Browsing: The Mother Country

November – December, 2011

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GENNADY TRIFONOV, a gay Russian poet and writer, died in March 2011 at age 65. I came to know him after he was released from a four-year term in a Siberian prison where he had been incarcerated for being openly gay, …

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THIS OCTOBER marked the fiftieth anniversary of artist Don Bachardy’s one-man debut at the prestigious Redfern Gallery in London in 1961. It was in the cramped, closely hung confines of a basement gallery that the 27-year-old Bachardy exhibited much of the work he had completed that year, notably a series of celebrity portraits.

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NEVER PUBLISHED during her lifetime, To Do is an abecedarian book with as much child appeal as an Edward Gorey ‘A is for …’ book. This was actually [Gertrude] Stein’s second book written for children.

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Takes on news of the day.

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POETS WRITING literary criticism do so to generate income, to communicate aesthetic values to the public, and to build an audience for their imaginative work. Would readers of the 1950’s and 60’s have paid much attention to Randall Jarrell the poet if he hadn’t been a sharp-witted and engaging critic? Probably not. As for W.H. Auden, I can offer some personal testimony from nearly four decades ago.

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Mitko by Garth Greenwell
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THE RESTROOMS at Bulgaria’s National Palace of Culture had just one use—and it wasn’t to relieve oneself. So when the American teacher descended the stairs and was captured by a hushed voice, he knew full well what was going to happen. The young man was tall and thin with a “close-cropped military cut of hair so popular among young men … a hyper-masculine style” and he seemed a little bad-boy dangerous. He couldn’t speak English well and the American could only grasp a few words of Bulgarian …

Mitko was the man’s name …

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AS a university professor in Japan and a dabbler in its gay history, I must admit a certain fascination with the institution known as “nanshoku.” Literally “male colors,” nanshoku describes a wide range of Japanese same-sex relationships from ancient times up until the end of the 1860’s.

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IN NOVEMBER, 1910, a small but important art show opened in the Grafton Galleries in London. Titled Manet and the Post-Impressionists, the show was curated by Roger Fry, a member of the Bloomsbury group, a painter, art critic, and at different times the lover of Duncan Grant and Vanessa Bell. This was one of the earliest shows in London dedicated to Impressionist and Post-Impressionist French art.

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The Queer Art of Failure by Judith Halberstam
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FOR THOSE who are skeptical of a gay rights movement that aspires only to enable GLBT individuals to join the cultural mainstream, this book will seem as refreshing as water in a desert. Judith Halberstam looks at a variety of media to find ‘queer’ subtexts that undermine a mainstream conception of personal success as based on heterosexual marriage, childbearing, and the accumulation of property.

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