Browsing: It's the Poetry Issue

September – October, 2005

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THE MARTYRDOM of gay artists has become something of a cliché. Oscar Wilde, if not the first, is perhaps the most famous. But since then were Yukio Mishima, Reinaldo Arenas, and Pier Paolo Pasolini. To this list we could also add the name of the poet Jean Sénac, who’s widely believed to have been the victim of a 1973 Algerian government assassination.

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“Caution: Extremely gross and disgusting.” Are these words of warning or enticement? When that’s the disclaimer on sexually explicit gay-related material posted on right-wing websites, it’s hard to know for sure.

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“The West thinks of itself as masculine-big guns, big industry, big money-so the East is feminine-weak, delicate, poor … but good at art, and full of inscrutable wisdom-the feminine mystique … I am an Oriental. And being an Oriental, I could never be completely a man.”

– Song Linling in M Butterfly

IN THE CRITICALLY ACCLAIMED play M Butterfly, by David Henry Hwang, the main character, Song Linling, explains his ability to fool a French lieutenant into believing that he was a woman for nearly two decades, a feat based not on his mastery of deception but on the lieutenant’s inability to see him as anything other than a woman. …

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THIS THOROUGH and harrowing book gives us the information we need to assess Oscar Wilde’s place in the creation of modern Western culture and in the history of gay rights. …

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Take on news of the day.

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… Despite the absence of relevant letters and notebooks, 1903 was actually a fertile writing period for [Gertrude] Stein, who appears to have coped with the grief following her breakup with Bookstaver. She either wrote or blocked out two novellas, Q.E.D. and Fernhurst, and also wrote extensive notes for what would eventually become her massive novel, The Making of Americans …

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IN 1890, Weda Cook, a 23-year-old singer, posed for the Philadelphia artist Thomas Eakins. Cook later reflected that the painter had inspired in her “love and fear.” The same emotions haunted Eakins. Eakins Revealed, easily the most provocative book ever written about Thomas Eakins, shows how thoroughly love and fear of the body shaped Eakins’ work. …

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FILM DIRECTOR Gregg Araki was born in Los Angeles on Dec. 17, 1959. The only child of Japanese parents, he grew up in Santa Barbara, eventually earning a masters degree in film production from the USC School of Cinema/TV. He currently lives in Los Angeles. …

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