The love of poetry comes early. We learn language most readily in the sing-song meter of rhyme and scan. Poetry sings to us, our child selves, and we suck it in, unknowingly ravenous, like it’s a sweet we’ve suddenly been allowed when we’ve been deprived before. Our young brains embrace the order of synchronous sound, of vowels that widen our mouths, of diphthongs that roll across our tongues, of consonants that erupt from the backs of our throats. We intuit our own newly born etymologies. (more…)
University of Minnesota Press is reporting that José Esteban Muñoz, an author and academic in the fields of queer theory and cultural studies, has died. Muñoz died on Wednesday, December 4th in New York City. He was 46 years old. Cause of death has yet to be released.
Muñoz was a professor and former Chair of the Department of Performance Studies at New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts, as well as the author and editor of several books that grappled with issues of race, gender, and sexuality including Cruising Utopia: The Politics and Performance of Queer Futurity and Disidentifications: Queers of Color and the Performance of Politics.
The New York Times wrote a sharp, seething, unpleasant four-page screed of an obituary about her that was both shocking and unsurprising. The piece reminded me of how much Lessing was loathed by many because her ideas were so strong, her vision so demanding, the inability to pigeonhole her maddening and misogyny still so rampant. Those of us who loved her work were often taken to task for it–much as the Nobel Committee itself was for choosing her in 2007. (The gay literary critic, Harold Bloom, said of her winning, “Although Ms. Lessing at the beginning of her writing career had a few admirable qualities, I find her work for the past 15 years quite unreadable–fourth-rate science fiction.”) (more…)
John Mitzel, owner of one of the country’s last LGBT bookstores, Boston’s Calamus Bookstore, has died. Mitzel died at home in Arlington, MA during the early morning of October 4th from complications resulting from an earlier cancer treatment. (more…)
Taylor Mead, actor, Beat poet, performance artist, queer, died in Colorado on May 9th. Maybe in Denver, maybe not. Probably of a massive stroke. He had planned to return to New York where he had spent a flaming, fabulous youth. He was 88. (more…)
Whenever a former head of state dies, the revisionist history begins. It began with startling immediacy after Margaret Thatcher’s passing on April 8. The 87-year-old former Prime Minister was the longest serving PM of the 20th century and the first and only woman elected PM in the nation with the longest-serving female monarch in the world. She died from a stroke after having suffered from dementia for years as chronicled in John Campbell’s book, The Iron Lady: Margaret Thatcher, from Grocer’s Daughter to Prime Minister (and portrayed with Oscar-winning sincerity by Meryl Streep in the film version). (more…)
Award-winning novelist and screenwriter Ruth Prawer Jhabvala died April 3 in New York from complications of pulmonary disease. She was 85. (more…)
American ex-pat, writer, and critic Donald Richie, author of the memoir The Japan Journals, 1947-2004 and The Japanese Film: Art and Industry, an expansive English-language book on Japanese movies co-written with critic Joseph L. Anderson, died on Tuesday, February 19th, 2013 in Toyko. He was 88. (more…)
It had been many years since I had heard the name Julia Penelope. Yet there was a time when her name was as common for me as those of Adrienne Rich, Mary Daly, Audre Lorde, Andrea Dworkin–lesbian theorists whose essays on lesbian-feminist theory helped mold my young lesbian mind into revolutionary lesbian thought and ideas. Thus when I learned that she had died on Jan. 19 at the age of 71, I was saddened–as much by her death as by the fact I hadn’t thought of her in years. I went down to my library to pull some of her books from the shelf and found that each of them was heavily underlined, with notes in the margins. (more…)