by James Cihlar
University of New Mexico Press. 73 pages, $18.95
JAMES CIHLAR’S POEMS in this volume traffic in something of a stereotype: gay men’s obsession with old movies, especially female screen legends of Hollywood’s Golden Age. They do so with great verve and intelligence, however, and a welcome lack of camp or cant. The particular object of Cihlar’s devotion in The Shadowgraph is the indomitable Barbara Stanwyck, star of more than 85 movies.
It’s easy to see why gay men identify with Stanwyck heroines who bristle at and are stifled by the ho-hum middle-class pieties of postwar suburban America (Crime of Passion, Clash By Night, among others). She straddles social norms, embodying dualities that are familiar to many gay men, especially older ones.