Browsing: It's the Poetry Issue

September – October, 2005

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… The Five Books of Moses Lapinsky is a fully engaging, compulsively readable stroll-sometimes a race-through the mean streets of Depression-era Toronto with the Lapinsky brothers. …

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… That was the beginning of our friendship. Our conversations were few and never about poetry, but I was also reading his work and became intrigued by his use of meter and rhyme. In an era of beat poetry and language poetry and abstract poetry that I couldn’t grasp, Gunn both challenged and comforted me with his formalism. He also excited me with his imagination …

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PAUL ROBINSON states at the beginning of Queer Wars that “the emergence of gay conservatism as a political and intellectual force is arguably the most important new development in the gay world.” It’s an ambitious claim, and one that would be hard to sustain with reference to today’s political organizations. …

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WHEN EILEEN MYLES speaks of “unwriting” herself, she means letting go of socially imposed elements of her identity and behavior in order to clear a space where she can live in the world on her own terms. Her work not only joyfully and unapologetically proclaims her own authenticity, but also strives to claim a place for this authentic being in the public sphere. She celebrates her unique perspective as a woman, a lesbian, and a child of the working class …

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THIS IS a gripping memoir by a man who spent his early life trying to be “the best little boy in the world.” It’s a quest that seems to be common for many gay boys growing up; it’s just that the path taken by Rich Merritt to be the best was a bit more extreme than the one that most boys, gay or straight, pursue. But so was his Christian fundamentalist education …

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… If poetry anthologies are any indication of what various segments of society are thinking about at a given moment in time, gay anthologies show not only the importance of rendering visible a love continually at risk. They also trace an arc of how our concept of gay love has changed over time. The first gay male poetry anthologies, which began appearing with the 1973 publication of The Male Muse followed by Angels of the Lyre (1975) and Orgasms of Light (1977), contain many poems that show gay men’s search for an identity. …

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… Although quite enjoyable, the books are a product of their time, and the reader is transported to the early 1970’s with references to hippies, love-ins, the fuzz (the police), phonograph records, bellbottom dungarees, young people whose motto was “never trust anybody over thirty,” and electric typewriters. …

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Three young poets who have published their first books of poetry in the last year participated in a “virtual panel,” moderated via e-mail, in early summer. In it, they tackled such slippery questions as whether there’s a “gay æsthetic” and the limits of sexual explicitness in contemporary poetry. The panelists included the following:

Jason Schneiderman … Richard Siken … [and] Aaron Smith.

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NEAR THE END of Gus Van Sant’s 1991 film My Own Private Idaho, Scott Favor, played by a young Keanu Reeves, looks out from a limousine window to see his friend Mike Waters, played by River Phoenix, asleep on a sidewalk. The scene represents a significant plot shift in the film: …

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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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