Radek Husak

The Artwork of Radek Husak

Born in Poland in 1984, Radek Husak ia a contemporary process-driven mixed-media artist whose works in the expanded field of print. He earned his Master of Fine Arts from the Royal College of Art and is currently based in London. 

Through his research and experimentation, Husak developed a new approach to printmaking. He works with pigment transfers twinned with carbon-drawn elements that are either placed on paper or sandblasted aluminum panels. Blasting through the outer layer of aluminum reveals a reflective inner core upon which the pigment transfers are placed. These images are then embellished with paint, soft pastels, bodycolor, and carbon and color pencils.

Radek Husak’s work is inspired by art history, fashion, and queer theory. He combines the tradition of the nude with the large color-elements of 1950s and 1960s Pop Culture. Husak’s images, with their overlapping figurative forms, create in essence a static glitch. The edges of one body blurs and melts into the next, thereby creating  sense of movement. The resulting movement effect of these bold, modern images bring to mind the early movement studies by French scientist and photographer Étienne-Jules Marey, which he produced in the 1800s. 

Husak creates works in the abstract form and constructs these images by taking elements of nature, such as skies, clouds and anatomical features, fragmenting and rearranging them to form flowing patterns. He also has produced figurative work in other mediums including ceramics and stained glass. 

Radek Husak has shown his work in 2021 and 2011 at the Woolwich Contemporary Print Fair in London. The Grove Gallery and Quantus Gallery, both in London, are the venues for Husak’s first solo show, entitled “Duality” which is running from November 23 until December 22 in 2022. 

Radek Husak’s work can be seen at his website located at: http://www.rhusak.co.uk   His work can also be seen at Artsy located at: https://www.artsy.net/show/grove-gallery-duality?sort=partner_show_position

Bottom Insert Image: Radek Husak, “Saint Sebastian (SS5)”, 2022, Pigment Transfer, Bodycolor, Carbon and Color Pencils and Collage on Sandblasted Aluminum, Edition of 3, 84 x 60 cm, Private Collection

Edmund Teske

The Photography of Edmund Teske

Born in Chicago, Illinois in March of 1911, Edmund Rudolph Teske was an American photographer who along with his portraits produced a prolific volume of experimental photography. For him, photography was more than a way to record a specific moment in time; it was a way to explore the soul of his subjects. Although he was well known among other photographers and participated in many exhibitions, his work was not widely known among the general public.

The eldest son of three children born to Polish emigrant parents, Teske moved at the age of eight with his parents to Wisconsin. It was at this early age that he began to develop his interests in painting and poetry. When the family moved back to Chicago in 1921, Teske began to study music, lessons which concentrated on the piano and saxophone. Encouraged by his elementary school teacher, he began in 1923 to experiment in photography through the school’s facilities. By 1932 Teske was accomplished in the piano to such a degree that he became the protégé of concert pianist Ida Lustagarten. 

Edmund Teske had his first solo exhibition of photographs at the Blackstone Theatre, now the Merie Reskin Theater, in the Loop community area of Chicago. In 1933, he began a career in photography working at a Chicago studio. Traveling to New York in 1936, Teske met and received encouragement in his work by American photographer and modern-art promoter Alfred Stieglitz. In the same year he had the opportunity to meet Frank Lloyd Wright at his studio in Wisconsin. At Wright’s invitation in 1938, Teske took up a fellowship in photography to be conducted at Taliesin, Wright’s personal estate in Wisconsin, where he documented Wright’s architectural projects and began experiments with his own photographic work. 

Teske’s professional relationship with Wright enhanced his reputation and brought him into contact with such artists as Ansel Adams, portrait and architectural photographer Berenice Abbott and Hungarian constructivist photographer Lászió Moholy-Nagy. Teske taught briefly in the late 1930s with Moholy-Nagy at the New Bauhaus Institute of Design in Chicago and was an assistant at Abbott’s New York studio later in 1939. In the late 1930s, he started a documentary series of Chicago scenes entitled “Portrait of My City” which focused on the social issues of the city. 

Although drafted at the beginning of World War II, Edmund Teske failed the medical exam for asocial tendencies and emotional instability, terms often used at that time to disqualify homosexual men. He was instead appointed as an assistant photographer for the Army Corps of Engineers stationed at Illinois’s Rock Island Arsenal where he printed aerial maps for the military. In the early part of 1943, Teske was able to leave his position and, allured by a new life in Hollywood, made the decision to move to Los Angeles. 

After a brief working stay at Wright’s Arizona Taliesin West, Teske arrived in Los Angeles in April of 1943. He was hired for Paramount Pictures’s photographic still department and soon joined the artistic and bohemian movement in the city. After a chance meeting with oil heiress Aline Barnsdall, who was a client of Wright, he was invited to live at the Olive Hill estate that Wright had designed for her. Assuming a larger role than that of just caretaker, Teske hosted informal parties and artistic gatherings with such personalities as artist Man Ray, novelist Anaïs Nin, director George Cukor, sculptor Tony Smith, and actors Joel McCrea and Frances Dee. 

Among the people that Edmund Teske met during this period was the novelist and playwright Christopher Isherwood who introduced Teske to the Hindu philosophy of Vedanta. Teske embraced this philosophy with its concept of the connection of life and nature, and its understanding of the existence of time in relation to the larger universe. He also believed in the coexistence of both the masculine and the feminine within every individual. These teachings  became a firm basis for his existing view of  life and formed a bonding point with Isherwood and the growing Los Angeles gay community. 

Teske continued his photographic experiments with manipulated and combined multiple images from which he produced composite prints from sandwiched negatives, prints with solarization to reverse highlight and shadow, and photographic collages. One of the series he produced was “Shiva-Shakti” which featured a nude male overlaid with human faces, landscapes, or abstract subjects. After moving in 1949 to a small studio in Laurel Canyon, Teske became active during the early part of the 1950s with several small, local theater groups. Throughout the 1950s, he experimented with new manipulative and chemical techniques which culminated in 1958 with a new combination of photographic print toning and solarization, later named duotone solarization. 

Edmund Teske frequently returned during the 1960s and 1970s to older negatives and reinterpreted them through experimental printing techniques. He participated in more than two dozen group exhibition including the Museum of Modern Art’s 1960 “The Sense of Abstraction” show and was given eighteen solo shows. A colleague of photographer Robert Heineken at the University of California in Los Angeles in the 1960s, Teske taught many of the important photographers of that time, among whom were Aaron Siskind and Judy Dater, and mentored many local photographers. He befriended singer Jim Morrison of The Doors and took a series of informal portraits of Morrison and long term companion Pamela Courson.

During the last twenty years of his life, Teske worked and lived in his East Hollywood studio where he regularly taught workshops. He assembled a comprehensive  six-volume autobiographical collection of his work , entitled “Emanations”; however it was never published during his lifetime. In 1994 the Northridge Earthquake severely damaged his studio which forced him to relocate to downtown Los Angeles. Edmund Teske died alone in his home at the age of eighty-five on November 22nd in 1996. A posthumous retrospective of Teske’s photographs was given in 2004 by the John Paul Getty Museum in Los Angeles. 

“Strive to accept the facts of life with courage and serenity to develop talent, as an outlet for emotion, and to find happiness in the world of the mind and spirit. In the days when Greece and Rome ruled the world in arts and letters and philosophy, love of man for man reached openly its pinnacle of beauty. Civilization today, moving forward, must eventually recognize these true facts of love and sex variations.”

–Excerpt from Edmund Teske’s Journal, Published in Julian Cox’s “Spirit into Matter: The Photographs of Edmund Teske”, John Paul Getty Museum, 2004

Note: An informative and more extensive read on the life of Edmund Teske is Rosalind G. Wholden’s article for the February 1964 print issue of ARTFORUM entitled “Edmund Teske: The Camera as Reliquary”. The article can be found online at: https://www.artforum.com/print/196402/edmund-teske-the-camera-as-reliquary-37879

Top Insert Image: Photographer Unknown, “Edmund Teska”, Date Unknown, Gelatin Silver Print

Second Insert Image: Edmund Teske, “Richard Soakup, Teske’s Lover in Their Chicago Flat”, 1940, Gelatin Silver Print, 20.3 x 19.7 cm, Private Collection 

Third Insert Image: Edmund Teske, “Jim Morrison and Pam”, 1969, Gelatin Silver Print Composite, Private Collection

Fourth Insert Image: Edmund Teske, “Herb Landegger and Bill Burke, Olive Hill, Hollywood”, 1945, Gelatin Silver Print, Private Collection

Bottom Insert Image: Elisa Leonelli, “Edmund Teske, Topanga Canyon”, 1976, Gelatin Silver Print

John Wieners: “The Savagerey of the Sea”

Photographers Unknown, The Savagerey of the Sea

God love you
     Dana my lover
lost in the horde
on this Friday night
500 men are moving up
& down from the bath
room to the bar.
Remove this desire
from the man I love.
Who has opened
     the savagery
of the sea to me.

See to it that
his wants are filled
on California street
Bestow on him lan-
gesse that allows him
peace in his loins.

Leave him not
to the moths.
Make him out a lion
so that all who see him
hero worship his
thick chest as I did
moving my mouth
over his back bringing
our hearts to heights
I never hike over
     anymore.
Let blond hair burn
on the back of his
neck, let no ache
screw his face
up in pain, his soul
     is so hooked.
Not heroin.
Rather fix these
hundred men as his
lovers & lift him
with the enormous bale
of their desire.

6.20.58

John Wieners, A Poem for the Old Man, The Hotel Wentley Poems, 1958

Born in Boston in January of 1934, John Wieners was a poet and both an anti-war and gay rights activist. He was also a member of the San Francisco Renaissance, a movement which made that city the center of the American poetry avant-garde in the 1950s. Wieners studied from 1950 to 1954 at Boston College where he earned his Bachelor of Arts. After hearing a reading by postmodernist poet Charles Olson at Boston’s Charles Street Meeting House, Wieners enrolled at Black Mountain College where he studied under Olson and Robert Duncan, a modernist poet and shamanistic figure in San Francisco’s artistic and poetic circles.

In 1956 after returning to Boston, Wieners met visiting poets Frank O’Hara and Jack Spicer and became close friends with poet Stephen Jonas, a relationship which lasted until Jonas’s early death in 1970. He, along with Jonas, close friend Jim Dunn, Jack  Spicer and poets Ed Marshall and Robin Blaser, formed a group which they labeled the School of Boston. All the members of the group, except for Dunn, were openly gay and congregated regularly in the bohemian Beacon Hill District. There they published limited-run chapbooks of poetry and the “Boston Newsletter”and “Measure”, both short-run publications which contained poems on queer vulnerability and survival.

In 1957, John Wieners relocated to the North Beach area of San Francisco with his boyfriend Dana Durkee. This relationship soon broke up. The result of which was a period of intense creativity for Wieners as he began to associate with the artistic and literary community of the city but it also led to a deterioration of his mental health. In San Francisco, he became closely associated with painter and set-designer Robert LaVigne and collage artist Wallace Berman, both of whom were involved in the Beat Movement.

In 1958 at the age of twenty-four, Wieners published his first collection of poems entitled “The Hotel Wentley Poems”, which contained both Beat and queer poems. Written during a six-day stay at the hotel in the queer Polk Gulch neighborhood, the poems balance the loss of his boyfriend Dana with the social atmosphere of the queer bars and friends. After this publication, he became a contributor to publisher Donald Allen’s influential “New American Poetry” anthology.

Worn down by an atmosphere of constant paranoia, homophobic landlords, drug busts and entrapment by undercover police, John Wieners’s mental health gradually declined. Arriving in New York, his erratic behavior from a drug cocktail prompted an acquaintance to call Wieners’s parents; damaging stays in several Massachusetts institutions followed. At Medfield State Hospital, Wieners lost his manuscripts and was threatened with electrical treatments. As an inpatient at Bournewood Hospital in Waltham, he was given ninety-one insulin treatments which caused memory loss.

Recovering at his parents’ home in Milton, Wieners continued his poetic writings in his notebooks and letters. His great poem “The Acts of Youth” was included in a January 1962 letter to his peer and former teacher Charles Olson; the poem alternates between visions of pain and suffering and dreams of resurrection. Wieners’s second collection of poems entitled “Ace of Pentacles” was published in 1964. In the following year, Wieners was engaged by Olson on a Guggenheim graduate fellowship at State University of New York, Buffalo.

In 1966 in Buffalo, John Wieners began the only significant hetero-relationship of his life with patron and heiress Panna Grady. That ended after Grady terminated a pregnancy and began a relationship with Charles Olson. In the following years, Wieners suffered a series of losses: the deaths of Olson, his friend Jonas, and both his parents. While inside another institution, the Central Islip State Hospital on Long Island, he heard about the 1969 Stonewall uprising from Charley Shively, a representative from the new Gay Liberation movement in Boston. This became one of the most important friendships in Wieners’s latter life.

Wieners began publishing poems, plays, and essays in Boston’s “Fag Rag”, a militant magazine published by Shively and others of the anarchist Fag Rag collective. The magazine was a medium for homosexual poetry, history, reviews and art that was sex-positive and which associated homosexuality not with tragedy but with joy. The collective later formed the Good Gay Poets Press in 1972, whose second publication was Wieners’s long poem “Playboy” which recounted Fag Rag’s presence at the 1072 Democratic convention in Miami. The Good Gay Poets Press also published Wieners’s full-length book “Behind the State Capital; or Cincinnati Pike” in 1975. A prominent theme in the book was Wieners’s defiance of traditional gender roles.

After the publication of “Behind the State Capital”, John Wieners nearly ceased writing poems and letters. Incapacitated by years of abusive mental health care, he lived frugally in his Beacon Hill neighborhood and became reliant on emotional and financial support from his old friends. Wieners continued to give occasional readings and worked on producing articles for the “Fag Rag” magazine. Its final issue in 1987 had a photograph of Wieners and Shively kissing at Gay Pride on its front cover.

John Wieners died on the 1st of March in 2002 , at his side were his longtime supporters and friends Charley Shively and Jim Dunn. Many of Wieners’s later writings were lost; many were never published. His papers are housed in several university collections and some of his late poems are in the Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library at Yale University.

John Wieners’s 1971 journal, discovered in the Kent State University archive collection, was published by Bootstrap Press with the title “A Book of Prophecies” in 2007. City Lights Bookstore and Publishers released “Stars Seen in Person: Selected Journals of John Wieners” in 2015; it contains selections from four unpublished journals written from 1955 to 1969. A comprehensive selection of Wieners’s poetry, “Supplication”, was published in 2015 by Wave Books.

Note: For those interested in the life and work of John Wieners, a must read is the Boston Review article by poet and scholar David Grundy entitled “Queer Shoulders at the Wheel”. This article was published in the May 2021 Arts in Society section : https://www.bostonreview.net/articles/queer-shoulders-at-the-wheel/

Jim Dunn’s article for the 2015 “I Have You By the Ears: John Wieners Ephemera” exhibition at Harvard’s Poetry Room can be found at: https://woodberrypoetryroom.com/?p=1793

Top Insert Image: Jerome Mallmann, “John Wieners”, Date Unknown, Gelatin Silver Print

Third Insert Image: Elsa Dorfman, “John Wieners”, Date Unknown, Gelatin Silver Print

Fourth Insert Image: Photographer Unknown, “John Wieners”, Date Unknown, Gelatin Silver Print

Bottom Insert Image: Photographer Unknown, “John Wieners, New York”, 1985, Gelatin Silver Print

Mark Bibbins: “We Dig Up Fire From Nearly Anywhere”

Photographers Unknown, We Dig Up Fire From Nearly Anywhere

I’m not sure how it got this early or why we needed
to keep the evening in what we would much later
agree was motion. What could grow so marvelous

and where might I’ve met you- only endless want
lay ahead, but we figured we’d earned it. Desire our
birthright, rebate checks clog the mailbox and spill

onto the lobby floor- account for them when
you get home; now run naked at the gulls
all you like, I’m wating for August right here.

Whatever you say sounds better with your thigh
against mine and caught in the camera-phones
of our undoing. Yes you told me what I need

but Brooklyn’s awfully far to go for something
you don’t even believe; what’s miraculous is that
we ever managed to be specific. What’s tedious;

insufficiently scandalous secrets. We dig up fire
from nearly anywhere but you’re too burnt to burn
or admit we wanted to try what feels almost new.

Mark Bibbins, There Is No You Are Everywhere, The Dance of No Hard Feelings, 2009, Copper Canyon Press

Born in Albany, New York in 1968, Mark Bibbins is an American poet who earned his Bachelor of Arts at New York City’s Hunter College and a Master of Fine Art at The New School, a private research university in New York City.

Bibbins’s poetry is constructed from words and anecdotes pieced  together into a collage form which creates new layers of meanings.  His pems are know for their sardonic wit, unmistakable sexuality, arresting titles and wide range of references from pop culture, media and politics. The emphasis of Bibbins’s work is not the moral or message behind it, but rather his mood or tone on the subject. This presentation allows people to approach the particular subject from a point of view that might lie outside their ordinary experience.

Bibbins received a Lambda Literary Award for his first collection of poetry “Sky Lounge”, published by Graywolf Press in 2003. He was awarded a Poetry Fellowship from the New York Foundation for the Arts in 2005. Bibbins’s second volume of poetry was the 2009 “The Dance of No Hard Feelings”, a collection of erotic love poems and clever elegies of ironic cynicism that examine the concepts of queer awareness and emotions.

In 2014, Mark Bibbins’s third collection entitled “They Don’t Kill You Because They’re Hungry, They Kill You Because They’re Full” was published by Copper Canyon Press. This volume examined the issues of power, gender, and sexuality through a series of “persona poems”. Each poem is spoken through the voice of a chosen personality, either modern and classical. The cadence of each poem’s distinctive voice presents a particular mood and perception to the listener.

Bibbins published his fourth collection “13th Balloon” in 2020. This book-length poem sequence examined the AIDS crisis of the 1980s and 1990s through an address to a dead beloved who passed in 1992 at the age of twenty-five. Part elegy and part personal memoir in verse, the poem combines fragmented experiences of youth and loss with anguish and desire. This volume was one of NPR’s Favorite Books of 2020 and was awarded the Thom Gunn Award for Gay Poetry in 2021.

Mark Bibbins has resided in Manhattan, New York, since 1991. He currently teaches graduate programs at Columbia University and The New School, where he co-founded LIT Magazine. Bibbins is also a teacher at New York University’s Writers Program in Florence, Italy.

Dương Xuân Quyền

Paintings by Dương Xuân Quyền

Born in the Son Duong district of Vietnam in 1987, Dương Xuân Quyền is an artist and educator currently working at Tan Trao University in Tuyen Quang, Vietnam. He is a graduate of the Fine Arts Program at the Hanoi National University of Education. 

Dương Xuân Quyền works in the Vietnamese tradition of carved-woodblock printing on black paper as a familiar way to express the contemporary issue of gay relationships to the public. Having produced the initial print work, Quyền then enriches the image with colors from acrylic or oil paints. His current work contains images of male couples as well as lush, tropical scenes of natural habitat. 

From 2011 to 2015, Quyền regularly participated in the Northwest-Viet Bac Exhibition, one of the seven regional contemporary art exhibitions in the country. He also organized a 2015 group exhibition entitled “Sac Autumn” at Hanoi’s Exhibition Hall 16 in Ngo Quyen. 

Dương Xuân Quyền had his first solo exhibition in 2017 entitled “Love People of the Same Sex”, a collection consisting of twenty-two paintings and embellished wood-carved etchings on paper. In his work, he used tropical foliage and water taro leaves as the background for his presentations of male couples in romantic poses. 

In 2020, Quyền won the Third-Place Prize at the Northwestern Fine Arts Exhibition-Region III exhibition for his series “Delayed Appointment I,II,III”. In 2021, he again entered the same exhibition and won another Third-Place Prize, this time for his series “My Side Tells Stories About the Days Apart I, II, III”. Quyền’s second solo exhibition was held in Hanoi in 2022 and entitled “Vertical Flowers”. The show consisted of twenty-eight, large oil and acrylic paintings which depicted Duoc Mung leaves, a native plant well-known to the public. 

Insert Image: Dương Xuân Quyền, “Awakening Lovers”, 2020, Oil on Canvas, 80 x 100 cm, Private Collection

Images of Dương Xuân Quyềns artwork can be found at his Instagram site located at: https://www.instagram.com/xuanquyenstudio/?hl=en

Francisco Aragón: “Asleep You Become a Continent”

Photographers Unknown, Asleep You Become a Continent

asleep you become a continent—
undiscovered, mysterious, long,
your legs mountain ranges
encircling valleys, ravines

night slips past your eyelids,
your breath the swaying of the sea,
sprawled across the bed like
a dolphin washed ashore, your mouth

is the mouth of a sated volcano,
O fragrant timber, how do you burn?
you are so near, and yet so far

as you doze like a lily at my side,
I undo myself and invoke the moon—
I’m a dog watching over your sleep

Francisco Aragón, Asleep You Become a Continent (Francisco X. Alarcón), Glow of Our Sweat, 2010

Born in San Francisco in 1968, Francisco Aragón is an American poet, essayist, translator and editor. The son of Nicaraguan immigrants who settled in the United States in the 1950s, he earned his Bachelor of Arts at the University of California, Berkeley, and a Master of Arts in Spanish at New York University. Upon his return to the United States.in 1998 after a decade in Spain, Aragón completed his graduate degrees in Creative Writing from the University of California at Davis and the University of Notre Dame.

At the University of Notre Dame in 2003, Aragón became the director of Letras Latinas, the literary program of the Institute of Latino Studies and a founding member of the Poetry Coalition. A winner of an Academy of American Poets Prize, he served on the board of directors of the Association of Writers and Writing Programs from 2008 to 2012. Aragón is the founding editor and director for the Momotombo Press, established in 2004. Named after the volcano in Nicaragua, the press publishes and promotes new works in Latino literature in the chapbook format. 

Francisco Aragón’s poetry places his personal experiences within the wider historical and cultural conventions of society. His writing process is often stimulated by sensory experiences that bring forth memories long forgotten. Aragón’s poetry has appeared in over twenty anthologies and a range of literary journals. In 2010 he was awarded with an Outstanding Latino Cultural Arts and Publication Award by the American Association for Hispanics in Higher Education.

Aragón is the author of three books of poetry, the most recent being the 2020  “After Rubén”, which explores Latinx and queer identity through homage to the great Nicaraguan poet Rubén Dario. Throughout the text, Aragón intersperses English language translations with riffs from Dario’s poetry. His previous collections include his 2005 debut volume, “Puerta del Sol”, and “The Glow of Our Sweat”, published in 2010. 

Francisco Aragón is the author of three previous chapbooks of poetry: “Tertulia”, “In Praise of Cities”, and “Light Yogurt, Strawberry Milk”. His most recent chapbook is the 2019 “His Tongue a Swath of Sky”, printed in an edition of only two-hundred copies. In this work, Aragón amends the historical record by turning figures of modernista pastoral into an idealization of queer desire. All proceeds from the sale of this book were donated to Letras Latinas. 

Aragón is the editor of the award-winning 2007 anthology “The Wind Shifts: New Latino Poetry”.  His work as a translator includes four books by Francisco X. Alarcón, as well as work by Spanish poets Federico García Lorca and Gerardo Diego. More recently, Aragón has been rendering versions of the Nicaraguan poet, Rubén Darío. 

Note: Several interviews with Francisco Aragón on his translation work, and  the current state of Latino poetry, as well as readings from “Puerta del Sol” can be found at: http://www.franciscoaragon.net/interviews.html

David Lebe

The Photography of David Lebe

Born in Manhattan, New York in 1948, David Lebe is an American photographer whose work includes both figurative and still life images. His initial education began at the progressive, elementary-level City & Country School in Manhattan’s Greenwich Village and later at Harlem’s High School of Music and Art. During these years, Lebe frequently visited New York City’s many art museums, particularly drawn to the Museum of Modern Art’s photographic exhibitions. His exposure to the photographs of Walker Evans, Dorothea Lange and Robert Frank, among others, generated a life-long passion for street photography.

David Lebe is best known for his experimental images. Among the techniques used are pinhole cameras, photograms made by placing objects directly on photographic paper and then exposing it to light, hand-painted photographs, and light drawings, an old technique which entails using a moving light source during a long-exposure photograph. In his photography, Lebe explores the issues of gay identity, homoeroticism, and living with AIDS. 

From 1966 to 1970, David Lebe attended the Philadelphia College of Art where he studied photography under Ray K. Metzker, known for his bold experimental, black and white cityscapes; Tom Porett, who pioneered work in the extended photograph, multi-media and digital photographic processes: and Barbara Blondeau, best known for her strip-print images created through different winding speeds, and various lighting and masking techniques. 

During  his studies with Barbara Blondeau in 1969 and 1970, Lebe began to experiment with pinhole cameras and built his own devices with multiple apertures which enabled him to record panoramic views from different angles. For his senior thesis, he created “Form Without Substance”, a series of high-contrast images with strong black shadows which were taken in Philadelphia and his childhood area of Manhattan.Two years after graduation, Lebe accepted a teaching position at the Philadelphia College of Art, where he taught photography until 1990. During his tenure, he exhibited his photography in private galleries and museums. 

A dissatisfaction with the results of color film printing led David Lebe to begin hand-coloring his gelatin silver prints, photograms and pinhole images, and traditional photographs. His first collection of these works was the 1974-75 “Unphotographs”, a series of meticulously hand-painted portraits and self-portraits. After the purchase of a townhouse and studio space in Philadelphia, Lebe began to create several series of photograms using plant material collected from his gardens and country excursions. His “Specimens” series featured plants, bones and other material combined into hybrid forms; the “Garden Series” contained images of plant material dissected and reassembled; “Landscapes” placed the hybrid forms in hand-painted settings.

In early 1976 still living in a cramped apartment in Philadelphia, Lebe created his first black and white light drawing . Standing before a 35mm camera on a tripod, he made a long exposure using a flashlight to draw an outline of his naked body and embellished it with points and lines of light throughout the room. This technique, originally used by photographers Étienne-Jules Marey and Georges Demeny in the 1800s, developed over time to include other people, objects and their surroundings. The long exposure time allowed Lebe to enter these images with his subjects and create events rather than moments of time. 

In 1987, following the death of a friend from AIDS and just before his own HIV diagnosis, David Lebe produced “Scribbles”, abstract images drawn freehand with a flashlight and which often featured light emerging from a glass vase. In 1989, David Lebe began a series of four shoots depicting adult film star and author Scott O’Hara. These sessions contained both nude and erotic images which, while documenting the effects of AIDS on O’Hara’s body, also presented his determination to embrace his personal sexual pleasure.

In 1989, Lebe met the ceramic artist and horticulturist Jack Potter. The two began a relationship that has continued to endure for over thirty years. Both men were HIV-positive when they met. They altered their lifestyle, their eating habits, and moved to the rural Columbia County of New York in 1993. The transition from city to country life inspired Lebe to create the still-life series “Food for Thought”, arrangements of various vegetables and foods shot against black background, sometimes with spirals of light around them. 

Despite their efforts at a healthy diet and lifestyle, both David Lebe and Jack Potter began to decline in their health in the mid-1990s. In 1994, Lebe documented his lover Jack’s daily self-care regimen with a series of small, intimate black and white portraits. In his 1996-97 “Jack’s Garden”, he made detailed studies of the gardens Potter had cultivated on the property. In 1996, Lebe and Potter began the newly designed combination-drug therapy that was showing success in extending the lives of HIV-positive patients. 

By 2004, David Lebe fully embraced digital photography and continued to photograph the environment around his and Jack’s home. He also began making new color prints of older work, including his early pinhole prints. In 2013, he started his ongoing series “ShadowLife”, images of shadows and reflections illuminated by early morning light streaming through the house’s windows, thus continuing his earlier studies of shadows. In May of 2019, Lebe had his first solo museum exhibition, “Long Light”, at the Philadelphia Museum of Art, which featured one hundred-forty five images spanning five decades. The exhibition represented both a historic achievement for an artist with AIDS and an important resistance to the dangerous tendency to historicize the disease.

David Lebe’s photography can be found in many private and public collections, which include, among others, the J. Paul Getty Museum in Malibu, California; the Leslie Lohman Museum of Gay and Lesbian Art in New York City; Houston’s Museum of Fine Art, Santa Fe’s New Mexico History Museum, the Albin O. Kuhn Library and Gallery at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County; Kansas City’s Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art; and a major collection of his work at the Philadelphia Museum of Art.

Images of David Lebe’s work, prints for sale, and quotes from Lebe can be found at the artist’s site located at: https://davidlebe.com

Top Insert Image: David Lebe, “Unzippered, Paul, Philadelphis”, 1981, Light Drawomg Series, Silver Gelatin Print

Second Insert Image: David Lebe, “Self Portrait, Philadelphia”, 1981, Hand-Colored Light Drawing, Silver Gelatin Print

Third Insert Image: David Lebe, “Socks, (Renato, Philadelphia)”, 1983, Hand-Colored Light Drawing, Silver Gelatin Print

Fourth Insert Image: David Lebe, “Underpants, 1981, Light Drawomg Series, Silver Gelatin Print

Fifth Insert Image: David Lebe, “Paul After, 1981, Light Drawomg Series, Silver Gelatin Print

Bottom Insert Image: David Lebe, “Avalon (Barry Kohn, Boardwalk, Avalon, New Jersey)”, 1980,  Light Drawing Series, Silver Gelatin Print

Elijah Burgher

The Artwork of Elijah Burgher

Born in Kingston, New York in 1978, Elijah Burgher is an American artist who produces both figurative and abstract colored pencil drawings, paintings and prints of sigils. He received his Bachelor of Arts from Sarah Lawrence College in Bronxville, New York, and his Master of Fine Arts at Chicago’s Art Institute. Burgher currently lives and works in Berlin, Germany. His work is represented by the Horton Gallery in Dallas, New York’s contemporary PPOW Gallery, and Western Exhibitions in Chicago. 

In his work, Elijah Burgher uses ideas from occult and magic traditions to address queer sexuality, sub-cultural formations, and the history of abstraction. He also creates sigils, symbols of magical power, inspired by different esoteric systems, including the works of English illustrator and occultist Austin Osman Spare, who trained as a draughtsman at the Royal College of Art in South Kensington. Burgher’s sigils encode symbols of wishes and desires through their shape, and the compositions of their elements and color.

Burghers colored pencil drawings of nude male figures, often featuring images of friends,  illustrate scenes from his daily life and environment. Acting as ritual relics, they have an erotic quality that anchors their abstract components into reality. 

Elijah Burgher had solo exhibitions of his work in several galleries including the 2018 “Nudes in  the Forest” at the Ivan Gallery in Bucharest, Romania; “Bachelors” at New York’s Zieher Smith and Horton Gallery in 2016; and “Elijah Burgher, Topple the Table of Correspondences’ in 2011 at 2nd Floor Projects in San Francisco, among others. As a resident artist at Western Exhibitions in Chicago, Burgher has had several solo exhibitions in its gallery from 2012 to 2020. 

Burgher has also shown his work in multiple group exhibitions from 2000 to 2021, including the 2014 Gwangin Biennial, Asia’s most important contemporary art exhibition which was held in the Republic of Korea; New York City’s 2014 Whitney Biennial; “The Temptation of AA Bronson” exhibition held in 2013 at the Witte de With Center for Contemporary Art in Rotterdam, Netherlands; the 2020 “intimacy: New Queer Art from Berlin and Beyond” held at the Centre d’Art Contemporain in Geneva, Switzerland; and “Secret Language” held in 2021 at the Ivan Gallery in Bucharest, among others.

In 2011, Elijah Burgher held a Residency at the Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture in New York City and a Fire Island Artist Residency in Long Island, New York.

Note: an interview with Elijah Burgher can be found at the Inside/Within web art archive located at: http://insidewithin.com/elijah-burgher/

Elijah Burgher’s works can be found at the P.P.O.W. Gallery site located at https://www.ppowgallery.com/artists/elijah-burgher#tab:thumbnails

Bottom Insert Image: Elijah Burgher,, “Bachelor with Demons (Sleezy)”, 2015, Colored Pencil on Paper

Danez Smith: “This Need to Be Needed, To Belong”

Photographers Unknown, This Need to Be Needed, To Belong

this gin-heavy heaven, blessed ground to think gay & mean me.
bless the fake id & the bouncer who knew
this need to be needed, to belong, to know how
a man taste full on vodka & free of sin. i know not which god to pray to.
i look to christ, i look to every mouth on the dance floor, i order
a whiskey coke, name it the blood of my new savior. he is just.
he begs me to dance, to marvel men with the
                                                                                                dash
of hips i brought, he deems my mouth in some stranger’s mouth necessary.
bless that man’s mouth, the song we sway sloppy to, the beat, the bridge, the length
of his hand on my thigh & back & i know not which country i am of.
i want to live on his tongue, build a home of gospel & gayety
i want to raise a city behind his teeth for all boys of choirs & closets to refuge in.
i wnat my new god to look at the mecca i built him & call it dam good
or maybe i’m just tipsy & free for the first time, willing to worship anything i can tase.

Danez Smith, The 17-Year-Old & the Gay Bar, Poetry, February 2017

Born in St. Paul, Minnesota, Danez Smith is an American poet and author who was a First Wave Urban Arts Scholar at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, earning a Bachelor of Arts in 2012. They are genderqueer, non-binary and HIV positive. Their first collection of poetry was the 2013 chapbook “hands on your knees” published by Penmanship Books. Their chapbook “black movie”, published in 2015, won that year’s Button Poetry Prize.

Among other works, Smith is the author of three collections of poetry which received critical acclaim: the 2014 “(insert) Boy” which won the 2014 Lambda Literary Award for Gay Poetry and was selected as a Boston Globe Best Poetry Book in the same year; the 2017 “Don’t Call Us Dead: poems” which was a finalist for the 2017 National Book Award for Poetry; and the 2020 “Homie” which was a finalist for the 2020 National Book Critics Circle Award for Poetry, the 2021 NAACP Image Award for Poetry, and the 2021 Minnesota Book Award for Poetry.

In 2018, Danez Smith received the inaugural Four Quartets Prize from the Poetry Society of America for his sonnet sequence entitled “summer, somewhere”. Smith also became, at age twenty-nine, the youngest recipient of the Forward Prize for Best Poetry Collection; their collection of poems “Don’t Call Us Dead” won over works by former Forward winner Vahni Capildeo and U.S. Poet Laureate Tracy K. Smith.

In addition to other awards for their collections, Danez Smith was the recipient of a 2014 Ruth Lilly Poetry Fellowship, the 2016 Kate Tufts Discovery Award, and a 2017 NEA Fellowship for Creative Writing. They currently serve on the board of directors for the Washington DC-based poetry non-profit Split This Rock.

Smith and poet and playwright Franny Choi are both co-hosts of the poetry podcast “VS” from the Poetry Foundation. Smith is also a founding member of Wikipedia’s Dark Noise Collective; other founders include Franny Choi, poet and screenwriter Fatimah Asghar, poet and singer/songwriter Jamila Woods, and poets Nate Marshall and Aaron Samuels.

Note ; Poetry Foundation’s VS podcast can be found at: https://www.poetryfoundation.org/podcasts/category/142241

Benoit Prévot

The Artwork of Benoit Prévot

Born in the Ardennes region between France and Belgium in 1968, Benoit Prévot is a French illustrator and comic artist. A graduate of EMSAT, he has worked at various design and advertising studios. Prévot received formal training at the CFT Gobelins, a Paris school for visual communication and the arts,  after which he worked on several animated television series. Throughout his career, he has created artwork for comic books and fanzines, as well as illustrated book covers and promotional posters. 

Prévot’s more current and  personal work, reminiscent of illustrations produced in the 1920s, often displays a stylish homoerotic atmosphere. Although his favorite medium is ink and graphite on paper, Prévot has also produced works with watercolors and oil paints. 

Benoit Prévot is the writer and illustrator for Class Comics’s “Angelface”, a graphic novel series set in the 1920’s era of prohibition, which was epitomized by that era’s illicit liquor bars, swing music, and loose morals. The illustrated series combines the elegance of that era with Prévot’s stylish homoeroticism. The story of Alan, known as Angelface, and his lover Red conjures up the glamour of upper-class wealth and Trans-Atlantic ocean liner travel as well as the grime of the working class world which Alan and Red want to escape. 

Prévot’s work has been shown at the Leslie-Lohman Museum of Gay and Lesbian Art in New York City and has been shown regularly at the Tom of Finland Art and Culture Festivals. Issues of the graphic novel “Angelface” were donated in 2011 to the Tom of Finland Foundation. Benoit Prévot currently lives and works in Paris. 

Bottom Insert Image: Benoit Prévot, “Décolleté”, Date Unknown

 

Igor Sychev

The Paintings of Igor Sychev

Born in February of 1987 in the northern city of Nadym, Igor Sychev is a Russian artist known for his Magic-Realistic figurative paintings. At the age of five years having shown an inclination towards the arts, his parents enrolled him in the city’s art school where he studied until the age of sixteen. Sychev left Nadym upon graduation and relocated to Novosibirsk, the capital of Siberia, where he entered the Faculty of Industrial Design at the State Academy of Architecture, Design and Fine Arts.

After graduating from the Academy in 2010, Sychev moved to Moscow, which as Russia’s capital offered wider prospects for a career and self-expression. He soon obtained employment as an industrial designer and created designs for furniture and interior spaces. In 2011 while working in the design field , Sychev began a personal study of oil painting techniques. Over the next ten years, Igor Sychev gradually redirected his energies into pursuing a career as a painter. 

In addition to the primary medium of oil paints, Igor Sychev also produces works in the mediums of watercolor, pencil, sepia and charcoal. His work is inspired by the works of the recognized Master artists , such as Michelangelo’s “David”, who viewed the nude male body as a source of beauty, Other influences on Sychev’s work include the paintings of Lucian Freud and Egon Schiele, the large-scale expressive paintings of Paolo Troilo, painter Gregory Little’s boldly colored figures in everyday scenes,  and Portuguese painter Carlos Barahona Possollo’s male nude paintings.   

As the present politics and attitudes in Russian are predominantly homophobic, Igor Sychev has not been able to exhibit in galleries or museums. He holds his private exhibitions in establishments offered by friends. Sychev’s work is held in many private collections throughout the world, including the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, France, Germany, Denmark, and South Africa, among others. 

Images of Igor Sychev’s paintings, watercolors and drawings, as well as contact information, can be found at the artist’s website located at: https://www.igorsychev.com

Bottom Insert Image: Igor Sychev, “Concrete Colours” Sketch, Date Unknnown, White/Black Pencil and Pen on Paper, Artist Collection (Available)

Mark Doty: ‘What Do We Want In Any Body But the World?”

Photographers Unknown, What Do We Want In Any Body But the World?

When the beautiful young man drowned—
accidentally, swimming at dawn
in a current too swift for him,
or obedient to some cult
of total immersion that promised
the bather would come up divine,

mortality rinsed from him—
Hadrian placed his image everywhere,
a marble Antinoüs staring across
the public squares where a few dogs
always scuffled, planted
in every squalid little crossroads

at the furthest corners of the Empire.
What do we want in any body
but the world? And if the lover’s
inimitable form was nowhere,
then he would find it everywhere,
though the boy became simply more dead

as the sculptors embodied him.
Wherever Hadrian might travel,
the beloved figure would be there
first: the turn of his shoulders,
the exact marble nipples,
the drowned face not really lost

to the Nile—which has no appetite,
merely takes in anything
without judgment or expectation—
but lost into its own multiplication,
an artifice rubbed with oils and acid
so that the skin might shine.

Which of these did I love?
Here is his hair, here his hair
again. Here the chiseled liquid waist
I hold because I cannot hold it.
If only one of you
, he might have said
to any of the thousand marble boys anywhere,

would speak. Or the statues might have been enough,
the drowned boy blurred as much by memory
as by water, molded toward an essential,
remote ideal. Longing, of course,
become its own object, the way
that desire can make anything into a god.

Mark Doty, The Death of Antinoüs, Bethlehem in Broad Daylight, 1990

Born in August of 1953 in Maryville, Tennessee, Mark Doty is an American poet and memoirist who is best known for his 1993 volume “My Alexandria”, which won the T.S. Eliot Prize, Britain’s most prestigious award for a collection of poetry. Born into an army family, he spent his early life in various sun-belt cities in the western and southern sections of the United States. Unsure of his sexual identity, Doty married at age eighteen and divorced after completion of his undergraduate studies at Iowa’s Drake University. 

Doty earned his Master’s Degree in creative writing from Goddard College in Vermont. While at college, he met Wally Roberts who would become his first great love and lifetime partner. They lived together in Manhattan and Provincetown for twelve years. Roberts tested positive for HIV in 1989; his illness and death in 1994 became a pivotal event in Doty’s development as a person and a poet.

Known for his intelligent and elegant verse, Mark Doty composes well-formed and aesthetic free verse poems, honest and direct elegies to Roberts and others lost, and lyrical poems that examine urban gay life. Doty’s work is molded from his individual character and from the specific experiences he has uniquely endured. 

Mark Doty’s first collection of poems, entitled “Turtle, Swan”, was published in 1987. Written from a gay perspective, the volume explored themes of childhood memories and nostalgia, the fragility of life, fate, hope and survival. Doty published his second collection of poems “Bethlehem in Broad Daylight” in 1991. His poem from that collection “Tiara”, which critiqued society’s perception and treatment of homosexual AIDS sufferers, was printed earlier in the anthology “Poets for Life: Seventy-Six Poets Respond to AIDS”.

Doty’s third book of poetry “My Alexandria”, published in 1993,  was written before Wally Roberts developed symptoms of the HIV virus. In contrast to poems of remembered youth in his earlier works, these poems contemplate an adult view of the prospect of mortality and the desperate attempts to try to make impending loss even momentarily bearable. This third collection was chosen for the National Poetry Series and won the National Book Critics Circle Award. Doty’s winning of the T.S. Eliot Prize for this work made him the first American poet to win Britain’s annual award.

Among Mark Doty’s many poetry collections are the 1995 “Atlantis”, a  mixture of his own memories and letters from friends written in response to the tragedy of Wally Roberts’s illness and death; the 2001 “Source”, a collection of lyrical works on the paradox of self-perception; and the 2008 “Fire to Fire: New and Selected Poems”, a collection written over twenty years on our mortal situation, the transforming power of desire, and the ability of art to shape human lives. “Fire to Fire” received the National Book Award for Poetry in 2008. All three collections received the Lambda Literary Award for Gay Men’s Poetry in their published year. 

Doty’s memoirs include the 1996 “Heaven’s Coast”, a deeply-felt, painful account of his thoughts after learning Roberts’s AIDS diagnosis; the 1999 “Firebird: A Memoir” an autobiography of his childhood from age six to sixteen in Arizona and the American South; the 2007 “Dog Years” an poignant account of his adoption of the dog Beau as a companion for Roberts during his darkest days; and the 2020 “What is the Grass: Walt Whitman in My Life”, an exploration of Whitman’s life and poetry and the effect Whitman’s work had on Doty’s own work and experiences. “Dog Years” was a New York Times Bestseller and won both the Lambda Literary Award for Gay Memoir/Biography and the Stonewall Book Award. 

Mark Doty has taught at Princeton University, Sarah Lawrence College, the University of Iowa, Columbia University, Cornell, and the New York University. He is currently Distinguished Professor and Writer in Residence in the English Department of Rutgers University. Doty lives with his husband Alexander Hadel in New York City and in the hamlet of The Springs in East Hampton, New York. The couple married in October of 2015 in Muir Woods National Monument.

Notes:
An extensive 1998 interview with Mark Doty by Dale Boyer for the Association of Writers and Writing Programs on Doty’s life and craft can be found at: https://www.awpwriter.org/magazine_media/writers_chronicle_view/1689/an_interview_with_mark_doty

A collection of fifteen poems and two prose pieces by Mark Doty can be found at the Poetry Foundation, a resource for new and contemporary poets. His biography and poems can be found at: https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poets/mark-doty

Adrien Pelletier

Portraits by Adrien Pelletier

Born in Paris in 1981, Adrien Pelletier is a French painter whose work focuses on the art of portraiture. He earned his Bachelor of FineArts in Graphic Design at Paris’s Central Saint Martins in 2004 and his Master of Fine Arts at London’s Royal College of Arts in 2006. Pelletier also studied graphic design history and semiotics at Ecole Estienne in Paris. He has held the position of art director for many years at fashion magazines based in Paris and London.

For his Bachelor of Arts graphic design dissertation at Central Saint Martins in 2004, Adrien Pelletier produced “SWAG: The Talent of the Others”.  The home-printed book was a collection of fictional interviews around the theme of borrowing from others. The research investigated various dialectic oppositions, such as original versus copy, authentic versuss fake, author versus artist, legal versus legitimate, authority versss integrity, and the concept of you versus me.

Executed in the mediums of acrylic or gouache, Pelletier’s works  are intimate portraits of strangers, friends and lovers who are situated in outdoor or personal interior settings. These compositions, either innocent or sexual in nature, are painted using bold and complimentary colors in a straightforward, naive style. Pelletier uses personal photographs of people in his life as references for his work. His first exhibition in Paris was as part of Exposition Collective Libre N. 2 held at the 3537 Gallery in March of 2022.

At the invitation of Jean Pierre Blanc, the director of the arts center  La Villa Noaillees, Pelletier began in 2017 an Art Residency on the Île du Levant off the coast of the French Riviera. While there, he painted a series of forty-five portraits of the residents of the island’s naturalist village, a society of independent individuals who shun cars and clothes.

In Pelletier’s Despina residency project, a more documentary approach was developed in which he often combined interviews with the portraiture. The project was to portray the cultural resistance to the political far-right movement and the possibilities of interactions among local communities. Portraits of activists, artists, intellectuals and people on the street were combined with dialogues on the environment, the rights of the individual, LBGTQ issues, and the protection of the indigenous Amazon communities.

Middle Insert Image: Adrien Pelletier, “Andreas à Athènes”, 2021, Paris, Gouache on Paper, 15 x 20 cm

Bottom Insert Image: Adrien Pelletier, “Mathias”, 2022, “To Paint is to Love Again” Series, Paris, Acrylic on Canvas, 75 x 50 cm

Jeffery Beam: “Life Stings the Pale Horses of My Desire”

Photographers Unknown, Life Stings the Pale Horses of My Desire

I try to find the words to describe the body of your plea-
sure. A cool lnaguage of tundra or a language incandescent
as water, as the ocean. All words are rooted, forests and fields
overgrown with violets and acids, with physical properties of
an object seeded in lead or oxygen. Let the forest grow wings
and the incandescent populate the night sky! The web net
fabric of your pleasure is purple pink magenta. Your veins
spill over with blood and the blood is lava, rumbling into my
valley. When I enter the mangle of our sexes, the deepthroat-
ed hummingbird flies.

When I see you, there are visions before me that sunflowers
cannot expel, of dark roses of blood and terror pricking me
with thorns. When I see you, my life is invalid with gauze, a
screen of soft thickness, a desiring and bereavement found
and lost. To touch, have, share you. . .this is flow, or a dark
corrosion of the senses, like rust building a rainbow of stone.
What we give hatches the egg of an apocryphal bloom. Every
moment your breathe, life stings the pale horses of my desire.
Each moment the invisible arms of my love stretch across
mountains. The wild hawk delivers its claw into your chest.

Jeffery Beam, When I See You, Poems from the Golden Legend (1981), The New Beautiful Tendons, 2012

Born in the textile-town of Kannapolis, North Carolina in April of 1953, Jeffery Beam is an American poet, essayist, and musical collaborator. In his lyrical work, known for its simplicity and physicality, he creates conversations between the body and the natural and spiritual worlds. Until his retirement in November of 2011, Beam was a botanical librarian for thirty-five years at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Since 1984, he has lived with his husband, Stanley Finch, at their residence ‘Golgonooza at Frog Level’ in Hillsborough, North Carolina.

In his early life,  Jeffery Beam realized the connection between his spiritual understandings, his queer identity and his existence as a Poet. In the 1970s, he delved into Zen Buddhism, the Way of the Tao, and the teachings of the Vedanta. From the literary works of such writers as Walt Whitman, Jean Genet, Kabir Das, Frederico Garcia Lorca, and Rainer Maria Rilke, Beam gained a new perception of the nature of desire in the material world. His understanding and acceptance of his true nature as a spiritual, queer poet is carried throughout all of his many works.

In 1979 with the arrival of a postcard from nationally published poet Jonathan Williams, Beam began a long association with Williams and his life-long partner poet Tom Meyer, as well as other members of The Jargon Society and the Black Mountain College community of artists. Williams, through his encouragement and frequent correspondence, would become one of the most important influences in the development of Beam’s poetic work.

Jeffery Beam has been a judge in the Poetry Division of the Lambda Book Awards for ten years. He also judged the annual poetry contest of Durham, North Carolina’s “The Independent Weekly” in 2014. Beam began teaching workshops in the spring of 1996; among these were “The Dog of Art in the Garden of Toads”, and “Fossil Poetry: Seeing the Word, Hearing the World”, which was sponsored by the North Carolina Writers Network. 

Beam’s “An Elizabethan Bestiary: Retold” was published in January of 1999 by Horse & Buggy Press in an edition of one thousand copies. Illustrations by Ippy Patterson accompanied Beam’s poetry which reworked the bestiaries found in Pliny’s ancient Roman and Edward Topsell’s 15th century works as published in English translation in Muriel St. Clare Byrne’s 1926 “The Elizabethan Zoo”. The collection was awarded an IPPY Award in 2000 as one of the Ten Best Books of the Year and received one of the 50 Books 2000 Awards from the American Institute for the Graphic Arts. With grants and support from such organizations as the Duke Museum of Art and the North Carolina Zoological Park, as well as private contributions, the publication of the collection was complemented by exhibitions, readings and interactive presentations across North Carolina.

Jeffery Beam’s “Spectral Pegasus: Dark Moments” was a result of a six-month collaboration with the Welsh painter Clive Hicks-Jenkins. The 2019 collection, based loosely on an ancient Welsh folk tradition and the death of Hicks-Jenkins’s father, joined the two men’s understandings of myth and dream into a singular poignant but joyful design. “Spectral Pegasus” details a hero’s journey through death and resurrection, psychological and spiritual trials, and ultimately towards a revelatory, redemptive vision. Following its publication, Beam held a poetry reading and discussion of this work at the Museum Arts Center of the Black Mountain College in August of the same year. This poetry/art collection includes an audio CD and downloadable MP3 files. 

Beam’s “The New Beautiful Tendons”, a collection of queer poems from 1969 to 2012, contains previously published works, selections from his CD collection “What We Have Lost: New and Selected Poems 1977-2001”, and several unpublished poems that expressed his queer identity. The poems in this collection are written in spare and direct language that delights in the body’s beauty and show the connection between a naturalized gay man and a spiritualized nature.

In addition to his poetic chapbooks and collections, Jeffery Beam’s literary works include: his co-editorship of “Jonathan Williams: The Lord of Orchards”, a biography and a homage to the renowned poet; the 2008 “On Hounded Ground”, an autobiographical essay with poems; and the 1998 “Light and Shadow”, a monograph on the photographic work of Claire Yaffa known for her documentary work on homelessness and child abuse. Beam has also worked with mezzo-soprano Shauna Holiman, cellists Barbara Stein Mallow and Wendy Law, and pianist Brent McMunn on “Life of the Bee”, a work written by Lee Holby based on a cycle of poems by Beam characterizing the residents and activities of a beehive.

“Poetry, music and dance all started in the cave and were meant to pull down that Divine, mysterious energy in the universe that no one could quite figure out and felt that they needed to access. In this way music and dance and poetry are almost inseparable.  That’s why when I am on stage you see me sort of dancing as well as singing and reciting the poems.  I don’t think you can or should separate them. What I do is attempt to access the Divinity that permeates this world, that’s my role as a poet— it’s not the mainstream now but it’s an ancient mode of poetry— which is vatic, and for me also rooted in Vedic mysticism — the one-in-all, the Atman.”

—Jeffery Beam, “Nantahala Interview” with poetry editor Mark A Roberts, North Carolina Literary Festival, Chapel Hill, April 2002

Note: Jeffery Beam’s website includes interviews with the poet, poetry readings and songs composed on his work, recent publications, contact information and works about poet Jonathan Williams. The site is located at: https://jefferybeam.com

Jeffrey Beam’s papers, which among other items include correspondence, poetry notebooks and recordings, are housed in the Wilson Special Collections Library at the University of North Carolina

Top Insert Image: Bernard Thomas, “Jeffery in the Woods”, 2000, Durham Herald

Third Insert Image: Stanley Finch, “Jeffery Beam at William Blake’s Grave, London”, 2017

Fifth Insert Image: Kyle Hodges, “Jeffery Beam at Golgonooza”, 2015, The Daily Tar Heel

Burgess (Jess) Franklin Collins

The Artwork of Jess Collins

Born in Long Beach, California in August of 1923, Burgess (Jess) Franklin Collins was an American visual artist best known for his elaborate collages that addressed science, mysticism, sexuality, history and popular culture. In his early years, he read books which ranged from Proust to L. Frank Baum, listened to classical music, and constructed scrapbooks with a great aunt. 

In 1942, Jess Collins entered the California Institute of Technology to study chemistry; however with the start of World War II, he was drafted in 1943 into the Army Corps of Engineers.  Collins worked in a junior position at the Manhattan Project in Oak Ridge, Tennessee, on the production of plutonium for atomic bombs until 1946. Upon his release from military service, he continued his education at California Institute and graduated with honors in the field of radiochemistry. Collins was given a position at the Hanford Atomic Energy Project located on the Columbia River in the state of Washington.

During his employment at the Hanford site, Jess Collins began adult education classes to study painting. Due to his growing concerns about the nature of his work in the atomic energy sector and the future of the industry, he left his position and decided to pursue a full-time career in the arts. Collins moved to the San Francisco Bay Area and began to study art: first at the University of California at Berkeley and later at the California School of Fine Arts. Due to an estrangement with his family, Collins changed his name during this period of study to the singular Jess.

At the California School of Fine Arts, Jess studied with visual artist Elmer Bischoff, a forerunner of Abstract Expressionism in the Bay Area; abstractionist painter Edward Corbett, known for his use of the color black in his work; painter Hassel Smith, whose work went through a succession of art forms from plein air to figurative expressionism; and Clyfford Still, whose work encompassed a wide range of materials. Jess quickly became a member of the 1950s San Francisco art scene and was actively engaged in exhibitions, poetry readings and other creative activities in the area. 

In 1951, Jess met poet Robert Duncan, a member of the Black Mountain College and one of the most influential post-war American poets. They began a lifelong romantic relationship that evolved into a domestic household and an artistic collaboration that became central to the development of their art and poetry. This relationship lasted until Duncan’s death in 1968, thirty-seven years later. Along with abstract expressionist Harry Jacobus, Jess and Duncan opened the King Ubu Gallery in 1952, a venue which became an important exhibition space for alternative art in San Francisco.

Inspired by a gift from Duncan of “ Une Semaine de Bonté”, Max Ernst’s surrealist collage book, Jess began making collages, or Paste-Ups, in the early 1950s. These works, which combined text and image fragments from engravings, photographs, jigsaw pieces, and comic strips, became increasingly more complex over time. Eventually the Paste-Ups would contain thousands of distinct pieces. In 1959, Jess began a series of thirty-two works, entitled “Translation”. Each of the works were painted, enlarged reproductions of found images, such as children’s book illustrations and scientific drawings from old Scientific American periodicals, After being copied on new canvases, the paintings were combined with literary texts from such authors as William Blake, Gertrude Stein, and Plato.

The “Scavenger” series was based on painted or repainted canvases found in  thrift shops. Thick layers of paint were applied covering parts of the former works while leaving other image areas exposed for viewing. Built in layers, the thick new paint reinterpreted the existing work with its added texture and images. The 1959 “Narkossos” began as a pencil drawing for a painting that was based on the myth of Narcissus. This initial drawing became a large scale mixed-media work of graphite rendering and paste-up fragments featuring references from literary and popular culture. This large-scale work with original artist’s frame is currently housed in the collection of the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. 

For the remainder of his life, Jess lived and worked in San Francisco except for a period of travel with Duncan in the mid-1950s to Europe and the Black Mountain College. The couple entertained their extensive but intimate circle of friends at their large Victorian home in the Mission District. The household was filled with artworks by Jess and their many friends, Duncan’s vast library, the couple’s recorded music collection, and many beautiful domestic objects salvaged by Jess from thrift shops. Jess had a major retrospective of his work in 1993-1994 which toured museums in San Francisco, Buffalo, and Washington, DC. 

Jess died of natural causes at his San Francisco home on the second of January in 2004 at the age of eighty. His work appears in major museum collections around the country including: the Museum of Modern Art, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, NY; the National Gallery of Art, Washington D.C. and the Museum of Modern Art and the Fine Arts Museums, San Francisco. His work is now represented by the Tibor de Nagy Gallery in New York City.

Note: The Jess Collins Trust established an archive for Jess’s papers and writings in The Bancroft Library at the University of California, Berkeley. The Trust, which contains images of Jess’s work, exhibition and event information, and information on Robert Duncan’s work, can be found at: https://jesscollins.org

Top Insert Image: Photographer Unknown, “Jess, Berkeley, California”, 1956-57, Gelatin Silver Print

Second Insert Image: Helen Adam, “Jess Collins, Beach Near Pidgeon Point”, Date Unknown

Third Insert Image: Jess Collins, “Untitled (Car and Male Nude), Date Unknown, Collage, 30.5 x 20.3 cm, Private Collection

Bottom Insert Image: Photographer Unknown, “Jess Collins and Robert Duncan, Stinson Beach”, 1958-59

Tim Dlugos: “You Draw Your Own Breath, Then I Draw Mine”

Photographers Unknown, You Draw Your Own Breath, Then I Draw Mine

Underneath your skin, your heart
moves. Your chest
rises at its touch. A small bump
appears, every
second. We watch for what appears
to be hours.

Our hands log the time: the soft
light, darkness
underneath your eyes. Our bodies
intersect like highways
with limitless access and perfect spans
of attention.

We pay for this later. I pay
for breakfast. We
can’t stay long. We take off
to the museum
and watch the individual colors
as they surface

in the late works of Matisse.
They move the way
your heart moves, the way we breathe.
You draw your own
breath, then I draw mine. This is
truly great art.

Tim Dlugos, Great Art (For Donald Grace), A Fast Life: The Collected Poems of Tim Dlugos, 2011

Born in Springfield, Massachusetts in August of 1950, Tim Dlugos was an American poet know for his openly gay work infused with pop-culture references. Raised by adopted parents in Massachusetts and Virginia, he joined the Christian Brothers, a Catholic religious order, in 1968. The next year, Dlugos entered the order’s La Salle College in Philadelphia where he started writing poetry and became active in the anti-Vietnam War movement. In 1971, he made the decision to leave the Christian Brothers and embrace an openly gay and politically active lifestyle. With his interest in academic life lessened, Dlugos left La Salle College in his senior year and relocated to Washington DC.

Dlugos became active in the city’s Mass Transit poetry scene and regularly attended poetry readings at Dupont Circle’s Community Book Shop. Among his associates were Irish-American poet and author Terence Winch, Language poet Tina Darragh, writer and historian Mícheál Lally, and Bernard Welt, an author and professor of cultural dream studies. While in Washington DC, Dlugos worked on Ralph Nader’s newspaper “Public Citizen”, a position that led to a successful future career with liberal and charitable organizations.

In 1976, Tim Dlugos moved to New York City where he settled in Manhattan and became a prominent poet in the downtown literary scene, particularly the Poetry Project of the East Village’s St. Mark’s Church. His poetry, with its openly gay topics and allusions to popular culture, was well received. In 1977, Dlugos began a correspondence and friendship with author and artist Dennis Cooper, the founder of the punk “Little Caesar Magazine” and the author of the semi-autobiographical series “The George Miles Cycle”. Dlugos published two books through Cooper’s Little Caesar Press: the 1979 poetry chapbook “Je Suis Ein Americano” and the 1982 “Entre Nous”

During his New York years, Tim Dlugos became friends with artist and writer Joe Brainard, who experimented with the use of comics as a poetic medium; biographer and novelist Brad Gooch; poet Eileen Myles who served as artistic director of St. Mark’s Poetry Project; poet Donald Britton, a member of the New York gay avant-garde poets who is best known for his 1981 “Italy”; and author, journalist and librettist Jane DeLynn whose 2002 “Leash” is considered the definitive portrait of lesbian life in the late twentieth-century.

In New York, Dlugos edited and contributed to such journals as Christopher Street, New York Native, and The Poetry Project Newsletter. After his HIV positive diagnosis in 1987, he decided to return to train for the Episcopalian priesthood. Dlugos relocated in 1988 to New Haven, Connecticut, where he enrolled at the Yale School of Divinity. However, he was unable to complete his degree. Tim Dlugos died of complications due to AIDS on December 3rd of 1990 at the age of forty.

Tim Dlugos published five books of poems in his lifetime; three books of his work have been published posthumously. He is widely known for the poems he wrote while hospitalized at Manhattan’s Roosevelt Hospital. Published in The Paris Review a few months before his death, Dlugos’s poem “G-9”, entitled after the hospital’s AIDS ward, celebrated life while accepting impending death. His close friend David Trinidad edited the posthumous “A Fast Life: The Collected Poems of Tim Dlugos”, which won the 2011 Lambda Literary Award.

Note: In addition to his poetry, Tim Dlugos kept a diary, from June 3rd to November 23rd in 1976, of his daily life as a gay man in New York City. It was published posthumously in 2021 by Sibling Rivalry Press. The following is an excerpt:

“Yesterday sunned on roof in a.m., read Diane di Prima’s Memoirs of a Beatnik in about 2 hours, then walked to Pier 51, where people sunbathe nude (among other things). Caught the eye of someone tall with reddish hair & freckles [this makes me think of Frank again], and we sat in a window on the second floor watching the cruise ships go by (incl. The Statendam, bearing Rob to Bermuda) for hours. Then came back here (my apt.), had coffee & went to bed—clean salt-water taste of his body. We had dinner together at a great looking restaurant w/ OK food called Chelsea Place, just up Eighth Avenue—ducks swim in their garden, “real ducks!” as every group of diners passing our table near the garden entrance exclaimed.”

Tommy Lee Kirk: Film History Series

“Tommy Lee Kirk as Travis Coates”, “Savage Sam”, 1963, Walt Disney Productions, Cinematographer Edward Coleman, Director Norman Tokar

Born in Louisville, Kentucky in December of 1941, Tommy Lee Kirk was an American actor best known for his performances in films produced by Walt Disney Studios. His teen idol status became closely associated with the clean, wholesome product that Disney Studios produced during the late 1950s and early 1960s. 

One of four sons, Tommy Kirk moved at the age of fifteen months with his family to California where they settled in Downey, a city in southeast Los Angeles. In 1954 at the age of thirteen, he  accompanied his older brother Joe to an audition at the Pasadena Playhouse for a role in Eugene O’Neill’s “Ah, Wilderness”. Although Joe was not cast in a role, Tommy Kirk had his stage debut with a role consisting of five lines of dialogue. His small role was seen favorably by a representative from the Gertz Agency of Hollywood who signed him to a contract. 

Kirk made his first television appearance in an episode entitled “The Last of the Old Time Shooting Sheriffs” for the anthology drama series “TV Reader’s Digest”. He appeared in two more Pasadena theater plays and was cast in small roles on other television productions, including  “Gunsmoke” and “The Loretta Young Show”. In August of 1956, Kirk was given a long-term contract by Walt Disney Productions and became a member of the 1955 “The Mickey Mouse Club” television series. He next was cast as Joe Hardy for the Mickey Mouse Club series “The Hardy Boys” and performed in two serials alongside actor Tim Considine who played his older brother Frank Hardy. Broadcasted in that October, the show and Kirk’s performance were well received and led to his long association as a ten idol with the Disney Studio.

Tommy Kirk’s career accelerated with his casting as Travis Coates in the 1957 Disney film “Old Yeller”, an adventure tale of a boy and his heroic dog. Due to the success of his lead role in “Old Yeller”, Kirk became the Disney Studio’s first choice for future American teenager roles. In July of 1958, he was cast in “The Shaggy Dog”, a Disney comedy about a boy inventor who is repeatedly transformed into an Old English Sheepdog. This film, the second highest grossing film of 1959, teamed Kirk with Fred MacMurray, Annette Funicello and Kevin Corcoran, his former co-star from “Old Yeller”. 

With his Disney contract completed, Kirk went to Universal Pictures where he did English dubbing for “The Snow Queen”, a Soviet animated feature. As revenues increased from the screening of “The Shaggy Dog”, Disney Studios resigned Kirk to a long-term studio contract and cast him as the middle son, Ernst Robinson, in its 1960 family adventure film “Swiss Family Robinson”. This family film was followed by a second huge hit, “The Absent-Minded Professor”, a fantasy comedy starring Fred MacMurray as the professor and Kirk as Biff Hawk. Kirk was next cast in several films in which he costarred with actors MacMurray and Jame Wyman in the 1962 “Bon Voyage”, Ed Wynn in the 1961 “Babes in Toyland”, and Annette Funicello in the 1962 “Escapade in Florence”.

In 1963, Tommy Kirk appeared in Disney’s “Son of Flubber”, a sequel to “The Absent-Minded Professor” which became his last film with MacMurray. He next reprised his role as Travis Coates in “Savage Sam”, a sequel to “Old Yeller” which was not as popular as the original film. In 1964, Disney Studios cast Kirk as the student inventor in “The Misadventures of Merlin Jones” where he played opposite Funicello. After it became an  unexpected box office sensation, a sequel entitled “The Monkey’s Uncle” was released in July of 1965 which was equally successful.

Kirk knew he was gay from an early age; however, due to the public intolerance at that time towards homosexuality, he felt isolated and believed that the exposure of his sexuality would damage his film career. In 1963 while filming “The Misadventures of Merlin Jones”, Kirk began a relationship with a boy, six years younger, who lived in Burbank. The boy’s mother informed the Disney Studio which fired him from his role in the 1965 John Wayne western “The Sons of Katie Elder”. Out of protection for its interests, the Disney Studios released Kirk from his contract. However due to the financial success of the “Merlin Jones” film, he was allowed to return to make the 1965 sequel “The Monkey’s Uncle”.

The news of Kirk’s termination from Disney Studios was not made public: he joined American International Pictures which needed a leading man to play opposite Annette Funicello in the 1964 “Pajama Party”. From 1964 to 1969, Kirk appeared in several popular teen-oriented films, musical stage productions of “The Music Man” and “West Side Story”, and mediocre sci-fi and beach films. Practically blacklisted by an industry which deemed outed gay actors as box-office poison, Kirk returned to the musical theater in his home state of Kentucky with appearances in such shows as “Hello, Dolly” and “Anything Goes”.

In 1970, Tommy Kirk did two movies that were not Screen Actors Guild productions, “Ride the Hot Wind” and “Blood of Ghastly Horror” which caused him to lose his SAG membership.. While loss of SAG membership does not disqualify someone from acting, most film productions hire only union members, thus limiting the opportunities for an actor to be hired. Depressed and angry, Kirk sought solace in drugs and once nearly died from an overdose. After overcoming his drug addiction, Kirk began a successful carpet-cleaning business in Los Angeles which he ran for twenty years. He continued to act occasionally, appeared in films and documentary interviews for the DVD releases of some of his best known films and TV shows, and occasionally made personal appearances at film festivals and nostalgia convention/memorabilia festivals.

Tommy Kirk came out publicly as gay in a 1973 interview with Marvin Jones that was published in the January 31st edition of Gay Today. He was studying acting at that time with the Lee Strasberg Theater and Film Institute while working in a Los Angeles restaurant. Kirk was inducted as a Disney Legend in October of 2006 alongside his former co-stars Tim Considine and Kevin Corcoran. In 2006, the first of the “Hardy Boys” serials was issued on DVD as part of the Walt Disney Treasures series. Royalties from the sales of the “Hardy Boys” serials provided Kirk an additional income. 

Tommy Lee Kirk died peacefully in his Las Vegas, Nevada, home at the age of seventy-nine on the 28th of September in 2021. His neighbor Beverly Washburn, an “Old Yeller” co-star, notified Kirk’s longtime friend and former Disney actor Paul Peterson, known for his role as the son on “The Donna Reed Show”. Peterson posted notice of Kirk’s death on Facebook mentioning in the message that Kirk’s family had disowned the gay actor.

Top Insert Image: Tommy Kirk, “Old Yeller”, 1957, Film Shot

Second Insert Image: Photographer Unknown, “Tommy Kirk and Tim Considine”, 1956, “The Hardy Boys” Series

Third Insert Image: Photographer Unknown, “Annette Funicello and Tommy Kirk”, Studio Publicity Photo Shoot

Fourth Insert Image: hotographer Unknown, “Tommy Kirk, Pajama Party”, 1964, Film Shoot

Bottom Insert Image: Photographer Unknown, “Tommy Kirk and Dorothy Lamour, Pajama Party”, 1964, Studio Photo Shoot

Aaron Shurin: “Under the Night Stillness Inclined My Morning Beach”

Photographers Unknown, Under the Night Stillness Inclined My Morning Beach

I heard my name, the day rose and disappear over the beach. the day on each breath tasted my food, that night roll slowly cover in the cool, his face around my breast. the day inhaling grow pale and disappear, water on his way, up the shores hissing. under the night stillness inclined my morning beach, undressing the friend of my liquid, my most same. at evening while whispering from the bed by me, his way was accomplished. his full perfect arm a health of ripe waters. the day received moon laughing, love lay me that night.

Aaron Shurin, Excerpt from City of Men, A’s Dream, 1989

A room of thought is wedged between the androgyny of hair and new leaves gasping for light. Membrane of membrane, skin of my crown. I thought a forest bound by kinship towers — elusive in the blue glow inside the gray cloudbank — indigo friction — a hurricane cult — where his eyes boring over my shoulders fall like hot breath, gravity failing. He is whirling like a haystack, engineered in twilight, his syllables aquatic, lullaby stutter. Scale of my scale, raveling hive. A skate-boarder rocks the concrete, cutting the muscle of silence. You, too, seeping memories, as we spin in place. An epiphyte: a love nest. Inextricable, shadow for shadow, rhyme for rhyme..

Aaron Shurin, Steeped, Citizen, 2012

Born in Manhattan, New York in 1947, Aaron Shurin is an American essayist, poet and educator. After spending his teenage years in Los Angeles and eastern Texas, he attended the University of California at Berkeley in 1963 during a period of political protest and cultural upheaval. In the late 1960’s, Shurin met and studied under poet Denise Levertov, an advocate of political and social consciousness who fostered Shurin’s interest in poetry. It was during this period that he became attracted to the principles of Projective Verse, a poetic form which re-imagines a poem’s verse lines and line breaks to convey its nuances of breath and motion to the reader through typographical means.

In 1980, Shurin entered the New College of California, an experimental college centered around the Socratic Seminars, where he studied under poet Robert Duncan, a prominent gay poet and member of the Black Mountain school. At New College, Shurin was inspired by the long lines of Walt Whitman’s prose poetry and began to develop his own poetic form, prose poetry which combined the prose form of the Language poets with the life-story format of the New Narrative writers. Bonding with the enthusiastic atmosphere of San Francisco’s counter-culture and its active gay scene, Shurin integrated his gay identity into his poetic process. He graduated from New College with a Master of Arts in Poetics with a thesis entitled “Out of Me: Whitman and the Projective”. 

Aaron Shurin is the author of numerous volumes of poetry, among which are the 1976 “The Night Sun” published by Gay Sunshine Press; “A’s Dream” published in 1989; the 1993 “Into Distances”; “The Paradise of Forms: Selected Poems” published in 1999; the 2005 “Involuntary Lyrics”; and the 2012 “Citizen”. His published essay collections include “The Skin of Meaning: Collected Literary Essays and Talks” published in 2016; the 2008 “King of Shadows”; and “Unbound: A Book of AIDS” published in 1997.  Shurin’s most recent work is “The Blue Absolute”, a collection of lyrical prose poems of love and loss, sex and death in our daily lives.

Shurin has won fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Gerbode Foundation, the San Francisco Arts Commission, and the California Arts Council. A pioneer in both LGBTQ studies and innovative verse, he cofounded the Boston-based writing collective Good Gay Poets. Shurin has written numerous critical essays about poetic theory and compositional practice, as well as personal narratives on sexual identity, gender fluidity, and the AIDS epidemic. He is Professor Emeritus at the University of San Francisco for its MFA Writing Program.

“We know that verses live in the white space of the page in a dance with erasure and silence; prose poems fill in the space and flirt shamelessly with story. To my joy they can hold a lot of words, a lot of shades, and the tensions of their dual inheritance are generative: wild horses pulling in opposite directions that somehow get bridled and yoked to form a new beast.” – Aaron Shurin, “Always Presently There: Aaron Shurin in Conversation with Micah Ballard”, April 2020

Notes: For those interested, an in-depth conversation between poet and publisher Micah Ballard and Aaron Shurin on the development of Shurin’s poetic form was held in April of 2020, just after the publication of Shurin’s work “The Blue Absolute”. This conversation, entitled “Always Presently There”, can be found at the interdisciplinary publishing platform “Open Space” located at: https://openspace.sfmoma.org/2020/04/always-presently-there-aaron-shurin-in-conversation-with-micah-ballard/

A essay by Chales Olson’s poetic theory, “Projective Verse”, can be found at the Poetry Foundation located at: https://www.poetryfoundation.org/articles/69406/projective-verse

Yevgeny Kharitonov: “All the Vibrations from the Best Moments of Your Life”

Photographers Unknown, All the Vibrations from the Best Moments of Your Life

I know what happens at the moment of death. Suddenly, after all your illnesses, you feel so improbably, so impossibly much better, that it is more than a man can take. All the vibrations from the best moments of your life, from all your impossible youth, come together in one mind-blowing instant, like the moment of your first love, like the hope of new love, like just before your first trip to Moscow, like all sorts of moments in your life; and it all comes together in a single minute, and it is more than you can bear, and your heart bursts, and you die. And everyone whom you loved and everyone who loved you, they all think of you at that moment, wherever they maybe on earth, or under the earth.

Yevgeny Kharitonov, Under House Arrest, 1997

Born in Novosibirsk in June of 1941, Yevgeny Kharitonov was a Russian poet, writer, playwright and theatrical director. In his literature, he was a chronicler of the LBGTQ culture of the Soviet period in the 1970s. Kharitonov described in his work the feelings that people of non-traditional orientation experienced, a subject that the government saw as taboo. 

Kharitonov graduated from the acting department of Moscow’s Gerasimov Institute of Cinematography (VGIK). After a brief acting career, he earned his graduate degree in filmmaking with the presentation of his thesis on the art of pantomime in the education of an actor. After graduation, Kharitonov wrote and directed the play “The Enchanted Island”, which was performed at Moscow’s Mimics and Gesture Theater with roles performed by deaf-mute actors. 

Yevgeny Kharitonov led the pantomime studio of the Moskovorechye Workers’ Club, a recreation center in Moscow, and did choreography for the rock band “Last Chance”. He also worked at the department of psychology at Moscow State University where he studied the problem of speech defects. In addition to his study and literary work, Kharitonov staged a production of the classical opera “Faust” for the Moscow Conservatory. 

Appearing at the crossroads of several movements in twentieth-century Russian prose, Kharitonov emphasized in his work an aloofness between the author and the literary subject, a characteristic which would appear in the later works by Russian writers Victor Erofeyev, founder of the literary magazine Metropol, and Vladimir Sorokin, author and recipient of the Russian Booker Prize. Kharitonov shared with writers Pavel Ukitin, Marcel Proust and James Joyce an indirect and cryptic approach to the placement of emotion in the descriptions of events. Acquainted with typography, he was well aware of the expressive properties of the typewritten text format and typed all his manuscripts himself. 

Because of the frankness with which he dealt with the theme of homosexuality in his work, Yevgeny Kharitonov had difficulty in getting his work published. The few works that were published in his lifetime were translations of German poetry, those works circulated in dissident Eastern Bloc periodicals such as the Mitin Journal, and a simple monologue entitled “Oven”. In the early 1980s, Kharitonov made an attempt to have his work printed in the “Catalog”, an American publication of unpublished Russian writers; this however  failed due to interference by the KGB.

Kharitonov is today recognized as a founder of modern Russian gay literature; his work can not be separated from his sexuality and the legal and cultural prohibition he worked under. Kharitonov was doubly vulnerable to state repression being both an underground writer and a gay man. In 1979, he was questioned by the KGB as a suspect in the death of his lover. As knowledge of his work spread through the general public, surveillance and harassment by the authorities became increasingly a part of daily life. 

On June 29th of 1981, Yevgeny Kharitonov, who had just finished his manuscript “Under House Arrest”, walked to meet his friend, the poet Tatian Scherbina, to show her his new work. He died on Pushkin Street in Moscow of a heart attack at the age of forty years old; his body is buried in his homeland of Novosibirsk. Following Kharitonov’s  death, his apartment was sealed by the KGB. His friends broke in the apartment to salvage and preserve his writings, however, most of Kharitonov’s written work was later recovered by the KGB during raids on their apartments.

After Russia’s period of perstroika, Kharitonov’s works began to get published in Russia. His play “Tink”, based on an interpretation of Odoevsky’s fairy tale “Town in a Snuffbox”, was published in the late 1980s and later performed in 1989. His “Under House Arrest”, a collection of autobiographical fictions which chronicled the difficult life of a homosexual in the Kafkaesque atmosphere of the Soviet Union, was published in January of 1997.

Note: An interesting article to read is Alex Karsavin and Mara Iskander’s 2017 “Language Under House Arrest”, which discusses queer Russian poets and the adaption of queer literature to the Russian political situation. The article can be found at the literary blog “The New Inquiry” website located at: https://thenewinquiry.com/language-under-house-arrest/

Clifton Webb: Film History Series

Born in Indianapolis, Indiana in November of 1889, Webb Parmelee Hollenbeck, known professionally as Clifton Webb, was an American actor, dancer and singer. He is known for his roles in films, his Broadway appearances in successful musicals, and for his stage appearances in the plays of English playwright and actor Sir Noël Coward.

Clifton Webb was the only child of Jacob Hollenbeck, a ticket-clerk for the Indianapolis- St. Louis Railroad, and Mabel Parmelee, the daughter of a railroad conductor. In 1891, the couple separated and Mabel took young Webb with her to New York City in 1892. After the divorce was finalized, Mabel married Green B. Raum, Jr., a copper-foundry worker and the son of a former U.S. Commissioner of Internal Revenue; the new family settled in New York City on West 77th Street. 

Webb, at the age of five, began dancing lessons; two years later, he made his official debut in Carnegie Hall as a member of the Children’s Theater in a performance of Canadian author Palmer Cox’s children series “The Brownies”. This was followed with a vaudeville tour in which Webb appeared in “The Master of Charlton Hall” and performed as Oliver in “Oliver Twist” and as Tom Sawyer in “Huckleberry Finn”. As a young teenager, he studied painting with Realist artist Robert Henri, a pioneer of the Ashcan School, and music with French operatic baritone Victor Maurel. His studies with Maurel led to Webb’s debut in 1906 with Boston’s Aborn Opera Company’s production of Ambroise Thomas’s “Mignon”.

Returning to New York, Clifton Webb teamed with Mae Murray in a ballroom dance act; they toured a chain of vaudeville theaters known as the Keith Circuit and performed in Manhattan restaurants. Webb had his Broadway debut in April of 1913 with the premiere of “The Purple Road” at the Liberty Theater, in which he played the role of Bosco for one hundred-thirty six performances. Between 1913 and 1917, Webb was continually on the Broadway stage and appeared in such vehicles as Sigmund Romberg’s “Dancing Around”, Ned Waybum’s all-star revue “Town Topics” , and Cole Porter’s comic opera “See America First”. 

In 1917, Webb was the sensuous dancing star of “Love O’Mike”, a musical comedy produced by Lee Shubert and Elisabeth Marbury, a theatrical agent who lived in an open relationship with actress and famous interior decorator Elsie de Wolfe, also known as Lady Mendl. By the middle of the 1920s, Webb was one of Broadway’s highest-paid stars and reached his apex with the 1930 “Three’s a Crowd” and the very successful 1933 “As Thousands Cheered”, which featured the steamy torch song “Moanin’ Low” sung by Webb and actress Libby Holman. 

In 1935, Webb relocated to Hollywood where Metro Goldwyn Mayer, who hoped to make Webb a successful dancing star like RKO’s Fred Astaire, gave him an eighteen-month contract at three-thousand dollars a week. He was to star opposite Joan Crawford in a musical entitled “Elegance”; the picture was abandoned, however, Webb was paid all his money. For the next eighteen months, he was not offered any work but made many high-profile social appearances. He  often appeared wearing white gloves and a top hat, with his mother Mabel on his arm and his poodle Ernest, after Oscar Wilde’s “The Importance of Being Earnest”, trailing behind on a leash.  

In 1938, Clifton Webb returned to New York’s Broadway in “You Never Know”, written by his longtime friend Cole Porter. The stage version of “The Man Who Came to Dinner”, starring the stage and film actor Monty Woolley, premiered in the fall of 1939. Webb was cast as the acidic character Sheridan Whiteside for its touring version, a role in which he remained for eighteen months. In 1941, he played the character Charles Condomine, a successful novelist curious about seances,  in the initial performances of Noël Coward’s comic play “Blithe Spirit”. 

Webb is probably best known today for his many film appearances. In his mid-fifties, he was chosen by director Otto Preminger, despite objections from 20th Century Fox’s Darryl Zanuck who though Webb too effeminate, to play the evil radio columnist Waldo Lydecker in the 1944 film noir “Laura”. Webb’s performance won him wide acclaim and an Academy Award nomination for Best Supporting Actor. The Fox Studio signed him to a long-term contract, which provided Webb with work for the rest of his career. His first role under contract was as a suave villain in Henry Hathaway’s 1946 film noir “Dark Corner”. This was followed with his role of elitist Elliott Templeton, playing opposite Gene Tieeney, in the 1946 “The Razor’s Edge” for which he received another Academy Award nomination for Best Supporting Actor. 

Clifton Webb achieved stardom with his role of Mr. Belvedere, a snide know-it-all babysitter with a mysterious past, in the 1948 comedy film “Sitting Pretty”, based on the 1947 novel “Belvedere” by Gwen Davenport. This role became so popular that it was followed with two sequels: the 1949 box office success “Mr. Belvedere Goes to College” and the 1951 “Mr. Belvedere Rings the Bell”.  In 1950, Webb and actress Myrna Loy played the roles of efficiency experts Frank and Lillian Gilbreth, the parents of twelve children, in the film “Cheaper by the Dozen” which made Webb one of the biggest stars in the United States. 

In addition to these comedic films, Webb played more serious character roles for 20th Century Fox. He starred in the 1952 Technicolor film biography of bandmaster John Phillip Sousa entitled “Stars and Stripes Forever”. Webb’s most dramatic role was the brave but doomed husband of Barbara Stanwyck’s Julia Sturges in the 1953 “Titanic”, the winner of the 1954 Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay. The following year, he appeared as the novelist