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Melvin Dixon wrote openly about his homosexuality in both his published and unpublished works.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

 

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.

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/

Küçük İskender: “You Should Have a Macedonian Name: Nicola”

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

you decerebrate the rose, don’t do this
verses, cannot find the poems they deserted
you become a humiliated evening
your hair wet to your waist
your eyes
turned away and fixed on a couple of cracked glasses
left on a claret, velvet coverlet
almost exploded. Soon to blow
before the storm
closely shielding your face, poor and lonely child
storyless, bashful and amicable
you should have a macedonian name: nicola
I sat on your balcony, drank Choπcko beer,
over the way were
grand men wounded by the earth
grand women are sleeping
grand women wounded on account of grand men
turned into tramps by grand men
a pen knife, holds its blade inside like a secret
the pen knife I put on the table on leaving
a perfect portrayal
if it were nicola what would appear
somehow, not far away
was a beautiful graveyard where songs are laid

Küçük İskender, Nicola, Ascaracus Journal of Gay Poetry, February 2016, Translation by Caroline Stockford

Born Derman İskender Över in Istanbul in May of 1964, Küçük İskender was a Turkish critic, actor, and one of Turkey’s few openly gay poets. He studied at Istanbul University’s Cerrahpaşa Faculty of Medicine, where he left in his last year. İskender later studied for three years at the university’s Department of Sociology. After leaving, he pursued his passions: cinema, theater and poetry.

Starting from the 1980s, İskender published poems, essays, and criticisms in various literary magazines, including the National Young Art Magazine where they appeared under the name Alexander Över. His first poem, “Milliyet Genç Sanat (National Young Art)”, was published under the name İskender Över. His poetry began to be published professionally in 1985 when Adam Sanat Magazine accepted his work.

Küçük İskender was one of the top ten poets in Italy’s 2000 European Young Poets Competition, and in the same year, was awarded at the annual poetry, film, and photography competition held in honor of Turkish poet Orhon Murat Ariburnu. Between 2001 and 2002, he was a speaker at poetry performances in Germany and the Netherlands, and at Berlin’s 2003 First Gay Turkish Congress. In 2004,  İskender lectured and read poetry at universities in New York and North Carolina; he also joined panels and workshops at various educational facilities in Turkey.

Reminiscent of the poems of García Lorca and Arthur Rimbaud in their urgency, İskender’s work is close to the clarity of expression found in the works of Spanish poet Luis Cernuda. His poems contain many sensual affirmations of gay life, but they also contain political and cultural commentaries. Many of his poems, written outside the traditional style of Turkish poetry, were polemic and abrasive in their language and spoke of injustice, the arrogance of those who plunder others, and intolerance in regard to sexual identity.

In additional to his poems and poetry collections, İskender wrote three novels: the 1998 “Flu’es”, “Cehenneme Gitmo Yöntemleri (Gitmo: Methods in Hell)” published in 1999, and the 2000 “Zatülcenp”. He also acted in two of director Mustafa Altioklar’s movies, the 1997 “Agir Roman” and the 2002 “O Simdi Asker”. 

Küçük İskender was diagnosed with cancer in June of 2018. His last year was spent in the intensive care unit of the state hospital in Istanbul. He died on July 2nd in 2019 and is buried in Zincirlikuyu Cemetery in Istanbul.

Christoper Soden: “Dionysus”

Photographers Unknown, Dionysus

i am wielder of chaos
bearer of cozy poison
hidden son of jupiter
gestated from his thigh
supple strapping boy
follow the crooked
steps of spontaneous
capering i will soothe
your terrified gaze
summon frantic defiant
nymphs to slake
your thumping skull
with tender anarchy
my fierce priestesses
in robes of moonlight
diaphanous cobweb
will sing lilting implacable
spells to wreck
planets in their courses
wine and feral milk spouting
from tap of hyssop branch
i will swaddle you
in mother night caress
you with snake tongue
drizzle silky
secret language
of the rapacious
in your ear nudge
succulent fissure
yearning for arc
of scalding bliss
sap of brief
delectable death

Christopher Soden, Dionysus

Born in Texas, Christopher Soden is a poet, playwright, and a critic of film, literature and theater. He attended the Vermont College of Fine Arts where he received in January of 2005 his Masters of Fine Art in Poetry. Soden has taught classes on the craft and theory of poetry, English literature, and the process of publication; he currently teaches literature in the Continuing Education Program at the Dallas College Richland Campus.

Soden’s first full-length poetry collection, “Closer” was published by Rebel Satori Press in June of 2011. While realizing that one can get only so close to another being, the works in this collection, written mostly in free verse, display the persistent sense of longing that one has for another. Soden’s collection of confessional narratives present an honest look at same-gender sexuality, maleness, loss and regret, and the complexity of the human condition.

Christopher Soden’s “Queer Anarchy”, a collection of short plays, monologues and performance pieces, dealt with gay and lesbian life in America; it received the Best Stage Performance award from The Dallas Voice, the first newspaper to represent Dallas’ LBGTQ community. Two of his plays, “Water” and “A Christmas Wish” were staged at Dallas’ Bishop Arts Theater Center. Other plays written by Soden include “All That Glitters Ain’t Goldie”, “Lizards Need Love Too”, and “Space Cowboy, Aunt Velma and the Macaroon”.

Soden received a Full Fellowship to Lambda Literary’s Retreat for Emerging LBGT Voices. He is a member of the Distinguished Poets of Dallas, the Poetry Society of America’s Poetry in Motion Series, and is a Founding Member and President Emeritus of the Dallas Poets Community. Soden’s poetry has appeared in many print and online magazines, including G&L Review and Chelsea Station; he currently writes for the Dallas Art Beat, the Examiner.com, and the online theater review, sharpcritic.com.

“I remember the first time I heard Sylvia Plath’s ‘Lady Lazarus’ in a writer’s workshop I was taking. Our teacher, Jack, read it aloud, and I was unacquainted with Plath and her poetry. Didn’t even know she was dead. As anyone who knows the poem can tell you, it gathers steam and just continues to escalate by way of rage and audacity. Plath just keeps pushing and pushing until you think she couldn’t possibly go any further, and yet she does. By the time Jack finished with those three lines, ‘Herr God, Herr Lucifer, Beware. Beware. / Out of the ash I rise with my red hair, / and I eat men, like air,’ I could feel deep shudders traveling up my back. My scalp was ablaze. Until that moment I didn’t even know such poetry was possible. That was when I knew I wanted to be a poet.”

– Christopher Soden

Herbert List

Photography by Herbert List

Herbert List was a classically educated artist who combined his fascination with  Surrealism and Classicism with his love for photography. His austere, classically posed black and white compositions, particularly his Greek and Italian homoerotic nudes, became a prominent influence on both fashion and contemporary photography. 

Born in Hamburg, Germany, in October of 1903 to a wealthy business family, Herbert List  studied art and literature between 1921 and 1923 at the University of Heidelberg. In 1923, he began to travel for the family’s coffee business, Kaffee-Import Firma List & Heineken. List made contacts and visited plantations in Costa Rica, Guatemala, Brazil and El Salvador; during this four year period, he began to record his travels photographically.  

Through his connections to the European avant-garde, List became associated with  American photographer Andreas Bernhard, known for his dynamic black and white city scenes and natural structures. Bernhard  introduced him to the Rolleiflex camera which allowed for more sophisticated compositions. Beginning in 1930, influenced by the Bauhaus artists and  the emerging surrealist movement, List began photographing still life and portraits of friends, often employing draped fabrics, masks, and double exposures. 

Once the National Socialist Party was in control of Germany, the Gestapo began to pay attention to Herbert List’s openly gay lifestyle and Jewish heritage. In 1936, he left Germany for Paris and decided to begin a professional career as a photographer. During 1937 List maintained a studio in London and held his first solo show at Galerie du Chasseur d’Images, the first Paris gallery dedicated to photography.  Starting in 1936 with a reference from fashion photographer George Hoyningen-Huene to Harper’s Bazaar magazine, List began a three year period working as a fashion photographer for various magazines, including Verve, Vogue, and Life.

Dissatisfied  with fashion photography, List returned to his still life and portraiture  work. He traveled throughout Greece from 1937 to 1939 where he took photographs of ancient temples, sculptures and landscapes; two hundred of these photographs would be published in his 1953 “Licht Über Hellas: Eine Symphonie in Bildern”. During this time, List supported himself with work for magazines and the press, and by doing portraiture work. 

Working in Athens, Herbert List hoped to escape World War II; however, when troops invaded Greece, he was forced in 1941 to return to Germany, where, due to a grandparent’s Jewish heritage, he was denied the ability to work or publish professionally. Near the end of the war in 1944, despite his Jewish heritage, he was drafted into the German military and served in Norway as a map designer. A trip to Paris during his military service allowed him the opportunity to photograph images of Jean Cocteau, Pablo Picasso, Georges Braque, Jean Arp, Joan Miró, and other artists.

After the war, List continued to live in Munich until 1960, where he photographed its ruins and produced freelance photo essays for newspapers and magazines such as Look, Picture Post, Heute, and Harper’s Bazaar. List was made art editor in 1948 for the Swiss-German language, daily free newspaper Heute, which was published by the Allied Forces. In 1951 through an invitation by photojournalist Robert Capa, he started contributing photographs to Magnum, an international photographic cooperative. 

Through the next decade Herbert List focused his interest on photographing life in Italy. where he shot photo essays, street scenes, architectural views, and portraits using a 35 mm camera and a telephoto lens. His work became more spontaneous and was influenced by the Italian neorealist film movement and the work of his Magnum colleague Henri Cartier-Bresson. List ’s travels for his photographic work was extensive, including trips to Spain, France, Mexico, and the Caribbean. 

List’s publications include “Rom”, a collection of his work in Rome, published in Munich in 1950:“Caribia”, his Caribbean Island series published in 1958: “Nigeria”, published in 1963; and “Napoli”,  a 1962  collaboration with Italian director Vittorio de Sica. List is best known for his  1988 book “Junge Männer”, a collection of seventy images of young men lounging in the sun, wrestling, or gazing at the camera. The introduction of the book was written by English novelist Stephen Spender, who fictionalized List as Joachim Lenz in his novel “The Temple”. 

Herbert List passed away in Munich on the 4th of April in 1975. His archive of photographs, originally part of the Ratjen Collection, is now housed in the National Gallery in Washington DC. His work is held in many private and public collections, including New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art, Boston’s Museum of Fine Art, Kunsthaus Zürich, Cologne’s Museum Ludwig, Munich;s Stadtmaueum, and the Musée Picasso in Paris.

Insert Images:

Herbert List, “Self Portrait, Herrsching”, 1947, Silver Gelatin Print

Herbert List, “Man and Dog”, 1939, Gelatin Silver Print

Photographer Unknown, “Herbert List and Max Scheler, Venice”, 1952, Silver Gelatin Print, Mas Scheler Estate

Herbert List, “Young Man Under Reed Roof, Torremolinos”, 1951, Gelatin Silver Print

John Kingsley Orton

Photographers Unknown, Parts and Pieces Making a Whole: Set Thirteen

Sir — As a playgoer of forty years standing, may I say that I heartily agree with Peter Pinnell in his condemnation of ‘Entertaining Mr Sloane’. I myself was nauseated by this endless parade of mental and physical perversion. And to be told that such a disgusting piece of filth now passes for humor! Today’s young playwrights take it upon themselves to flaunt their contempt for ordinary decent people. I hope that the ordinary decent people of this country will shortly strike back! Yours truly, Edna Welthorpe (Mrs)

—John Kingsley Orton, Letter Sent for Publication under the Alias of Edna Welthorpe

Born in Leicester, England in January of 1933, John Kingsley Orton, known under the pen name of Joe Orton, was a working-class, gay playwright whose outrageous black comedies shocked, outraged, and amused theatre audiences in the 1960s. 

After attending secretarial classes at Clark’s College in Leicester from 1945 to 1947, Joe Orton worked as a junior clerk for three pounds a week. He began performing in theater productions beginning in 1949 and joined several groups, including the Leicester Dramatic Society. Orton was accepted for a scholarship at London’s Royal Academy of Dramatic Art in November of 1950; however, due to appendicitis, his entrance was delayed until May of 1951. It was at the Royal Academy that Orton met the seven-year older Kenneth Leith Halliwell, who also was a struggling actor and writer. After moving into a West Hampstead flat, they quickly formed a strong relationship and became lovers.

After graduation, Orton and Halliwell collaborated on writing several novels, which were unsuccessful at  publishing. Due to a lack of serious work, they began to amuse themselves with pranks and hoaxes. From January 1959 to May of 1962, Orton and Halliwell removed books from several local public libraries and began to modify the blurbs and cover art. One volume of poetry by writer and broadcaster John Betjeman was found with a new dust jacket featuring a photograph of a nearly naked, tattooed middle-aged man. Discovered by the authorities in May of 1962 and later found guilty of five counts of theft and malicious damage to seventy books, the two men served six months in prison. A collection of these altered book covers are now housed in the Islington Local History Center.

In 1959, Joe Orton wrote his only novel, which was  posthumously published as “Head to Toe”, and soon began to have success in his plays’ productions. His first play “Fred and Madge” was written in 1959; and “The Visitors” followed two years later. In 1963 the BBC purchased Orton’s radio play “The Ruffian on the Stair”, which was broadcast on August 31st of 1964 and, later in 1966, adapted as a stage play. 

By the end of August, Orton had also completed his play “Entertaining Mr. Sloane”, which premiered on May 6th of 1964 to reviews which ranged from praise to outrage. Although it lost money on its short run, the play tied for first in the Variety Critics’ Poll for Best New Play, and Orton came second in the category for Most Promising Playwright. By 1965, “Entertaining Mr. Sloane” was being performed in Spain, Israel, Australia, and New York, as well as being adapted into both a film and television play.

Written between June and October of 1964, Joe Orton’s next play was “Loot”, a wild parody of detective fiction, which added the blackest farce and jabs at established ideas on death, the police, religion, and justice. It underwent sweeping rewrites before it was judged fit for the West End. “Loot” was first staged in London on September 27th of 1966 to rave reviews. In November the play moved to the Criterion Theater where it ran for three hundred forty-two performances, won several awards and firmly established Orton’s fame.

Orton, over the next ten months, revised his “The Ruffian on the Stair” and his “The Erpngham Camp” for the stage as a double play entitled “Crimes of Passion”. He also wrote his television play “Funeral Games”, the screenplay entitled “Up Against It” for the Beatles music group, and his final full-length play “What the Butler Saw”, a play of seduction, blackmail, and cross-dressing, which came to the West End stage in 1969, eighteen months after Orton’s death.

On the 9th of August of 1967, John Kingsley Orton was bludgeoned to death by Kenneth Halliwell at their home in Islington, London, killed by nine hammer blows to the head. Halliwell then committed suicide with an overdose of Nembutal. Later evidence showed that Orton had earlier confided to a friend that he wanted to end his relationship with Halliwell; and it also showed that Halliwell had spoken to his psychiatrist three times on the day of the murder. Halliwell had felt increasingly threatened and isolated by Orton’s success, and had come to rely on barbiturates and antidepressants. The bodies, along with Halliwell’s suicide note, were found on the morning of August 10th by a chauffeur who had arrived to transport Orton for a meeting in London. 

The body of Joe Orton was brought into the chapel of London’s Golders Green Crematorium to a recording of the Beatles’ song “A Day in the Life”. Playwright and director Harold Pinter read the eulogy. After Orton’s cremation, his ashes and Halliwell’s ashes were mixed together and scattered in a section of the Garden of Remembrance at Golders Green; no marking memorial stone is erected there. A statue of Joe Orton was later installed in the city of Leicester and, in 1987, a film adaption of John Lahr’s 1978 biography of Orton was released under the title “Prick Up Your Ears”.

Note: For those interested in theater and gay history, an interesting article is Greg Buzwell’s 2019 “Homosexuality, Censorship, and British Drama During the 1950s and 1960s” located at the British Library site: https://www.bl.uk/20th-century-literature/articles/homosexuality-censorship-and-british-drama-during-the-1950s-and-1960s

Manuel Puig: “The Most Beautiful Thing”

 

Photographers Unknown, The Most Beautiful Thing

“—What is being a man for you? —It’s many things, but for me… well, the most beautiful thing about a man is that, being pretty, strong, but without making a fuss of strength, and that he is advancing safely. That he walks safely, like my waiter, that he speaks without fear, that he knows what he wants, where he is going, without fear of anything. “It’s an idealization, a guy like that doesn’t exist.” “Yes, he exists, he is like that.” —Well, it will give that impression, but inside, in this society, without power, no one can advance safely, as you say.—Being a man is much more than that, it means not putting anyone down, with an order, with a tip. Moreover, it is… not allowing anyone next to you to feel less, that no one next to you feel bad.”

Manuel Puig, The Kiss of the Spider Woman

Born in December of 1932 in General Villegas, Argentina, Manuel Puig was a novelist and a screenwriter. As there was no secondary school in his hometown, his parents sent him to Buenos Aires in 1946 where he attended College Ward, an educational institute with intercultural bilingual education at all levels. During his time at College Ward, Puig began to systematically read books. Starting with the Nobel Prize winners, he read works by such writers as André Gide, Hermann Hesse, Aldous Huxley, Thomas Mann, and Jean-Paul Sartre.

After seeing Henri-Georges Clouzot’s 1947 police drama film, “Quai des Orfèvres”, Puig decided on a film career as a director. For this profession, he learned three languages: Italian, French, and German. In 1950, Puig enrolled at the University of Buenos Aires Faculty of Architecture; but, in 1951, he switched to its School of Philosophy. He was already working, upon graduation, as a film archivist and editor in Buenos Aires; and later, after  winning a scholarship from the Italian Institute of Buenos Aires, he continued that employment in Italy.

Returning to Argentina, Manuel Puig started his obligatory military service in 1953 where he served as a translator in the Aeronautics section. Living in Buenos Aires in the 1968, Puig wrote his first major novel, “La Traición de Rita Hayworth (Betrayed by Rita Hayworth)”, a novel told in multiple voices to create a portrayal of ordinary Argentinian lives in the1930s and 1940s. In 1969, he wrote his second novel “Boquitas Pintadas (Heartbreak Tango)”, a story about the contrast between mediocre reality and fantastical dreams; the novel also raised questions about machismo and the damage it causes. The narrative is told through confessions, letters, diaries, newspaper clippings, eyewitness accounts, and rememberances of life.

Holding leftist political tendencies and seeing the instability of the Argentinian government, Puig relocated to Mexico in 1973, a place where he would live in exile throughout rest of his life. He wrote his third novel “The Buenos Aires Affair” in 1973, and three years later, wote possibly his best known work, the 1976 “El Beso de la Mujer Araña (The Kiss of the Spider Woman)”. Unusual in that it has no traditional narrative voice, the novel is told in large part through dialogue, without any indication of who is speaking, except the insertion of a dash to show change of speaker. 

“Kiss of the Spider Woman” depicts the daily conversations between two Argentinian prison cellmates, one a political prisoner who was part of a group attempting the overthrow of the government and the other a transgender woman in jail for corruption of a minor. The two characters, seemingly opposites, form an intimate bond in their cell and become lovers, albeit briefly, and they are both changed by that relationship.   

Manuel Puig’s novel was initially published only in Spain; however, upon its publication, it was included on a list of novels banned to the population of Buenos Aires. Despite having been entered into the Frankfurt Book Fair in Germany, it remained banned in Argentina until Raúl Alfonsin’s government took control in 1976. Puig adapted “Kiss of the Spider Woman” into a stage play in 1983. The novel was later adapted in 1985 into an Academy Award-winning film of the same name, starring William Hurt and Raul Julia. Hurt’s winning the 1986 Oscar for Best Actor marked the first time an Academy Award went to an actor in an openly gay role. 

In 1989, Puig moved from Mexico City to Cuernavaca, Mexico. Following doctor’s orders to stop smoking, he took daily walks, but the high altitude of the area labored his breathing. He had access to higher quality medical care than most and received care at a clinic near his home. Experiencing pain for several days, he was admitted to the Las Palmas Surgical Center on July 21, 1990, for risk of peritonitis. 

An emergency operation removed Manuel Puig’s inflamed gall bladder; however, his lungs filled with fluid and he became delirious. He died from an acute heart attack, on July 22, 1990.  After funeral rites, attended by only six people including his mother, Manuel Puig’s body was sent to Argentina and placed in the Puig family tomb in the La Plata Cemetery.

Maurice Sendak: “Where the Wild Things Are”

Photographers Unknown,  Where the Wild Things Are

Max stepped into his private boat
and waved goodbye
and sailed back over a year
and in and out of weeks
and through a day
and into the night of his very own room
where he found his supper waiting for him
and it was still hot”

—Maurice Sendak, Where the Wild Things Are

Born to Polish Jewish immigrant parents in Brooklyn, New York, in June of 1928, Maurice Bernard Sendak was an American writer and illustrator of children’s books. He was affected in his childhood by the deaths of many of his extended family who perished in the Holocaust. An early reader of books, Sendak decided at the age of twelve to become an illustrator after seeing Walt Disney’s film “Fantasia”.

Sendak started his professional career with the creation of window displays, one of which was in the toy store FAO Schwarz located on Fifth Avenue in Manhattan. His first published illustrations, a series of figures explaining the atom and its energy, were in the 1947 textbook “Atomics for the Millions” written by Maxwell Leigh Eidinoff. In the 1950s, Sendak illustrated children’s books written by other authors, including two books written by his older brother, author Jack Sendak, and the “Little Bear” series of books written by Danish-American author Else Holmelund Minarik.

In 1956 Maurice Sendak published his first authored book, “Kenny’s Window”. and soon started working on second effort, for which he was inspired to use the Yiddish expression ‘vilde chaya”, or wild animals, to indicate overexcited children. Sendak’s authored and illustrated 1963 children’s book “Where the Wild Things Are” received international acclaim. Initially banned for two years by libraries and critiqued negatively, the book won the annual Caldecott Medal in 1964 for recognition as the most distinguished American illustrated book for children. Since its publication, it has sold over nineteen million copies worldwide.

Sendak illustrated Isaac Bashevis Singer’s first children’s book “Zlateh the Goat and Other Stories, which was published in 1966 and received the Newbery Honor for children’s literature. He authored and illustrated the 1970 “In the Night Kitchen”, a young boy’s dream journey through a surreal baker’s kitchen, one of a trilogy of books which contains “Where the Wild Things Are” and the 1981 “Outside Over There”. Illustrated in a different style from his previous works, the book is mainly pictorial with few captions. “In the Night Kitchen”, with its depiction of the young protagonist’s nudity, was controversial upon its release and is still ranked as one of the most frequently challenged books. 

Maurice Sendak’s works included many in the fields of television and stage. He was active in the development of the “Sesame Street” series, and wrote and designed four stories for the series, including an adaption of his book “Bumble Ardy” into an animated film. Sendak adapted his “Where the Wild Things Are’ into a stage production in 1979, and also designed sets for many operas and ballets, including Tchaikovsky’s “The Nutcracker:, Mozart’s “The Magic Flute”,  and Prokofiev’s “The Love for Three Oranges”.

In 1957, Maurice Sendak met his partner, psychoanalyst Eugene Glynn, with whom he remained for fifty years until Glynn’s death in May of 2007. After his partner’s death, he donated one million dollars to the Jewish Board of Family and Children’s Services in memory of Glynn, who had treated children and young adults there. While his sexuality was known among his friends, Sendak kept his sexuality from public view for almost his entire life. When the social climate regarding homosexuality began to change, he  came out, at the age of eighty years old, during a 2008 interview with the New York Times.

Considered one of the most important children’s book artists of the twentieth century, Maurice Sendak died on May 8th of 2012 at the Danbury Hospital in Conneticutt from stroke complications. His body was cremated and his ashes scattered at an unconfirmed location. Under an agreement with, and supported by a grant from, the Maurice Sendak Foundation, his original artwork, sketches, books, and other materials, totaling close to ten thousand items, are housed at the University of Conneticutt’s Archives and Special Collections in the Thomas J Dodd Research Center.

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

Jorge Eduardo Eielson: “Half of My Body Smiles”

Photographers Unknown, Half of My Body Smiles

Si la mitad de mi cuerpo sonríe
La otra mitad se llena de tristeza
Y misteriosas escamas de pescado
Suceden a mis cabellos. Sonrío y lloro
Sin saber si son mis brazos
O mis piernas las que lloran o sonríen
Sin saber si es mi cabeza
Mi corazón o mi glande
El que decide mi sonrisa
O mi tristeza. Azul como los peces
Me muevo en aguas turbias o brillantes
Sin preguntarme por qué
Simplemente sollozo
Mientras sonrío y sonrío
Mientras sollozo

If a half of my body smiles,
The other one is steeped in sadness,
And strands of my hair
Turn into mysterious fish scales as they grow.
I smile and I cry
Oblivious as to whether it is my arms
Or my legs that smile or cry,
Oblivious as to whether it is my head,
My heart or my glans
Deciding on my smile
Or sadness. Blue like the fish,
I swim through waters troubled or shimmering,
Never wondering why
I just sob
As I smile and I smile
As I sob.

–Jorge Eduardo Eielson, Cuerpo Dividido (Body Divided)

Born in April of 1924 in Lima, Jorge Eduardo Eielson was a Peruvian artist, poet, and novelist. The son of a Peruvian mother and a Swedish-American father, he showed an early interest in the arts, where he developed skills in playing the piano and drawing. At the end of his secondary studies, Eielson met writer and anthropologist José Maria Arguedas, who introduced him to the ancient civilizations of Peru and Lima’s literary and artistic circles. 

In 1941, Eielson enrolled at the National University of San Marcos, Lima’s public research university. Three years later, at the age of twenty-one, his collection of poems “Reinos (Kingdoms)” earned him the National Poetry Award and influenced a new generation of modern Peruvian poets. In 1948, Eielson received Peru’s National Drama Award and held a successful exhibition of his visual artwork at the prestigious Lima Gallery. 

After receiving a film study scholarship from the French government, Jorge Eielson traveled in 1948 to Paris, where he exhibited at the Colette Allendy, a gallery linked to the avant-garde of the post-war period. After a stay in Switzerland, he traveled, in 1951, to Italy where he settled in Rome and met his life partner, the Sardinian avant-garde painter Michele Mulas. They lived together in various cities in Italy and traveled to Paris, New York and Peru. 

In the late 1950s, Eielson abandoned the extreme avant-garde and began to texturize his canvases, by using organic materials such as clay sand, and earth to sculpt the canvas surface. Initially using these materials on his landscapes, Eielson moved towards figurative works using textiles of various kinds. In 1963, he began producing his first quipu, an ancient Inca device of knotted colored threads for recording information, which he modernized  by using brilliant colored fabrics, knotted and tied on canvas. These works were exhibited by Eielson in the 1964 Biennale in Venice and received wide acclaim and led to exhibitions at New York’s MOMA and Nelson Rockefeller Collection, as well as the Salon De Mai in Paris. 

Living in Rome, Jorge Eielson wrote his collection of poems, “Habitación en Roma” and his two novels: the 1971 “El Cuerpo de Giulia-No (The Body of Julia-n)” and “Primera Muerte de Maria (Maria’s First Death)”, published in 1988, which contain Eielson’s recurring themes of love, eroticism, religion, the sea, and the city of Lima. In the middle of the 1970s, Eielson returned to Peru where he devoted himself to the study of pre-Columbian art. At this time, Peru’s  National Institute of Culture published most of Eielson’s collective poetry under the title of Poesia Escrita (Written Poetry). 

In 1978, Eielson received a Guggenheim Fellowship for a lecture in New York City. At the end of the decade, he and Michele Mulas moved to Milan, Italy, where Eielson would spend the rest of his life writing and producing his art, which continued to be exhibited around the world. Eielson returned to Peru in 1990 to participate, along with  Peruvian-born visual artist Jorge Piqueras, in the last Trujillo Biennial which also included artists from neighboring countries. In 2002, he gave his last public interview through a streaming video organized by Fundación Telefónica. 

Following the death of Michele Mulas of leukemia in 2002, Jorge Eielson’s own health significantly deteriorated. He died in Milan on March 8th of 2006; his ashes were laid to rest beside his partner’s ashes in a small cemetery in Bari Sardo, a municipality in the Italian region Sardinia. Eielson’s work is in the collections of New York’s Museum of Modern Art, Museo de Arte de Lima, the Rockefeller Collection in New York, and the Blanton Museum of Art in Austin, Texas, among others.

Manuel Ramos Otero: “The Pendulum of the Body”

Photographers Unknown, The Parts and Pieces Making a Whole: Set Thirteen

La muerte no fue la clave del secreto,
?Qué cuento no comienza en el crepúsculo?
?Qué cangrejo no busca su fantasma
en los fuegos fúnebresdel tiempo?
?Qué brujo no sabe que la luna
sostiene el péndulo del cuerpo?

Adánico regreso hasta la sombra.
Añosa regresión hasta el silencio.

Sin hilos. Sin agujas. sin cenizas.
Mi novio no havuelto de su tumba.

?Qué triangular el traje de mis nupcias!

Es perfecto este tálamo sin sangre.
Estoy en las ruinas del castillo.
Arranco los erizos de lacrare.
La orina se desborda de la copa.
Que nunca soledad. Que llegue nadie.

Death was not the key to secrecy,
What story does not start at twilight?
What crab does not look for its ghost in the funeral fires of time?
What a warlock does not know that the moon supports the pendulum of the body?

Adamic return to the shadow.
My years regress to silence.

Without threads. Without needles. without ashes.
My boyfriend has not returned from his grave.

How to triangulate the suit of my nuptials?

This bloodless thalamus is perfect.
I am in the castle ruins.
I pluck the lacrare hedgehogs.
The urine overflows from the glass.
That never loneliness. Let no one arrive.

–Manuel Ramos Otero, El Libro de la Muerte

Over the passage of time, Puerto Rican literature evolved from the art of oral story telling to its present-day status. Originally, written works by the native islanders of Puerto Rico were prohibited and repressed by the Spanish colonial government. Only those authors who were commissioned by the Spanish Crown to document the chronological history of the island were allowed to write. In the late 19th century, with the arrival of the first printing press and the founding of the Royal Academy of Belles Letters,  Puerto Rican literature finally began to flourish.

Born in Manati, Puerto Rico, in 1948, Manuel Ramos Otero is widely considered to be one of the first openly homosexual writers of the Puerto Rican diaspora.. Throughout his literary career, he boldly put his homosexuality at the core of his poetic, fiction, and non-fiction work. Feeling repressed and persecuted in his homeland because of the openness of his sexuality, Ramos Otero left Puerto Rico and relocated to New York City in 1968, where he received in 1979 his Master’s Degree in Literature from New York University. 

Otero’s writings, primarily semi-autobiographical pieces that dealt with themes of exile and rejection, are often considered controversial because of their unabashedly political, feminist and homoerotic subject matters. Exiled from Puerto Rico, Otero felt rejected in the United States because his writing did not deal with issues of race and class status that had become expected of Latino writers. Using  urban  gay Puerto Rican male writers as his protagonists,  he explored New York City’s gay subculture of  the 1970s and 1980s,  with its drugs, hustlers, prostitution, and dark sexual playgrounds  found beneath the rotting piers of the Greenwich Village and Chelsea waterfronts. 

In September of 1971, Ramos Otero founded Aspasguanza, a theatrical workshop in the Lower East Side of Manhattan. His traveling theater performed as part of the 1980 celebration of Fuegos Funebres in the historical district of Old San Juan in Puerto Rico. Dressed in a black kimono with face painted white,  Ramos Otero enacted the character of Tsuchigumo, a spider found in Noh dramas, Japanese mythology, and comic Japanese performances. 

During the decade of the 1970s, Ramos Otero traveled and collaborated creatively with his live-in partner, John Anthes, whose relationship is highlighted in much of Otero’s semi-autobiographical writing. In 1975, Otero founded the publishing group El Libro Viaje, which was devoted to increasing the publication of Puerto Rican authors in the United States. His highly experimental 1976 novel “La Novelabingo ( The Bingo Novel)”, was published through this press. After Anthes’s death in 1979, Otero dedicated two of his works to him: “Ritos Cancelado (Canceled Rites)” and “Ceremonia de Bienes y Raices (Ceremony of Goods and Roots)”. 

In 1980, Ramos Otero would later meet and develop a relationship with the Puerto Rican painter Angel Rodríguez-Díaz. In one of his better known stories, “Descuento”, Otero described a painting by Rodriquez-Dias, which would illustrate the cover of his last book of stories, “Página en Blanco Staccato”. This illustration of a Japanese Noh drama character would serve as inspiration for the theater performance at the 1980 Fuegos Funebres festival.

Ramos Otero taught writing and literature at Rutgers University, York College, LaGuardia Community College, and Lehman College. In addition to being a writer, he fostered and strengthened the literary community by helping to organize conferences and gatherings of Puerto Rican writers in the United States. Throughout his life, Ramos Otero participated in  literary collaborations and maintained close friendships with other influential Puerto Rican authors, including Rosario Ferré, Ana Lydia Vega, and Magalí García Ramis.

Manuel Ramos Otero returned to his hometown of Manati in 1990 to live out his final days, He died from complications of HIV/AIDS in San Juan, Puerto Rico, on October 7th of 1990 at the age of forty-two. Ramos Otero is remembered for his well-regarded short stories, his essays on literary criticism, and for his two  published works, the 1985 “El Libro de la Muerte”, which includes his Epitaphios Cycle of poems, and his “Invitacion al Polvo”,  a  work posthumously published in 1991 that directly addresses topics around the AIDS crisis.

Columbia University’s Archives houses a collection of Ramos Otero’s personal and professional correspondence, notebooks, reviews,  photographs and newspaper clippings which range from infancy to his death. Included in this collection are many letters from Otero to his mother discussing his relationship with John Anthes; there are also letters from Anthes to Otero’s mother.

Notes: A full translation of Manuel Ramos Otero’s work “Vivre del Cuento”, translated as “The Scheherazade Complex”, can be found at the Fordham University Library located at:  https://www.fordham.edu/download/downloads/id/463/scheherazade_complex

For those interested, a more extensive study of Manuel Ramos Otero’s life, including a history of his Traveling Theater, can be found at The Free Library located at: https://www.thefreelibrary.com/The+Travelling+Theater+of+Manuel+Ramos+Otero.-a0557578965

Claude McKay: “The Shadow-Fact with Which I Strove”

Photographers Unknown, The Shadow-Fact with Which I Strove

I
Not once in all our days of poignant love,
Did I a single instant give to thee
My undivided being wholly free.
Not all thy potent passion could remove
The barrier that loomed between to prove
The full supreme surrendering of me.
Oh, I was beaten, helpless utterly
Against the shadow-fact with which I strove.
For when a cruel power forced me to face
The truth which poisoned our illicit wine,
That even I was faithless to my race
Bleeding beneath the iron hand of thine,
Our union seemed a monstrous thing and base!
I was an outcast from thy world and mine.

II
Adventure-seasoned and storm-buffeted,
I shun all signs of anchorage, because
The zest of life exceeds the bound of laws.
New gales of tropic fury round my head
Break lashing me through hours of soulful dread;
But when the terror thins and, spent, withdraws,
Leaving me wondering awhile, I pause–
But soon again the risky ways I tread!
No rigid road for me, no peace, no rest,
While molten elements run through my blood;
And beauty-burning bodies manifest
Their warm, heart-melting motions to be wooed;
And passion boldly rising in my breast,
Like rivers of the Spring, lets loose its flood.

Claude McKay, One Year After, 2003

Born in Sunny Ville, Jamaica, in 1889, Festus Claudius McKay was poet and writer, one of the key figures in the literary movement of the 1920s Harlem Renaissance. His work ranged from vernacular verse celebrating peasant life in Jamaica to poems which protested racial and economic inequities. 

Proud of his African heritage, Claude McKay’s early interests were in the study of English poetry. He received his formative education under the tutelage of his brother, schoolteacher Uriah Theophilus McKay, and a local Englishman Walter Jekyll, who advised aspiring poet McKay to write verse in the Jamaican dialect. McKay’s studies were based in the British classic writers, such as Milton and Pope, and the later Romantic authors. McKay also studied the writings of philosopher Arthur Schopenhauer, whose works Jekyll was translating into English.

In 1906, McKay spent a year in Brown’s Town and the Jamaican capital of Kingston; but, after encountering extensive racism, he returned to Sunny Ville. In 1912, McKay published through a London company two collections of verses portraying opposing aspects of Black life inJamaica:“Songs of Jamaica” and “Constab Ballads”. His “Songs of Jamaica” presented a celebration of Jamaican peasant life and the people’s connections to the land. McKay’s “Constab Ballads”, however, portrayed a bleaker outlook on the plight of Black Jamaicans and was explicitly critical of the discrimination in urban Kingston. 

For his “Songs of Jamaica”, Claude McKay received an award and a stipend from the Jamaican Institute of Arts and Sciences, which he used to travel to America in 1912. He studied briefly at Kansas State College, but left in 1914 for New York City where he worked various menial jobs and continued writing poetry. In 1917, McKay published two poems in the short-lived periodical “Seven Arts”; a few years later, he published poems in the “Liberator” magazine. among these was his famous “If We Must Die”, a response to mob attacks by white Americans upon Afro-American communities during the ?Red Summer” from April to November of 1919.

McKay began a two year period of travel and work abroad, which began with a stay in Holland and Belgium, before moving to London and working at the “Workers’ Dreadnought” periodical, published on behalf of the East London Federation of Suffragettes. In 1920 he published his third collection of poetry, “Spring in New Hampshire”, notable for containing  “Harlem Shadows”, a poem of the plight of Black sex workers in the degrading urban city. 

Returning to the United States in 1921 McKay involved himself in various social causes. His 1922 anthology collection of poems, “Harlem Shadows”, assured his stature as a leading member of the Harlem Renaissance. Working on behalf of Blacks and laborers, McKay became involved with the Universal Negro Improvement Association and produced several articles for its publication. His travels took him to Paris, where he was hospitalized for a severe respiratory infection; upon recovery, McKay  traveled for the next eleven years, touring Europe and northern Africa. 

During this travel period, Claude McKay published three novels and a short story collection. His first novel, the 1928 “Home to Harlem”, tells the story of two black men, one who represents the instinctual aspect of an individual and, the other, the intellectual perspective, whose lives in Harlem are affected with either happiness or despair. This social-realist novel detailed a portrait of the hardships of Black urban life and recounted  different ways of rebelling against its ensuing circumstances. 

Mc Kay followed this book with the 1929 “Banjo” A Story without a Plot”, a novel about Banjo, a Black vagabond living in the French port city of Marseilles, who embodies the largely instinctual way of life, and Ray, a struggling, intellectual artist conventionally employed. The two men, always dissatisfied and disturbed by their limited roles in the racist society of Marseilles, cope with their problems in their own way, but both eventually decide to leave the city. 

In his third novel “Banana Bottom”, McKay presented a more incisive exploration of the Black individual’s quest for cultural identity in the face of racism, and explored the underlying racial and cultural tensions. In this story, the protagonist was a Jamaican peasant girl, who with pride and independence, fled the oppressive racist society in which she was forced to live and returned to an idealized peasant Jamaican environment.

During his final years abroad, Claude McKay published his 1932 “Gingertown”, a collection of twelve short stories, six of which were addressed to Harlem life and dealt with Black exploitation, and six stories which were set in Jamaica and North Africa, McKay’s last home before his return to the United States. Upon his return to Harlem in the mid-1930s, he began work on an autobiography, “A Long Way from Home”, a work published in 1937 about his challenges as a Black man in society.

Developing a keen interest in Catholicism after his disillusionment with Communism in the late 1930s, McKay became active in Harlem’s Friendship House, a missionary movement and a leading proponent of interracial justice. His work with the organization inspired his 1940 non-fiction historical treatise “Harlem: Negro Metropolis”, an account of the black community in Harlem during the 1920s and 1930s. McKay later moved to Chicago and worked as a teacher for a Catholic organization. 

In 1943, McKay started “Cycle Manuscript”, a collection of forty-four poems, which were never published; this important document remains as a typescript at the Beinecke Library of Yale University. By the middle of the 1940s, McKay’s health had deteriorated. He endured several illnesses throughout his last years and eventually died of heart failure in May of 1948. Claude McKay was buried at Calvary Cemetery in Queens, New York. 

Notes: An extensive collection of Claude McKay’s poetry can be found at: https://www.poemhunter.com/claude-mckay/poems/

An interesting read is “A Love So Fugitive and So Complete: Recovering the Queer Subtext of Claude McKay’s Harlem Shadows” by Lindsay Tuggle of the University of Sydney (originally printed in the journal “The Space Between; Literature and Culture 1914-1945”) which is located at: https://www.monmouth.edu/department-of-english/documents/a-love-so-fugitive-and-so-completerecovering-the-queer-subtext-of-claude-mckays-harlem-shadows.pdf/

Grant Wood

Grant Wood, “Spring in Town”, 1941, Oil on Wood Panel, 66 x 60.9 cm, Swope Art Museum, Terra Haute, Indiana

Born in February of 1891 near Anamosa, Iowa, painter Grant Wood was one of the major exponents of Midwestern Regionalism, an art movement that flourished during the 1930s. His adolescent years on the family farm remained an inspiration to him throughout his artistic career. In his early years, Wood studied under tile-craftsman Ernest A. Batchelder and took drawing classes under painter Charles Cumming at the University of Iowa. In 1913, he moved to Chicago to study at the Art Institute until the death of his father in 1916; at which time, Wood returned home to Cedar Rapids to support his mother and sister.

Wood traveled to France in 1923, where he studied for two years at the Académie Julian in Paris. He then continued his European travels, staying in Italy for a period to paint. During this period, Wood painted in an Impressionist-inspired style, focusing on landscapes. Though his style changed significantly over time, the decorative patterns of foliage and light seen in his early work remained a feature of his mature style. Encouraged in 1925 by his friend David Turner, Wood gave up teaching to focus full-time on his art, setting up a studio space, furnished by Turner, in Cedar Rapids.

It was in this developmental time, through the support of the Cedar Rapids community and his exposure to its culture, that he became committed to Regionalism, drawing the subjects of his work from the local population and landscapes of the region. Wood’s distinctive style was finalized after a trip to Munich in 1928, where he oversaw the fabrication of his stained glass window design for the Veterans Memorial Building in Cedar Rapids. By 1929, after having  viewed painter Hans Memling’s canvases and painter-printmaker Albrecht Dürer’s work in Munich’s museums, Wood came to believe the crisp edges and meticulous details of their execution could be used to convey a distinctly American quality.

In Iowa City in the spring of 1941, with war overseas and anxiety growing at home, Grant Wood began his sketch work for “Spring in Town”, which he finished that summer along with its companion piece “Spring in the Country”. He painted the scene with crisp, clear lines and gave the scene a  perspective from slightly above: this enabled the viewer to see the whole panorama of small-town life and labor as well as its minute details. Wood drew from his own memories of farm life as a young boy but combined these with aspects of his present life, the houses he noticed, the people he knew, and his feelings about family and friends.

“Spring in Town” was one of Grant Wood’s last midwestern rural scenes before his death in February of 1942. After the United States entered World War II, the Saturday Evening Post magazine printed “Spring in Town” as patriotic propaganda, presenting the idyllic scene as the exemplar of American life. The painting, however, although manifestly tranquil, represented a traumatic personal memory- the death of Wood’s father and, as a result, the loss of the family’s Anamosa farm. Wood’s first conception of the “Spring in Town” image coincided with the fortieth anniversary of his father’s death on March 17, 1901.

Image Inserts: Grant Wood’s 1937 “Saturday Night Bath” is a charcoal drawing on wove paper which is in the collection of Houston’s Museum of Fine Art. In 1939, the image, reproduced as a lithograph, was considered by the U. S. Post Office to be pornographic due to the depictions of the two naked men. 

Grant Wood’s “Self Portrait” was reworked several times by the artist, beginning in 1932, but was never finalized. This last version of the enigmatic artist was uncompleted at his death. It is in the Davenport Collection of the Figge Art Museum located in Davenport, Iowa.

Mutsuo Takahashi: “Clean as Leather, Lustful as a Lily”

Photographers Unknown, The Parts and Pieces Making a Whole: Set Eleven

“Sleeping Wrestler
You are a murderer
No you are not, but really a wrestler
Either way it’s just the same
For from the ring of your entangled body
Clean as leather, lustful as a lily
Will nail me down
On your stout neck like a column, like a pillar of tendons
The thoughtful forehead
(In fact, it’s thinking nothing)
When the forehead slowly moves and closes the heavy eyelids
Inside, a dark forest awakens
A forest of red parrots
Seven almonds and grape leaves
At the end of the forest a vine
Covers the house where two boys
Lie in each others arms: I’m one of them, you the other
In the house, melancholy and terrible anxiety
Outside the keyhole, a sunset
Dyed with the blood of the beautiful bullfighter Escamillo
Scorched by the sunset, headlong, headfirst
Falling, falling, a gymnast
If you’re going to open your eyes, nows the time, wrestler”

—Mutsuo Takahashi, Sleeping Wrestler, Poems of a Penisist, 2012

Born in December of 1937 in the Fukuoka Prefecture of Japan, Mutsuo Takahashi is a poet, essayist and writer, known especially for his open writing about male homoeroticism. He spent his early years in the countryside of Japan. At three months old, Takahashi lost his father to pneumonia and was left, along with his sisters, by his mother in the care of his grandparents. After his mother returned from mainland China, the family moved to the port town of Moji, just as the air raids by the Allied Powers of World War Two intensified. It was at this time, watching the war in action with his classmates, that Takahashi  became aware of his sexual identity, which became a common subject in his first book of poetry published in 1959.

Takahashi graduated from the Fukuoka University of Education, after which he moved to Tokyo in 1962. He continued writing poetry while employed at an advertising company. His first book, published in 1964, was “Rose Tree, Fake Lovers”, an anthology that described male to male erotic love in bold and direct language. Takahashi sent the collection to novelist Yukio Mishima who helped promote Takahashi’s work; a close relationship and friendship resulted that lasted until Mishima’s suicide in 1970.

During the 1960s and 1970s, there was a large existential trend in the literature and culture of Japan, which included an interest in eroticism. In collaboration with his two friends, surreal poet Chimako Tada and poet Shigeo Washisu, Mutsuo Takahashi created the literary journal “The Symposium (Kyōen)”, named after Plato’s famous dialogue.

Written in free verse through the 1970s, Takahashi’s poetry used homoeroticism as an important theme. An example of this is his long poem Ode (Homeuta)”, an epic one-thousand line erotic fantasy poem published by Winston Leyland. He also started writing prose at this time: the 1970 “Twelve Views from the Distance” about his early life, a 1972 surrealistic novella based on his trip to the gay underground of New York City entitled “A Legend of a Holy Place”, and the 1974 “Zen’s Pilgrimage of Virtue”, a homoerotic and humorous retelling of the Buddhist legend of Sudhana.

Traveling through the world, Mutsuo Takahashi broaden his themes by incorporating his knowledge of the history of world literature and art, often including poems of homage to important writers in his collections. In 2010, he produced a small book of poems to accompany an exhibition which presented the work of American assemblage artist and filmmaker Joseph Cornell. Still actively using free style verse,Takahashi also wrote traditional Japanese verse and novels, Nō and Kyōgen plays, works of literary criticism, and a libretto written for an opera by composer Akira Miyoshi.

Residing presently in the seaside city of Zushi, Mutsuo Takahashi has been the recipient of a number of literary prizes in Japan, including the Yomiuri Literay Prize, the Takami Jun Prize, the Modern Poetry Hanatsubaki Prize, and, in 2000, the prestigious Kunshō Award fo his contributions to modern Japanese literature.

Jameson Fitzpatrick: “A Poem for Pulse”

Photographers Unknown, A Poem for Pulse

“We must love one another whether or not we die.

Love can’t block a bullet

but it can’t be destroyed by one either,

and love is, for the most part, what makes Us Us—

in Orlando and in Brooklyn and in Kabul.

We will be everywhere, always;

there’s nowhere else for Us, or you, to go.

Anywhere you run in this world, love will be there to greet you.

Around any corner, there might be two men. Kissing.” 

—Jameson Fitzpatrick, A Poem for Pulse”, Bullets into Bells: Poets and Citizens Respond to Gun Violence, 2017

Poet and professor, Jameson Fitzpatrick holds a BA and an MFA from New York University, where he now teaches in the Expository Writing Program. His verse defines the cutting edge of contemporary American poetry, telling and retelling the regularity and specificity of contemporary gay experience.

Fitzpatrick’s first publication was the 2014 chapbook “Morrisroe: Erasure” which consists of twenty-four erasures of texts describing a hookup by the avant-garde photographer Mark Morrisroe, who was a pioneer for the more direct, intimate and confrontational, late twentieth-century queer art. Fitzpatrick’s chapbook, inspired by a “man of a certain age” whom he loved, explores the art of those lost to AIDS.

Jameson Fitzpatrick’s second work was the 2018 chapbook “Mr. &” which is centered on the long title poem whose sections purposely slide into one another with slips in logic and lurching sequence structure. The shorter poetic pieces present a modernist view of marriage as a politically ambiguous institution, recently also available to same-sex couples. 

His most recent publication is the 2020 “Pricks in the Tapestry”, published by Birds, LLC, a small independent poetry press. The book is a record of Jameson Fitzpatrick’s feelings and thoughts of his life during his mid-to-late twenties, which shows the difficulties a poet has using the self as the subject in a lyric form, Written from the narrative base of Cherry Grove and the Fire Island Pines of Long Island, New York, the characters are placed between the time-held, orgiastic perception of the area and its immense artistic history.

Jameson Fitzpatrick’s poems have appeared in The American Reader, The Awl, The Literary Review, Best New Poets 2017, The New Yorker, and Poetry magazine, among other publications. He is a 2017 NYSCA / NYFA Fellow in Poetry and currently lives in New York City.

Notes: The complete “A Poem for Pulse” can be found at the Poetry Foundations site located : https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poems/147304/a-poem-for-pulse

David Felsenthal’s Interview-discussion with Jameson Fitzpatrick on his  “Pricks in the Tapestry” can be found at the online magazine “The Believer” located: https://believermag.com/logger/a-review-of-pricks-in-the-tapestry-by-jameson-fitzpatrick/

Juliusz Martwy

Juliusz Martwy, “At Night”, 2008, Watercolor, Ink, Acrylic, and Collage on Paper, 25 x 35 cm, Artist’s Private Collection

Juliusz Martwy, born Juliusz Lewandowski, is a self-taught artist who was born in Warsaw, Poland in 1977. He began his career with illustrations for an edition of French writer Isidore Lucien Ducasse’s “The Songs of Maldoror”, written under his nom de plume Comte de Lautréamont,  and illustrations for the works of Marquis de Sade. Martwy draws inspiration for his work from the figurative styles of expressionism, cubism, the New Objectivity, and Russian traditional painting.

An important part of Juliusz Martwy’s collective works are the autobiographical threads, through which he presents the universal problems of human nature. He deals with social, political and moral issues in his paintings, both historical and contemporary, such as the past civil war in Spain and the current political situation in Poland. Apart from multi-faceted genre scenes, Martwy paints intimate figurative portraits within spaces that depict small narrative, often erotic, incidents.

More of Juliusz Martwy’s work and contact information may be found at the artist’s Behance site:  https://www.behance.net/juliuszlewandowski

Alan Turing

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Photographer Unknown, Alan Turing at Bosham, 1939

This image shows mathematician and computer pioneer Alan Turing at Bosham, a coastal village and civil parish in Chichester, England.. He is seated with several figures including two Jewish refugee boys he rescued from Nazi Germany.

Alan Turing’s central contribution to science and philosophy came through his treating the subject of symbolic logic as a new branch of applied mathematics, giving it a physical and engineering content. Though a shy man, he had a pivotal role in world history through his role in Second World War cryptology. From 1939 to 1945 Turing was almost totally engaged in the mastery of the German enciphering machine, Enigma, and other cryptological investigations at now-famous Bletchley Park, the British government’s wartime communications headquarters. Turing made a unique logical contribution to the decryption of the Enigma and became the chief scientific figure, with a particular responsibility for reading the U-boat communications.

In 1948 Alan Turing moved to Manchester University, where he partly fulfilled the expectations placed upon him to plan software for the pioneer computer development there, but still remained a free-ranging thinker. It was here that his famous 1950 paper, “Computing Machinery and Intelligence,” was written. In 1951 Turing was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society for his 1936 achievement, yet at the same time he was striking into entirely new territory with a mathematical theory of biological morphogenesis.

This work was interrupted by Alan Turing’s arrest in February 1952 for his sexual affair with a young Manchester man, and he was obliged, to escape imprisonment, to undergo the injection of oestrogen intended to negate his sexual drive. He was disqualified from continuing secret cryptological work. Turing’s general libertarian attitude was enhanced rather than suppressed by the criminal trial, and his intellectual individuality also remained as lively as ever. While remaining formally a Reader in the Theory of Computing, he not only embarked on more ambitious applications of his biological theory, but advanced new ideas for fundamental physics.

For this reason Alan Turing’s death, on 7 June 1954, at his home in Wilmslow, Cheshire, came as a general surprise. In hindsight it is obvious that Turing’s unique status in Anglo-American secret communication work meant that there were pressures on him of which his contemporaries were unaware. Turing had previously spoken of suicide; and his death by cyanide poisoning was most likely by his own hand. The symbolism of his death’s dramatic element—a partly eaten apple—has continued to haunt the intellectual Eden from which Alan Turing was expelled.

In 1967, the British government took its first steps toward decriminalizing homosexuality. It was not until 2009 that the government officially apologized for its treatment of Alan Turing and thousand of other gay men who were convicted under the existing Victorian laws. In 2013, Queen Elizabeth II granted Alan Turing a royal pardon, 59 years after a housekeeper found his body at his home at Wilmslow, near Manchester, in northwest England.