, nonfiction, graphic books, YA, and poetry"

What's your favorite? Did it make the list?

Buried in links

Okay, it's my last night being away from home (seeing the fam in Michigan) and I finally figured I should start digging myself out of all the links I've being meaning to share with you.

First, an audio interview and article with Henri Cole and Christopher Lydon. They also give him the ole' Proust questionaire, which I have to believe he probably really didn't enjoy.
Poetry was the place where as a young gay man he worked through yearning and anger to astringency and order. French, Armenian and English were the languages of his home growing up in Virginia in the sixties and seventies.

"And hearing this braid of languages regularly spoken," he has written, "heightened my sense of words as a kind of loge in which desires were illuminated, memory was recovered and poems would be assembled."
Brian Brodeur's How a Poem Happens blog looks at Marilyn Hacker.  Surf around his great site and find more poets, many gay and lesbian.

A review of Spicer's collected poetry that you might have missed.  But wait, there's more!
Spicer wrote a dramatic version of the Nathaniel Hawthorne's "Young Goodman Brown"?  Apparently.  Read what his professor (who gave him an A- on it in 1946) had to say about the work.

Jee Leong Koh's been busy! Here's a brief interview he did.  But cooler are this three recent posts that respond to his reading of seminal gay critic Gregory Woods, including two posts on 1)"Articulate Flesh: Male Homo-eroticism & modern poetry" Here's #2. And another post on Woods's  A History of Gay Literature: The Male Tradition."

The New Gay blog interviews Philip Clark about the new book he and David Groff edited, Persistent Voices: Poetry by Writers Lost to AIDS.

I gotta tell you, this is the tip of the iceberg.  Sigh.  So many links, so little time.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Am I overacting? Throw me a frickin' bone.....woes of submitting poetry

Or do you find this as annyoing as I do....

Literary journal just trying to get off the ground solicits submissions via Facebook friends, with NO criteria offered as to what they might like.... 

I submit... and promptly receive the following....

"Thanks so much for submitting poems to REDACTED. We've decided these poems aren’t right for us, but thank you for letting us have a chance with your work."

Wow.  I mean...wow.

Now, I've received so many rejections that the "no" doesn't bother me...but in this situation, I kinda feel like I deserve a little something.....a reason why (even something like, we're looking for more/less narrative work)....and if, dear poetry editor, if you can't manage that level of thoghtfulness....how about...."we liked 'Poem X' the best but alas..."

Throw me a frickin' bone, people.  You're just starting out and you respond to a submission you actually asked for in this shoddy manner?!?!?  Pardon me, but you ain't got a very bright future ahead of you.

Am I overacting? Honestly, tell me.

Yet another reason why this whole game tires me. 

.....ok, that last bit brought out my inner drama queen, but....puh-lease!

By the way, I think we poets should watch out for each other so we're not WASTING our TIME, so if you want to know the name of said literary journal, I will be happy to let you know.  Just email me...  christopher  dot hennessy at gmail dot com.

Friday, December 11, 2009

The Fusion Class

From The TIMES...."Reflections on the First Decade of the 2000s"

THE FUSION CLASS: If identity politics defined earlier decades, identity straddling defined this one. The traditional brain drain became brain circulation as developing-world émigrés began to move back and forth between adopted and home countries. The United States elected president a biracial man whose present-day relatives speak Cantonese, French, German, Hebrew, Igbo, Indonesian, Luo and Swahili.

The writers who dominated prizes and imaginations were products, and chroniclers, of in-betweenness: Jean-Marie Gustave Le Clézio, Junot Diaz, Jhumpa Lahiri, Orhan Pamuk.
The words of Nathaniel Hawthorne, channeled by Ms. Lahiri, became an anthem: “Human nature will not flourish, any more than a potato, if it be planted and replanted, for too long a series of generations, in the same worn-out soil.”

A list of gay poets!

Blogger Amy King has a "steal this list" of contemporary queer poets she has begun and asks people to add to it!  So, you know what to do!  Or just surf on over to see if your name's already there.  One my favorite bloggers made the list.  Did you?

Add to it folk!

A controversy I missed

This is crunch time for me (40 pages of paper writing to do in less than a week and 24 students to grade), so I can't say I'm surprised I missed this, which loyal reader Marshall was helpful in pointing me too.

Apparently, the TIMES has covered said controversy with at least two articles.  The case in question relates to spoken word phenom gay poet Emanuel Xavier

Marshall also posted me to poet Rich Villar's commentary, which, alas I haven't had time to read but link here in case you have the time to take a look!

A poem from Richard McCann

I get emails from Split this Rock Poetry Festival, and I thought I'd share this one, since it contained a poem from a poet I enjoy.

Nights of 1990

"The sweatings and the fevers stop, the throat that was unsound is sound, the lungs of the consumptive are resumed..."

-Walt Whitman, "The Sleepers"


What I could not accept was how much space
his body was taking with it: for instance, the space
I was standing, the dazed fluorescence of his hospital
where each night I watched him sleep. So this
is the spine, I thought, this articulation
of vertebral tumors, this rope of bulbous knots;
tissue, I thought, as I studied his yellowing skin-
tissue, like something that could tear.
Afterward, I waited in the corridor.
When I came back, he was alive and breathing.
Here, let me rub your back, I said.
Was it true what I'd heard, that the soul resides in 
Was it true the body was mere transport? I untied
the white strings that secured his pale blue
hospital gown. The blue gown drifted
from his shoulders. I rubbed his back.
I rubbed his back. Not so hard,
he said. I don't need to be burnished yet.

-Richard McCann

Excerpt from "Nights of 1990" from Ghost Letters (1994), used by permission.

Richard McCann is the author, most recently, of Mother of Sorrows, an award-winning collection of linked stories that Michael Cunningham has described as "almost unbearably beautiful." He is also the author of Things Shaped in Passing: More 'Poets for Life' Writing from the AIDS Pandemic. His work has appeared in such magazines as The Atlantic, Ms., Esquire, and Tin House, and in numerous anthologies, including The O. Henry Prize Stories 2007 and Best American Essays 2000. For his work, he has received awards and fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation, the National Endowment for the Arts, the Christopher Isherwood Foundation, and the Fine Arts
Work Center in Provincetown. A professor in the MFA Program in Creative Writing at American University, McCann serves on the Board of Directors of the PEN/Faulkner Foundation and is a Member of the Corporation of Yaddo.
McCann will be featured at Split This Rock Poetry Festival: Poems of Provocation & Witness, March 10-13, 2010, in Washington, DC.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

"Gay poetry does not pose a threat"

"Gay poetry does not pose a threat"

Maybe that's the problem!  Shouldn't it!?!?

I am prompted to ask this by the following letter to the editor from the Irish Independent (in its entirety below)


As a gay man, a media graduate, a civil marriage supporter, and a person generally ignorant of all things poetry, I felt compelled to respond to Kevin Myers's article 'No rhyme or reason . . .' (Irish Independent, November 3).

There are many significant things happening in this country right now, especially the movement by the gay community to secure equal rights.

Mr Myers surely cannot believe that we are anything but second-class citizens in a country which denies us the right to marry, have children and form a family.

While there are many other important issues tackled by many other organisations, I cannot imagine any of these involve quelling the apparent maelstrom of gay poetry threatening to overwhelm the Irish arts landscape.

I have been delighted by (and subjected to) poetry about mushroom sheds, bee boxes, moonlight and daffodils in my short life but apparently, for Mr Myers, it is a stanza too far to write about gay people.
Use your words for better things than this, Mr Myers.
Alan Flanagan
Clontarf, Dublin 3

Poetry jokes

These have been going 'round the poetry blogosphere a bit, but I had to share a few here.  Click for more!

Arthur Rimbaud and Thomas Chatterton walk into a bar. They are carded.
Sylvia Plath walks into a bar. The bartender says,”What’s cookin’, good lookin’”?

Gertrude Stein walks into a bar, thinking it was a bar. But it was a bar.

John Ashbery walks into a bar. The bartender says: “What’ll you have?” Ashbery says: “Some drinks.”

William Carlos Williams and T.S. Eliot walk into a bar. Williams says: “I’ll have a Red Wheelbarrow!” Eliot says: “Jew!”

James Wright walks into a bar. Suddenly, he gets gin blossoms.

Frank O’Hara walks into a bar at 6:27, three day after Columbus Day. (Fifteen years later, Ted Berrigan walks into the same bar, on the same day, at the same time. He orders a Pepsi.)

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Back to gay poets and links!

I've been way for far too long with this kind of post.

Some recent links about gay poets!

Richard Howard's WRITING LIFE

Bruce Snider interviewed on Brian Brodeur's "How a Poem Happens"
Do you remember who you were reading when you wrote this poem? Any influences you’d care to disclose?

I’d been reading the New York School poets, especially Frank O’Hara and Kenneth Koch. Both were a huge influence on me at the time. In part, I think their work accounts for the poem’s playfulness as well as its discursiveness and use of conversational speech.

I was also influenced by Naomi Shihab Nye’s early work, some of which treats language as a physical object in the landscape, animating it as a quasi-character or concrete force in the poem. I just applied that same strategy to numbers, which, because I’d always had an antagonistic relationship with math, provided me with a natural tension for the poem.

Poetry Foundation spotlights James Schuyler

One of Wayne Koestennbaum's book's back in print!
After eight years in limbo, Wayne Koestenbaum's brilliant musings Jackie Under My Skin: Interpreting an Icon are back in print, and to celebrate he read to a rapt crowd last night at 192 Books in Chelsea.

Befitting the book's strand-of-pearls structure, he sampled a perfectly rounded passage from a dozen or fifteen chapters with titles like Silent Jackie, Exotic Jackie, Liz vs. Jackie, Jackie and Money, Jackie as Housewife.

The randomness of deconstructed minutiae accumulates to an unorthodox portrait not only of the most famous woman in the world and her power, but inevitably of Koestenbaum himself and his desire, as well as the layers of lost time through which he's sifting.

Begun when she was still alive, the book was originally intended as an act of diplomacy, to explain
Jackie the Icon to Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis the person. After she died, Koestenbaum turned it into a sixty page poem addressed to her. That directness was liberating and eventually he was able to return the text to prose. He kept many lines of the poetry in tact and says he still sees the palimpsest.

Questioned afterward about camp, he said his book wasn't ironic: Yes, the voice may be gay but it is emphatically American.

Mark Bibbins On Where Poems Start & Backing Away from the Stinky Dead Beast aka Confessional Narrative, by Martha Silano

Latern Review blog interviews Joseph Legaspi

LR: Can joining a community tangibly change someone’s writing style?
JL: I have one person in mind, whose work was very unstructured. When we review applications, we look not only at craft, but process and potential. This person came to the retreat and was just how we imagined—great person, but very out there. By the end of the retreat, this person’s work was much more reflective, just in those four or five days. Not only did this person manage to make use of form, but for the first time, used images that hearkened from his background as a Filipino American, which I didn’t see before. There were a couple of other Filipino Americans there, and seeing how those other Filipino poets handled and carried themselves I think caused this person to tone down.
"Recycled in Eternity": Contemporary Poetry Review has an article remembering Harold Norse.

BONUS items:

Publication spotlights gay literary magazine GERTRUDE.

Band of Thebes tells us which of the UK's Best 100 books are gay!

NAKED truth?

I've been listening to the audiobook of NAKED LUNCH and find myself blown away in many ways.

Then I came across this, something I'd never heard:

In 1944, Burroughs and legendary later Beat poet Jack Kerouac were living in New York. Amongst their entourage of friends was one David Kammerer, in a platonic relationship with his 'lover', mentally ill Lucian Carr. The gist is that Carr seems to have possibly experienced an hallucinatory episode and stabbed Kammerer to death with a pocket knife. Afterward, he dumped Kammerer's body in the Hudson River and asked Burroughs and Kerouac for assistance.

What Burroughs did next will disturb contemporary gay sensibilities. Granted, Stonewall still lay twenty five years in his future, but Burroughs was gay himself. He counselled Carr to plead the 'homosexual panic defence' of 'provocation,' casting David Kammerer as a stereotyped 'predatory older male homosexual' after police discovered the body and Carr was brought to trial.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Half-off Outside the Lines?

If anyone wants to purchase a copy of Outside the Lines: Talking with Contemporary Gay Poets for half-price, just email me at Christopher.Hennessy at gmail dot com with your address.  This deal won't last forever.  While supplies last. Blah blah blah....

Can you tell I hate shilling my own stuff?  But hey, a deal's a deal.  I'm going to buy a copy for my mailman, my barber and my cat groomer. ;-)

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Sunday, November 08, 2009

Gay anthology


First annual anthology of all 38 poets published in the first six issues of the gay men¹s quarterly GANYMEDE

172 pages, 6x9² perfect-bound paperback book, illustrated throughout with thematic photos

Purchase link, details, sample pages:

"...an innovative, nearly overwhelming new player among poetry

"There is more queer life between these covers than in virtually any gay
novel..."--Top British gay poet GREGORY WOODS in Chroma

"First in a promised series of annual collections, this strong debut sets a
high bar of quality."--Rainbow Reviews

POETS: David Ayllon, David Bergman, Bryan Borland, Brian Brown, Brandon Lacy
Campos, C.P. Cavafy, Matt Cogswell, Sean Patrick Conlon, Steven Cordova, Ron
Curlee, Jase Donaldson, Edward Field, Christopher Gaskins, R.J. Gibson, R.
Nemo Hill, Matthew Hittinger, Walter Holland, Lee Houk, Jee Leong Koh, Matt
Loney, Jeff Mann, Dug McDowell, Mark Milazzo, Stephen Mills, Michael
Montlack, Robert Kulovec Müller, James Newborg, Eric Norris, Sergio Ortiz,
Jon Rentler, Gregg Shapiro, Christopher Steven Soden, John Stahle, Matthew
Stradling, P. Viktor, Ocean Vuong, Cyril Wong, Zhuang Yisa

CURRENT ISSUE: Ganymede #5
Edmund White, Oscar Wilde, Glenway Wescott, Paris at the birth of
photography, 10 poets and 8 gay artists featured from around the world

Thursday, November 05, 2009

'Gertrude Stein with a hard-on'

Coincidentally, I just bought a Douglas Martin book (my third by him) when I ran across this brief, funnny interview.  Leave it to Wayne Koestenbaum to come up with such a line!

Q: For our readers who may not be familiar with your work, what's the most accurate thing someone else has said about it?
DM: Once when I read with Wayne Koestenbaum, he said it was "like Gertrude Stein with a hard-on." I think that was pretty true.

Read the rest!

Here's a review from the Boston Globe re: his latest:
. . . a dark and dreamlike (self-)portrayal of the sexual coming of age of a boy acutely aware that he doesn't fit the roughneck masculine mold into which his Southern military hometown forces its sons. . . Its feverish self-portrait seizes center stage.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Two conversations, a review, and more

 So many links to tell you about! And I have a whole crapload saved up for when I get some time.
Danger by Desire: A Conversation between Jericho Brown & James Allen Hall
and Eshuneutics gives us his take on the interview.
 “Divas are also quite unapologetically talented...They mean for their very presence to make people cry, just as the poet must mean for his or her poems to make readers fully feel an emotion.

That is a wonderful example of the Mother speaking from within the man— a revelation of the alignment between the Diva and the gay poet who is open to the liberating voice of his Anima. Jericho Brown closes the interview by recognising the medial nature of his next manuscript and describes his present life as

“…the Wood Between the Worlds”…

In other words a world that saps the power of the witch-mother (The White Witch in Narnia) yet advances passivity and waiting. This implies, as with James Hall, a future shifting within the Mother paradigm. Hopefully, this will be towards the pole of the Amazon, ARTemis, a state that allows the self to support, yet stand-back from creation, to explore points of involvement in life and art. 
Gregory Woods (author of seminal texts on gay poetry) reviewed a new collection of gay poetry culled form the first several issues of the journal Ganymede.
So what impresses me here, before we even begin on the content, is the quality of the verse. Christopher Gaskins, for instance, impresses me not so much for what he says as by the way he says it in lean, sinewy, unsentimental free verse. The same might be said of Matthew Hittinger’s syllabics and Jee Leong Koh’s disciplined, rhyming quatrains. And there are always individual lines to take one’s fancy: I did enjoy this sentence from R.J. Gibson’s ‘On Main Street’: ‘Like some classist / prat in a Forster novel with a boner for the help, you want a little trade’.
From the Harriet blog -- Human. Animal. Gay. Straight. Poetry: CA Conrad interviewed by Eileen Myles
EM: Yeah, well, queer people need to transport themselves to survive, and like anything getting transported, it eventually gets caught, seen. I think we do what we do in our work to subvert that capture. But yours just saves my life, your excess. I think about when somebody asked Bob Creeley how he became a poet, he said, “Well, one night in college I found myself on some other street, and I decided to spend my life there.” You began your life there: CAConrad, “whose childhood included selling cut flowers along the highway for his mother and helping her shoplift.” Those facts of your existence change the story so radically, you know. What Blake was to the 19th century, you’re being to the 21st. Kind of an outsider shaking his fist at capitalism and the ludicrousness of it by examining its smallest unit, which is an individual, or the family. Does that resonate for you at all?

CA: Well, it’s humbling to hear that from you.
Bidart returns to Bakersfield.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Poets pick their poison

Ok, this is friggin' hysterical.  Those guys over at HTMLGIANT are off the hizook!

 The post starts out with...
“Wystan Hugh Auden took the martini seriously,” wrote Rosie Schaap for the Poetry Foundation a few weeks ago. Yeah! That’s an Auden I can get behind! The kind who would write, “We must drink a lot of gin or die,” and then later change it to “We must drink a lot of gin and die,” before finally settling on, “This guy right here…this guy’s…YOU DON’T KNOW ME, YOU DON’T EVEN”

 And then it goes on to talk about what other poets would choose for their drink of choice.  This one's hilarious, below.  Check out the others.

Adrienne Rich: Do you actually want a martini, or have you just been conditioned by the American media and culture to want one? Maybe you want a whiskey sour! (You don’t.) Rich ruminates about compulsory martiniality for a while, but eventually gives a recipe that involves name-brand chocolate liqueur and flavored vodka. It is kind of “girly,” and she is just waiting for you to say that. She is standing with her arms folded, just waiting for you to talk shit about her. Don’t do it. She will fuck you up.

Friday, October 16, 2009

50 Gay And Lesbian Books Everybody Must Read

These kinds of things always make me want to make my very own list...but I'm that not well read...alas...it would be all poetry.

Says Carol Guess over at her blog: "50 Gay And Lesbian Books Everybody Must Read is a new anthology from Alyson Books, edited by  Richard Canning. It's a fantastic, unique collection, not focused on canonical works, but on overlooked and unusual texts. Each essay is written by a writer, editor, or publisher, describing their reaction to a text that made a difference for them."

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Wilde Boys!

In New York City, there's a elite salon for gay poets who meet under the cloak of darkness to cook up nefarious plots of world domination.  Well, okay, that might be stretching it.  I can never make their meetings (being often somewhere between Western Mass. and Boston), but I love to live vicariously through hearing about their meetings from the group's creator, Alex Dimitrov.  I thought it perfectly necessary that this blog interview Alex, and what follows is our brief,  but I hope interesting, conversation.  Enjoy!

Christopher Hennessy: For the non-elect, what is this awesome group you've gathered?

Alex Dimotrov: Wilde Boys is a queer poetry salon for beautiful boys who write and appreciate beautiful poems. We meet monthly at each others’ apartments in Manhattan and Brooklyn. Some of the boys are pursuing their MFAs in poetry at NYU, Columbia, Sarah Lawrence, New School, and Rutgers; while others teach, or work in publishing. It’s a mix of established and emerging queer poets, and what fuels our discussions is our obsession with poetry, which is queer enough as it is.

CH: What prompted you to start the group?

AD: This past February I was in Chicago for AWP and I ended up hanging out with a group of incredibly engaged and talented queer poets all weekend.

CH: How did I miss this!? I was there....oh, yeah, hiding in my room.... Go on.

AD: When I left, I remember thinking, “There’s no reason why we can’t get together like this more often…” I talked to David Groff about it over coffee one day, and also to Scott Hightower, and they both told me about the Pink Poets, who used to meet in New York in the 90s. I was inspired, I had a lot of energy and hope for a similar group, and three months after AWP, in May, the first Wilde Boys salon was held in the West Village, at the poet Tom Healy’s apartment. I was happy that poets I really admire, like Mark Bibbins and Jason Schneiderman, ended up coming, and have continued to attend regularly.

CH: Throw out some names of poets and books you all discuss.

AD: So far we’ve discussed poems, interviews (from your book!), and essays by Hart Crane, Thom Gunn, D.A. Powell, Reginald Shepherd, Henri Cole, and James Merrill, among others.  In the next few months we'll be reading Mark Doty, Richard Howard, John Ashbery, and Carl Phillips, to name a few. Everyone in the salon is encouraged to suggest readings.

CH: What's the atmosphere like? In my head I picture everything from giggling to poetry recitation to spirited arguments.

AD: The atmosphere is playful and witty—and we’re very prone to gossip, naturally. We go on many tangents, most of which I probably shouldn’t go into detail about. And of course, we get into serious disagreements at times, which is also when we take a break to refill our drinks.

CH: Can you describe a particularly engaging salon you've had so far?

AD: In July, we read Reginald Shepherd’s polemical essay, “The Other’s Other: Against Identity Poetry.” In that essay Reginald challenges the idea of "black" and "gay" poetics, or that any such schools could possibly define him and his work. This raised a lot of issues for our salon....

CH: Which leads me to our next quesiton.... If there's an arc you'd like the salon to have -- e.g., the exploration of a particular unified concept, if that makes sense -- how would you articulate that?

AD: Partly it’s that age-old negotiation between identity and art making. In some ways it’s interesting to ask the simple question -- what is it really that brings us together? Poetry? Queerness? Queer poetry, if there is such a thing? And then, what keeps us coming back? Queerness frames itself against the status quo, but it too can get boring and incredibly didactic. It’s limited, like how theory is limited. The imagination is more powerful than queerness, or any idea of queerness—and I say that without the intention to erase a queer history or negate the importance and reality of social struggle. I do think that being queer may be, like many other things, a gateway to the imagination. And there’s a lot of invention and artifice to queerness, but at the end of the day it doesn’t allow us to transcend or achieve the kind of freedom that the imagination allows for. And one of the reasons may be because the imagination is based on the logic of illogic, Lorca's duende.  I think that’s what Reginald was getting at in his essay, and like him, I would hate to be understood by the culture simply as a queer poet (assuming the culture cares at all). That's not very powerful, or interesting. This issue of personal identity and its relation to artistic production seems both endlessly frustrating and engaging at the same time. That’s one way to understand why we continue to meet, or why we began meeting in the first place.

CH: What am I forgetting to ask?

AD: Boxers or briefs? And I wouldn’t know the answer to that.  We do keep our clothes on—at least during the salon.

CH: Well, that's a good tease of a note to end on! Maybe next time we can talk about why gays poets are such teases?

Friday, October 09, 2009

duck, duck....goose!

from the bookofum blog:

Gender Blender: Straddling the sexes can be a bitch. Designing the margin of feasible bodies: An article on truths and binary oppositions in the construction of sexes-genders-sexualities. A review of Between XX and XY: Intersexuality and the Myth of Two Sexes by Gerald N. Callahan (and more and more and more and more). Bourgeois society's reduction of sexuality to the logic of (re)production results in a series of rigid dichotomies; Marcel Stoetzler rejects sexual dimorphism and the gay/straight split to imagine a sexuality that is free to recreate itself. Top scientists get to the bottom of gay male sex role preferences. A look at why lesbians are the butt of gay men's jokes.

MORE on sex and gender and trans issues HERE.