October 20, 2014

‘A Several World’ by Brian Blanchfield

Posted on September 23, 2014 by in Poetry, Reviews

“We came in here to pretend.” So begins Brian Blanchfield’s “Open House,” a playfully serious poem about a gay couple who, in the course of a spring walk, encounter an up-market house they cannot afford. Their finances do not prevent them from running room to room as they imagine themselves making space for Hart Crane and Eileen Myles in a study or removing awful drapes from a window overlooking the bay. It’s a game couples play all the time, though the queer spin here signals other themes, namely the limits to which the American Dream is available to gay men, whose recent past consigned them to urban rentals in clogged asphalt jungles. That the game turns partially earnest (“we weren’t faking exactly”) suggests the poem’s jaunty veneer masks a darker truth: the dream is seductive—and forever out of reach. Its voice may possess a biting wit that includes references to Diaghilev and Nijinsky, Bouvard and Pecuchet, and the ironic appropriation of legal terminology and Latin phrases, but in the end he must admit he and his lover, who “blew in notional,” imagine a future that is “not us, not any more.”  (more…)

Read Peter Cameron’s Afterword for the Novel ‘Totempole’

Posted on September 23, 2014 by in Excerpts, Features

This month, NYRB Classics is re-releasing Sanford Friedman’s 1965 novel Totempole. The novel details the romantic relationship between its protagonist Stephen Wolfe and a male North Korean prisoner of war. (more…)

‘Queer and Trans Artists of Color: Stories of Some of Our Lives’ by Nia King

Posted on September 22, 2014 by in Nonfiction

In my former review of Nia King’s work, I mentioned her media presence, via her website, tumblr, and her podcasts We Want the Airwaves: QPOC Artists on the Rise, in which she interviews queer and transgender artists of color. She successfully used indiegogo to raise enough money to transcribe interviews from her podcast and is now publishing them as a book, in order to share these artists’ stories, knowledge and oral histories. (more…)

“Toy” by Evan J. Peterson

Posted on September 22, 2014 by in Poetry Spotlight

Today, a poem by Evan J. Peterson. (more…)

‘Barracuda’ by Christos Tsiolkas

Posted on September 19, 2014 by in Fiction, Reviews

Deep into Christos Tsiolkas’ Barracuda (Hogarth), Danny, the novel’s angry gay protagonist, returns to his native Australia and has a conversation with his brother. “I could have had a future,” he tells Theo as he looks back at his young life. The words could have been an apt subtitle to the book: Barracuda; or I Could Have Had a Future. Yet in the end, the novelisn’t quite as pessimistic as it might originally seem. While there is no false optimism as we are pulled through Danny’s bleak adolescence into his early adulthood, Tsiolkas does offer a quiet yet clear redemption. Hope is earned, even if in a minor key. (more…)

‘The Road to Emmaus’ by Spencer Reece

Posted on September 17, 2014 by in Poetry, Reviews

The electrifying self-reveal has long been a favorite trick of the gods. An amiable companion on horseback uncloaks himself as Odin, deity of wisdom, poetry, and victory in battle; in Genesis, Jacob rises from a wrestling match to find the challenger was Yahweh in human form. And on The Road to Emmaus, as depicted in a garish postcard in Sister Ann’s office, where Spencer Reece’s speaker remembers his older mentor and would-be lover in the title poem of his latest collection, two travelers from Jerusalem are joined by a third, who listens intently to a description of their savior before revealing himself as Christ. (more…)

John Rechy: On the Gay Sensibility, Melding Truth and Fiction, and His Literary Legacy

Posted on September 10, 2014 by in Features, Interviews

Born erudite, John Rechy, 83, is the author of twelve novels and three non-fiction works.

He was raised Mexican-American in El Paso, Texas at a time when Latino children were routinely segregated. He was assumed to be Anglo because of his light skin. A teacher “changed” his name from Juan to John. (more…)

‘Lincoln Avenue: Chicago Stories’ by Gregg Shapiro

Posted on September 9, 2014 by in Fiction, Reviews

It was with a bit of trepidation that I waded into Gregg Shapiro’s slim new volume, Lincoln Avenue: Chicago Stories (Squares & Rebels). It wasn’t the book’s quality that gave me pause, but its specificity—Chicago is a city that I’ve never visited and don’t know very much about. Luckily, while Shapiro’s wry and entertaining tales are deeply rooted in his hometown, they explore a geography that will be instantly recognizable to many of their readers: the inner life of young gay men growing up in the not-so-distant pre-Internet age. (more…)

“The Turing Test” by Jason Schneiderman

Posted on September 8, 2014 by in Poetry Spotlight

This week, a new poem by Jason Schneiderman. (more…)

‘Prelude to Bruise’ by Saeed Jones

Posted on August 31, 2014 by in Poetry, Reviews

“I’ve seen how/brutality becomes the rhythm to a kind of/song”

-Carl Phillips

Saeed Jones may be one of the most necessary poets of our time. Our time, which, as of this moment, is ravaged by news of Ferguson, heartbreak in Gaza, Tina Fontaine, the murders of two transgender women in Detroit, a massive water shortage in California, earthquakes—to name a few things. As I type this, my news feed and inbox are full of letters and articles and tweets and comments and frustrations and fundraisers of all of the folks in my immediate community and their immediate communities and the vast global communities we occupy by sharing the same umbrella of identity, the intersection of race, ability, gender, class, occupation, illness. If it’s true (and I believe it is true) that our movements and traumas are reflected in the art that we consume, or that the art that we consume often tells a better story than any journalist, then Saeed Jones’ Prelude to Bruise is an archive of resistance. (more…)