Recently, the California Department of Education released their list of recommended reading for students in grades K-12. The list, which contains over 7,800 publications, includes 32 books that are categorized as “LGBT-themed.” Though some applaud the potential for gay literature in the classroom, claiming that it will expose children to the lives of LGBT individuals, others are voicing their dissent. Among these people is Randy Thomasson, the executive director of SaveCalifornia.com, who provided the following statement to Los Angeles’ ABC 7: (more…)
“Murder is the complete annihilation of another person. Not to be simplistic or flip, but it’s the ultimate way of saying ‘I want to be alone!’—the complete opposite of any relationship between people—hatred, love, whatever”
David McConnell is a New Yorker with two novels under his belt. His new book, American Honor Killings: Desire and Rage Among Men (Akashic Books), ostensibly about men who kill gay men, contains insight after insight into the cult(ure) of masculine identity. Successful nonfiction books are an accumulation of research, experience, intellect, and intuition. When it came to talking about American Honor Killings, I wanted to somehow engage the author beyond the typical what-inspired-you-what’s-next interview, so I asked David if I could look at his bookshelves and throw some of the titles at him, to see if I could trace the chain of influence, illuminating some of the literary linkage behind this astounding text. (more…)
Poets Mark Wunderlich and Alex Dimitrov have an in-depth conversation about their new books, marriage, Madonna, and queer culture.
Mark Wunderlich’s most recent book is The Earth Avails, forthcoming from Graywolf Press in 2014. His other titles include The Anchorage, which received the Lambda Literary Award, and Voluntary Servitude, published by Graywolf. He has received fellowships from the NEA, the Massachusetts Cultural Council, Stanford University’s Wallace Stegner Program. He teaches in the graduate writing program at Columbia University, and at Bennington College in Vermont. He lives in New York’s Hudson Valley. http://markwunderlich.com.
Alex Dimitrov is the author of Begging for It (Four Way Books, 2013). His poems have appeared in the Yale Review, Kenyon Review, American Poetry Review, Slate, Tin House, and other publications. He is also the author of the echapbook, American Boys (Floating Wolf Quarterly, 2012). Dimitrov is the Content Editor at the Academy of American Poets and teaches creative writing at Rutgers University. (more…)
Toronto-based writer, musician and filmmaker Vivek Shraya’s recently published collection of short stories asks one question: What do queers love about being queer? The book began as a short documentary film, shot inside Shraya’s own living room, in which he queried a diverse range of people whose answers are more than cheerful, triumphant anecdotes—but honest personal statements that may challenge “you to think about your own queerness in ways in ways that might even make you feel a little uncomfortable.” Will Eagle of Fab Magazine continues:
Reading the variety of answers to the question “What do you love about being queer?” underscores the myriad perspective found within our communities, and this is why What I Love About Being Queer is worth picking up. We are so rarely exposed to the multitude of experiences in the wider community that it can be easy to forget just how diverse “diverse” really is.
“The media has replaced every institution”—Fran Lebowitz is always right, isn’t she? Yet even I think she could not foretell the extent of her accuracy in light of the digital age and the rise of “new media.” Those of us who participate in the LGBT bloggosphere—writers, editors, photographers, videographers, and the occasional journalist—know that while the democratization of new media in the digital age has enabled even the casual online interloper to have a voice, it has become an increasing challenge for many of us (especially for those of us who reside outside the section of the G in the LGBT umbrella) to have our voices heard, and specifically when these voices articulate non-normative, queer concerns or critiques of the capitalist (racist and misogynist) system into which we desperately stuff our pink dollars…for “acceptance.” (more…)
Christopher Bram is the author of nine novels, including the book that became the movie Gods and Monsters. His most recent book is Eminent Outlaws: The Gay Writers Who Changed America. He grew up in Virginia, where he was a paperboy and an Eagle Scout. He currently lives in New York and he teaches at the Gallatin School of New York University. Four of his novels–Surprising Myself, Hold Tight, In Memory of Angel Clare, and Gossip–will be reissued in June by Open Road.
Though established as a journalist and novelist, Collin Kelley is also a poet, and until recently, tucked poetry in the passenger seat. In The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Kelley details his writing process and the nurturing of his new collection, explaining the artistic links between himself and Virginia-born artist Sally Mann and how her work jolted his love for poetry once more:
As I was writing [Render] and the stanzas that catalogue her body of work, something kind of clicked in my head, and I was like, “You know what? I’ve kind of written about all of this stuff, in a way.” And so I went back and started looking at the poems again.
Mann’s work explores Civil War battlefields and the Body Farm (a research facility where human bodies are allowed to decompose in the open air for the sake of science) through photography and Kelley, discovering parallels between her work and his, proposed the idea of “a book of photographs in poetry,” propelling his poetic ambition with this in mind.
Supportive to the writing of others, Kelley is co-director of the Atlanta Queer Literary Festival and is deeply involved in Atlanta’s literature community. Kelly is aware that his poetry is “a calling”, a labour of love: “You’re not going to make a living off poetry. […] You do it for the art. Which is a cliché, but it’s true.” (more…)
Drawing the ire of right-wingers, California Governor Jerry Brown signed a bill requiring public schools to teach students about the contributions of LGBT-identified people. Brown said:
“History should be honest. This bill revises existing laws that prohibit discrimination in education and ensures that the important contributions of Americans from all backgrounds and walks of life are included in our history books.” [HuffingtonPost] (more…)
“Poetry serves as a place for us to renew our relationship with language, and as such, it’s always going to feel a little esoteric, a little outside of the norm in terms of what gets valued in our culture.”
Since the publication of his first book Tea in 1998, D.A. Powell has established himself as a poet whose voice is dark, yet comedic at the same time. Over the course of his career, he has never been afraid to play with language. His use of imagery and narrative is consistently imaginative and evocative, interplaying between the complex and the lighthearted aspects of human existence, from the AIDS epidemic to ideas about popular culture. He has also grown famous for breaking the boundaries of what it means to shape and arrange a poem on a page, experimenting with clever line breaks and the landscape format. Powell’s fifth and most recent collection of poetry, Useless Landscape, or A Guide for Boys (Graywolf Press, 2012), winner of the 2012 National Book Critics Circle Award for poetry, explores the lesser-known parts of California’s Central Valley and the way it intersects with and creates a conversation about the surrounding population. Powell graciously took the time to talk on the phone with me about his book and his thoughts about contemporary poetry.
Spring hints and hovers as is always the case in March, but there’s still a chill in the air, which makes it so much easier to curl up with a good mystery than start that pre-Passover, pre-Easter, pre-equinox cleaning. It has been a dreadful winter, but I spent a lot of time checking out mysteries I should have already read as well as some brand new ones. (more…)