George Sylvester Viereck: “Each by Strange Wisps to Strange Abysses Drawn”

Photographers Unknown, The Faces of man: Photo Set Twelve

Sweet is the highroad when the skylarks call,
When we and Love go rambling through the land.
But shall we still walk gayly, hand in hand,
At the road’s turning and the twilight’s fall?
Then darkness shall divide us like a wall,
And uncouth evil nightbirds flap their wings;
The solitude of all created things
Will creep upon us shuddering like a pall.

This is the knowledge I have wrung from pain:
We, yea, all lovers, are not one, but twain,
Each by strange wisps to strange abysses drawn;
But through the black immensity of night
Love’s little lantern, like a glowworm’s, bright,
May lead our steps to some stupendous dawn.

George Sylvester Viereck, The Wanderers

A controversial figure in America in the first-half of the twentieth century, George Sylvester Viereck was a multi-sided figure who gained fame as a journalist and neo-romantic poet; he also earned equal infamy as a publicist for pro-German causes. Born in Munich in December of 1884, he was  the first-born son of Louis Viereck, a member of the Reichstag who was imprisoned in 1886 for attending socialist meetings, and  San Francisco-born Laura Viereck, Louis’s first cousin. The family emigrated to the United States in 1896 and, five years later, Viereck’s father became an American citizen.

George Viereck studied at the City College of New York where he graduated in 1906. While still in college, he published, with the help of literary critic Ludwig Lewisohn, his first collection of poems in 1904. Viereck’s  next collection, “Nineveh and Other Poems” published in 1905, brought him national fame. Several poems in this collection were written in the style of the Uranian movement, a movement of primarily gay male artists and philosophers in the English-speaking world from the 1870s to the 1930s. 

From 1907 to 1912, Viereck developed a profound identification with Germany and became fascinated with all aspects of the German culture and people. In 1907, he published a vampire novel, “The House of the Vampire”, which was not only one of the first psychic-vampire stories but, also,  one of the first known homosexual vampire novels. Viereck, in 1908, published his best-selling “Confessions of a Barbarian”, a collection of personal narratives on subjects such as morals, art, and both German and international culture. Viereck was invited in 1911 to lecture on American poetry at the University of Berlin. Due to his ardent support of Germany and pacifism during the period of estranged Anglo-German relations leading up to World War I,  he was later expelled from several organizations and social clubs. 

Outspoken in his views against America’s involvement in World War I, George Viereck founded and became editor of the German-sponsored magazine “The Fatherland”, which argued the German cause. He was later arrested and served time in a Washington D.C. jail, during which period his son George Jr. died as a  combat casualty of the first world war which Viereck had vigorously opposed.  In August of 1918, a mob stormed Viereck’s  Mount Vernon home: and, in the following year, he was expelled from the Poetry Society of America. In 1919, Viereck wrote the book “Roosevelt”, a psycho-analytical study of Theodore Roosevelt and his attitude on matters of international interest, which was published by New York City’s Jackson Press.

After the end of the war, Viereck traveled throughout Europe and America interviewing many notable personalities, including Sigmund Freud, George Bernard Shaw, Adolf Hitler, Henry Ford, Marshal Ferdinand Foch, Benito Mussolini, and Albert Einstein, among others.  In 1924, he published a collection of poetry, entitled “The Three Sphinxes and Other Poems”; the collection’s poem “Slaves” would be quoted several times in the 1968 psycho-thriller film “Twisted Nerve” and be the inspiration for its title. 

George Viereck became a well-known supporter of National Socialism and a regular apologist for Germany. In 1933, he again met Hitler, who had become Germany’s leader, and gave a speech in 1934 at New York’s Madison Square Garden to an audience of twenty thousand in which he supported National Socialism without its antisemitism. In 1941 George Viereck established his own publishing house, Flanders Hall, in Scotch Plains, New Jersey, but was eventually indicted by the government for a violation of the Foreign Agents Registration Act. Convicted in 1942 for failing to register with the U. S. State Department as a National Socialist agent, he was imprisoned from 1942 to 1947. 

In 1952, Viereck’s “Men Into Beasts”, a general memoir of the loss of dignity, brutality, and the situational homosexuality and rape he witnesse in jail, was published by Fawcett Publications. This book was shortly followed by two more works: the 1952 “Gloria: A Novel” and the 1953 “The Nude in the Mirror”. Between 1906 and 1953, he published twenty-three works in the genres of theater plays, poetry, works of fiction, and works of political discussion and criticism. 

George Viereck’s literary works after his release from prison were not very successful, except for his “Men Into Beasts”, which would become one of the first original titles of 1950s gay novels. In 1955, he suffered a series of mild strokes and ceased his writing. George Sylvester Viereck died in March of 1962 in Holyoke, Massachusetts, of a massive cerebral hemorrhage at the age of seventy-seven. 

Note: An interesting read on the emotional and psychological development of Viereck’s life, and his perception of his own sexuality, is Phyllis Keller’s “George Sylvester Viereck: The Psychology of a German-American Militant” from the MIT Press. It can be found at the JSTOR site: https://www.jstor.org/stable/202443

Soufiane Ababri

Drawings by Soufiane Ababri

Born in Rabat, Morocco in 1985, Soufiane Ababri is a multi-media artist who works in the fields of drawing, sculpture, film, and performance art. He graduated from the École Supérieure des Beaux-Arts in 2010 and earned his Masters of Arts at Paris’s École Supérieure des Arts Décoratifs in 2014. Ababri divides his life and work between the cities of Paris, France, and Tangier, Morocco. 

Although he works in many medias, Soufiane Ababri is best known for his homoerotic drawings of men portrayed in settings which depict a flourishing queer subculture. His scenes, either  humorous or infused with emotion, are drawn from his life as a gay Moroccan immigrant in Europe. Ababri’s most acclaimed series, “Bed Works”, was initiated in 2016 and is still continuing today. These pencil portraits of men, drawn while lying down in bed, are conveyed in bold, energetic colors and explore Ababri’s interest in the nuances of masculinity and male intimacy. 

Having a strong interest in sociology, Ababri’s oeuvre also deals with the idea of visual experience as an exercise in introspection, that is the artist sees the world as the world sees him. Ababri’s work, built from layers of personal and intimate events, also uses literary works, such as Antoine de Saint-Exupéry’s 1943 “Little Prince” and poet Frank O’Hara’s “A True Account of Talking to the Sun”, to examine the tensions, stigmas,  and ambivalences in present day  society. 

Soufiane Ababri’s 2020 “Tanned But Still Angry” series consisted of seventeen colored pencil on paper drawings that Ababri developed over several years in reaction to police violence. These drawings depicted real scenes and situations experienced by Ababri himself and fellow members of the LGBT and POC communities. Fueled by the deaths of Adama Traoré in 2016 and George Floyd in May, the series not only powerfully displays injustice, but also, often poetically, emphasizes the need for equality.

Soufiane Ababri’s most recent solo show, the 2021 “Bunch of Queequeg”, named after the “Moby Dick” character, included all works from the continuing “Bed Work” series and was held at Praz-Delavallade in Los Angeles.The triptych drawing from that exhibition, seen in the above images, shows Ababri as Queequeg in the middle panel, with Ishmael in tight-fitting shorts on the right panel and three skewered severed heads on the left panel. In this work, Ababri considers not only the literature of colonialism and its lasting effects on daily life and culture, but also its presence in our most intimate relationships.

Ababri’s installation / performance pieces include the 2017 “Moving Frontiers: Do and Undo” at the Espace Doual’Art in Doula, CM; the 2018 “Humes l’Ordeur des Fleurs Pendant Qu’il en est Encore Temps” held at the Marathon des Mots in Toulouse, France; the 2018 “Here is a Strange and Bitter Crop” at Space in London; the 2019 “Tropical Concrete Gym Park” at the Glassbox in Paris; the 2019 “Memories of a Solitary Cruise” held at The Pill in Istanbul; and the 2020 “Something New Under the Little Prince’s Body” at the Dittrich & Schlechtriem in Berlin.

Soufiane Ababri has exhibited in Berlin, Brussels, and Istanbul. His work is in the collections of Fonds Régional d’Art Contemporain Pointou-Charente and Musée d’Art Contemporain du Val-de-Marne, and Fonds Régional d’Art Contemporain, Pays de la Loire. In 2021 Ababri’s work was included in the Glasgow International Festival for Contemporary Art. 

Note: Photos of Soufiane Ababri’s performance and artwork, as well as  contact information, can be found at: https://soufianeababri.com

An interesting article, written by Joey Levenson, on Soufiane Ababri’s newest book and his use of intimacy as a means of social construct analysis can be found at: https://www.itsnicethat.com/articles/soufiane-ababri-art-100821

Jesús Carrillio

Paintings by Jesús Carrillio

Born in the Andalusian town of Córdoba, Jesús Carrillio is a Spanish multi-media artist who also uses the name Eltío Esse. He works in the fields of painting, photography, computer graphics and film making, Interested in drawing and color from an early age, Jesús Carrillio received his initial lessons in art from his older brother, the painter José Maria Carrillio. 

At the age of sixteen,  Jesús Carrillio attended the Priego Landscape School where he did landscape painting influenced by the school’s impressionistic style. His formal art training began at Granada’s Padre Suárez Institute where he studied art history, art theory, and aesthetics. In 1990, Carrillio attended the Faculty of Fine Arts at the University of Granada, where he majored in painting.

After graduating from the Faculty of Fine Arts, Jesús Carrillio moved in 1995 to the seaside city of Brighton, England, where he painted and worked as a postman. Three years later, he moved to Salamanca, Spain, where he enrolled in its University to study design and both audiovisual and multimedia techniques. Influences on Carrillio’s expressionistic work are the Italian and Flemish paintings of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries , and his attraction to African culture and art.

Carrillio often uses computer software to enhance his painted images. Both his film and video art, as well as his unique animated and static GIFs,  are designed to be viewed as projections at performances and installation projects. Carrillio’s photographic work and digital paintings are printed on brushed aluminum panels, a process in which, while darker areas of the image appear matte, the lighter areas of the image have a unique shimmer.

More information on Jesús Carrillio’s work, including commissioned pieces and contact information, can be found at his Artfinder site located at: https://www.artfinder.com/artist/eltioesse/

Joseph Hansen: “Wider Than a Man’s Two Stretched Arms”

Photographers Unknown, An Assemblage of Hands

“The waterwheel was twice a man’s height, wider than a man’s two stretched arms. The timbers, braced and bolted with rusty iron, were heavy, hand-hewn, swollen with a century of wet. Moss bearded the paddles, which dripped as they rose. The sounds were good. Wooden stutter like children running down a hall at the end of school. Grudging axle thud like the heartbeat of a strong old man.”

Joseph Hansen, Death Claims, 1973

Born in Aberdeen, South Dakota in July of 1923, Joseph Hansen was a poet and American crime novelist, best know for his series of novels featuring the gay private detective Dave Brandstetter. After his family settled in Altadena, California, Hansen attended the Pasadena Community College, where he focused on literature. Inspired by the ease with which Walt Whitman viewed his own sexual identity and Ralph Waldo Emerson’s call to be true to one’s self, Hansen made the decision to embrace his gay identity at an early age.

Beginning his writing career in the genre of poetry, Hansen’s  first published work was a poem submitted in 1952 to The New Yorker magazine. While employed part-time at bookstores, he continued writing poetry for various magazines, including the Los Angeles-based ONE, the first pro-gay publication in the United States. Hansen’s early fiction efforts, under various pseudonyms,  were also first published by ONE  He also used pseudonyms for his early pulp writings of gay erotica. A total of six early fictional works, including his first novel “Strange Marriage”, published in 1965, were under the names of either James Colton or Rose Brock. 

In 1970, Joseph Hansen published “Fadeout”, the first novel under his own name, which became the introductory novel for his Dave Brandstetter series. Similar in style to a Raymond Chandler character, Hansen’s protagonist was an openly gay insurance investigator, who embodied the tough, stoic, and no-nonsense personality of the classic, private detective. Published two years before the Stonewall riots, a heroic, central literary character, who was a homosexual and not a one-dimensional figure, was revolutionary for that period in history. The importance of the detective’s personal life, his dealing with the death of his partner, his aging and his loneliness, expanded the psychological dimension of the hardboiled genre and, at the same time, offered the genre’s enthusiasts a gay man’s point of view.

Cited now as a groundbreaker in both crime and gay fiction, the gay character of Brandstetter was originally rejected by Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine in 1973 because the editor thought that subscribers were not ready for homosexuality in their novels , especially not presented as a part of ordinary social life. Just as the mystery novels of Per Wahloo and Maj Sjowall can be read collectively as a long discussion of Swedish society, the twelve-volume series of “Brandstetter” can be read as a chronicle of gay lives in California during the 1960s and 1970s. Hansen  showed the heterosexual world through this series that being gay is no more homogenizing than any other social category.

Joseph Hansen won the 1992 Lifetime Achievement Award from the Private Eye Writers of America. For his 1991 “A Country of Old Men”, the final novel in the Brandstetter series, he won a Lambda Literary Award for Gay Men’s Mystery. Hansen created a second investigative series, the 1988 “Bohannon’s Book”, which consisted of five novellas, centered on the character of a former deputy sheriff. This was followed in 1993 by the five novella sequel “Bohannon’s Country”. Hansen won a second Lambda Literary Award in 1993 for his novel “Living Upstairs”, the story of a young gay man coming of age.

Jospeh Hansen was active in the Gay Rights Movement and was a co-founder in 1965 of the influential gay publication “Tangents”. He produced a radio program on Los Angeles’s KPFX in 1969 entitled “Homosexuality Today” and helped with the planning for the first Gay Pride Parade in Hollywood, held in 1970. Since his first publications in early gay tabloids, Hansen strove for an inclusive civil society without  divisions in regards to race or sexual orientation. 

Described in the American Hard-Boiled Crime Writers anthology as the father of the gay mystery novel, Joseph Hansen died on November 24th of 2004 of heart failure at his Laguna Beach home in California. He was predeceased by his wife of fifty-one years, artist and educator Jane Bancroft, a lesbian with whom he shared an arrangement to have same-sex lovers, and a daughter who later transitioned and changed her name. According to friends, Hansen also had two long-term male lovers.

”Of all the writers who contributed to the LA poetry renaissance in the second half of the 20th century, Joseph Hansen probably gave the most and got the least in return. Most significantly, Hansen was one of the co-founders of the Beyond Baroque poetry workshop (now the Beyond Baroque Literary Arts Center), a free and open-to-the-public gathering that has met on Wednesday evenings in Venice for 45 years. Along with John Harris, Hansen established an accessible public workshop with serious standards of literary excellence. The fact that Hansen won a National Endowment for the Arts Creative Writing Fellowship for his fiction a couple of years after starting the workshop only reinforced his stature as the workshop’s standard-bearer.”

—Bill Mohr

Eliot Elisofon

Eliot Elisofon,“Marcel Duchamp Descending a Staircase”, 1952, Gelatin Silver Print, Image Size 33.5 x 26.8 cm, Mead Art Museum, Amherst College

Born in New York City in April of 1911 to immigrant parents, Eliot Elisofon, born Meyer Eliot Elicofon, was a photojournalist and a documentary photographer. His humble upbringing and childhood struggles inspired his career as a photographer; the human condition with all its struggles became the central focus of his work. 

Elisofon graduated from Fordham University in 1933 and first produced advertising photographs for Vogue and Mademoiselle magazines. By 1937, he was regularly contributing work to Life magazine on a variety of subjects, including theater, military exercises, coal miners, and elite society events. In 1936, Elisofon became a founding member of the Photo League, a cooperative of New York photographers who covered creative and social causes. One of its more active members, he gave lectures, collaborated with sociologist and photographer Lewis Hine on the “Men at Work” project, and taught courses on flash photography and photojournalism. 

In 1937, Eliot Elisofon became associated with filmmaker Willard Van Dyke, Harper’s Bazaar art director Alexey Brodovitch, Beaumont Newhall, the photography curator at the Museum of Modern Art, and Tom Maloney, the editior of U.S. Camera magazine. His first exhibition of his New York street photography was shown at the Pennsylvania Museum of Art and New York’s avant-garde Julien Levy Gallery, In 1938, Elisofon’s “Playgrounds of Manhattan” was shown at the New School, a progressive arts college in New York City. 

Elisofon was hired in 1939 as a photographer in the Federal Writers’ Project, a WPA New Deal Program, for its series “These Are Our Lives”, which contained thirty-seven life histories of both black and white farm laborers, factory and mill workers, and workers in service occupations or on relief. Beginning in 1942, Elisofon was a war correspondent and a photographer for Life magazine; he was the only photographer to accompany General Patton throughout the North African Campaign. These photographs taken during the campaign became part of the exhibition “The Tunisian Triumph”, which opened in June of 1943 at MOMA and later traveled to twenty cities. Elisofon continued to be associated with Life and other magazines until 1972. 

Over the years, Eliot Elisofon traveled to six continents and nineteen books of his work were published during his lifetime. During his photographic journeys around the African continent, Elisofon assembled a collection of African art and took over eighty thousand images; the art and photographs are now part of the collection of the National Museum of African Art in Washington, DC. 

Eliot Elisofon’s photograph “Marcel Duchamp Descending a Staircase” was shot for a ten-page article written by Winthrop Sargeant on Marcel Duchamp, a key member of the Dada movement, for the April 28, 1952, issue of Life magazine. One of Duchamp’s most significant works was his early 1912 painting “Nude Descending a Staircase”, a cubist image in the manner of the chronophotography work of Eadweard Muybridge, who was a pioneer in the study of movement and measurement through multiple image photography. Elison’s 1952 time-lapse photograph of Duchamp descending a flight of stairs was done as a tribute to Duchamp’s famous painting; the image above is one of the two staged shots that Elisofon produced in the photo shoot.

Top Insert Image: Eliot Elisofon, “Self Portrait with Speed Graphic Camera, New York City”, 1936, Gelatin Silver Print

Bottom Insert Image: Marcel Duchamp, “Nude Descending a Staircase (No. 2)”, 1912, Oil on Canvas, 151.8 x 93.3 cm, Philadelphia Museum of Art

Nebojša Zdravković

Paintings by Nebojša Zdravković

Born in Belgrade in 1959, Nebojša Zdravković is a Serbian artist known for his precise drawing and dynamic color palette. He graduated with a Masters Degree in the Arts and was granted a scholarship by the Spanish government for his post-graduate studies in Madrid. 

Zdravković’s images of male eroticism are executed using a highly expressive color range in a classic impressionistic style. He paints primarily from life, using models for reference, with a particular focus on the effect of light upon his subjects and the posed surroundings.

Nebojša Zdravković, who lives and works in Belgrade, is a member of theAssociation of Fine Artists of Serbia, ULUS. His work has been exhibited at many group shows and at solo exhibitions in Paris, London, Belgrade, Athens, and Cyprus. Zdravković had solo exhibitions at London’s Adonis Art Gallery in 2002 and 2003.  

James Schuyler: “I Remember Very Well the Morning”

Photographers Unknown, I Remember Very Well the Morning

Coming from the deli
a block away today I
saw the UN building
shine and in all the
months and years I’ve
lived in this apartment
I took so you and I
would have a place to
meet I never notice
that it was in my view.

I remember very well
the morning I walked in
and found you in bed
with X. He dressed
and left. You dressed
too. I said, “Stay
five minutes.” You
did. You said, “That’s
the way it is.” It
was not much of a surprise.

Then X got on speed
and ripped off an
antique closet and an
air conditioner, etc.
After he was gone and
you had changed the
Segal lock, I asked
you on the phone, “Can’t
you be content with
your wife and me?” “I’m
not built that way”,
you said. No surprise.

Now, without saying
why, you’ve let me go.
You don’t return my
calls, who used to call
me almost every evening
when I lived in the coun-
try. “Hasn’t he told you
why?” “No, and I doubt he
ever will.” Goodbye. It’s
mysterious and frustrating.

How I wish you would come
back! I could tell
you how, when I lived
on East 49th, first
with Frank and then with John,
we had a lovely view of
the UN building and the
Beekman Towers. They were
not my lovers, though,
You were. You said so.

James Schuyler, This Dark Apartment, The Morning of the Poem, 1980

Born in November of 1923 in Chicago, Illinois, James Marcus Schuyler was a poet who won the 1980 Pulitzer Prize for Poetry for his collection “The Morning of the Poem”. He spent his childhood years in East Aurora, New York, and, after high school graduation, attended Bethany College in West Virginia from 1941 to 1943. During World War Two, Schuyler served on a Navy destroyer in the North Atlantic; he remained in the U.S. Navy until 1947.

After moving to New York City in the late 1940s, Schuyler worked for the National Broadcasting Company and became friends with the English poet and playwright  W. H. Auden. In 1947, he relocated to the Isle of Ischia in Italy, where he shared an apartment and worked for two years as Auden’s secretary. While in Italy, Schuyler attended the University of Florence . 

James Schuyler returned to New York City in 1950; the next year he was introduced to poets Frank O’Hara and John Ashbery at a New York party. The three poets shared an apartment on 49th Street in Manhattan and worked closely together, often contributing to each other’s writing projects. In this early period of Schuyler’s writing, he wrote two play productions: “Presenting Jane”, performed at the Cambridge,  Massachusetts, Poet’s Theatre in 1952 and “Shopping and Waiting: A Dramatic Pause” performed in 1953 at New York’s American Theater for Poets. 

By the middle of the 1950s, Schuyler was a writer and art critic for Art News magazine and was curating for circulating exhibitions at the Museum of Modern Art. Among the artists he befriended were Larry Rivers, William and Elaine de Kooning, Jane Freilicher, and landscape and portrait painter Fairfield Porter. Schuyler would live with Porter and his family at their homes for twelve years from 1961 to 1973; he dedicated his first major collection of poems, the 1969 “Freely Espousing”, to Fairfield Porter and his wife Anne. This collection received the Frank O’Hara Prize for Poetry in 1969. 

The most productive period in James Schuyler’s career occurred in the late 1969s and extended through the 1970s. He coauthored a novel, entitled  “A Nest of Ninnies”, with John Ashbery in 1969 and produced three major collections of poetry: “The Crystal Lithium” in 1972, the 1974 “Hymn to Life”, and the 1980 “The Morning of the Poem”, of which the title poem is considered to be among the best long poems of the postmodern era. Numerous other works have been published throughout the years, including a 1989 recording entitled “Hymn to Life and Other Poems” produced by Watershed Intermedia.

James Schuyler was a central figure in the New York School, an informal group of poets, painters, musicians and dancers active in vanguard of New York City’s 1950-60s avant-garde art scene. He was a Guggenheim Fellow, a fellow of the American Academy of Poets, a recipient of the Longview Foundation Award in 1961, and a 1985 recipient of the Whiting Award given to emerging writers. 

James Marcus Schuyler died in Manhattan following a stroke, in April fo 1991, at the age of sixty-seven. His ashes are interred at the Little Portion Friary, Mount Sinai, Long Island, New York. The major collection of his papers are in the Mandeville Department of Special Collections at San Diego’s University of California. 

Note: Although James Schuyler revealed very little of his personal life, it is known that he was gay and had a relationship  with military man and writer William Eric Aalto, near the end of Aalto’s life. Aalto is featured in Schuyler’s long, prose poem “Dining Out with Doug and Frank”, which describes a meal with Aalto , and  poet and critic Douglas Crase and his partner, professor in plant pathology Frank Polach. Schuyler also had a relationship with American realist, city-scape artist Frank Button, who was also associated with the New York School art movement.

The long conversational poem “Dining Out with Doug and Frank” can be found at: https://www.ronnowpoetry.com/contents/schuyler/DiningOut.html.

For those interested, twelve of James Schuyler’s poems can be found in their entirety at the Poetry Foundation located at: https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poets/james-schuyler#tab-poems

Marvin K. White: “And When I Placed My Lips on His”

Photographers Unknown, Doubles

When I learned of Gregory’s death
I cried silently
But at the funeral
Giiiirl! I’m telling you
I rocked Miss Church
Hell I fell to my knees twice
Before I reached my seat
Three people had to carry me
To my pew
I swayed and swooned
Blew my nose
On any and every available sleeve
The snot was flying everywhere
Then when I finally saw his body
My body jerked itself
Right inside that casket
And when I placed my lips on his
Honey the place was shaking
I returned to my seat
But not before passing by his mother
Who I’m sure at this point
Was through with me
I threw myself on her knees
Shouting “Help me
Help me Jesus”
When someone in the choir
Sang out “Work it girl
Wooooork it”
I was carried out
Kicking and screaming
Ushered into the waiting limo
Which sped me to his family’s house
Where I feasted
On fried chicken
Hot water corn bread
Macaroni and cheese
Johnny Walker Black
Finally in my rightful place

Marvin K. White, Last Rights, Last Rights, 2004

Born in Oakland, California, Marvin K. White is a poet, performer, playwright, public theologian, visual artist, and community arts organizer. He graduated with a Masters of Divinity from the Pacific School of Religion in Berkeley, California. White holds a fellowship in the national African-American poetry organization, Cave Canem, and is a former member of the board of Fire & Ink, a national black LGBT writers’ organization.

White has authored four collections of poetry which were published by RedBone Press. His 2004 “Last Rights” contains poems which portray the caring, humor, despair, the kinship of friends and family, and the unqualified love that occurs in the everyday lives of the gay community. It was nominated as a finalist for the Lambda Literary Award. In the same year, his second collection “Nothin’ Ugly Fly” was published. This collection of poems, both witty and intense, explores a boy’s life from its unpredictable and dangerous beginning to his becoming a man, a growth achieved through his love for another man. This collection was also a finalist for a Lambda Literary Award.

In 2011, Marvin K. White followed his previous work with two new collections. His “Status”, a compilation of several years of Facebook statuses, is a collection of wisdoms, remembrances, lessons in life, riddles, and guiding principles, told in both poem and prose. The book is small in size and reads as if it was a conversation over a cup of coffee.White’s “Our Name Be Witness” is composed of freely written prose poems, spoken in women’s  voices, that describe the complicated communities of neighborhoods, and the aspirations and heart of their people. Aside from the introductory poem, “Devil’s food”, the following prose poems do not possess titles and range from three pages to a few short lines. 

White’s work has appeared in many anthologies including “The Road Before Us: 100 Black Gay Poets”, “Bad Boys and Barbarians: New Gay Writing”, and “My Brothers Keeper”, as well as local and national publications. He is the co-editor of  “If We Have to Take Tomorrow: HIV, Black Men and Same Sex Desire”. White’s  poetry has been adapted for stage at San Francisco’s Theater Rhinoceros; he has performed his own work at the 2014 BAN7 Festival held at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts.

Beginning as a Teaching Artist for WritersCorps, Marvin K. White continues to lead creative arts and writing workshops for a range of audiences, from youth centers for runaway kids to black gay support groups to literary conferences, faith communities and social justice organizations. He is cofounder of B/GLAM, the Black Gay Letters and Arts Movement, an organization located in the Bay Area of California, whose goal was to preserve, present and incubate black gay artistic expressions.

Note: More information on Marvin K. White and his current projects can be found at his site located at: https://www.marvinkwhite.com/copy-of-home-house-1

Kris Knight

Paintings by Kris Knight

Born in 1980 in Windsor, Kris Knight is a Canadian painter who has been interested in art since a young age. He moved to Toronto at the age of nineteen and studied at the Ontario College of Art and Design, where he majored in Painting and Drawing, with minors in Curating and Criticism.

The majority of Knight’s work, often painted in series, has been portraits based on real people, mostly close friends and family members. He has also produced self-portraits, collaged images taken from mass media, and works on the themes of loss, bonding and secrets. The subjects of Knight’s work have mostly been either young or androgynous-appearing men, who are portrayed in mute color tones effecting a powdered or translucent appearance. His pastels and tonal oil paintings, set in both theatrical and ordinary settings, combine nostalgia and romanticism in their exploration of life’s experiences.

Inspired by an eighteenth-century style of painting, Knight’s work draws from the movements of Romanticism, Symbolism and artwork of the Rococo period. Having had an interest in the era of the French Revolution since a child, he was also inspired by the portraiture work of French painters Louise Élisabeth Vigée Le Brun and Baron Joseph Ducreux. Additional influences came from the works of portrait painter Thomas Lawrence, Baroque painter Nicolas Poussin, and John Singer Sargent, considered the leading portrait painter of his day.

Kris Knight painted his “Lost and Found” series in 2012. This series of portraits dealt with disenchanted youths who subtly play the roles of hunter and the hunted. Often shown wearing furs and masks, the paintings explored the emotional state of being lost and the process of recovery. His 2013 series “Secrets Are Things We Grow” explored secrets that people keep and the bond that forms once a secret is revealed to those held close. The use of patterns and symbols of nature are used to represent the growth of secrets over time.

In 2014, Knight painted his “Smell the Magic” series, which had its premiere, sponsored by Gucci, at the Spinello Project’s pop-up gallery in Wynwood, Florida. The paintings in this series were done with brighter color tones; an influence of surrealism can be seen in the use of Ouija board pointers for eyes and overlaid flower blossoms on faces. In 2017, Knight had a solo exhibition at Art Toronto which contained work in a smaller scale with a more theatrical approach. These works focused on the subject of performance in everyday life and the roles portrayed to others.

Kris Knight began involved in the fashion industry early in his career. His paintings were used for four 2012 covers for Fashion for Men magazine and, in 2014, his paintings’ pastel color palette was credited for Gucci’s men’s ready-to-wear fall and winter collection. Collaborating with Gucci, Knight created several botanical floral prints, based on a previous work in 1966, which were incorporated into creative director Frida Giannini’s designs for Gucci’s Cruise 2015 seasonal wear. Knight’s work was later shown at the group exhibition, “Carte Blanche a Christin Lacroix”, at Paris’s Musée Cognacq-Jay in November of 2014.

Kris Knight’s work is represented by the Spinello Gallery in Miami, Florida, and at Paris’s Galerie Alain Gutharc. His website, which includes upcoming exhibitions, can be found at: https://krisknight.com/home.html .

Middle Insert Image: Kris Knight, “Let’s Not Speak So Heavy”, 2020, Oil on Canvas, 35.6 x 27.9 cm

Gerrit Lansing: “Your Kiss Is My Justice”

Photographers Unknown, Your Kiss Is My Justice

Dreamer of purified fury and fabulous habit,
your eyes of deserted white afternoons
target, stiffen, riot with unicorn candor
so I swallow your body like meanings or whisky or as you swallow me.
 
Break rhythm here:      your kiss is my justice:
look then now how orange blooms of jubilation unfold in satisfied air!
This sex is more than sex, under the will of the God of sex,
so I softly invoke transformation of your rueful image of haven
–those frozen rocks, that guilty lighthouse isolate from temptation–
to warm Flemish landscape green and brighteyed with daisies of
     dizzying color
where pilgrims are dancing after gospelling bird who sing of
      new springs, good water.
 
Garret Lansing, A Poem of Love in Eleven Lines, Heavenly Tree, Northern Earth, 2009

Born in Albany, New York in February of 1928, Gerrit Lansing was a poet, editor and critic. After a brief stay in Colorado Springs, his family  moved to the Cleveland area where his father served on Western Reserve University’s board of trustees.  A piano prodigy, Lansing played Bach, Mozart and Scriabin for pleasure and, in his teen-years, played pop songs with a band. In the mid-1940s, he attended Harvard College, where he studied philosophy and  graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree in 1949.

Gerrit Lansing’s social set during his college years included the artist Eduard Gorey, poets Frank O’Hara and John Ashbery, and his childhood friend, the writer and poet Kenward Elmslie. His poetic origins can be traced back to his time at Harvard, where he studied the works of William Blake and William Butler Yeats, under critic and biographer Richard Ellmann, and attended readings by T.S. Eliot and Wallace Stevens. Upon graduation from Harvard, Lansing relocated to New York City, where he received his Masters Degree in English from Columbia University and worked on the Columbia University Press.

In the early 1950s, Lansing became friends with Harry Smith, the artist, filmmaker, and musicologist best known for his 1952 “Anthology of American Folk Music”. Both interested in jazz and bebop music, they also studied magic together under Count Stefan Walewski, owner of New York City’s Esoterica curio shop. It was through his association with lyricist John LaTouche that Lansing was introduced to the world of theater, ballet and opera and to a network of writers. Known in his circles as a thinker and conversationalist, he associated with writers Christopher Isherwood, Paul and Jane Bowles, Alan Ginsberg, and Jack Karouac; painters Larry Rivers and Jane Freilicher; and poets Robert Kelly and Jonathan Williams.

Lansing’s poetry first began to appear in New York School periodicals such as “A New Folder”, “Semi-Colon”. and later in a small offset literary journal entitled “Set” which he edited.  By the time the first of Set’s two issues appeared in 1961, Lansing had grown weary of New York City and accepted an invitation by his acquaintance John Hays Hammond Jr., the pioneer of the electronic remote control, to stay at Hammond Castle in Gloucester, Massachusetts. The invitation to Lansing came through Harry Martin, who was LaTouche’s lover at that time and also the clandestine lover of John Hammond.

In Gloucester, Gerrit Lansing met two men who would greatly shape his life; the first was Charles Olson, an innovative poet and essayist who was previously rector at Black Mountain College. Lansing surprised Olson with an unannounced visit to the poet’s Fort Square apartment and soon became a fast friend, drinking companion, and regular correspondent with him. He also made arrangements for Olson’s first public reading of his work. Lansing was the understated expert for Olson on the role of tarot, astrology, and the esoteric; his knowledge would have an impact on Olson’s 1952 collection, “The Maximus Poems”. The second man to shape Lansing’s life was Deryk Burton, a sailor born in Wallasey, England, who skippered private yachts. They met at the Studio Restaurant on Rocky Neck in Gloucester and soon became lifelong partners.  Together they set up house in Gloucester and sailed private yachts to their winter berths in Florida and the Caribbean.

The deaths of close friends, Charles Olson and Boston poet Stephen Jonas, both within a month of each other in early 1970, greatly affected Lansing. In 1972, he and Burton left Massachusetts on a period of wandering which led to Annapolis, Maryland, due to Burton’s nautical career. There, Lansing co-founded the antiquarian bookstore, Circle West, which specialized in rare occult books. He was also hospitalized successfully for alcoholism, a result of his earlier drinking bouts with friends and gay bar cruising.

In 1982, Lansing and Burton returned to Gloucester. Intrigued by the occult since high school, Gerrit had become an encyclopedic resource on the topic and opened in Gloucester a second bookstore, Abraxas, which specialized in magic, philosophy, and rare esoteric volumes. Lansing operated the Abraxas bookstore until his and Burton’s retirements in 1992. They then purchased a sea captain’s house overlooking Gloucester Bay where they spent the remainder of their lives.

A careful reader and interpreter of Emerson’s works, Gerrit Lansing used a range of forms in his poetry to explore spiritual, social, and natural engagements with the world. His books of poetry include the 1995 “Heavenly Tree/Soluble Forest”, a cross-genre collection entitled “A February Sheaf” published in 2003 by Pressed Wafer, and the 2009 “Heavenly Tree, Northern Earth”. He collaborated, along with conceptual-installation artists Nora Ligorano and Marshall Reese, on the 2002 art book “Turning Leaves of Mind”.

Predeceased by his partner Deryk Burton, who died in 1997, Gerrit Lansing died peacefully at his Gloucester home on the evening of February 11th in 2018, at the age of ninety years.

Note: An interesting read on Gerrit Lansing’s work is an article, entitled “ The Metaphysics of Gerrit Lansing”,  written by Robert Baker for the online literary magazine, Rain Taxi. It can be found at: https://www.raintaxi.com/the-metaphysics-of-gerrit-lansing/

Also, the online publication, Wonderland, had a memorial article on Gerrit Lansing in which personal remembrances by three close friends of Lansing are included. That article can be found at: https://gregcookland.com/wonderland/2018/03/02/gerrit-lansing-3/

Andrés Miró Quesada

Paintings by Andrés Miró Quesada

Born in Lima, Andrés Miró Quesada is a Peruvian painter whose narrative works depicting male figures generate a sense of playful eroticism and sensuality. He studied at Lima’s Alexander von Humboldt College, a German international, school from kindergarten to bachelor degrees. Miró Quesada graduated in 2009 with a degree in Visual Arts from Lima’s  Corriente Alterna School in Miraflores, where he received a silver medal for his work.

Miró Quesada’s work is very cinematographic in nature; the narrative scenes he creates appear as frozen frames from a film. Starting with an initial idea, he takes photographs of the scene until he is satisfied with its composition.After this  composition is passed onto a canvas, Miró Quesada begins the fluid process of painting, in which the final idea is personalized by his addition of a broader range of colors and tones, and  alterations in scale.

Andrés Miró Quesada has exhibited in various collective exhibitions including “Set/Action” at the Vértice Gallery in San Isidro, Peru; the “Play” exhibition at the Luis Miró Quesada Garland Room, a non-profit contemporary art center; and the October 2014 collective exhibition “Homo Ludens/Urbe Ludens”, directed by the Vértice Gallery, at the El Olivar Cultural Center in Lima. Miró Quesada also presented his work in a 2015 solo exhibition, entitled “Amateur” in the Ricardo Palma Cultural Center in Miraflores, Peru.

Giulio Monteverde

Funeral Monuments of Giulio Monteverde

Born on October 8th of 1837 in Bistagno, a municipality in the Piedmont region of Italy, Giulio Monteverde was a sculptor and educator. He moved with his family to Genova where he began, at the age of nine, his initial training at the Ligustica Academy of Fine Arts in Genova, under the guidance of sculptor Santo Varni. Monteverde also studied at Rome’s Academy of Fine Arts, where he later obtained the position of Professor.

In 1865, Monteverde won the Pensionato Artistico Triennale, a three-year grant, which allowed him to relocate to Rome and establish his own studio. A neo-classical sculptor, his romantic-realist style achieved rapid success and critical acclaim, particularly in the United States. In 1886, Italian naval officer Enrico Alberto d’Albertis acquired a castle and commissioned a statue of the young Christopher Columbus from Monteverde. The 1870 white Carrara marble sculpture, “Colombo Giovinetto”, modeled from D’Albertis’s nephew Filippo, won a gold medal at an exhibition in Parma, Italy.

In 1873, Giulio Monteverde completed a narrative work, “Edward Jenner Vaccinating His Son Against Smallpox”, a life-sized marble sculpture, which he presented at the Vienna International Exposition. This was shown again at the 1878 Universal Exposition in Paris, and now resides at Rome’s National Gallery of Modern Art. Following his success a the Vienna Exposition, Monteverde, in the following year, sculpted a realistic, intricately detailed marble statue of the Roman water nymph, Egeria.

Most of Monteverde’s talent was dedicated to the execution of  religious sculpture and funerary monuments. The theme of the Angel of Death, or of the Night, was portrayed in a number of variations throughout Italy and Spain. The tomb of the Oneto Family, commissioned by Francesco Oneto, President of the General Bank, is located at the Staglieno Cemetery in Genoa. It portrayed a sensual angel holding the trumpet of Universal Judgement in his right hand, and was replicated many times by Monteverde for other families, an exmaple of which is the more demure angel leaning against the Llambi Campbell family vault in the Recoleta Cemetery of Buenos Aires, Argentina.

As an educator, Giulio Monteverde taught at Rome’s Acadey of Fine Arts; among his students were Argentine sculptor and medalist Victor de Pol and Lola Mora, a Argentine sculptor and a pioneer of women in her field. Monteverde was made an officer in the Legion of Honor in 1878 and, in 1889, became an Italian Senator. He passed away on October 3rd of 1917, at eighty years of age.

Bottom Insert Image: Giulio Monteverde, “Colombo Giovinetto (The Young Columbus)”, 1870, Carrara Marble, Museo della Culture del Mondo, Genoa, Italy

Melvin Dixon: “We Live Bravely in the Light”

Photographers Unknown, Parva Scaena (Brief Scenes): Photo Set Twenty-Four

They won’t go when I go. (Stevie Wonder)
Live bravely in the hurt of light. (C.H.R.)

The children in the life:
Another telephone call. Another man gone.
How many pages are left in my diary?
Do I have enough pencils? Enough ink?
I count on my fingers and toes the past kisses,
the incubating years, the months ahead.

Thousands. Many thousands.
Many thousands gone.

I have no use for numbers beyond this one,
one man, one face, one torso
curled into mine for the ease of sleep.
We love without mercy,
We live bravely in the light.

Thousands. Many thousands.

Chile, I knew he was funny, one of the children,
a member of the church, a friend of Dorothy’s.

He knew the Websters pretty well, too.
Girlfriend, he was real.
Remember we used to sit up in my house
pouring tea, dropping beads,
dishing this one and that one?

You got any T-cells left?
The singularity of death. The mourning thousands.
It begins with one and grows by one
and one and one and one
until there’s no one left to count.

Melvin Dixon, One by One, Love’s Instruments, 1995, Tia Chuca Press, Chicago

Born in Stanford, Conneticutt in May of 1950, Melvin Dixon was a creative writer, as a novelist, poet, translator and literary critic. He graduated from Wesleyan University in 1971 with a Bachelor of Arts in American Studies, and earned a Master of Arts in 1973 and a Doctor of Philosophy in 1975 from Boston University.

Dixon wrote poems, novels, short stories, essays, critical studies, and translated many works from French. Searching for his literary heritage, he traveled throughout the Caribbean, Africa and Europe, and researched such men as Leopold Senghor, the poet and former president of Senegal; the Haitian novelist and poet Jacques Roumain; and author Richard Nathaniel Wright, whose 1945 book “Black Boy” became an instant success and a work of historical and sociological significance.

Melvin Dixon wrote openly about his homosexuality in both his published and unpublished works. As an active spokesman for gay communities and their issues, he incorporated the complexities of gay lifestyle and identity, as well as his identity as a black man, into his work. Dixon’s first collection of poems, “Change of Territory” published in 1983, examined the involuntary journeys of African slavery and the later historical migration of African Americans from the southern United States to the north. In 1987, he wrote a critical study of African-American literature entitled “Ride Out the Wilderness”.

The influence of James Baldwin’s work upon Dixon’s writings can be seen in his two novels, the 1989 “Trouble the Water”, a novel of family reconciliation which won the Nikon Award for Excellence in Minority Fiction, and the 1991 “Vanishing Rooms”, a novel of homophobia and racism revolving around three people who are each affected by the death of a gay man in New York City. “Vanishing Rooms” was nominated for a Lambda Literary Award for Gay Men’s Fiction. Dixon’s final volume of poetry, entitled “Love’s Instruments” published posthumously in 1995, was a tribute to gay men with AIDS-related illness.

Melvin Dixon translated many works from French to English. Included in these works are his translations of Haitian poet Jacques Roumain’s poetry; Professor of American Literature at the University of Paris, Genevierve Fabre’s history of black theater since 1945, entitled “Drumbeats, Masks, and Metaphor” and  published in 1983; and “The Collected Poetry of Leopold Seder Senghor”, published in 1991. This translation of Senghor’s work contains the majority of his poetic oeuvre, including his “lost” poems.

Dixon was an Assistant Professor at Williams College from 1975 to 1980, and a Professor of English Literature at Queens College of the City University of New York from 1980 until 1992. He also taught at the Graduate Center of the City University of New York, Fordham University and Columbia University. Dixon received a number of awards and fellowships including a Fulbright lectureship in Senegal from 1985 to 1986.

Melvin Dixon was in a long-term partnership with Richard Horowitz, an openly gay man who worked from 1983 to 1987 as a program officer of the Ford Foundation in Dakar, West Africa. Upon Horowitz’s return to the United States, he worked with the Ford Foundation to finance projects for AIDS patients internationally. He died at his summer home in Provincetown, Massachusetts, from complications due to AIDS in July of 1991. He was forty-four years in age.

Melvin Dixon had been battling AIDS since an initial diagnosis in 1989. At the age of forty-two, he died from AIDS-related complications in Stanford, Conneticutt, on October 28, 1992, one year after his partner. The Melvin Dixon Papers, which contain primarily of manuscripts, correspondence, notes, and journals, are part of the Archives and Manuscripts department of the New York Public Library. They are housed at the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, Manuscripts, Archives and Rare Books Division, located at 515 Malcolm X Boulevard, New York City.

Note: “this one” in the second stanza of the poem, “One by One”, refers to Dixon’s lover, Richard Horowitz

Emilio Baz Vlaud

The Artwork of Emilio Baz Vlaud

Born in Mexico City in 1918, Emilio Baz Vlaud was a painter whose work mostly included portraiture and scenes in the style of  Costumbrismo, images of local Hispanic life, customs, and mannerisms executed in  both artistic Realism and Romanticism.  Influenced by the Magical Realism movement that spread through the art and literary worlds after the first World War, Vlaud was known for his meticulous brushwork and his trompe-d’oeil technique. 

Emilio Baz Vlaud, at a very early age, had great skill in the arts. He would often watch his older gay brother, Ben-Hur Baz Vlaud, a 1926 graduate of the Academy de San Carlos and twelve years his senior, working on his own precisionist drawings and paintings. At the age of seventeen, Emilio Vlaud executed his first self-portrait, the 1935 “Self Portrait as a Teenager”, a highly refined work that is closely related to a self-portrait painted by his brother in the same year. In his self-portrait, Emilio shows himself with perfectly combed hair and dressed in a white shirt. He is  holding a green pencil at an angle, a position which visually divides the canvas in two,  and is shown gripping his elbow with his left hand. 

Emilio Baz Vlaud entered the Academia de San Carlos in 1938 where he initially studied architecture before changing his vocation to painting. He later took courses at the Escuela Nacional de Artes Plásticas, where he studied under the strict training of painter Manuel Rodríguez Lozano, an openly gay artist whose work is often linked to the works of metaphysical painter Giorgio de Chirico. Vlaud made several visits over the years to his older brother who had moved to New York City and was working as a successful commercial illustrator for magazines, such as Newsweek and Time. 

In 1950, Emilio Vlaud relocated to San Miguel Allende, situated in the far eastern part of Guanajuato. He exhibited his work in several collective exhibitions, where he showed his work alongside such prominent artists as painters and muralists Diego Rivera and David Alfaro Siqueiros. In 1951, Vlaud had his first solo exhibition; his flamenco-inspired technique of applying dry oil paints to surfaces by means of small strokes of a short brush were praised by critics and his fellow artists. During his eight year stay in San Miguel Allende, he received a gold medal for artistic merit from the University of Guanajuato. 

In 1962, Emilio Baz Vlaud entered the Monastery of Santa María de la Resurrecion for the purpose of studying psychoanalysis. After several years, he abandoned these studies to return to his vocation as a painter. Although Vlaud is mostly know for his portraiture and scenes done before 1955, he also went through an intense period of abstraction during the 1970s. In 1984, his work was presented at a collective exhibition entitled “Siete Pintores (Seven Painters)” at the Palacio de Bellas Artes in Mexico City. Emilio Baz Vlaud died in 1991. 

Insert Images:

Emilio Baz Viaud, “Self Portrait as a Teenager”, 1925, Watercolor, Pencil and Dry Brush on Board, 60 x 39.7 cm, Private Collection

Emilio Baz Vlaud, “El Coco”, circa 1955, Oil on Masonite, 50 x 40 cm, Blaisten Collection

Emilio Baz Vlaud, “Self Portrait in Blue Shirt”, 1941, Watercolor, Pencil and Dry Brush on Board, 100 x 65.5 cm, Blaisten Collection, Mexico City

 

Robert Rauschenberg

Robert Rauschenberg, “Self Portrait, Black Mountain (1)”, 1952, Gelatin Silver Print, 14.3 x 8.3 cm, Robert Rauschenberg Foundation

While studying at Black Mountain College in North Carolina between 1948 and 1952, Robert Rauschenberg focused his attention on mid-century experimental and abstract photography. His exploration of this medium was influenced by the works of photographer Aaron Siskind, whose detailed images created an innovation in abstract photography; Harry Callahan, a prolific photographer who rigorously curated his work; and educator and photographer Hazel Larson Archer, whose work captured life at Black Mountain.

Rauschenberg used a bold mixture of abstraction, double exposures, experiments with light and shadow, and used blueprint paper to produce photographs with a camera. Many of his earliest photographic experiments were portraits of close companions and people he met in conversations; these include artists such as choreographer and dancer Merce Cunningham and painter Cy Twombly.

A recurring subject of his experimental work was the self portrait, of which the double-exposure image above, “Self Portrait, Black Mountain (1)”, is an example. Shot in 1952, it features Rauschenberg seated on a wooden chair with his hands folded. Ghostly images of weeds and chairs are superimposed over his body.This photograph is a singular work in a portfolio edition of seven related photographs taken during the summer of 1952 at Black Mountain College near Asheville, North Carolina.

Digby Mackworth Dolben: “For Should He Ever Pass. . .”

Photographers Unknown, For Should He Ever Pass

My sister Death! I pray thee come to me
 Of thy sweet charity,
And be my nurse but for a little while;
 I will indeed lie still,
And not detain thee long, when once is spread,
 Beneath the yew, my bed:
I will not ask for lilies or for roses;
 But when the evening closes,
Just take from any brook a single knot
 Of pale Forget-me-not,
And lay them in my hand, until I wake,
 For his dear sake;
(For should he ever pass and by me stand,
 He yet might understand—)
Then heal the passion and the fever
 With one cool kiss, for ever.

Digby Macworth Dolben, Sister Death

Born in Guernsey in February of 1848, Digby Augustus Stewart Mackworth Dolben was an English poet. His father, William Harcourt Isham Mackworth, was the younger son of the Third Baronet, Sir Digby Mackworth, and his mother Frances Dolben was the daughter and heiress of Sir John English Dolben, the Fourth Baronet. Digby Dolben was raised, under a strict and uncompromising Protestant discipline, at Finedon Hall, his mother’s family estate in Northamptonshire, England.

Digby Mackworth Dolben was educated at Cheam School, a mixed preparatory school in Hampshire, and, starting in 1862, at Eaton College, where he studied under Headmaster and poet William Johnson Cory. William Cory’s method of teaching and his collection of verses, “Ionica” were sources of inspiration for Dolben in his own poetic writings. While at Eaton in the early 1860s, Dolben met his distant older cousin, Robert Bridges, who became his mentor and introduced him to his circle of high church friends. During his school years, Dolben seemed abstracted and other-worldly to his college friends; by his activities, he appeared to his headmaster as an agitator who was dangerously misguided.

In 1863, Dolben started to cause considerable scandal at Eaton College with his eccentric and exhibitionist behavior. Defying his strict Protestant upbringing, he became a novice in the English Order of Saint Benedict and began to sign his letters ‘Dominic’. By associating with the new ritualistic, religious revival of that time and wearing a monk’s habit, Dolben would cause scandal by walking, often barefoot, through the streets of the city. He also began to mark his romantic attachment to fellow student Martin Le Merchant Gosselin, a year senior, with written love poems. It was during this period that Dolben destroyed by fire all his previous written poetic work.

In July of 1863, Robert Bridges left Eaton to attend Oxford College. Several weeks later on July 30th, Digby Dolben was dismissed from Eaton after engaging in secret meetings with Jesuit priests. He maintained his communication with Bridges through letters sent to Oxford; however, there is no evidence of any poems being written since the destruction of his earlier work. It was not until the Lenten season of 1864 that Dolben resumed his poetry writing. At the age of sixteen, he wrote his first mature poem “Homo Factus Est” and had six poems published in the Union Review.

On his seventeenth birthday in 1865, Digby Dolben was introduced by his cousin Robert Bridges to Gerald Manley Hopkins, a fellow poet who was attending Oxford’s Balliol College. In accounts to his biographer, Hopkins stated that meeting Dolben, who was four years his junior, was the most emotional event of his undergraduate years, and probably his entire life. After Hopkins was forbidden by his High Anglican confessor to have any contact with Dolben, Hopkins and Dolben maintained their communication through letters; Hopkins wrote, during this time, two poems about his love for Dolben, “Where Art Thou Friend” and “The Beginning of the End’.

In 1865, Dolben’s work began to mature as he turned from writing Christian themed poetry to poems portraying a more Greco or pagan ideal of beauty. By 1866, he had moved to the Welsh village of Boughrood and studied there under tutor Henry de Winton for his Oxford entrance exams. Dolben took his entrance exams on May 2nd of 1867; however, he fainted during the exams and received a failing score. Thirteen days later on June 28th, Digby Mackworth Dolben, at the age of nineteen, drowned in the River Welland.

In 1865, Dolben’s work began to mature as he turned from writing Christian themed poetry to poems portraying a more Greco or pagan ideal of beauty. By 1866, he had moved to the Welsh village of Boughrood and studied there under tutor Henry de Winton for his Oxford entrance exams. Dolben took his entrance exams on May 2nd of 1867; however, he fainted during the exams and received a failing score. Thirteen days later on June 28th, Digby Dolben, at the age of nineteen, drowned in the River Welland.

Digby Dolben had taken Walter, the ten year old son of his tutor, Reverend C. E. Pritchard, on his back across the deep river. Upon the return swim, Dolben sank within several yards of the shoreline. Walter Pritchard, only able to float on his back, made it to shore with the assistance of men who came to the rescue. Dolben’s body was found several hours later when it surfaced further down the river. He was buried under the altar at Finedon Estate on July 6th of 1867.

In 1911, Robert Bridges, who would become poet laureate of England two years later, published the poetry of his cousin Digby Dolben, all of which had been written in the last three years of Dolben’s life. Approached by Gerald Manley Hopkins as to whether the Dolben family would publish Dolben’s work, the independently wealthy Bridges decided he would finance the publishing of both Dolben’s and Hopkins’s collectibe poetry. Published in a single volume entitled “Poems”, Digby Dolben’s work is considered to be among the best poetry of the Oxford Movement.

In 1981, “The Poems and Letters of Digby Mackworth Dolben, 1848-1867”, compiled by Martin Cohen, was published by the Avebury press. In 2017, author Simon Edge published his historical fiction novel “The Hopkins Conundrum”, a story about Gerald Hopkins’s infatuation with Dolben.

Note: A journal article on the life of Digby Mackworth Dolben, written by Liam Brophy, can be found at the JSTOR site located at: https://www.jstor.org/stable/20513622

An online copy of Robert Bridges’s 1911 “Poems of Digby Mackworth Dolben”, published by Oxford University Press, can be found on The Internet Archive located at: https://archive.org/details/poemsofdigbymack00dolb_0/page/n3/mode/2up

Carl Phillips: “How They Woke, Finally, in a Bed of Ferns”

Photographers Unknown, Twelve Men Seated

How they woke, finally, in a bed of ferns — horsetail ferns.
How they died singing. All night, meanwhile, as if somehow
the fox’s mouth that so much of this life has amounted to had
briefly unshut itself — and the moth that’s trapped there,
unharmed, gone free — a snow fell; the snow-filled street
seemed a toppled column, like the one in the mind called
doubt, or that other one,
                                              persuasion, the broken one, in three
clean pieces …Well, it’s morning, now. Out back, the bamboo
bows and stiffens. Thoughts in a wind. Thoughts like (but
nobody saying it): Nobody, I think, knows me better by
now than you do. Or like: The bamboo, bowing, stiffening,
seems like nothing so much as, in this light, competing forms
of betrayal that, given time, must surely cancel each other
out, close your eyes; patience; wait. Maybe less the foliage
than the promise of it. Less that shame exists, maybe, than that
the world keeps saying it does, know it, hold on tight to it, as if
the world were rumor, how every rumor
                                                                           rings true, lately.
When I’m ashamed, I make a point of reminding myself what
is shame but to have shown — to have let it show — that variety
of love that goes hand in hand with having wished to please
and, in pleasing, for a while belong. So shame can, like love, be
an eventual way through? There’s a minor chord sparrows make
with doves that’s not the usual business — it’s not sad at all, any of it:
this always waiting for what I’ve always waited for; this not being
able to assign to what’s missing some shape, a name; this body
neither antlered nor hooved — brave too, this body, unapologetic…

Carl Phillips, Blow It Back

Born in Everett, Washington in 1959, Carl Phillips is an American writer and poet. As a child of a military family, he moved frequently around the United States in his formative years until his family settled in Cape Cod, Massachusetts. Phillips earned his Bachelor of Arts from Harvard University and Master of Arts in Teaching from the University of Massachusetts. He continued his education at Boston University, where he earned a Master of Arts in Creative Writing.

Along with other black poets such as John Keene, Natasha Trethewey, and Major Jackson, Carl Phillips was a member of the Dark Room Collective. Founded after the funeral of James Baldwin in 1987, this collective began as an intergenerational reading series which hosted and cultivated the work of black poets of various aesthetic movements. Many of the current leading figures in the poetic movement had their beginnings with the Dark Room Collective.

Beginning as a teenager, Phillips wrote poetry until his entry into Harvard University on a scholarship, where he began to study Latin and Greek. It was not until 1990, while coming to terms with his gay identity, that he resumed his poetic writing. A classicist by training, Phillips often uses classical forms in his work and often references classical art, music, and literature. He received critical acclaim early in his career with the publication of his debut collection, “In the Blood”, which won the Samuel Morse Poetry Prize in 1992.

Carl Phillips’s second collection, “Cortège”, was nominated in 1995 for the National Book Critics Circle Award. Six years later, his collections, “Pastoral” in 2000 and “The Tether” in 2001, were both well received, with “Pastoral” winning the 2001 Lambda Literary Award for Best Poetry. Two of Phillips’s works, the 2009 “Speak Low” and the 2011 “Double Shadow”, winner of the Los Angeles Times Book Prize for Poetry, were finalists for the National Book Award.

In addition to over a dozen volumes of poetry, Carl Phillips has published works of criticism and translation. Two collections of essays, “Coin of the Realm: Essays on Life and the Art of Poetry” and “The Art of Daring: Risk, Restlessness, Imagination”, were published by Graywolf Press in 2004 and 2014, respectively. Phillips’s translation of Sophocles’s “Philoctetes” was published in 2003 by the Oxford University Press.

Before teaching English at the university level, Phillips taught Latin at several high schools in Massachusetts. He is currently a Professor of English at Saint Louis’s Washington University, where he also teaches Creative Writing. Phillips was elected a chancellor of the Academy of American Poets in 2006 and, since 2011, has served as a judge for the Yale Series of Younger Poets.

Carl Phillips’s honors include fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation and the Library of Congress. He is the recipient of the Academy of American Poets Fellowship, an Award in Literature from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, the Academy of American Poets Prize, and a Pushcart Prize, and he has been inducted into the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.

Mati Gelman

Mati Gelman, “Joel”, Date Unknown, Trending Deities Series, Photograph, Computer Graphics

Born in Hungary, Mati Gelman is a commercial and fine art photographer who spent his early years living in Israel. Interested in the processes of nature and humans’ interaction with them, he initially pursued a vocation in the field of science and earned a Bachelors of Science in Biochemistry from the Israel Institute of Technology in Haifa and a Masters of Science in Chemistry from the Bar Han University in Tel Aviv. Upon moving to New York City in 2015, Gelman decided to enhance his self-taught photographic skills with technical courses at the International Center for Photography and the Pratt Institute, both located in Manhattan.

Gelman’s work aesthetic focuses on the connections between the forces of nature and the human body. His images explore the issues of human integration with nature, sexuality, and queerness; they are heavily influenced by legends and fairytales, which have had a lasting impact on human society. Gelman tends to create scenes which provoke an ominous sensation in order to induce a sense of the unknown. As human beings are pattern recognizers and often prescribe meaning to unaccustomed phenomena, the elements of Gelman’s works are intentionally left open to the viewers’ interpretations.

Mati Gelman creates stories and shapes his characters through both his imagination and his life experiences. His work is a blend of photography and computer graphics. Using a Sony a7R11 with a 24-70 lens, Gelman photographs his posed subjects and continues his work with Lightroom for minor adjustments and Photoshop for the basic effects. Gelman won the ViewPoint Gallery International Photography competition for his work entitled “Flight”, an image of a figure mid-air surrounded by billowing cloth in the light of a sunset. His “Entangled”, a figure seemingly suspended by strips of white cloth, won first place in the 2018 Chromatic Awards. Gelman has also won awards at the Annual Fine Art Photography Awards, FAPA, in 2019 and 2020.

Besides his fine art photography, Gelman has executed photo shoots for off-Broadway theater productions. He shot the promotional images for playwright and director Asher Gelman’s 2018 theater production, “Afterglow”, a character study which explored the dynamics of an open gay relationship involving three personality archetypes. Mati Gelman’s work also includes photo shoots for the following plays: “Diaspora”, “Safeword”, “Eco Village”, “Counting Sheep”, “We Are the Tigers”, and “Medusa”.

The title image “Joel” and the middle insert image, title unknown, are from Mati Gelman’s “Trending Deities” series which explores the parallels between ritual and worship in both religion and social media. Using both modern and traditional references throughout the series, Gelman’s work uses cinematic proportions as a reference to smartphone screens and, by multiplying the characters and placing them in ritualistic activities, depicts the virtual cult-like following that is adherent on social media platforms. The color palettes and compositions were inspired by Renaissance, Greco-Roman, and Medieval art.

The work of Mati Gelman can be found at the artist’s sites: https://www.matigelman.com and Instagram @matigelman .

Denis Dailleux

Photography by Denis Dailleux

Born in Angers, France in 1958, Denis Dailleux is a portraiture photographer who has been documenting life in Egypt for the past thirty years. His works, done in classical black and white as well as in subtle colors, equally capture Egypt’s famous residents and the anonymous subjects in the slums of Cairo with the same passion and the same distinctive sensitivity.

Dailleux has published a series of photographic books, all of which  portray the settings and people of Egypt, the city of Cairo, and his impressions of the 2011 January Revolution in Egypt. After the publishing of his 2008 “Fils de Roi: Portraits of Egypt”, Dailleux took an exploratory trip to Sub-Saharan Africa in search of new sources of inspiration. This expedition led to a portrait series on the village residents in the country of Ghana.

Denis Dailleux has been awarded several international prizes, including the 1997 Monographies Award, the 2000 World Press Photo Award in the portraits category, the 2000 City of Vevey Hasselblad Award in Switzerland, and the 2001 Fuji Film Award given at Biarritz’s Festival Terre d’Images. Dailleux’s series “Egypt, Mother and Son”, portraits of Egyptian bodybuilders with their mothers, won second prize at the 2014 World Press Photo Awards in the staged portraits category. 

A member of Agence VU, Denis Dailleux currently lives in Cairo, Egypt, where he works as a portrait photographer. His website is located at: https://www.denisdailleux.com/index.php?/

The images above contain photographs from several of Dailleux’s series: “Ghana” and “Egypt“; “Egypt, Mother and Son”,  and “Les Conducteurs de Tuk-Tuk du Cairo”.

John Giorno

 

Photographers Unknown, Thirteen Men Who Traveled Here

An unemployed
machinist
An unemployed machinist
who travelled
here
who travelled here
from Georgia
from Georgia 10 days ago
10 days ago
and could not find
a job
and could not find a job
walked
into a police station
walking into a police station
yesterday and said
yesterday
and said:

“I’m tired
of being scared
I’m tired of being scared.”

—John Giorno, An Unemployed Machinist, Balling Buddha, 1970

Born in New York City in December of 1936, John Giorno was a poet and performance artist. Raised in both Brooklyn and Roslyn Heights, Long Island, he graduated from New York’s Columbia University in 1958. In his early life, Giorno was a muse to and entered into romantic relationships with other artists, among them Robert Rauschenberg and Andy Warhol, whom he met in 1963 during Warhol’s first solo exhibition at the Stable Gallery in New York City. Giorno starred in Warhol’s 1963 four-minute film entitled “John Washing” and also appeared in Warhol’s eight-hour 1964 silent film, “Sleep”, the plot of which entailed Giorno sleeping on camera.

Inspired by his associations with Rauschenberg, Warhol, and Jasper Johns, Giorno began to appropriate found textual imagery to his poetry. An example of this can be found in the1964 poem “The American Book of the Dead”. Portions of this poem were used in works contained in Giorno’s first full collection “Poems”, published in 1967. Later meetings with sound poet and performance artist Brion Gysin and writer William S. Burroughs led to Giorno applying cut-up and montage techniques to found texts, and, influenced by the work of Gysin, the recording of his first audio poem pieces.

Established as an active presence in New York’s art scene, John Giorno collaborated with Brion Gysin on “Subway Sound” in 1965, and with Robert Rauschenberg in 1966 on “Nine Evenings of Theater and Engineering”. From 1967 to 1969, John Giorno presented his “Electronic Sensory Poetry Environments”, a series produced in collaboration with synthesizer creator Robert Moog and other artists. These psychedelic happenings and poetry installations were shown at St. Marks Church in Manhattan. In 1965, Giorno founded Giorno Poetry Systems, a non-profit production company that connected new audiences to poetry by the use of new technologies, engaged in political organizing, and created new artworks.

Giorno organized the first Dial-A-Poem event in 1968 at the non-profit Architectural League of New York. This poetic event was repeated at the Museum of Modern Art from 1969 to 1970, and resulted in a series of long-playing records issued by Giorno Poetry Systems. Poets who participated in these events included Patti Smith, William Burroughs, Eldridge Cleaver, and Bobby Seale. John Giorno was unapologetic in his use of politically-charged and sexually salacious content; he used his work to draw attention to his own status as a gay man, police violence in America, and the countless deaths caused by the war in Vietnam.

In the late 1960s, John Giorno’s work evolved to include the appropriation of entire texts from newspapers, the development of double-column poems, montages of diverse and often radically different texts, and the extensive use of repetition both across and down the page.This use of repetitive words and phrases reproduced textually the echos and distortions which occurred in Giorno’s vocal performances. Several of these poems were included in his 1970 “Balling Buddha”.

After traveling to India in 1971 and meeting His Holiness Dudjom Rinpoche, Giorno became one of the early Western students of Tibetan Buddhism, a practice in which he participated for several decades. His early poetic works occasionally reflect Asian religious themes; but those after the 1970 collection, “Cancer in My Left Ball”, are a mixture of Buddhist and Western practices and poetic techniques seen through Giorno’s original interpretation. For instance in his 1970-72 poem “Guru Rinpoche”, Giorno mixed pop imagery with sacred sutras and portrayed gay eroticism as a form of spiritual devotion.

In 1972, John Giorno began releasing compilation records under the newly incorporated Giorno Poetry Systems media label. Presented through cassettes, long-playing records and compact discs, these audio works included new wave and punk music, and an assortment of vocal artists, musicians, and poets. Giorno Poetry Systems expanded in 1984 with the establishment of the AIDS Treatment Project, an emergency response to the impacts of the epidemic on artists’ lives. This project provided funds for artists living with AIDS through the early 2000s, when it was officially transformed into the Poets and Artists Fund.

Retired from performing in 2017, Giorno spent the last two years of his life in meditation, composing his poetry, and editing his memoir “Great Demon Kings”. John Giorno died of a heart attack at age eighty-two in October of 2019 at his home in Lower Manhattan. At the time of his death, he was married to Swiss-born Ugo Rondinone, a mixed-media artist known for his paintings and large-scale land-art sculptures.

Notes:
The john Giorno Foundation can be found at: https://www.giornofoundation.org/the-foundation
There are two interesting reads for those interested in John Giorno and his work. The first is an interview between journalist and essayist Marcus Boon and John Giorno, which is presented by Bomb Magazine, It can be found at: https://bombmagazine.org/articles/john-giorno-1/

The second is an article, written in 1994, by journalist and author Robert Coe and entitled “Becoming Buddha: John Giorno”. This more extensive biographical piece can be found at The Buddhist Review, Tricycle, located at: https://tricycle.org/magazine/becoming-buddha/