Rane Arroyo: “Secret Sleepwalking into Each Other’s Doubts”

Photographers Unknown, A World of Color

It’s the story of my life; minus
the big budget close-ups, plus a film
director unsure of my fate, minus
a season among sheep, plus mountains
looking like saddles for my true
love to ride, minus extras with tire irons,
minus awards, but the yes of two
men becoming one, the sí of kissing far
from angels (how Blakean), plus
Mormon underwear stripteases, Sundays
wearing vodka haloes, plus
nights spent on the floor and somehow
not stepped upon by God, plus
exorcisms and cold rivers, whispers in
Spanish from our missions, plus
secret sleepwalkings into each other’s
doubts, free to quote Wilde, plus
a plan to escape America, but
it’s the exact story of my life with
my cowboy, minus the sense of an impending
Patmos, that franchise of whispers and
wild kisses, minus the script
(we were our best scriptures), we the scarred
ghosts wearing landscape’s honesty, photogenic
Adam’s Apples, designer sorrow, minus
talk show rodeos, paparazzi round-ups,
politically-correct high fives, minus
the nightmares of winged horses with
hooves striking rocks to start fires, plus
slow motion nights on Speed, education
and library cards, the Spanish of my skin, plus
a belief in doom, nights bedding the moon,
two men without spin doctors, plus
an unedited nakedness, joy rides in beds
offering amnesty for the crime of being,
plus our Tijuana plans for a destiny makeover,
our nights as free verse Rimbauds
in cowboy boots, plus vaqueros keeping
quiet about specifics that become
the story of my life, plus Judgement Day
drinking games: showing God just
Brokeback Mountain to explain myself,
minus the editing, each moment as
Love’s monument and God’s cameo, in my
image, in my imagination, in my
nation while I and my cowboy are silent
having to learned to speak wind,
wind from nowhere, wind with news of home,
of our entangled shadows seeking
us with the plus and the minus of having
form, and we ride away from the cosmic
to the specifics of long nights without stars
with clenched fists, us undressed and
wondering what it feels like to become fiction

Rane Arroyo, Brokeback Mountain

Born in November of 1954 in Chicago, Rane Arroyo was an American poet, playwright and scholar of Puerto Rican descent. He earned his PhD in English and Cultural Studies form the University of Pittsburgh. Arroyo was a professor of English and Creative Writing at the University of Toledo in Ohio. 

In the 1980s, Rane Arroyo began his career as a performance artist in Chicago’s art galleries and eventually focused on his poetry. Openly gay, he wrote poetry, short stories and plays that were frequently self-reflexive, autobiographical works. Arroyo’s work dealt to a large degree with the issues of homosexuality, immigration, and the Latino culture. In his poetic stanzas and narratives, he juxtaposed his literary knowledge with contemporary pop culture.  

Arroyo’s 1996 poetry collection, “The Singing Shark”, won the 1997 Carl Sandburg Poetry Prize and his poem “Breathing Lessons”, published in Emerson College’s literary journal, won a 1997 Pushcart Prize. For his 2005 collection “The Portable Famine”, Arroyo won the2004-05 John Ciardi Poetry Prize. Included among his ten poetry collections are the 2006 “Don Quixote Goes to the Moon”;“The Roswell Poems” and “Same-Sex Séances”, both published in 2008; and his last collection, the 2010 “White as Silver: Poems”.

In addition to his poetry, Rane Arroyo wrote a book of short stories in 2005 entitled “How to Name a Hurricane”. His performed plays include such works as “The Amateur Virgin”, “Emily Dickinson in Bandages”, Prayers for a Go-Go Boy”, and “The House with Black Windows”, co-written with poet Glenn Sheldon, and performed in 1995 by the Polaris Theater in New York City.

Arroyo served as the co-Vice President of the Board of Directors for the Association of Writers and Writing Programs and as the co-Chair for the 2009 Chicago Conference. Nominated sixteen times for the Pushcart Prize for Poetry, Arroyo was awarded a Stonewall Books Chapbook Prize, the Hart Crane Memorial Poetry Prize, The Sonora Review Chapbook Prize from Arizona University, and a 2007 Ohio Arts Council Excellence Award in Poetry. 

Rane Arroyo died in the early morning of April 7th in 2010 due to a cerebral hemorrhage. He is survived by his life-long partner, American  poet Glenn Sheldon. In 2015, Rane Arroyo was inducted into the Chicago Literary Hall of Fame. His papers are archived at the Center for Puerto Rican Studies at Hunter College in New York City.

Carl Phillips: “To Sing a Song of Water”

 

Photographers Unknown, To Sing a Song of Water

Archery

           was still a thing, then. To have timed your arrow
perfectly meant watching the air for a moment
seem stitched throughout with a kind of
timelessness. To have straddled at last, correctly,
the storm of falling in love (and staying there) meant
the smell of apples, victory, tangerines, and smoke
all mixed together on the breath

of a stranger, half asleep still, just beginning to remember a bit,
as he stirs beside you. I dreamed we were young again,
he’s mumbling, as if to someone whose name he’s known
long enough to have called it out more than once in anger
and sex and fear equally. Somewhere happiness too,

right? All those hours spent trying to outstare the distance
of what the days must come to,

and pretending a choice to it: now the shadow-script
that willows and hazel trees mark the barn’s western
face with; now the wind-rippled field, like a lesser version—tamer,
tameable—of the sea, for movement (same infinite
pattern, and variation; randomness and intention; release;
restraint—that kind of movement) …

                                                         Dear saddle
of gentleness. Dear moss, sweet moss that only
the dark and wet and patience make possible. To sing a song
of  water, and not drown in it. And some calling that
a good trick. And some calling it

mastery. That last flickering before nightfall. From beneath
the low branches. I dreamed we were new again. Stars. Just a little
past dusk.

Carl Phillips, Archery, 2020

Born in Everett, Washington, in July of 1959, Carl Phillips is an American poet and writer. The child of a military family which changed residences year to year, he spent his teenage years in Cape Cod, Massachusetts. Phillips earned his Bachelor of Arts from Harvard University, where he studied Latin and Greek. He next earned a Master of Arts in Teaching from the University of Massachusetts, and his Master of Arts in Creative Writing from Boston University. 

Phillips first began to write poetry in his teenage years, a time during which he constructed a world of his own that he could rely on. After entering Harvard University, he did not write any poetry for a long time; however, in 1990 after coming to terms with his identity as a gay man, Phiilips rediscovered his voice as a poet. A classicist by his formal training, he draws allusions to classical art, music and literature in his poems through the use of metaphors and associative words. His poems are often presented in a narrative form which is emphasized through the use of spaced pauses, italics, hyphens, ellipsis, and parentheses. 

Phillips published his first collection of poems, “In the Blood”, in 1992. This collection of love poems and poems based on Greek mythology and Christian iconography won the Samuel French Morse Poetry Prize. His second book, the 1995 “Cortège”, a collection which explores desire and the various points at which spirit and flesh intersect, was nominated tor the National Book Critics Circle Award and the Lambda Gay Men’s Poetry Award.

Carl Phillips’s collections, the 2000 “Pastoral” and the 2001 “The Tether”, winner of the Kingsley Tuft Poetry Award, were both well received by the critics. His seventh book, the 2005 “The Rest of Love”, examined the conflict between belief and disbelief and our ability to face up to hard truths. This collection won the 2005 Thom Gunn Award. Phillips’s recent work includes “Speak Low”, a 2009 work that was a finalist for the National Book Award; the 2011 “Double Shadow” which won the Los Angeles Times Book Prize for Poetry; and the 2013 “Silverchest” which was nominated for the Griffin Prize. His thirteenth collection of poems, the 2015 “Reconnaissance”, was nominated for an NAACP Image Award for Best Poetry and won the Lambda Literary Award and the PEN Center USA Award.

Carl Phillips has also published works of criticism; two collections of essays puvlished by Graywolf Press include the 2004 “Coin of the Realm”Essays on the Life and Art of Poetry” and the 2014 “The Art of Daring: Risk, Restlessness, Imagination”. 

Carl Phillips previously taught Latin in public schools for eight years before becoming Professor of English at St. Louis’s Washington University, where he also teaches creative writing. He was elected a chancellor of the Academy of American Poets in 2006 and has served as the judge for the Yale Series of Younger Poets since 2011. Phillips received an Award in Literature form the American Academy of Arts and Letters, the Academy of American Poets Prize and a Pushcart Prize. 

Note: Carl Phillip’s 1995 poem, “Cortège”, was actually my first choice for the poem to be included with his biography; however, the poem in its full form was too lengthy for this posting. For those interested in reading this poem, I offer this link: https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poems/47856/cortege-56d228a1cf7ae

Francisco Brines: “The Cause of Love”

Photographers Unknown, The Cause of Love

When they have asked me the cause of my love
I have never answered: You already know its great bearuty.
(And there are still more beautiful faces.)
Nor have I described the certain qualities of his spirit
that he always showed me in his customs,
or in readiness for silence or smile
as required by my secret.
They were things of the soul, and I said nothing about her.
(And I should still add that I have met higher souls.)
The fruit of my love now I know:
man’s imperfections overcome his presence,
it is atrocious to think
that bodies do not correspond to souls in us,
and so the grace of the spirit blinds bodies,
its clarity, the aching flower of experience,
goodness itself.
important events that we never discovered,
or we find out late.
The bodies lie, other times, an airy heat,
moved light, honda freshness;
and the damage reveals its dry falsehood to us.
Know the truth of my love now:
matter and breath joined in his life
like the light that falls on the mirror
(it was a small light, a tiny mirror);
It was a perfect random creation.
A being in order grew next to me,
and my disorder was serene.
I loved its limited perfection.

–Francisco Brines, Cause of Love

Born in Oliva, Valencia, in January of 1932, Francisco Brines Bañó was a Spanish poet and essayist. He was a prominent member of the Generation of “50, a Spanish literary movement whose new literary language incorporated metaphysical and philosophical techniques to undermine the strict censorship of the Franco government.

After studying at the Jesuits of Valencia, Francisco Brines attended the University of Madrid, where he studied Philosophy and Letters, and also the Universities of Valencia, Deusto and Salamanca, where he earned a degree in Law. He became a reader of Spanish literature at the University of Cambridge and a Professor of Spanish at the University of Oxford.

Described as a metaphysical poet, Brines was highly influenced by the work of Luis Cernuda, an openly gay poet of the Generation of ’27; inspired by these works, many of Brines’s poems also convey the theme of homosexual love. His poetry is characterized by the intimate tone of his verses, the constant reflection on the passage of time and decay of the living, and observations on the condition of a human being subjected to his own limitations. Memory also plays a fundamental role in Brines’s writing; although, his poems reveal the belief that neither poetry nor memory can endure the passage of time or save the moments of the past.

Francisco Brines’s first collection of poems, entitled “Las Brasas (Embers)”, was published in 1959 and won the 1960 Adonais Poetry Prize. In 1966, Francisco Brines published “Words in the Dark”, which earned him the National Critics Award in 1967. In the same year, he also won the Valencian Literature Award. “The Autumn of Roses’, a collection of sixty poems written over a ten year period, was published in 1986 and won the National Prize for Literature. This book, in which elegies of lamentation and exaltation merge, was his most critically acclaimed work.

Entering the world of theater, Brines revised and adapted playwright Pedro Calderón de la Barca’s 1636 drama“El Alcalde de Zalamea (The Mayor of Zalamea)”. Directed by José Luis Alonso, the play was performed by the Classical Theater Company in 1988. Told in three acts, it explored the power of a self-made man against political authority in seventeenth-century Spain,

Brines was recognized for his work by the Royal Spanish Academy in 1998 with the Fastenrath Prize and, later, received the 1999 National Prize for Spanish Letters for his poetic oeuvre. Elected a member of the Royal Spanish Academy of the Language in April of 2000, Brines gave his institutional speech on the poetry of Luis Cernuda, one of the poets who influenced his work. In 2020, he won the Premio Cervantes, the most important literary award of the Spanish language world.

Francisco Brines Bañó was taken to Gandía Hospital shortly after King Felipe VI and Queen Letizia presented him with the 2020 Cervantes Prize at his family estate in Oliva, Valencia, as he was unable to attend the official ceremony due to his delicate state of health. He died on the 20th of May in 2021, at the age of eighty-one, at Gandía Hospital, after a hernia operation.

Note: An interesting article on the homoeroticism of Francisco Brines’s poetry, long regarded as an open secret but rarely acknowledged in critical studies, entitled “Francisco Brines and the Humanist Closet” by Jonathan Mathew of the University of Kansas, can be found at: https://kuscholarworks.ku.edu/bitstream/handle/1808/7478/Mayhew_Francisco%20Brines.pdf?sequence=1&isAllowed=y

Virgilio Pinera: “The Waves of Music We Made”

Photographers Unknown, The Waves of Music We Made

Can it be they are going to kill?
Will they pierce the heart with a huge knife?
And with the sharpest scalpel empty the eyes?
And with the steeliest chisel break the skull?
And with the most hammer of hammers crush the bones?

Can it be that on the exotic table
–table of sex, table of love–
my love, you and I,
being startled one night
your heart spoke
when you were under my blood?
Can it be the same as it was
when it was an oath, and even more so,
your work, your word bled,
soaked by the soft perfume of kisses,
so as not to deny, to be one indivisible?
And can it be so blindly believed,
so blindly, that all the suns go dark forever
while the soul travels in darkness?
Can it be there never was a soul despite the waves of music
we made?
Soul that never was though you might be for an instant?

Renenber that instant when you were a soul and adored
me,
and then your own monster came suddenly
to take you to the place where being you were?

Can it be that after you are no longer,
when not being is merely a mound of dried out kisses,
you wil be by not being, instead of being love?

Virgilio Pinera, Poem to be Said in the Midst of a Great Silence, The Weight of the Island, 1967

Born in Cárdenas, Matanzas, Cuba in 1912, Virgilio Piñera was an author, playwright, poet, and essayist known for his avant-garde work, caustic wit, acid tongue, and bohemian lifestyle. He lived under the dual repression of the Catholic church and reactionary government leaders such as Argentina’s Juan Perón and Cuba’s Fulgencio Batista. Piñera’s homosexuality and non-conformism led to his marginalization during a well-documented period of Cuban history when homophobia and petty bureaucracy stifled creative freedom

An avid reader from an early age, which included works by Marcel Proust and Herman Melville, Piñera drew his inspiration from different genres, a foundation which became fundamental to his distinctive work with its combination of Cuban vernacular and more refined language.At the age of thirteen, Piñera’s family moved to Camagüey, a municipality located in central Cuba, where he earned his high school diploma. After settling in Havana in 1938,  he received his Doctoral Degree in philosophy from the University of Havana in 1949. 

Piñera published in his poems in Havana’s literary magazine “Espuela de Plata” and, in 1941. wrote his first poetry collection, “Las Furias (The Furies)” and  his most famous play “Electra Garrigó”, which featured the choral structure of a Greek tragedy alongside distinctive Cuban elements. Staged both before and after the revolution of Castro and Guevara, this play later became a powerful symbol of the Revolution and was consciously performed before foreign and  notable public figures as  being emblematic of the transformed nation.

Following his founding of the magazine “Poeta” in 1942, Piñera wrote his collection of poems entitled “La Isla en Peso (The Weight of the Island)”. Drawing upon episodes in his personal life as well as the social interactions occurring inside Cuba, he explored the nebulous regions between sadness and beauty, and disillusion and reality. Published posthumously after Piñera’ death in 1979, “The Weight of the Island” was initially scorned by some poets and critics; however, the collection is now regarded as one of the classics of Cuban literature.

In 1944, Virgilio Piñera, along with writer José Lezama Lima and editor and critic José Rodríguez Feo, founded the prestigious literary and arts review “Origenes”, which provided a focal point for promising poets and critics in Cuba during the 1940s and 1950s. The journal published short stories, poetry, and critical essays on art, literature, music and philosophy. Among Piñera’s contributions were several poems, an essay on Argentinian literature, and an 1945 essay entitled “El Secreto de Kafka”, a work in which Piñera developed his theory on the creation of images into a literary surprise. 

Piñera lived in Buenos Aires, Argentina, for a twelve year period from 1946 to 1958; it was  during this stay that he developed his voice as a writer. He worked as a translator and proofreader at the Cuban Embassy and became friends with writers Jorge Luis Borges and essayist José Bianco, who would write the forward to Piñera’s collection of short stories “El que Vina a Salvarme (The One Who Came to Save Me)”. Along with other writers, Piñera worked on the translation of Polish author Witold Gombrowicz’s 1937 controversial novel “Ferdydurke” into Spanish. 

Virgilio Piñera wrote two plays in Buenos Aires,  “Jesús” and “Falsa Alarma”, a fast paced, absurdist play of humor and anguish, to which he lengthened with dialogue for a later 1957 staging. His first novel, entitled “La Carne de René (René’s Flesh)”, was published in 1952 and told the dark story of a twenty-year old protagonist forced into a merciless life. After the closure of his literary review “Origenes” and the founding of his final magazine “Ciclón (Cyclone)”, Piñera left Argentina in 1958 to settle permanently in Cuba, where he arrived shortly before the Revolution. His work appeared in the newspaper “Revolución” and other numerous journals. In 1962, with the Cuban revolution in full motion, Piñera’s  most autobiographical play, “Airo Frio (Cold Air)”, a very personal celebratory work supporting the ouster of dictator Batista’s police and army, opened in Havana. 

Shortly after the opening of “Airo Frio”, Fidel Castro’s government made the decision that there was no room for any views other than those completely sympathetic to the Revolution. Intellectuals and other luminaries, as well as the religious and those youths not conforming to the revolution, were to face persecution. Virgilio Piñera, although never public about his homosexuality, was arrested under the revolutionary government’s clampdown on the prostitutes, pimps and homosexuals. By 1971, he was ostracized by the Cuban government and the literary establishment. As his career declined into obscurity. Piñera continued to write at n increased rate; however, his plays were no longer performed. 

In 1968, Piñera received Latin America’s most prestigious literary prize, the Premio Casa de las Américas, for his play “Dos Viejos Pánicos (Two Old Panics)”. Despite the award and acclaim, the play would not have its first performance in Cuba until the 1990s.  Leaving behind more than twenty plays, three novels, volumes of short stories and a vast number of poems, Virgilio Piñera, who lived the last years of his life in poverty, died of a cardiac arrest on the 18th of August in 1979, without any official recognition of his death. He is buried in his native town of Cárdenas.

As a way to redress some of the wrongs committed against Piñera in the past, Cuba declared the year 2012 as “El Añ0 Virgiliano”. In the month of June, a group of thirty researchers from countries, such as the United Kingdom, Mexico, Spain and the United States, came together in Havana to discuss the life, work and legacy of Virgilio Pañera, one of Latin America’s prominent writers. His two best known plays, “Airo Frio” and “Dos Viejos Pánicos”, were performed and a new ballet by choreographer Iván Tenorio, entitled “Virgiliando”, had its premiere. 

Note: The University of Miami Libraries contains the digital Cuban Heritage Collection which includes material on Virgilio Piñera. Included in the material are correspondence exchanged between Piñera and Adolfo de Obieta during the 1940s and 1950s, as well as a typescript of Piñera’s play “Una Caja de Zapatos Vacía” that he sent to his friend Luis F. González-Cruz, who published it in Miami in 1986. This material can be found at: https://merrick.library.miami.edu/cdm/search?collection=chc5278

William Morris Meredith: “Alive in Our Skins”

Photographers Unknown, Alive in Our Skins

Spared by a car or airplane crash or
cured of malignancy, people look
around with new eyes at a newly
praiseworthy world, blinking eyes like these.

For I’ve been brought back again from the
fine silt, the mud where our atoms lie
down for long naps. And I’ve also been
pardoned miraculously for years
by the lava of chance which runs down
the world’s gullies, silting us back.
Here I am, brought back, set up, not yet
happened away.

But it’s not this random
life only, throwing its sensual
astonishments upside down on
the bloody membranes behind my eyeballs,
not just me being here again, old
needer, looking for someone to need,
but you, up from the clay yourself,
as luck would have it, and inching
over the same little segment of earth-
ball, in the same little eon, to
meet in a room, alive in our skins,
and the whole galaxy gaping there
and the centuries whining like gnats—
you, to teach me to see it, to see
it with you, and to offer somebody
uncomprehending, impudent thanks.

William Morris Meredith, Accidents of Birth, Effort at Speech: New and Selected Poems, 1997

Born in January of 1919 in New York City, William Morris Meredith attended Lenox School in Massachusetts, graduating in 1936, and began writing poetry as a student at Princeton University. He graduated magna cum laude in 1940; his senior these was on the poet Robert Frost. After graduating, he worked for a year at the New York Times as a reporter before joining the army. Meredith transferred to the United States Navy in 1942 to become a pilot; he served on aircraft carriers in the Aleutian Islands and the Pacific Theater until the end of World War II.

Meredith’s first collection of poems, entitled “Love Letter from an Impossible Land”, was chosen by poet and playwright Archibald MacLeish for publication in the 1944 Yale Series of Younger Poets, an annual debut collection of promising U.S. poets. The poetry in this first collection were written while Meredith was still serving as a navy flier; many of the poems speak about the uncertainty of wartime life. His second collection of poems, “Ships and other Figures” was published in 1948. The volume contained twenty-nine brief poems, which included a trio of poems based on his wartime service.

William Meredith re-enlisted in 1952 to fly air missions in the Korean War, for which he received two Air Medals. In 1955 after his military service, he entered the academic field and taught English at the University of Hawaii, Connecticut College, and Princeton University until his retirement in 1983. In 1964, Meredith was elected as the Chancellor of the Academy of Poets, a position he held until 1987. From 1978 to 1980, he was Consultant in Poetry to the Library of Congress, the position which in 1985 became Poet Laureate Consultant. Meredith was the first gay poet to receive this honor.

During his academic career, Meredith published his 1958 “Open Sea and Other Poems”, a collection of poems previously published in journals, and his 1964 “The Wreck of the ‘Thresher’ and Other Poems”, of which the title poem is an elegy to the “Thresher”, an American submarine lost at sea with its crew in 1963. Meredith sustained a stroke in 1983, was immobilized for two years, and began to experience expressive aphasia, a condition which affected his ability to produce language. He retired early from teaching and endured a long period of  intensive rehabilitation to slowly regain his ability to speak.

A gathering of poems from Meredith’s career, entitled “Partial Accounts: New and Selected Poems” was published in 1987. Crafted from sonnets, quatrains, and and other formal poetic structures, the collection won the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry and a Los Angeles Times Book Award. A compilation of new and previously published works, “Effort at Speech: New and Selected Poems”, published in 1997, received the National Book Award for Poetry. Both these works, written during Meredith’s long rehabilitation, won poetry’s highest awards at a time in which he was without speech.

William Morris Meredith died in 2007 at the age of eighty-eight in New London, Connecticut. Throughout his long illness, he was nursed by his longtime partner of thirty-six years, the poet and fiction writer Richard Harteis. The William Meredith Foundation and the William Meredith Center for the Arts were established to continue his legacy through residency programs, poetry series, and other activities.

One of the most complete collections of William Meredith’s work can be found at Connecticut College. Acquired in 1994, the collection contains letters, drafts, speeches and papers from his time with the Library of Congress, government agencies, and many colleges.

John Rechy: “The Coming of the Night”

Photographers and Artists Unknown, The Coming of the Night, Gay Film Gifs

“Did those “new gays” spinning about like giddy tops in discos care to know that dancing with someone of the same sex was punishable as “lewd conduct” then? Still, a club in Topanga Canyon boasted a system of warning lights. When they flashed, lesbians and gay men shifted—what a grand adventure!—and danced with each other, laughing at the officers’ disappointed faces! How much pleasure—and camaraderie, yes, real kinship—had managed to exist in exile. Did those arrogant young people know that, only years ago, you could be sentenced to life in prison for consensual sex with another man? A friend of his destroyed by shock therapy decreed by the courts. Another friend sobbing on the telephone before he slashed his wrists— Thomas’s hands on his steering wheel had clenched in anger, anger he had felt then, anger he felt now. And all those pressures attempted to deplete you, and disallow— “—the yearnings of the heart,” he said aloud. Yet he and others of his generation had lived through those barbaric times—and survived—those who had survived—with style.”

—John Rechy, The Coming of the Night

Born in March of 1931 in El Paso, Texas, during the Depression, John Francisco Rachy is a writer, playwright, essayist and literary critic. He attended Texas Western College, where he earned his bachelor’s degree in English. Rachy continued his education at the New School for Social Research in New York City, studying under Hiram Haydn, a Random House senior editor. Rachy’s semi-autobiographical works explore the world of social and sexual outsiders and draw upon his gay sexuality and Mexican-American heritage.

John Rachy’s writing career began with the short story “The Fabulous Wedding of Miss Destiny”, a gay-oriented story which received the Longview Foundation Fiction Prize in 1961. His first published work, the largely autobiographical novel “City of Night”, was published in 1963 by Grove Press. The novel chronicles the journey of a young Mexican-American from the border town of El Paso into the gay underworld of Times Square, Hollywood Boulevard and the French Quarter of New Orleans during the 1950s. Selling sixty-five thousand hardcover copies, it remained on the New York Times best-seller list for twenty-five weeks and became an international bestseller. 

Following the success of “City of Night”, John Rachy has written a large body of work, both fiction and non-fiction. Among his fiction works are: the “Numbers” published in 1967;; “Rushes” published in 1979; the 1999 “The Coming of the Night”; and the 2017 “After the Blue Hour”. Rachy’s non-fiction works include the 1977 “The Sexual Outlaw”, an account of three days and nights in the 1970s sexual underground of Los Angeles, and the 2004 “Beneath the Skin”, an anthology of his essays and literary reviews from The New York Times, Evergreen Review, The Nation, and other publications.. 

The first novelist to receive PEN-USA-West’s Lifetime Achievement Award in 1997, John Rachy is also the recipient of the 1999 Bill Whitehead Award for Lifetime Achievement presented by Publishing Triangle, an American association of gay men and lesbians in the publishing industry. He is currently a faculty member at the Master of Professional Writing Program at the University of Southern California. In 2018 Rachy’s 2017 novel “After the Blue Hour” won the Lambda Literary Award for Gay Fiction.

Note:  An interesting read is biographical author Charles Casillo’s 2002 “Outlaw: The Lives and Careers of John Rechy”, a book which examines the dichotomy of John Rechy’s life as both a respected author and professor, and a hustler on Hollywood Boulevard, with insights from Rachy himself and his family, friends,  and colleagues.

Deux Couples au Déjeuner

Artist Unknown, Deux Couples au Déjeuner (Two Couples at Lunch), Computer Graphics, Film Gifs, “El Juego de las Ilaves”, 2019

“The boys were amazed that I could make such a poem as that out of my own head, and so was I, of course, it being as much a surprise to me as it could be to anybody, for I did not know that it was in me. If any had asked me a single day before if it was in me, I should have told them frankly no, it was not.

That is the way with us; we may go on half of our life not knowing such a thing is in us, when in reality it was there all the time, and all we needed was something to turn up that would call for it.” 

—Mark Twain, Joan of Arc

Note: The film gifs are from the Mexican comedic television series “El Juego de las Ilaves ( The Game of Keys)”. The series revolves around the lives of four couples who decide to be swingers among themselves, and addresses the issues of monogamy in long relationships, self-realization and desire. Sebastián Zurita, in the role of Seergio Morales, and Horacio Pancheri, as Valentin Lombardo, are the male actors in the gifs.

Walt Whitman: “A Glimpse”

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Photographers and Artists Unknown, (A Glimpse), Gay Film Gifs

“A glimpse through an interstice caught, 

Of a crowd of workmen and drivers in a bar-room around the stove late of a winter night, and I unremark’d seated in a corner, 

Of a youth who loves me and whom I love, silently approaching and seating himself near, that he may hold me by the hand, 

A long while amid the noises of coming and going, of drinking and oath and smutty jest, 

There we two, content, happy in being together, speaking little, perhaps not a word.”

—-Walt Whitman, A Glimpse, Leaves of Grass

Steven Millhauser: “His Black and White World”

Photographers Unknown, A Collection of Black and White: The Dark Images

“He sank back into his black-and-white world, his immobile world of inanimate drawings that had been granted the secret of motion, his death-world with its hidden gift of life. But that life was a deeply ambiguous life, a conjurer’s trick, a crafty illusion based on an accidental property of the retina, which retained an image for a fraction of a second after the image was no longer present. On this frail fact was erected the entire structure of the cinema, that colossal confidence game. The animated cartoon was a far more honest expression of the cinematic illusion than the so-called realistic film, because the cartoon reveled in its own illusory nature, exulted in the impossible–indeed it claimed the impossible as its own, exalted it as its own highest end, found in impossibility, in the negation of the actual, its profoundest reason for being. The animated cartoon was nothing but the poetry of the impossible–therein lay its exhilaration and its secret melancholy. For this willful violation of the actual, while it was an intoxicating release from the constriction of things, was at the same time nothing but a delusion, an attempt to outwit mortality. As such it was doomed to failure. And yet it was desperately important to smash through the constriction of the actual, to unhinge the universe and let the impossible stream in, because otherwise–well, otherwise the world was nothing but an editorial cartoon.” 

—Steven Millhauser, Little Kingdoms

Marco Berger: “Un Rubio”

Artist Unknown, (The Subway Ride), Computer Graphics, Gay Film Gifs, “Un Rubio”, 2019

“But if pressed, I’d have to say that what I love most about the subways of New York is what they do not do. One may spend a lifetime looking back—whether regretfully or wistfully, with shame or fondness or sorrow—and thinking how, given the chance, things might have been done differently. But when you enter a subway car and the doors close, you have no choice but to give yourself over to where it is headed. The subway only goes one way: forward.. . 

Every car on every train on every line holds a surprise, a random sampling of humanity brought together in a confined space for a minute or two – a living Rubik’s Cube.” 

–Bill Hayes, Insomniac City: New York, Oliver, and Me

Note: Initially released in Germany in April of 2019, “Un Rubio ( The Blonde One)” is an Argentine movie directed by Marco Berger. The movie tells the story of two men who begin a romantic relationship in Buenos Aires, Argentina. The role of Juan is played by the actor and choreographer Alfonso Barón; the role of Gabriel, his colleague and roommate, is played by Gaston Re.

Gifs reblogged with thanks to: https://doctordee.tumblr.com

Ananda Shailendra: “Paint in Your Color”

 

Artists Unknown, (Paint in Your Color), Computer Graphics, Film Gifs

“खो देना चाहता हूँ मैं अपनी रंग ,
तुम्हारे रंगों में ।
होली तो बस बहाना है,
अपनी “अहं” रंग छोड़ के,
बस तेरे रंग मे रंग जाना है ।
आओ चलो बैठते हैं ,
फिर से एक साथ ,
की ख्वाइस है,
की मैं तुझे देखता रहूँ , की बस तू मुझे देख रहा है ।
तुम्हारी “बराभय” अदाओं से ,
मुझे देखती तुम्हारी दोनों नैनों से ,
मेरी तो अपनी “अहं” रंग खो जाना है ,
बस अब तेरे रंग मे रंग जाना है।”

“I want to lose my color, in your colors Holi is just an excuse, leaving your own color, all you have to do now is paint in your color.

Let’s sit down together again, my desire is, that I keep looking at you, that you are just looking at me.

From your blessings and offerings, seeing me with your two eyes, I have to lose my own color, all you have to do now is paint in your color.”

–Ananda Shailendra

Ananda Shailendra was a popular Indian Hindi-Urdu poet and lyricist. He is considered to be the first to combine Hindi and Urdu poetry traditions. Shailendra won the Filmfare Best Lyricist Award in 1958, 1959, and 1968 for his songs in films.

Born on August 30, 1923,  at Rawalpindi, now in Pakistan, Ananda Shailendra was brought up in Mathura, a city in the northern Indian state of Uttar Pradesh.  He started writing poetry during the time he began working as an apprentice with the Indian Railways workshop in Bombay in 1947. Shailendra became involved with the Indian People’s Theater Association, the cultural wing  of the Communist Party of India, writing songs and socialist-themed poems set in a post-Independence India. 

Actor and film maker Raj Kapoor first met Shailendra when he was reading his poem “Jalta hai Punjab (Punjab Burns)” at a poetry symposium in Bombay.  Kapoor offered to buy the poem for inclusion in his upcoming movie “Aag (Fire)” to be released in 1948; however, Shailendra refused , being wary of mainstream media. When Kapoor was filming “Barsaat (Rain)” in 1949,  he was able to purchase two songs from Shailendra:  “Patli Kamar Hai (My Slim Waist)” and “Barsaat Mein (In the Rain)”, with the composition work being done by notable composer Shankar-Jaikishan.

The team of Kapoor, Shailendra, and Shankar-Jaikishan produced many hit songs during their time together. Shailendra’s song “Awara Hoon (I’m a Vagabond)” from Kapoor’s 1951 film “Awaara (Vagabond)” became the most popular Hindustani film song outside of India at that time. All of Shailendra’s songs from the 1955 “Shree 420 (Mr. 420)” became super hits and are still sung on popular occasions. 

In 1961 Ananda Shailendra invested heavily in the production of director Basu Bhathacharya’s film “Teesri Kasam (The Third Vow)”, released in 1966 and starring Raj Kapoor and Waheeda Rehnam. Although the film won the National Film Award for Best Feature Film, it was a failure commercially. Failing health resulting from tensions with the film’s production and its financial loss, coupled with alcohol abuse, resulted in Shailendra’s early death in December of 1966 at the age of forty-three.

Gustavo Adolfo Bécquer: “A Mystery to Man”

 

Artists Unknown, (A Mystery to Man), Computer Graphics, Film Gifs

“Mientras la humanidad siempre avanzando,

No sepa a do camina:

Mientras haya un misterio para el hombre,

!Habrá poesia!”

“While humanity is always advancing,

Do not know where you are going;

As long as there is a mystery to man, 

There will be poetry!”

—Gustavo Adolfo Bécquer, Rimas, 1871

Born in Selvill in 1836, the Spanish lyric poet Gustavo Adolfo Dominguez Bécquer is noted for his “Rimes, a collection of short lyric poems. This work had such a profound influence that it is considered the starting point of Spanish contemporary poetry.

Unlike the inflated style of his contemporaries, Bécquer’s diction was spare and simple, his verses delicate and light. Yet he achieved in each poem a maximum resonance by attending to the phonetic structure of words and by using images which affected the reader’s sensibility and demanded his active collaboration. Bécquer’s ability to make words express much more than their conventional meanings anticipated the techniques of modern symbolic poetry.

Bécquer wrote most of his prose works from 1860 to 1865. These include 22 legends, which are based upon regional folklore and exploit the supernatural. While at the monastery of Veruela in 1864, he wrote a collection of nine letters entitled “Desde Mi Celda, Cartas Literarias (From My Cell, Literary Letters)”. That same year Becquer directed an important journal and was appointed official censor of novels.

In 1868 Bécquer separated from his wife and, in the wake of the revolution that ended the rule of Isabella II, went to Paris. He returned to Madrid in 1869, rewrote from memory the lost manuscript of “Rimas”, and resumed newspaper writing. The sudden death of his brother Valeriano in September of 1870 severely depressed Bécquer, and he died only 3 months later, on December 22nd, exhausted by tuberculosis. Gustavo Adolfo Bécquer’s collected works were published posthumously in 1871.

 

Fernando Pessoa” “The First Property of Things is Motion” (Part Three)

Tattoo Art in Motion: Part Three

“Our problem isn’t that we’re individualists. It’s that our individualism is static rather than dynamic. We value what we think rather than what we do. We forget that we haven’t done, or been, what we thought; that the first function of life is action, just as the first property of things is motion.”
Fernando Pessoa, The Education of the Stoic

Pierre Emō

Pierre Emō: Scenes from Vann Gonzales’s “Un Couteau dans ke Coeur (Knife + Heart)”

French model and actor Pierre Emō first came to the attention of audiences in Germany and France with his appearances in the 2013 film “Only the Fire” by  director and cinematographer Christophe Pellet and the 2014 film “While the Unicorn is Watching Me”, by director Shanti Masud, known for her 2013 “Pour la France”. Emō’s first appearance in a film by director Noel Alejandro was the short award-winning LBGT film “Call Me a Ghost” shown at the 2017 Chéries-Chéris film festival in Paris.

At the age of twenty-four in early 2017, Pierre Emō had already  appeared in five movies, He next co-starred with French actress and singer  Venessa Paradis and actor Félix Maritaud in director Vann Gonzales’s 2018 LBGT murder mystery thriller “Un Couteau dans le Coeur (Knife + Heart)”, which premiered at the 2018 Cannes Film Festival. 

In 2018, Emō appeared in several films including “Lemon Taste” by Nicky Miller and “Les Fantômes”, a horror thriller directed by Alexandre Vallès. Director Noel Alejandro again cast Emō in two more of his films, the 2018 “The Seed”, a short erotic art film, and the short 2018 drama film “The End”. Emō appeared in a small role for Latvian director Rosa von Praunheim’s 2019 crime thriller “Darkroom”, which was based on a true story and filmed in Germany. 

Pierre Emō lives and works in both Paris and Berlin. On stage, he has played small parts with the prestigious Berliner Ensemble, a German theater company established in 1949 by actress Helene Weigel and playwright Bertoit Brecht.

The photo Images and gifs are from “Un Couteau dans le Coeur” by director Vann Gonzales. The film was shot on 35mm under the direction of cinematographer Simon Beaufils, who oversaturated some scenes in shades of blue and red. The soundtrack features the Gallic band M83.

The images and gifs were reblogged with many thanks to: https://doctordee.tumblr.com

Fernando Pessoa: “The First Property of Things is Motion” (Part Two)

Tattoo Art in Motion: Part Two

“Our problem isn’t that we’re individualists. It’s that our individualism is static rather than dynamic. We value what we think rather than what we do. We forget that we haven’t done, or been, what we thought; that the first function of life is action, just as the first property of things is motion.”
Fernando Pessoa, The Education of the Stoic

 

Peter Bunnell” “A Private Point of View”

Artists Unknown, (A Private Point of View), Gay Film Gifs

“There is no single form or style of portraiture. Portraiture means individualism and as such means diversity, self-expression, private point of view. The most successful images seem to be those which exist on several planes at once and which reflect the fantasy and understanding of many.”

 -Peter Bunnell, Creative Camera International Year Book 1977, 1976, p. 167

William Gass: “The Word Itself Has Another Color”

 

Photographers Unknown, The Colors: Pink and Blue

“The word itself has another color. It’s not a word with any resonance, although the e was once pronounced. There is only the bump now between b and l, the relief at the end, the whew. It hasn’t the sly turn which crimson takes halfway through, yellow’s deceptive jelly, or the rolled-down sound in brown. It hasn’t violet’s rapid sexual shudder or like a rough road, the irregularity of ultramarine, the low puddle in mauve like a pancake covered in cream, the disapproving purse to pink, the assertive brevity of red, the whine of green.” 

—William Gass, On the Color Blue

William Gass, born in July of 1924 in North Dakota, was an American novelist, essayist, short-story writer, critic, and a philosophy professor, He taught for four years at the College of Wooster in Ohio, Perdue University for sixteen years, and Washington University in Saint Louis, where he was the David May Distinguished Professor in the Humanities from 1979 to 1999.

Gass wrote three novels, three collections of short stories, a collection of novellas, and seven volumes of essays. Three of these essay collections won Nation Book Critics Circle Award prizes and one collection the 2006  “A Temple of Texts” won the Truman Capote Award for Literary Criticism. His 1995 novel “The Tunnel”, a bleak novel about the human condition which took twenty-six years to write, received the American Book Award. His novel “Middle C”, published in 2013, won the 2015 William Dean Howells Medal awarded by the American Academy of Arts and Letters.

Gif images reblogged with thanks to a great visual site: https://thouartadeadthing.tumblr.com