April 18, 2014

Watch the Trailer for the Second Season of ‘Orange is the New Black’

Posted on April 17, 2014 by in Videos & Trailers

Get ready to return to Litchfield prison. The trailer for the second season of the series Orange is the New Black was released this week, and things are looking particularly severe for the inmates this season.

Based on the bestselling memoir by Piper Kerman, the entire season will be released June 6 on Netflix.

Matt Cresswell: A Look at Glitterwolf Magazine

Posted on April 15, 2014 by in Features, Interviews

Have you checked out Glitterwolf Magazine yet? If not, you should. Glitterwolf Magazine is a new well-curated, well-designed, UK-based literary and arts magazine that “publishes poetry, fiction, art and photography by contributors identifying as lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender.”

Glitterwolf editor Matt Cresswell took some time to talk with Lambda about starting the magazine, aesthetics, and what constitutes queer writing.

What was the impetus for starting Glitterwolf?

Pure nostalgia. I’d been out in the real world wage-slaving for a few years, and the sense of writer’s community I’d experienced while studying Creative Writing at university seemed a very long way away. So three months into a global recession, I thought, “A-ha! Small press literary magazine is a great business model!”

As for why an LGBT magazine: partly because that was my little corner of fiction; I’d read and written in that area, and I knew other people writing in that area, and there was a wealth of great but largely ignored stuff. No one really standing up and shouting about it—especially in the UK, where Chroma had just closed its doors.

What challenges did you face when starting the journal? How did you meet those challenges?

Starting up, the biggest challenge was simply having to feel blindly around to produce this grand idea. I’d worked as an editor and a graphic designer before, and I’ve read countless literary magazines, so I had deliriously expected that I had the full necessary skillset, but as with anything, there’s a lot of learning along the way.

After that, there was just simply being heard—especially before anything was published, and we were seeking the first round of submissions. I had this terror of having to compile an issue from two short stories, a couple of poems and a stick drawing.

Of course, once we had been heard, I found myself tangled up in complaints from lots of people online about the editorial policy of ‘LGBT contributors only’—lots of claims of discrimination, generally from, to be honest, straight white males. I can see the logic of their arguments, but at that point the whole enterprise felt in danger of wobbling and collapsing in the face of it. I had to remind myself that there was a reason I was championing LGBT writers and artists, and stick to my guns.

Did you have an audience or readership in mind when you decided to pull it all together?

No—all I had in my head was to make the magazine into a stage for talented creatives, I hadn’t considered who’d actually come through to doors to sit down and watch. I didn’t want it to be explicitly for a gay audience, I wanted to feature things that could appeal universally. Of course, we would still be a good home for fiction, poetry or art with gay characters or themes, but not every LGBT person is just queer, and so I didn’t want the magazine to be either.

In terms of aesthetics and craft, what kind of work were you looking to be included in Glitterwolf?

I look for two things in anything that’s submitted. Heart and feeling, and self-awareness. I get so, so many stories that are the same thing every time: horny man in a dingy, depressing gay bar. Meaningless hook-up. Probably some drugs involved. It’ll all be very hollow.

And when I read them I think, I bet the writer thinks he’s making a statement about gay life. So many writers seem to be wanting to suck out the spark in order to be considered ‘meaningful’—it’s starting to feel a bit like writing for the literary establishment. I will nearly always steer clear of that. Don’t get me wrong: stories can be serious, stories can be literary, but that doesn’t mean that all heart and emotion has to be pulled out, and I look for anything that flies in the face of that, because stories—and poetry, and art—can be magical, and emotional, and shocking, and sad, and they can do all of them at once, and the same can be said of gay life.

I sense a little bit of well-crafted irreverence–a sly mixing of sincerity and irony. Would you say that this is the kind of work that speaks to you.

Glitterwolf

Glitterwolf Magazine

Absolutely. I like nothing more than literature gives you a bit of a nod and a wink. That’s what that feeling of ‘self-awareness’ in a story comes down to actually—that idea that whoever has crafted this knows what game they’re playing, knows you probably know it too, and so can tip the balance. The first three issues of Glitterwolf featured the poet Chris Black, who I think pretty much sums this aesthetic up. He can tip you from a cock joke to Shakespearean lyricism in a few lines, or he can use a cock joke to be incredibly sentimental and bring you to tears. I think that sort of thing appeals to me because, mostly, that’s actually what life is like, and a lot of literature seems concerned with bundling the experience into one narrow genre or style at once.

You are based in the United Kingdom and I am sure you get a lot of international submissions. What are some of the commonalities and differences you found in the global queer writing community? How is the work similar or different depending on the locale of the writer (i.e. London-based writers versus say Portland-based writers).

It’s fascinating, actually, because I so rarely pay attention to their origin as I’m writing, and it so rarely makes itself noticed. I think it probably says a lot about the “queer experience” that there is that much commonality. There’s a lot of the themes I think you’d expect, being felt and told as stories everywhere. The outsider. The links between “queer weird” and actual “fantastical weird.”  What I am starting to see turning up a lot is stories addressing the building of families, slotting together LGBT family units as things like gay marriage and family become more integral to our lives, and having to negotiate new versions of traditional ideas. But between the UK and US? Well… we seem to be a lot more scared of writing sex scenes in the UK, but that’s about it!

There has been a lot of talk over the last couple of years about what constitutes “queer” writing. Is it style? Is it content? I wanted to know your thoughts on what constitutes queer writing and how does that personal philosophy inform the work you publish in Glitterwolf?

My god… this is an answer that could go on and on.

Superficially, there’s your fiction that makes an effort to deal with, or give exposure to, gay characters, gay relationships, gay concerns, and there’s definitely a need for that, and always will be until the time that ‘queer fiction’ is just ‘fiction’, because it’s still often some way left of mainstream. But as I mentioned, Glitterwolf publishes fiction that isn’t superficially gay, and I think there is still a marked difference in those stories that, if you were wise, you could pick out as ‘queer fiction’ without knowing.

I think queer writers make excellent storytellers because we’re so used to observing the mechanics of people and second-guessing their actions and motivations, and you can see—or feel—that perspective of the outsider even when there isn’t a gay character in sight. And then, we also have speculative fiction stories that seems to gel incredibly well with LGBT characters. It’s the sense of finding something beautiful in what some see as weird and monstrous, I don’t think the monsters in the closet feel like a big step for queer readers.

Overall, though, it nearly always feel like queer writing is for itself, for the actual purpose of just creating something, unlike much ‘mainstream’ writing that can feel like it’s writing for the establishment, for respect, for status.

Glitterwolf looks spectacular. Can you tell me a little bit about what goes into the design of each issue?

Mostly simplicity and deadline panic…! I always just try and stick to ‘keep it simple’ in terms of design. It’s very kind of you to describe it as spectacular, and I think that mostly comes down to the strength of the photography that graces the cover and the interior, which is almost entirely out of my hands. Glitterwolf is lucky to have a talented photographer who lets me bully him, Thom Vollans, who for three issues running now has produced me some excellent cover photography that somehow seems to completely capture whatever I set him as a brief. I don’t know how he does it. The man’s the devil. The third issue (and collected edition) actually features myself, painted up as a skeleton, which despite the sunny look was photographed in the freezing cold. I wonder how many other lit mag editors can say they’ve suffered for their art quite like that?

What advice would you give anyone who is looking to start a literary journal?

  1. Have a clear image of what kind of magazine you want to create, and stick to it.
  2. Don’t feel embarrassed to shout about your magazine at every opportunity and in every venue you can—and talk to as many people as you can, especially the wonderful people behind lots of the other literary magazines and small presses that are around.
  3. Proof-read. That one’s really important.

 

Photo courtesy of Matt Cresswell

The Year of James Baldwin: A City-Wide Celebration of James Baldwin

Posted on April 10, 2014 by in Events

This month, a consortium of cultural organizations is hosting a series of New York City wide events celebrating the work of James Baldwin. (more…)

Read an Excerpt from James Baldwin’s ‘Jimmy’s Blues and Other Poems’

Posted on April 4, 2014 by in Excerpts, Features

In celebration of National Poetry Month, The Lambda Literary Review is excited to share an excerpt from writer James Baldwin’s recently reprinted poetry collection Jimmy’s Blues and Other Poems. The updated collection, released this month by Beacon Press, explores race, sex, and love filtered through Baldwin’s impassioned lyricism. (more…)

The Poets: Showcasing Lambda’s Poetry Nominees

Posted on March 29, 2014 by in Features, News

Kicking off National Poetry Month, The Advocate recently showcased the work of all the poets nominated for Lambda Literary Awards this year.

From The Advocate: (more…)

The Banal and the Profane: Conner Habib

Posted on February 28, 2014 by in Opinion

“A parking ticket in the morning always feels portentous. Is this going to be a ‘bad day?’ or, since it’s Monday, a bad week? As if there were such a thing. I eat good food, I hang out with friends. But a parking ticket is the flash of a hex.”

“The Banal and the Profane” is a monthly Lambda Literary column in which we lift the veil on both the writerly life and the publishing industry. In each installment, we ask a different LGBT writer, or LGBT person of interest in the book industry, to guide us through a week in their lives.

This month’s “Banal and Profane” column comes to us from writer Conner Habib. (more…)

Watch the Trailer for the Screen Adaptation of Larry Duplechan’s novel ‘Blackbird’

Posted on February 13, 2014 by in Videos & Trailers

The first trailer for filmmaker Patrik-Ian Polk’s screen adaptation of the novel Blackbird was released this week. The feature film, adapted from a novel by Lambda Literary award-winning author Larry Duplechan, centers on a charismatic young christian high school student who is grappling with his sexuality and familial tension. The film will close the Pan African Film Festival (PAFF) in Los Angeles, CA, which runs through February 17, 2014. (more…)

The Banal and the Profane: Imogen Binnie

Posted on February 9, 2014 by in The Banal & the Profane

“When I was younger I read a lot of books about how to write–or more specifically How to Be A Writer–and they were so, so bad for me. I think they set me back like ten or fifteen years as a writer; I didn’t need to find my creativity, I just needed to quit romanticizing and write.”

“The Banal and the Profane” is a monthly Lambda Literary column in which we lift the veil on both the writerly life and the publishing industry. In each installment, we ask a different LGBT writer, or LGBT person of interest in the book industry, to guide us through a week in their lives.

This month’s  “Banal and Profane” column comes to us from writer Imogen Binnie. (more…)

Reader Meet Author: Personal Advice from Poet Adam Fitzgerald

Posted on February 2, 2014 by in Features, Opinion

Do you have problems with your love life? Hate your job? Your social life lacking that certain zing? All questions can be answered through literature—or maybe at least by the people who create it. With that in mind, we here at The Lambda Literary Review have started our very own advice column called “Reader Meet Author.” Think of the column as sort of a “Dear Abby” for the LGBTQ literary set. You can send “Reader Meet Author” questions for publication to ReaderMeetAuthor@lambdaliterary.org.

Every month readers can submit questions to a chosen LGBTQ author about love, work, and life, and the author will answer them to the best of their ability.

This month’s column is handled by poet Adam Fitzgerald.

Fitzgerald is the author of The Late Parade, his debut collection of poetry from W. W. Norton’s historic Liveright imprint. A 2005 graduate of Boston College, in 2008 he received his Masters in Editorial Studies from Boston University’s Editorial Institute. In 2010, he received his MFA from Columbia University’s School of the Arts. His poems, essays and interviews have appeared in A Public SpaceBoston ReviewConjunctionsPoetry, and elsewhere. He is the founding editor of the poetry journal Maggy and contributing editor for The American Reader.

 

Dear Author,

I think my friend is addicted to Facebook. He posts something new on his page every five minutes. I mean every five minutes! If we are hanging out, he is glued to his smart phone, constantly changing and checking his status updates. I find it rude and hard to take when he can’t even be present and join an actual conversation because he is so immersed in a virtual one. Any tips to get him to step away, even momentarily, from the “book of faces”?

 Signed,

Defriended

Dear Defriended,

To quote the great Fran Lebowitz: “I have none of these machines which is what allows people to not be wherever they are, but since I don’t have them and I’m forced to be wherever I am all the time, it’s why I notice what other people are doing. Most people aren’t noticing where they are because they’re not really any place.” Even so, I plead guilty addicted as I am to my second-favorite appendage, my iPhone 5. That said, when you’re hanging out or at a dinner, having a conversation with a friend, etc.—be tyrannical. When you’re with me, you’re with me. Be loud and direct, steely and uncompromising. If the friend’s a good one, they’ll heed the rod.

Dear Author,

I have a friend who I have known since I was in my twenties. She and I were college roommates. We came out together, partied together, and just had some great youthful hijinks. We are now in our thirties and our interests have changed, or mine have at least. She still wants to go out and party and talk about pop-culture related stuff that I no longer have interest in. When I bring up politics or social issues that concern me she basically ignores me and continues to talk about pop stars and other idle gossip. Just talking to her is draining, but she is always calling me to chat and hang out like old times. I don’t have the time between work and my girlfriend to spend on a non-fulfilling friendship. I don’t want to hurt her feelings, but how do you break up with an old friend? Is there a proper etiquette for this sort of thing?

Signed,

Breaking Up Is Hard to Do

Dear Breaking Up,

When exiting a friendship, Life hath allotted two venerable, time-honored means: the Face-to-Face & the Ghost Out. The former is so 90s Real World—turgid, quite possibly operatic. The latter is our preferred, more brittle but not without its saving grace, corporate ‘phase out.’ I don’t think I need to instruct ye on how to perform the Ghost: it just means being less available over time until they get the hint. If you pick the former, I advise some ghosting as warm-up, and when/if you choose to have that fateful encounter, explain exactly why you’ve been so distant and dissatisfied. You don’t need to say it’s over, or use break-up language; that’s only asking for a shit storm. Put the ball in their court. Friendship is about more than the memory of rapport, it’s about listening to the noise of current time, its changes, both parties’ newest interests. If you feel like you have nothing more to say to this friend, or haven’t in a while, chances are you’ve already begun pulling away. Now it’s just about how surgically polite you want to be. It isn’t always cowardice to disappear, to just fade away—especially if your friend through their prattling self-absorption already did a long time ago.

Dear Author,

I am reader of a lot of heavy and dark sexual writing and movies (kinky BSDM and lots of porn-related materials). Although I enjoy the work, I find it increasingly hard to separate these fantasies from my “real” life. I worry that my deep immersion into these kinds of fictions are disrupting my attempts at real psychical intimacy. Lately, the intimate physical acts I have attempted are not as satisfying as the work I have read or watched. Is there anything you recommend to read (or do) as a mental palate cleanser?

Signed,

Fantasy vs. Reality 

Dear Fantasy,

I once had a purportedly ‘straight’ friend who I gave Genet’s Thief Journal to read. Soon after, he started trying to turn tricks at The Cock and urinate in public, one time getting so drunk he ‘marked’ out a friend’s kitchen cabinet while we were all asleep. When I confronted him about his third-rate psychotic behavior, he claimed it was my fault for giving him Genet, since after all “his imagination is so susceptible” to whatever he was reading. The only censorship I trust, and advocate, is self-censorship. Which is to say, you have to honor the psychic configuration of what you ingest—if your fantasy life is causing you to shit on your waking life, your romantic or sexual encounters, because you’ve become too trained to a different kind of fantasy, then you have two approaches: embrace this new perverse self or simply modify your diet. I advocate neither absolutely, but rather that Grecian ideal of measure—some of both. Your reading list might be more de Sade lately, but it’s a common plague: spoon-fed the robotic, cosmetic fucking of Gay Porn. I’m something of an expert myself in this department. But to each Sean Cody episode, Temperance hath provided a reprieve. Ever see those outtake, behind the scenes videos? They’re usually quite revealing: how banal, clumsy and accidental even an artificial sexual encounter in a tackily-lit Ikea porn studio can be. Take it from me, our fantasy life needs balance and rigor as much as our waistlines. Black-and-white bare shoulders can be as riveting to watch as frat house bukkake. It’s not about being puritanical, but rather cosmopolitan—challenge the insularity and narrowness of your erotic habits and high-carb masturbatory intake. But also allow yourself to share your fantasy life with others. If you want to reenact Robert Mapplethorpe’s more balletic Polaroids, I promise you’ll find plenty of receptive bull whips and blindfolds in this city, or any other.

 

Jos Charles: Making a Space for Trans* Writers

Posted on January 26, 2014 by in Features, Interviews

THEM, a journal that debuted last year, has a bold but simple statement of purpose: “THEM is a literary journal of trans* writers.”

While the journal is dedicated to publishing tran* writers, what enlivens this literary endeavor is that the well-crafted work within does not conform to any one overreaching trans* thematic through-line, but instead showcases “writing that doesn’t appeal to ‘being trans*’ as if it were one, complete narrative.”
(more…)