The first time I saw My Best Friend’s Wedding I was dismayed. At eight or nine, I had discovered the 1997 film among my maternal grandparents’ small, seemingly random VHS collection and then settled down for the evening to watch Julia Roberts scheme her way back into old flame Dermot Mulroney’s roguishly handsome heart. What could be better? (more…)
Amy Scholder knows a thing or two about the transgressive. A former editor of the iconic City Lights Books and, with Ira Silverberg, the imprint High Risk Books, which was devoted to subversive writing, she’s now the Editorial Director and fearless leader at The Feminist Press, publisher of last year’s Lambda Literary Award-winning Zipper Mouth and Tango: My Childhood, Backwards and in High Heels. Last month, The Feminist Press released the e-book Pussy Riot! A Punk Prayer for Freedom, compiling the lyrics, letters, legal statements and poems of the jailed members of the Russian feminist punk collective, with a portion of the proceeds dedicated to Pussy Riot’s legal defense fees. In addition to preserving an important historical moment for posterity, the book is a rigorous and intelligent read not to be missed. Below, Scholder answers some of Lambda Literary’s questions about freedom, Pussy Riot, and putting the collection together. (more…)
New Yorkers have a lot to look forward to in October: leather weather (finally!), oversized sweaters, some of the most inventive and intricate Halloween costumes in the world–and, of course, since 2007, the Academy of American Poets’ annual Poets Forum. Poets Forum is a celebration and examination of the form, where some of the sharpest and most exciting voices in American poetry gather to share their work and discuss their processes. Here’s ten reasons (of many) not to miss this year’s:
10. Poets Forum is queer. With three queer chancellors (Mark Doty, Marilyn Hacker, and Carl Phillips) and a lesbian Executive Director , the Academy has a great record of honoring the long tradition of the queer poet. Also on panels or leading tours this year are Mark Bibbins, Randall Mann, Dante Micheaux, Brenda Shaughnessy, and Stacy Szymaszek.
9. Poetry is awesome. There’s plenty of opportunity to nerd out (and learn) in panels on “Poetry in the Age of Social Media” and “The Anxiety of Audience: Who We Write For, Real & Imagined.”
8. Poets are friendly. Like any gathering where the likeminded come together to celebrate literature, Poets Forum offers a great opportunity to reconnect with friends (Facebook or otherwise) and make new ones.
6. To whet your appetite, a free download of the Chancellors reading at the inaugural Poets Forum.
5. Elizabeth Alexander will be speaking on Lucille Clifton. I can’t wait! With Clifton’s collected poems newly available, Alexander’s insight into her work is sure to offer an equally fresh perspective.
4. Plus, Marilyn Hacker and Sharon Olds on “The Poetry and Legacy of Adrienne Rich.” Who better to remember the iconic lesbian poet, who passed away earlier this year?
3. Speaking of Sharon Olds…her explanation of line in this video from last year’s Forum. You simply must watch, because nothing I could write could do her justice.
2. It’s inspiring. Forgive me for sounding saccharine–but it’s true. Each year the panels, lectures, and readings at Poets Forum surprise me, make me think in new ways, and get me writing (always a welcome gift).
1. The Chancellors Reading is one of the best readings of the year. On October 18, you have the chance to hear fifteen of the most esteemed, groundbreaking, and beloved poets in the country read their work together on a single stage. Even–and especially–if you don’t make it to many readings, this is one you should be sure not to miss.
Early last Friday evening, friends and fans of Allen Ginsberg gathered at the Rubin Museum of Art to celebrate the digital re-release of Ginsberg’s four-disc 1994 album Holy Soul Jelly Soul, co-sponsored by the Rubin, The Allen Ginsberg Estate, and Origin Magazine. Following a cocktail hour downstairs at the K2 Lounge, the crowd re-assembled on the sixth floor at the top of the museum’s breathtaking spiral staircase to hear poets deliver readings of Ginsberg’s extraordinary work, as well as their own poems. (more…)
This Friday, The Allen Ginsberg Estate and Origin Magazine are joining forces to throw a party in Ginsberg’s honor at the elegant Rubin Museum of Art in New York City. If Ginsberg in the Galleries turns out to be even half as fabulous as I expect it to, they’ll have done the legendary gay Beat poet proud.
The occasion? The digital re-release of Ginsberg’s Holy Soul Jelly Roll: Poems & Songs–the four-disc, music-and-spoken-word patchwork opus that Ginsberg worked on with a myriad of collaborators including Bob Dylan, David Amram, the Clash, and producing wizard Hal Willner. Featuring readings of some of Ginsberg’s most celebrated poems–like “Sunflower Sutra” and “Kaddish”–as well as a number of lesser known gems and innovative musical pairings, the collection chronicles four different periods in the poet’s life and work: Moloch!, Caw! Caw!, Ah!, and Ashes & Blues. (more…)
“I am personally interested in exploring the possibilities of poetry—to counter rhetoric, reinvigorate language, and uplift the material of the everyday.”
Jennifer Benka, the new Executive Director of the Academy of American Poets, is queer, political, and has pretty awesome taste in music. Having served as Managing Director of Poets & Writers for almost a decade and, most recently, as the National Director of Development and Marketing for 826 National, she’s also an accomplished writer in her own right. She holds a BA in Journalism from Marquette University, an MFA in Creative Writing-Poetry from The New School, and is the author of two books of poetry: Pinko (Hanging Loose Press) and A Box of Longing With Fifty Drawers (Soft Skull Press). Lambda Literary had the chance to ask her some questions just after her official start at the Academy.
Despite its name, Liberty Hall—an event space in the basement of the swanky Ace Hotel (which the Hotel website advertises is ideal for “corporate meetings,” among other things)—seemed like something of a strange location for last night’s reading in support of the three jailed members of Russian feminist punk collective Pussy Riot, whose current trial has captured international attention. Among the Hotel’s typical clientele (who were carrying on business as usual in the bar upstairs) it’s unusual to spot a riot grrrl or radical faerie—but yesterday there were plenty in attendance, when at least 200 feminists, queers, and other artist-activists gathered in Liberty Hall to hear Pussy Riot’s lyrics, poetry, letters, and trial statements read aloud in solidarity.
The evening’s long program featured an impressive list of readers, including Eileen Myles, Justin Vivian Bond, performance artist Karen Finley, musician Johanna Fateman (of Le Tigre fame), and actress Chloë Sevigny. (more…)
There’s a line in the fifth poem of Sophia Le Fraga’s new chapbook I DON’T WANT ANYTHING TO DO WITH THE INTERNET (Keep This Bag Away From Children) that can be interpreted not just as a command to her reader, but as a mission statement for the project: “save yourself on a computer/ and zoom in on a stranger.”
Incorporating phrases lifted from other people’s emails, tweets, text messages, and Facebook posts, I DON’T WANT ANYTHING is composed almost entirely of appropriated text gathered in the span of 24 hours. On June 20, the day we published Le Fraga’s poem “one-way glass” in the Lambda Literary Review, she announced her plan to write poems for anyone who tweeted, emailed, commented, or otherwise reached out to her through the following day. (more…)
Last Tuesday night at the Gagosian Gallery in New York City, Ginsberg Recordings—a new collaboration of the Allen Ginsberg Estate and music management company Esther Creative Group—announced its plan to release Ginsberg’s entire recorded library over the next two years. With the reissue of the famed collection to which Bob Dylan contributed, Holy Soul Jelly Roll, set to drop in mid-September, Ginsberg Recordings intends to put out a digital release accompanied by the original liner notes every few months. (more…)
Anne Sexton was a beautiful woman—a fact we rarely neglect when we talk about the iconic confessional poet today. Appropriately, Maxine Kumin opens her 1981 foreword to The Complete Poems by remarking on her close friend’s appearance: (more…)