William Dickey: “The Silent Traffic of Bystanders”

Photographers Unknown, The Silent Traffic of Bystanders

Henry went over the edge of the bridge first; he always did.
Then Mr. Interlocutor and Mr. Bones, then the blackface
      minstrels
with their tambourines. You have to empty out
all the contents before the person himself dies.

The beard went over the edge, and Stephen Crane,
and the never-completed scholarly work on Shakespeare,
and faculty wives, and a sheaf of recovery wards
white-tiled in the blue shadow of the little hours.

He loosened his necktie and the recurrent dream
of walking out under water to the destined island.
His mother went over in pearls; his father went over.
His real father went over, whoever his father was.

He thought to go over with someone, hand in hand
with perhaps Mistress Bradstreet, but someone always
      preceded him.
The news of his death preceded him. It hit the water
with a fat splash and the target twanged.

When there was nothing to see with or hear with, the
      silent traffic
of bystanders wrapped in snow, his only body
let itself loose, turned and waved before it went over
to what it could never understand as being the human
      shore.

William Dickey, The Death of John Berryman, January 1996

Born in Bellingham, Washington in December of 1928, William Hobart Dickey was an American poet and educator. While his talent was known to critics, Dickey worked on his poetry without actively promoting it and, thus, was largely unknown to the general public. In his work, he often used abstract ideas that contained both insight and feeling. Dickey expressed his personal visions through poetry and gave preceptive observations on life that spoke to his readers.

William Dickey attended Reed College in Portland, Oregon where he earned his Bachelor of Arts, with a novel as his thesis, in 1951. With an awarded Woodrow Wilson Fellowship, Dickey earned his Master of Arts in 1955 at Harvard University and his Master of Fine Arts at the University of Iowa in 1956. As a Fulbright scholar, he studied from 1959 to 1960 at the University of Oxford’s Jesus College.

Dickey studied at the Iowa Writers’ Workshop under poet John Berryman, a major figure in American poetry in the latter half of the century and a key figure in Confessional Poetry, a form which focused on extreme moments of individual experience. Barrymore, whose childhood was shaken by the suicide death of his father, developed his own style and is best known for his 1964 “The Dream Songs”, short lyric poems of eighteen lines in three stanzas. Dickey studied in Barrymore’s intense poetry workshop with such poets as Henri Coulette, Donald Justice, Jane Cooper, and Robert Dana.

In 1959, William Dickey published his first volume of poetry, “Of the Festivity”, a balanced collection of  humorous and serious works expressing keen observations on life. Selected by scholars as being culturally important, “Of the Festivity” was chosen by Oxford’s Professor of Poetry William Hugh Auden as the winner of the Yale Series of Younger Poets Competition. In his 1971 volume “More Under Saturn”, Dickey wrote darker toned poems with an added degree of cynicism to their humor. For this collection, he won a 1972 silver medal from the Commonwealth Club of California.

Dickey’s sixth volume of work “The Rainbow Grocery” was also published in 1971. It later received the Juniper Prize from the University of Massachusetts Press in 1978. The poems in this volume, which achieved a balance between humor and seriousness, were more loosely constructed, more sexual, and more frenzied than the poems in “Of the Festivity”. Dickey published seven more volumes of poetry. Among these are the 1981 “The Sacrifice Consenting”, “Brief Lives” and “The King of the Golden River”, both published in 1985, the 1994 “In the Dreaming”, and his last volume, the posthumously published 1996 “The Education of Desire”.

William Dickey, after receiving his Masters at the University of Iowa,  taught English at Cornell University from 1956 to 1959. After returning from Oxford in 1960, he was an assistant professor of English at Dennison University in Granville, Ohio until 1962. At which time, Dickey joined San Francisco State University’s faculty as a Professor of English and Creative Writing and taught until his 1991 retirement. In 1988, he was the editor of the tenth-anniversary edition of the established literary journal “New England Review and Bread Loaf Quarterly”. In 1990, the journal returned to its original 1978 name “New England Review”.

Dickey lived in San Francisco with life-partner Leonard Sanazaro, a poet and teacher of English and Creative Writing at San Francisco’s City College. Due to complications from a series of HIV-related surgeries, William Hobart Dickey died at the age of sixty-five at San Francisco’s Kaiser Hospital in May of 1994.

Notes: William Dickey’s poem “The Death of John Berryman”, an elegy to his former professor, was completed shortly before Dickey’s death. It was published posthumously in the January 1996 issue of “Poetry” and in the 1997 anthology “The Best American Poetry”.

Living as a gay man in San Francisco during the AIDS epidemic, William Dickey used the Hypercard program on his first Macintosh to produce a total of fourteen “Hyperpoems”,  unique documents of gay life in San Francisco during the epidemic. Writer Matthew Kirscherbaum, with the assistance of Dickey’s literary executor Susan Tracz, extracted those files and added them to the Internet Archive. Organized into two volumes, they can be found at: https://archive.org/details/william_dickey_hyperpoems_volume_1     https://archive.org/details/william_dickey_hyperpoems_volume_2

Douglas A. Powell: “The Spokes of Fortune’s Wheel in Constant Turn”

Photographers Unknown, The Spokes of fortune’s Wheel in Constant Turn

I have had to learn the simplest things
        last. Which made for difficulties….
                                           –Charles Olson

We know from accounts of the judgment of Paris how Love took
first:
the apple burnished by–it turns out–her own husband, working
the bellows,
forging to Discord’s specifications, her need to break the
spaghetti strands
of marriage, her undiluted vitriol, that oversaw his flux and
foundry,
guided the sparking hammer to its urgent deeds.

Spoils of war.

Power, undeterred and wily as it always is, the figural eye and its
agency,
took gladly the second chair, from which advantage
machinations could be seen.
Advised, conferred, deployed the second wave of ships, provided
mercenary aid
to every side and fanned the air, and made her counsel with all
sides, supporting
every one and none, out-waiting tides.

If we believe the Greeks, the spokes of Fortune’s wheel in
constant turn would allow
the last to be the first–beatitudes bestowed upon the losing
side,
a draught of time in which the wily ones, by their equine portage
made
the mind the victor over Love’s inconstancy and strife,
and, over brute acts, gave thought dominion in a golden age. But
that’s just a myth.

Wisdom, you are the last to whom I turn. Not for your spear,
fashioned in that same fire as all bright jealous objects of desire,
But for you shield.
Protect the least of us. Or lift me from this battlefield,
and take me home.

D. A. Powell, To Last, 2019

Born in Albany, Georgia in May of 1963, Douglas A. Powell is an American poet. After finishing his primary education in the California town of Olivehurst, he relocated to Santa Rosa where he entered Sonoma State University. Powell earned his Bachelor of Arts in 1991 and his Master of Arts in 1993. After completing his graduate work, he studied at the Iowa Writer’s Workshop at the University of Iowa and received his Master of Fine Art in 1996. 

After his formal studies, D. A. Powell began a career as a poet and university professor. He has taught at New York’s Columbia University, Sonoma State University, San Francisco State University and the University of Iowa. He also served as the Biggs-Copeland Lecturer of Poetry at Harvard University. In 2004, Powell left Harvard to take a teaching position in the English department at the University of San Francisco. 

Powell’s work blends the mythology of gay culture with his own distinctive voice and personal experiences. His first exposure to poetry was through Dudley Randall’s anthology “The Black Poets”. An early exposrue to such authors as Amiri Baraka, Ntozake Shange and Alice Walker also played an influential role in Powell’s development. While exploring local bookstores, he came across T. S. Eliot’s “The Waste land and Other Poems”. Eliot’s poetic  influence can be seen in Powell’s use of fragmented life experiences later reconstructed in verse on paper.  

In his work, D. A. Powell mixes both conventional and non-conventional techniques of poetic format. There were no titles to his early poems; the poems’ working titles were their first lines. Similar to the work of E. E. Cummings, the first letter of a new sentence is not capitalized. Shifting between popular culture and more complicated themes like religion and AIDS, Powell uses rhetorical devices, such as puns, to serve as bridges between these separate areas of experience. Open typographical spaces are often inserted in the middle of his lines that in effect lend pause to the cadence of the poem.

Powell’s first published collection was the 1998 “Tea”, a work he started the day he arrived in Iowa for grad school. This early work gathered reference material from both high and low culture: Whitman’s poetry and biblical heroes to Hollywood romances and Batman’s Robin. In 2000, Powell published “Lunch”, layered poems of memories from childhood and adolescence fractured by his adulthood and diagnosis of HIV. His third collection, the last of this trilogy, was the 2004 “Cocktails”, a contemporary Divine Comedy composed from witty and eloquent poems born of the AIDS pandemic. “Lunch’ was a finalist for the National Poetry Series and “Cocktails” was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award for Poetry.

D. A. Powell’s 2009 “Chronic” was a work of wildly varied subject matter with effects drawn from contemporary free verse. The poems contained colloquial clichés, odd punctuation, parenthetical marks, lack of capitalization and quotes without any ascribed credit. Among the poems included in this volume were  “clown burial in winter”, “clutch and pumps”, and “cancer inside a little sea”. In February of 2010, Powell won the prestigious Kingsley Tufts Poetry Award for his work. “Chronic” also won the 2009 California Book Award. Powell’s next work “Useless Landscape, or A Guide for Boys”, published in 2012, won the National Book Critics Circle Award for that year. 

Powell was made a Guggenheim Fellow in 2011 and in 2019 received the John Updike Award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters. 

Notes: Additional poems by D. A. Powell can be found on the PoemHunter website located at: https://www.poemhunter.com/d-a-powell/

There is a more comprehensive article on D. A. Powell’s poetry collections, entitled “D. A. Powell’s Unruly Elegies” and written by Christopher Richards, in the online New Yorker Magazine that is worth reading. This Page-Turner article can be found at: https://www.newyorker.com/books/page-turner/d-a-powell-poetry

Algernon Charles Swinburne: “There Was a Graven Image of Desire”

Photographers Unknown, A Graven Image of Desire

There was a graven image of Desire
            Painted with red blood on a ground of gold
            Passing between the young men and the old,
And by him Pain, whose body shone like fire,
And Pleasure with gaunt hands that grasped their hire.
            Of his left wrist, with fingers clenched and cold,
            The insatiable Satiety kept hold,
Walking with feet unshod that pashed the mire.
The senses and the sorrows and the sins,
            And the strange loves that suck the breasts of Hate
Till lips and teeth bite in their sharp indenture,
Followed like beasts with flap of wings and fins.
            Death stood aloof behind a gaping grate,
Upon whose lock was written Peradventure.

Algernon Charles Swinburne, A Cameo, Poems and Ballads, 1866

Born in London in April of 1837, Algernon Charles Swinburne was an English poet, novelist, playwright and critic. He was one of the most accomplished lyric poets of the Victorian era and was a renowned symbol of rebellion against the conservative values of his time. The explicit and often obsessive sexual themes in some of his work shocked many readers; however, his primary preoccupation, implicit in his poetry and explicit in his critical writings, was the nature and creation of poetic beauty.

The eldest of six children of a wealthy Northumbrian family, Algernon Charles Swinburne grew up at the family’s home, East Dene, in Bonchurch on the Isle of Wright and the London home at Whitehall Gardens in Westminster. Considered frail and nervous as a child, he had fearlessness and energy to the point of being reckless. From 1849 to 1853, Swinburne attended Eton College where he wrote poetry and won prizes in both French and Italian. He later attended Oxford’s Balliol College from 1856 to 1860 with a brief period of expulsion in 1859  for publicly supporting the attempted assassination of Napoleon III by Felice Orsini, a revolutionary leader who was convinced that Napoleon was the chief obstacle to Italian independence. 

During his time at Oxford, Swinburne became a member of the painter Lady Pauline Trevelyan’s intellectual circle at her country house, Wellington Hall. He met the brothers William Michael and Dante Gabriel Rossetti, painter Simeon Solomon, designer William Morris and other members of the Pre-Raphaelite circle of artists and writers. Swinburne spent his summer holidays at Capheaton Hall in Northumberland, which was the house of his grandfather, Sir John Swinburne, 6th Baronet. After his grandfather’s death in September of 1860, Algernon Charles Swinburne stayed with Scottish artist and poet William Bell Scott in Newcastle. 

The following year, Algernon Charles Swinburne visited the French enclave of Menton on the Riviera and stayed at the Villa Laurenti to recover from excessive use of alcohol. In December of 1862, Swinburne traveled with William Scott and his guests to the coastal town of Tynemouth in northeast England and relocated to London where he began an active writing career. In 1866, Swinburne published his collection “Poems and Ballads” which brought him instant notoriety, especially the poems “Anactoria” and “Sapphos” written in homage of Sappho of Lesbos, the ancient Greek poet. Other poems in the volume include “The Leper”, “Hymn to Proserpine” and “The Triumph of Time”. 

Swinburne is considered a poet of the Decadent Movement; centered in Western Europe, the movement followed the ideology of excess, the superiority of human fantasy and aesthetic hedonism over logic and the natural world. Many of Swinburne’s early works dealt with subjects considered taboo in the Victorian era and led to him becoming a person not welcomed in high society. Although he continued to write love and nature poetry, Swinbourne’s work after the first volume of “Poems and Ballads” became increasingly devoted to the issues of republicanism and revolutionary causes.

Algernon Charles Swinburne wrote in a variety of poetic forms, including Sapphic stanzas, an ancient Greek verse form of four unrhymed lines. He also devised a poetic variation, called the roundel, based on the medieval French Rondeau form. The roundel consists of nine lines each having the same number of syllables, plus a refrain after the third and last lines.The refrains are repeated to a certain stylized pattern: they must be identical to the beginning of the first line and must rhyme with the second line. Swinburne published a book of these particular poems entitled “A Century of Roundels” in 1883 dedicated to his poet friend Christina Rossetti, the sister of Dante Gabriel Rossetti. 

Through out the 1860s and 1870s, Swinburne drank excessively and often, until his forties, suffered random physical collapses for which he required care until his recovery. In 1879, his friend and literary agent, Theodore Watts-Duncan, intervened during a time when Swinburne was dangerously ill. Watts-Duncan isolated Swinburne at a suburban home in Putney where he gradually withdrew him from alcohol and association with many former friends and habits. Swinburne stayed thirty years with Watts-Duncan who is generally credited with saving Swinburne’s life and encouraging him to continue writing to his old age. During his time in Putney, nature and landscape poetry began to predominate, as well as poems about children. Among this period’s works were the 1889 “Poems and Ballads, Third Series” and the 1904 “A Channel Passage and Other Poems”.

In addition to his poetry, Algernon Charles Swinburne published volumes of literary criticism. His familiarity with a wide range of world literatures contributed to a critical style rich in quotation, allusion, and comparison. Swinburne is especially noted for his studies of Elizabethan dramatists and many poets and novelists of French and English origins. He also wrote witty and insightful essays, notably “Notes on Poems and Reviews” and “Under the Microscope”, that were responses to criticism of his own works. Swinburne wrote one serial novel published under a pseudonym, the 1901”Love’s Cross-Currents”. A second novel, “Lesbia Brandon”, was unfinished at his death and is theorized, inconclusively, to be a thinly disguised autobiography. 

Algernon Charles Swinburne died in London on the tenth of April in 1909 at the age of seventy-two. Even early critics, who took exception to his subject matter, commended his intricate and evocative imagery, alliteration, and bold, complex rhythms. 

Notes: A collection of Algernon Swinburne’s poetry can be found at “My Poetic Side” located at: https://mypoeticside.com/poets/algernon-charles-swinburne-poems

Algernon Charles Swinburne was very impressed with the writings of fellow poet Victor Hugo. He visited the fief of Guernsey and Sark in the Channel Islands to follow in the footsteps of his hero. An article on Swinburne’s visit to Guernsey and Sark which includes excerpts of his poems to Hugo can be found at the Priaulx Library site located at: https://www.priaulxlibrary.co.uk/articles/article/victor-hugo-and-guernsey-algernon-charles-swinburne-king-sark 

An extensive 2004 article on the life of Algernon Charles Swinburne by Rikky Rooksby for the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography can be found at: https://www.oxforddnb.com/display/10.1093/ref:odnb/9780198614128.001.0001/odnb-9780198614128-e-36389;jsessionid=9236C8557201601EE0BDA8060AD6D1FB?aulast=Gosse&date=1912&genre=book&sid=oup:orr&title=The%20life%20of%20Swinburne&mediaType=Article 

Top Insert Image: Edward George Warris Hulton, “Algernon Charles Swinburne”, circa 1850-1909, Gelatin Silver Print, Hulton Archive

Second Inset Image: William Bell Scott, “Algernon Charles Swinburne”, 1860, Oil on Canvas, 45.7 x 33.2 cm, Balliol College, University of Oxford

Third Insert Image: Dante Gabriel Rossetti, “Algernon Charles Swinburne”, 1860, Pencil on Paper, 33 x 35.6 cm, Mark Samuels Lasner Collection

Bottom Insert Image: Dante Gabriel Rossetti, “Algernon Charles Swinburne”, 1862, Watercolor on Paper, 17.8 x 15.2 cm, Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge, England

Emanuel Xavier: “We All have Wings. . .”

Photographers Unknown, We All Have Wings

“Ye shall hear of wars and rumors of wars;
see that ye not be troubled;
all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet”
-Matthew 24:6

1.
I escape the horrors of war
with a towel and a room
Offering myself
to Palestinian and Jewish boys
as a ‘piece’ to the Middle East
when I should be concerned with the untimely deaths
of dark-skinned babies
and the brutal murders
of light-skinned fathers

2.
I’ve been more consumed with how to make
the cover of local fag rags
than how to open the minds
of angry little boys
trotting loaded guns
Helpless in finding words
that will stop the blood
from spilling like secrets into soil
where great prophets are buried

3.
I return to the same spaces
where I once dealt drugs
a celebrated author gliding past velvet ropes
while my club kid friends are mostly dead
from an overdose or HIV-related symptoms
Marilyn wears the crown of thorns
while 4 out of the 5 weapons used to kill Columbine students
had been sold by the same police force
that came to their rescue
Not all terrorists have features too foreign
to be recognized in the mirror
Our mistakes are our responsibility

4.
The skyline outside my window
is the only thing that has changed
Men still rape women
and blame them for their weaknesses
Children are still molested
by the perversion of Catholic guilt
My ex-boyfriend still takes comfort
in the other white powder-
the one used solely to destroy himself
and those around him
Not the one used to ignite and create carnage
or mailbox fear

5.
It is said when skin is cut,
and then pressed together, it seals
but what about acid-burned skulls
engraved with the word ‘faggot’,
a foot bone with flesh
and other crushed body parts

6.
It was a gay priest that read last rites
to firefighters as towers collapsed
It was a gay pilot that crashed a plane
into Pennsylvania fields
It was a gay couple that was responsible
for the tribute of light
in memory of the fallen
Taliban leaders would bury them
to their necks
and tumble walls to crush their heads
Catholic leaders simply condemn them
as perverts
having offered nothing but sin
Queer blood is just rosaries scattered on tile

7.
Heroes do not always get heaven

8.
We all have wings . . .
some of us just don’t know why

Emanuel Xavier, War & Rumors of Wars, Selected Poems of Emanuel Xavier, 2021, Queer Mojo Publishing

Born in Brooklyn, New York in May of 1970, Emanuel Xavier is an American poet, author, editor, and LBGTQ activist. Associated with the East Village art scene of New York City, his roots include the underground ballroom pageant culture that originated in New York and the Nuyorican movement, a cultural and intellectual movement of poets, writers, musicians and artists of Puerto Rican descent. In addition to his success as a poet and a writer, Xavier is a strong advocate for gay youth programs and Latino gay literature.

Abandoned by a father he never knew, Emanuel Xavier was raised by his Ecuadorian mother and her live-in boyfriend. He grew up during the 1970s in the mostly immigrant community of Bushwick, a part of the Brooklyn community district. Xavier’s primary education was at a prdominantly white elementary school in Queens, where he experienced racism. Banished from his home at the age of sixteen after revealing that he was gay, Xavier survived on the streets as an underage prostitute at the Christopher Street piers by the West Side Highway. 

While surviving on the streets, Xavier also became involved with the 1980s ball scene. This LBGTQ+ subculture of African-Americans and Latinos organized their own pageants in opposition to the racism experienced in the established drag queen pageant.  Racially integrated houses, essentially alternative families of supportive friends, many estranged from their original homes, competed in multiple categories for trophies and cash prizes. Xavier befriended many members of the trans world and was active with the House of Xtravaganza. In 1998 with the help of dancer and choreographer Will Ninja, he established the House of Xavier and the Glam Slam, an annual downtown arts event.

Emanuel Xavier returned to his birth home under strict rules and graduated from the Grover Cleveland High School in Queens. He studied at St. John’s University where he received his BFA in communications. Xavier relocated to the West Village where he supported himself dealing at the city’s gay nightclubs and working at the local A Different Light, at that time one of a chain of four LGBT bookstores. In 1997, Xavier self-published his first volume of poetry, a chapbook entitled “Pier Queen” whose classic poems “Tradiciones” and “Nueva York” launched his career as a spoken word artist. This published collection became a trailblazing early example of a new generation of queer Latino writers. Xavier’s 1999 semi-autobiographical novel “Christ Like”, despite a small press run, was nominated for a Lambda Literary Award and reprinted in 2009 by Rebel Satori Press. 

In 2001 after the collapse of the World Trade Center, Xavier helped create Words to Comfort, a poetry benefit held a the New School in Manhattan. His poem “September Song”, included as part of the initial National September 11 Memorial & Museum website, was later published in his 2002 collection “Americano”. As an editor, Xavier was nominated for the Anthologies category of the Lambda Literary Award for his work on the 2005 “Bullets and Butterflies: Queer Spoken Word Poetry”. He published his third full-length collection “If Jesus Was Gay” in 2010 which was followed two years later by “Nefarious”. Both of these collections were selected by the American Library Association for its Over the Rainbow Book List. 

Emanuel Xavier’s website, which includes video interviews, spoken word performances, and available copies of Xavier’s blacklisted poetry collections, can be found at: https://www.emanuelxavier.org

An interview between Emanuel Xavier and Charlie Vázquez, a founding member of Latino Rebels and the director of the Bronx Writers Center, can be found on the online Latino Rebels site located at: https://www.latinorebels.com/2016/07/25/radiance-gay-poet-emanuel-xavier-on-living-life-raw-and-pushing-back/

Franklin Abbott: “I Tried to Hold the Angel Underneath Me”

Photographers Unknown, I Tried to Hold the Angel Underneath Me

I tried to hold the angel underneath me
to still the beating of his wings
with the beating of my heart
to part his lips with the sharp pink dagger of my tongue
to taste his ambrosia breath as it comes out
hard and fast from the purple pump of his lungs
to touch whatever I can of his density
             somewhere between color and form
             an almost intangible shimmering
                          amber smoke
to whisper in the wind of his ear
I want you inside and out
more than ever have I wanted
and see in this soft moving cloud/memory/
             premonition/waking dream
like fight through water
his trembling yes
that falls down into the yoke of my being and then I know
                          this silken cocoon
finely woven with my family fears
will one day relax
and i no longer caterpillar
will fly high, sweet and fast
into his invisible embrace

Franklin Abbott, The Golden Shadow, Mortal Love: Collected Poems, 1971-1992, 1996

Born in Birmingham, Alabama in 1950, Franklin Abbot is an American psychotherapist, writer, poet, artist and gay activist. His formative years were spent in the cities of Birmingham, Buffalo and Nashville. In his youth, Abbott was always very independent in exercising his own individuality and found an outlet for his creative energy in the Order of DelMolay, a character and leadership development organization for young men.

Abbott earned his undergraduate degree at Mercer University in Macon, Georgia, and his Master of Social Work at the University of Georgia. After college, he worked at a facility for mentally challenged adults and children and became active in other social activities. In 1979, Abbott became one of Atlanta’s first openly gay professionals when he began private practice as a psychotherapist specializing in individual, couples and family therapy.

During the 1970s, Franklin Abbott became associated with America’s radical faerie community. This community was a loose, global organization of mostly male queer people who shunned assimilation into mainstream society and focused on environmental issues, the numerous aspects of spirituality, and anarchism. Today, one of its main centers in the United States is a two-hundred acre faerie sanctuary/safe queer space at Short Mountain in central Tennessee, just southeast of Nashville. For twenty years, Abbott spent time at the community where he served as poetry editor of its unofficial journal “RFD” and worked with the journal “Changing Men”.

A leading organizer in Atlanta’s gay community, Abbott has facilitated many self-help and healing workshops on gay identity and other issues. He co-founded the Atlanta Circle of Healing and, in 2008, established the Atlanta Queer Literary Festival, now a year-round series of events, as well as a partnership with the Decatur Book Festival . Throughout the years, Abbott has maintained a close correspondence with many poets and activists, among these were Harry Hay, a co-founder of the Mattachine Society; San Francisco Renaissance poet James Broughton; and Haitian-born American poet Assotto Saint, who was a key figure in LGBT and African-American art and culture.

Franklin Abbott edited and published three anthologies on the issues of men and gender: the 1987 “New Men, New Minds: Breaking Male Tradition” discussing how men of today are changing the traditional roles of masculinity, the 1990 “Men and Intimacy: Personal Accounts of the Dilemmas of Modern Male Sexuality”, and the 1993 “Boyhood: Growing Up Male”, boyhood narratives and poems by accomplished writers from around the world. Abbott is the author of two books of poetry: the 2009 “Pink Zinnia” and “Mortal Love: Selected Poems, 1971-1998” published in 1996. As a songwriter and poet, he released in 2017 a compact disc entitled “Don’t Go Back to Sleep”.

Note: A digital copy of Franklin Abbott’s “Mortal Love: Collected Poems, 1971-1992” can be found in the digital collections of the Georgia State University Library located at: https://digitalcollections.library.gsu.edu/digital/collection/lgbtq/id/1547

A two-hour video of a 2018 interview between Franklin Abbott and film producer Kate Kunath on Abbott’s life and work can be found at the online site OUTWORDS which captures and preserves the stories of LBGTQ+ elders in order to build community and catalyze social change. The interview is located at: https://theoutwordsarchive.org/interview/abbott-franklin-2/

Reinaldo Arenas: “As Long As the Sky Whirls”

Photographers Unknown, As Long As the Sky Whirls

For Lázaro Gómez

As long as the sky whirls
You will be my redemption and my doom,
magnetic vision,
lily in underwear,
salvation and madness
every night waiting.
As long as the sky whirls
no infernal could be a stranger
because I have to take care that that would not harm you,
No joy would go by inadvertent
Because in some way I have to reveal it to you,
As long as
the sky
whirls
you will be the truth of myself,
the song and the venom,
the danger and the ecstasies,
the vigil and the sleep,
the dread and the miracle.
As long as the sky whirls . . . but perhaps the sky whirls?
Well: as long as the sky exists.

As long as
the sky
exists
you will be my pain most noticeable,
my loneliness most tragic
my bewilderment unanimous
my perpetuous silence
and my absolute consolation.
As long as the sky exists . . . but perhaps the sky exists?
Well: as long as you yourself exist.
As long as
you yourself
exist
you will be the mirror and the time,
the infinity and the imminent,
the memory and the unusual
the defeat and the verse,
my enemy and my image.
Because there would be no more suns than the ones you yourself radiate
like there would be no other penance than to know that you exist.
But perhaps you do exist?

New York (May 1985)

Reinaldo Arenas, Mientras el Cielo Gire, 1989, English Translation 3003 Lázaro Gómez Carriles

Born in Aguas Claras in July of 1943, Reinaldo Arenas Fuentes was a gay Cuban poet, playwright and novelist known for his criticism of Fidel Castro, the Cuban Revolution and the ensuing government in Cuba. He was the author of the memoir “Before Night Falls”, written after Arenas’s escape to the United States in 1980. The memoir narrates his experience in the Cuban dissident movement and years as a political prisoner.

After moving to the city of Holguin as a teenager at age fourteen, Reinaldo Arenas became employed at a guava paste factory. Around 1958 when living conditions in the city worsened, he decided to join Castro and his revolutionary movement. Arenas spent ten days at the guerrilla headquarters in Velasco but was turned away. Once the guerrilla commandant realized that President Fulgencio Bastista’s secret police were already searching for Arenas, he accepted him into the group.

At the age of sixteen, Arenas was awarded a scholarship at La Pantoja, a captured Batista military camp that was converted into a polytechnic institute. Students attending took major courses in Marxist-Leninism in which they had to master the USSR manuals of  the Academy of Sciences and the Political Economy. Cuban Marxist theorist Blas Roca’s “Foundations of Socialism in Cuba” was also required reading. Arenas graduated with a degree as an agricultural accountant, but would later describe his education as indoctrination. 

In the early 1960s, Reinaldo Arenas relocated to Havana where he enrolled in a planning course at the University of Havana. While in the program, he worked for the National Institute for Agrarian Reform. During this time, Arenas began to live his life as a gay man, albeit secretly for fear of ending up in a Military Unit to Aid Production (UMAP), a term which basically described a concentration camp for Christians, suspected Cuban dissidents and LBGT people. A previous relationship Arenas had with a man, later arrested and sent to a UMAP camp, led to Arenas being listed as a gay man by the Cuban Committee for the Defense of the Revolution. 

Throughout his life, Arenas developed friendships and had relationships with many gay men. Various friends and acquaintances he knew pledged their loyalty to the Cuban regime in exchange for their safety. Many became informers for the government and reported other men, often friends or those with whom they had relationships. The government’s intention, in addition to seeking out dissidents, was to find gay and bisexual men and either persecute and jail them or turn them into informers. Although the reward for cooperation with the regime meant life outside of prison, the price to pay for living as an informer was to participate publicly in acts of repudiation denouncing your anti-regime beliefs or homosexuality.

In 1963, Reinaldo Arenas moved to Havana to study at the School of Planification and later at the Faculty of Letters of the University of Havana, where he studied literature and philosophy. He began working in 1964 at the National Library José Marti. Maria Teresa Freye de Andrade, who was the director of the National Library, officially transferred Arenas from his position at the National Institute for Agrarian Reform to a position at the National Library. When Fidel Castro appointed Police Captain Sidroc Ramos as the library’s director, Areans left his position at the library and became an editor for the Cuban Book Institute until 1968.

Arenas’s writings were beginning to gain recognition in the Cuban literary world in the 1960s. He received a literary award for his 1967 novel “Singing from the Well” at the Cirilo Villaverde National Competition held at the National Union of Cuban Writers and Artists. In the year before, Arenas’s “El Mundo Allucinante (This Hallucinatory World)” was awarded First Honorable Mention by the National Union of Cuban Writers and Artists. Although there was no better entry in the competition for that year, the judges refused to give the First Prize to Arenas; as a result, no First Prize was given in 1966. By 1967, Arenas’s critical writings and openly gay life were bringing him into conflict with Cuba’s communist government. 

From 1968 to 1974, Reinaldo Arenas was a journalist and editor for the literary magazine “The Cuban Gazette”. In 1974, Arenas was charged and convicted of ideological deviation and publishing abroad without official consent. He escaped from prison and tried a failed attempt to leave Cuba on a tire inner tube. Rearrested in southern Havana, Areanas was imprisoned in El Moro Castle, used at that time as a prison for rapists and murderers. By writing letters for illiterate prisoners, he maintained his life in prison and was able to obtain paper for his own scholarly work. Arenas was caught and severely punished for attempting to smuggle his work out of prison. Threatened with death, he was forced to renounce his work and was finally released in 1976.

Arnenas fled to the United States during the 1980 Mariel Boatlift, a mass migration organized by Cuban Americans with the consent of Cuban President Fidel Castro. In 1987, Arenas was diagnosed with the AIDS virus. He continued to write, speak against the Cuban government, and mentor many Cuban exile writers. After battling AIDS for three years, Reinaldo Arenas died of an intentional overdose of drugs and alcohol in December of 1990 in New York City. In 2012, he was inducted into the Legacy Walk, an outdoor public display on Chicago’s North Halsted Street, which celebrates LGBT contributions of world history and culture. 

Reinaldo Arenas published a significant oeuvre of work in his life. In addition to his two poetic volumes “El Centro” and “Leprosorio”, he wrote a set of five novels, the “Pentagonia” series,  which recounts life in post-revolutionary Cuba. Volumes included in this series are “Singing from the Well”, “Farewell to the Sea”, “Palace of the White Skunks”, the satirical “Color of Summer” and “The Assault”. Arenas’s second and best-known novel  “Hallucinations”, also published under the name “The Ill-Fated Peregrinations of Fray Servando”, was smuggled out of Cuba and first published in France in 1969. 

Arenas’s autobiography “Before Night Falls”, written after his escape from Cuba and published in English in 1993, was listed on the 1993 New York Times Best Books of the Year. This book became the 2000 film of the same name, directed by painter and filmmaker Julian Schnabel; the role of Arenas was played by Spanish actor Javier Bardem. The film version of the book was listed as one of the Top Ten Movies of the Year by the American Film Institute, nominated for the Golden Lion at the 2001 Venice International Film Festival with filmmaker Schnebel winning the Grand Jury Prize and Bardem winning Best Actor.

Reinaldo Arenas’s papers, typescript drafts, essays, interviews, newspaper articles, correspondence and other documents are housed in the Princeton University Library.

Note: Several interesting articles on Reinaldo Arenas and his work can be found on the eclectic blog website Byron’s Muse. The articles can be located at: https://byronsmuse.wordpress.com/tag/reinaldo-arenas/

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.

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

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

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.”

Hervé Lassïnce

The Photography of Hervé Lassïnce

Hervé Lassïnce is a French theatrical actor, screen writer, and self-taught photographer who grew up in Créteil, a culturally diverse suburb of Paris. Before he pursued his passion for photography, he had begun a career as a theatrical actor, a talent which he still continues. Lassïnce has performed with actors Jérôme Deschamps and Macha Makeîff and, in 2016, appeared in a Jean-Michel Ribes play at Paris’s Théâtre du Rond-Point.

Lassïnce began his career in photography with images of those closest to him, his family, friends and lovers. The strong emotional connection he had with these subjects, displayed in his initial work, is still evident in his most recent photographs. Generally, Lassïnce prefers to photograph subjects he knows as the sense of familiarity is stronger; however, he often photographs people he meets who catch his attention. As he considers his photography a story of friendship, Lassïnce still makes an effort to know his subject better before attempting the composition of the shoot.

Hervé Lassïnce photographs natural landscapes, an example of which is his large format photograph of water rushing over the cliffs of Niagara Falls. For many of his photographs, however, natural scenes serve as settings for his nude male subjects. In these shoots, Lassïnce presents natural and joyful images that show men as ordinary people comfortable in their skin. There exists in most of his nude compositions an unexpected, often curious, element that catches the eye and draws the viewer’s interest, such as tinted lighting, vased flowers, lit cell phones, or a cat sitting quietly nearby. 

Lassïnce first began showing his work through Facebook and Instagram. After seeing images of his work printed on fine art paper, he began to exhibit in galleries and sell editions to collectors. In 2015, Lassïnce’s first photography collection was published by Florian Gaité, entitled “Mes Fréres (My Friends)”. At this time, he also expanded his work as a freelance photographer by shooting personality portraits and illustrating articles for magazines. 

Among the influences on his work, Hervé Lassïnce has listed the work of American photographer Nam Goldin who became known for her exploration of the lives and intimacies within the LGBT subcultures. He was also influenced by the compositions and homo-eroticism in works by such painters as José de Ribera, Caravaggio, and Théodore Géricault, one of the pioneers of France’s Romantic movement.

Lassïnce’s photography has been the subject of several exhibitions including those at Paris’s Galerie P38 and Galerie Agathe Gaillard; the November 2020 exhibition at Villa Noailles in Hyères, France; the International Festival of Fashion and Photography in Los Angeles; the Offarch Gallery in Milan; the Philharmonie de Paris; and the 2021 “Gallery of Instant Love” exhibition at the Design Museum of London. 

Hervé Lassïnce’s website, which includes contact information and purchasable prints, can be found at https://h-photography.format.com

Winthrop Smith: “The Coldness of the Floor. . .”

Photographers Unknown, The Coldness of the Floor

The coldness of the floor
In the boys’ lav., the cold-
Ness of the boys themselves
Stripping off their gym shorts

And t shirts: the wetness
Of the spot which showed on
The shorts of each boy who
Climbed alone on ropes, the

Wetness of sweat which
Soaked the boys who wrestled
In the matroom, glistened
On the bodies of the

Boys who stood for weighing-
In with jockey shorts or
Nude: the odor of the
Floor in the boy’s lav., the

Odor of the boys them-
Selves from the soap they passed
Among themselves in the
Showers, the odor of

The soap they passed among
Themselves when older, stop-
Ping from their showers, dress-
Ing for their classes in

Laundered cotton shirts and
Boxer shorts: the coldness
Of rain soaked running trails
In Late October, the

Cold, red hands of the run-
Ners after practice: the
Wetness of their hairy
Bodies drying off near

Steamfilled showers, the wet-
Ness of the gym itself
With aingle shower’s drip
Dripping late at night: the

Motion of the young men
Washing, young men dressing,
Young men acting out their
Conflicts and frustrations. . .

Winthrop Smith, Excerpt from Retrospective at 33, The Weigh-In: Collected Poems,1996

Raised in Rye, New York, Winthrop Smith is a gay minimalist poet whose work explores the the undercurrent of gay experience in America. Having lived in New York City from 1987 to 2003, his early poetry covers a period of gay life before the gentrification of the city. In his work, Smith captures the gay male experience of pre-DisneyTimes Square, the St. Mark bathhouses, the city’s docks and cruising areas, and the scene on the West Village’s Christopher Street known for being the “Main Street” of gay New York.

Winthrop Smith’s first collection of poems, “Ghetto: From the First Five: Sixty-Four Poems”, was published in January of 1990. His second collection was the 1996 “The Weigh-In: Collected Poems”. Influenced by contemporary minimalist music and the work of modernist poet Gertrude Stein whose writing style broke the conventions of the linear narrative, Winthrop Smith formats his poetry into short pictorial lines each of which contain a complete mental image or thought. These narrative lines are stacked, sometimes  ending in split hyphenated words,  to form sentences that often trail into the following stanza. 

Smith’s third collection, the 2006 “Skin Check: New York Poems”, is a minimalist book-length poem of encounters experienced during a walk taken by Smith, his partner, and their two dogs from their Chelsea apartment to the West Village and back. His next collection was”Wrestling Starting Position” which was published in December of 2016. It is an autobiographical book-length poem which spans from his childhood in Rye, New York, to the second decade of the new century. The poem, told through the basic positions of wrestling, expounds on the issues of the artwork of Patrick Angus, the 1960s and city life at that time, the death of peers, personal ads, and capital punishment, among other topics. 

Winthrop Smith’s latest work is the 2021 “Take Down Portraits: Drawings and Portraits by Larry Stanton”, which include poems by Smith that envision conversations and scenes that may have taken place in Larry Stanton’s studio during his lifetime. Although he never actually met Stanton, Smith was inspired by his artwork, having had dozens of Stanton’s works in his care. The poems, duets in essence, are composed in fragmented phrasing with small details to evoke the emotion of the conversations. 

Smith was infected with the HIV virus during his first sexual experience at a Times Square bathhouse in 1984. After moving to New York City in 1987, he worked as a home attendant for the first program which was dedicated to terminal AIDS patients. Since then, Smith worked on the National AIDS hotline and was on the board for the People with Aids Coalition.

Winthrop Smith is a trustee and a program manager of the EGR Writers House in Augusta, Maine, which subsidizes housing for writers. He currently resides and writes in Wappingers Falls, New York. Smith is the author of four blog sites which can be found through: https://www.blogger.com/profile/11816360238911707217

James Broughton: ‘Luncheon Had Made Us Hungry”

Photographers Unknown, Luncheon Had Made Us Hungry

Luncheon had made us hungry
for one another
After the curry and fried bananas
we added our own heat to
the hot afternoon
simmering in sweat and coconut oil
as our two humidities rose
high   higher                     Bang!
outside the window        Bang!Bang!
and the houseboy’s laughing shout

He had been tossing firecrackers
at the roof
to dislodge itinerant pigeons
But at his feet had fallen
a passing oriole
shocked into gape      beak ajar

Hurrying from the bedroom
half-saronged
we saw him kneel to the yellow bird
fondle      cajole      kiss it      offer it
back to the day
Still it sat rigid in his hand

Chuckling then      you said
Is this a golden trophy of
our shooting match?
At which the oriole blinked
stretched and puffed
spurted into the air
vanished beyond the pawpaw tree

James Broughton, Afternoons in Ceylon I, Word of Mouth: An Anthology of Gay American Poetry, 2000

Born to affluent parents in Modesto, California in November of 1913, James Broughton was a poet and filmmaker. He was a member of the San Francisco Renaissance movement, a 1950s collective of American avant-garde poets which included such poets as Kenneth Rexroth, Madeline Gleason, Robert Duncan and Jack Spicer, among others. Known best for his cinematography, Broughton made poetic experimental films, both in color and black and white, throughout his career.

After the death of his father in the deadly 1918 influenza epidemic, James Broughton spent his early years in San Francisco. He started his formal education at a military school; however, at the age of sixteen after having an affair with a classmate, he was expelled. Broughton pursued a career in writing at Stanford University until 1935, at which time he relocated to New York City and became a theater critic. Through his written work, Broughton met artist Sidney Peterson, who would later establish San Francisco Art Institute’s Workshop 20, the first college program to teach filmmaking as art.

After he moved back to San Francisco, Broughton wrote and produced the play “Summer Fury”, for which the Stanford Dramatists’ Alliance gave him the 1945 Alden Award for Original Screenplay. In 1946, a collaboration between Broughton and Sidney Peterson produced the 16mm film “The Potted Palm”, a depiction of Freudian desires that combined the erotic with the decaying. Broughton later credited his working with Peterson on this film as the influence that led him to experimental filmmaking.

James Broughton’s early 16mm short films, which ran from nine to thirty-eight minutes, covered a wide range of genres, including personal journals, comedy, music, theater, and queer stories. Broughton’s first solo film was the 1948 avant-garde classic “Mother’s Day” which dealt with human pain and lack of emotion. He followed this film’s success with five more films between 1950 and 1953, among which was the 1953 “The Pleasure Garden”, a collaboration with partner Kermit Sheets. Made in England, the film was successful only in Europe where it received several awards including one at the Cannes Film Festival presented byJean Cocteau.

In 1953, Broughton stopped his filmmaking to concentrate more fully on his writing which, through his career, totaled more than twenty published works. His poetry collection “True & False Unicorn”, poems of Broughton’s complex search for his true self, was published in 1955 and later choreographed on stage by Jergen Verbruggen. Broughton’s autobiographical prose poem collection “The Androgyne Journal”. published in 1977, was a strongly personal book about breaking creative boundaries.

James Broughton published two retrospective collections of his poetry: “A Long Undressing: Collected Poems 1949-1969”, published in 1971 by Jargon Society Press, and “Packing Up for Paradise: Selected Poems 1946-1996” published in November of 1997 by Black Sparrow Press. In 1993, Broughton published his memoir, an autobiography entitled “Coming Unbuttoned”, which documented his eighty-year artistic journey in life through the famous and infamous circles of 1930s New York to the avant-garde culture of San Francisco in the 1960s and 70s.

Starting in the late 1960s, James Broughton returned to filmmaking and produced both short and full length films. His first film was the 1968 “The Bed”, which won prizes at many film festivals. Containing a highly energetic musical score by Warner Jepson, it featured ground-breaking full-frontal, yet innocent, nudity of male and female figures gathered around the same bed. Broughton’s later poetic films include such works as the 1972 “Dreamwood”, a story of one man’s journey to a mysterious island: “The Water Circle”, a 1975 poetic homage to sage Lao-tsu on the world’s bodies of water; the 1979 “Hermes Bird”, a celebration of the transformative power of the phallus; and the 1988 “Scattered Remains”, one of six films created with his partner Joel Singer, in which Broughton acts out his verses in unlikely situations.

Broughton’s honors include a Fellowship from the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation and an American Film Institute Award for Independent Film and Video Artists. He was an early poet member of the Radical Faeries, a counterculture movement that redefined queer consciousness through secular spirituality, and a member of The Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence, a protest and street performance group that used drag and religious imagery to call attention to sexual intolerance. Broughton also taught at both San Francisco State University and San Francisco’s Art Institute.

James Broughton had relationships with both men and women. He lived briefly with film critic Pauline Kael, with whom he had a daughter in 1948. At the age of forty-nine, Broughton married Suzanne Hart, with whom he had two children. In 1973, he met Joel Singer, a twenty-five year old student at one of his San Fransisco Art Institute classes, and began both a strong personal relationship and a lengthy film collaboration. In 1989, Broughton and Singer moved to Port Townsend, Washington, where they lived until Broughton’s death, at the age of eighty-five, in May of 1999.

“The quietest poetry can be an explosion of joy. True delicacy is not a fragile thing. The most delicate and yielding of our necessities, water, can be the most powerful destroyer, swallowing everything.

True delicacy is indestructible. Take Shelley, Dickinson, Firbank, Basho. I like things which appear fragile but are tough inside. In the long run the deadly can outmaneuver the brute, the bird is more resourceful than the rhino.” – James Broughton

Note: A remembrance on the life of James Broughton by Martin Goodman as well as an except from Goodman’s interview with Broughton can be found at: http://www.archipelago.org/vol4-1/broughton.htm

Top Insert Image: Photographer Unknown, “james Broughton and Joel Singer”, Photo Shoot from “Devotions”, 1983, Gelatin Silver Print

Third Insert Image: Imogen Cunningham, “The Poet and His Alter Ego (James Broughton)”, 1962, Gelatin Silver Print, New Orleans Museum of Art

Bottom Insert Image: Photographer Unknown, “james Broughton and Joel Singer in “Devotions”, 1983, Gelatin Silver Print

Thanh Vuong

The Photography of Thanh Vuong

Based in Melbourne, Thanh Vuong is a Vietnamese-Australian photographer who specializes in photographing the male body in natural landscapes with natural light. Born in Saigon, Vietnam, he emigrated at a very young age with his family to Australia. In 2017, Vuong earned his Bachelor of Arts in Photography from Melbourne’s Photography Studies College where he studied under the tutelage of photographers Daniel Boetker-Smith, the director of the Asia-Pacific Photobook Archive, and Hoda Afshar, an Iranian photographer known for her black and white documentary work.

Vuong’s projects explore the themes of gender politics and the representation of queer identities, masculinity and the male form. Among the photographers he considers major influences on his work are such artists as German photographer Wilhelm von Gloeden, known for his pastoral nude studies accomplished with photographic filters of Sicilian boys; photojournalist William Eugene Smith, an important figure in the development of editorial photo essays; portraitist George Platt Lynes, best known for his Hollywood portraits and male nudes; and George Dureau, whose career was most  notable for his charcoal sketches and black and white photographs of vulnerable and marginalized individuals.

In 2017, Thanh Vuong shot his series “In My Garden, the Trees Are Changing”, which centered on theme of male beauty and desire. The images presented an imaginary utopia of lush gardens and ethereal light in which gay men are free from prejudice, judgement and injustice. This series was awarded the Leica and Ilford Excellence in Photomedia Award at Melbourne’s 2017 Summer Salon held at the Centre for Contemporary Photography. It also won multiple awards in the same year at both state and national level from the Australian Institute of Professional Photography. The success of Vuong’s series led to another solo exhibition at the end of 2021 held at the Paddington Reservoir Gardens in Paddington, Australia.

Vuong’s 2017 series “(Not) Blue” was shortlisted for the Australian Photographer of the Year held by Capture Magazine. Vuong was a finalist in the British Journal of Photography’s first OpenWalls competition held in Arles, France, in 2019. His photo “A River That Flows From Eden”, depicting a nude couple lying at water’s edge, placed third in the 2021 Monovisions Photography Awards.

Thanh Vuong is currently represented by Boys!Boys!Boys, an initiative of the Little Black Gallery in London. Images of his work can be seen at the Boys!Boys!Boys site located at: https://boysboysboys.org/search?q=vuong

“I see photography as an extension and expression of my sexual identity and a way to start an honest and open conversation. As I developed my technique, the way I approach the body in my work has also evolved. Now it is no longer just an autonomous specimen understood as an exhibition of manhood, but a means through which I can delicately express some of the problems that affect the current queer community.” – Thanh Vuong, Interview with Gustavo Forcada, Editor of the online magazine Belfusto, March 2021

Saeed Jones: “Their Footprints Burn Holes in the Sand”

Photographers Unknown, Their Footprints Burn Holes in the Sand

Boys begin to gather around the man like seagulls.
He ignores them entirely, but they follow him
from one end of the beach to the other.
Their footprints burn holes in the sand.
It’s quite a sight, a strange parade:
a man with a pair of wings strapped to his arms
followed by a flock of rowdy boys.
Some squawk and flap their bony limbs.
Others try to leap now and then, stumbling
as the sand tugs at their feet. One boy pretends to fly
in a circle around the man, cawing in his face.

We don’t know his name or why he walks
along our beach, talking to the wind.
To say nothing of those wings. A woman yells
to her son, Ask him if he’ll make me a pair.
Maybe I’ll finally leave your father.
He answers our cackles with a sudden stop,
turns, and runs toward the water.
The children jump into the waves after him.
Over the sound of their thrashes and giggles,
we hear a boy say, We don’t want wings.
We want to be fish now.

Saeed Jones, “Daedalus, After Icarus”, Prelude to Bruise, 2014

Saeed Jones, an American poet and author, was born in November of 1985 in Memphis, Tennessee, and raised in a suburb of northern Texas. He studied at Western Kentucky University where he won national speech and debate competitions. After receiving his Bachelor of Arts, Jones earned his Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing from Rutgers University in Newark. He currently lives and works on his writing in Columbus, Ohio. 

Saeed Jones’s poetry examines the issues of race, power, desire and grief; he incorporates both mythology and the iconography of black culture into his poems and prose. In his work, Jones also discusses the process of personal journey and transformation, which includes those events in life where the issues of sex, race and power collide. 

Jones’s first published work, “Prelude to Bruise”, was a large collection of melodic poems with words in counterpoint. The core theme present throughout the collection is of a queer Afro-American child who navigates through family, gender and desire in the South. The work was named a finalist for the 2014 National Book Critics Circle Award for Poetry, the 2014 Lambda Literary Award for Gay Poetry, and the 2015 Thom Gunn Award for Gay Poetry. It won the 2015 Stonewall Book Award and PEN/ Joyce Osterwell Award for Poetry. 

Saeed Jones’s second work, a memoir entitled “How We Fight for Our Lives”, follows his life as a young, gay, black man living in Lewisville, Texas in the 1990s as he seeks a place for himself within family and country, and within his desires, hopes and fears. The memoir highlights his awareness of the discrimination, homophobia and racism he endured, as well as the struggles he faced to define his own identity. “How We Fight for Our Lives” won the 2019 Kirkus Prize for Non-Fiction, the 2020 Lambda Literary Award for Memoir/Biography, the 2020 Stonewall Book Award-Israel Fishman Non-Fiction Award, and the Randy Shilts Award for Gay Nonfiction presented by Publishing Triangle. 

Saeed Jones previously worked as the LGBTQ editor and Culture editor for BuzzFeed, an internet company focused on all segments of digital media. He has received a Pushcart Prize and fellowships from Cave Canem and Queer Art Mentorship. 

Notes: Saeed Jones’s next poetry collection, entitled “Alive at the End of the World”, will be released in September of 2022. Though his poems, Jones confronts the everyday perils of white supremacy and identifies even routine moments that open channels of hurt. Using first-person narration, he seeks to understand his own feelings through the lives and experiences of such cultural icons as Aretha Franklin, Little Richard, and Diahann Carroll. Pre-order is available through Coffee House Press located at: https://coffeehousepress.org/products/alive-at-the-end-of-the-world/

Mikhail Kuzmin: “Night Was Done. We Rose and After. . .”

Photographers Unknown, Night Was Done

Умывались, одевались,
После ночи целовались,
После ночи, полной ласк.
На сервизе лиловатом,
Будто с гостем, будто с братом,
Пили чай, не снявши маск.

Наши маски улыбались,
Наши взоры не встречались,
И уста наши немы.
Пели «Фауста», играли,
Будто ночи мы не знали,
Те, ночные, те — не мы.

Night was done. We rose and after
Washing, dressing, — kissed with laughter, —
After all the sweet night knows.
Lilac breakfast cups were clinking
While we sat like brothers drinking
Tea, — and kept our dominoes.

And our dominoes smiled greeting,
And our eyes avoided meeting
With our dumb lips’ secrecy.
“Faust” we sang, we played, denying
Night’s strange memories, strangely dying,
As though night’s twain were not we.

Mikhail Kuzmin, Night was Done. We Rose and After…, 1906

Translated by Babette Deutsch and Avrahm Yarmolinsky

Born in October of 1872 in Yaroslavi, Mikhail Alekseevich Kuzmin was a Russian poet, musician and novelist who was a prominent contributor to the Silver Age of Russian Poetry, an exceptionally creative period of poetry at the turn of the twentieth-century. Born into a noble family, he grew up in St. Petersburg where he studied music at its Conservatory under Russian composer Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov, known for his mastery of orchestration. 

Although the main focus of his career became poetry, Mikhail Kuzmin still retained his interest in music. He composed the music for theatrical producer Vsevolod Meyerhold’s 1906 production of Alexander Blok’s play “Balaganchik (The Fair Show Booth)”. Kuzmin’s personal compositions, sung while playing the piano, were popular in the city’s salons, such as The Stray Dog cafe and Ivanov’s Tower, the most famous of St.Petersburg’s literary salons and a major intelligentsia gathering place owned by the poet Vyacheslav Ivanov and his wife. Kuzmin was charismatic and well-liked, and the fact that he was open about his many relationships and trysts did not damage his social standing.

One of Kuzmin’s closest friends and a major influence as a young man was the aristocrat Georgy Chicherin, a distant relative of Aleksandr Pushkin and a passionate supporter of philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche and composer Wilhelm Wagner. In his youth, Kuzmin made pilgrimages to Egypt, Italy, and northern Russia with the Old Believers, a Russian Orthodox Church sect which maintained its old liturgy and traditions. Settling in St. Petersburg, he began, at the age of thirty-two,  to associate with the art circle centered around the art magazine Mir Iskusstva or World of Art, which introduced Russian artists to the European art movements.

Mikhail Kuzmin’s first work, “The Green Collection of Verse and Prose”, was published in 1905; this work was seen by writer and critic Valery Bryusov who invited Kuzmin to publish in the literary magazine Vesy. Kuzmin published two works in 1906: his most celebrated work, “Alexandrian Songs”, a collection of free verse love songs with homosexual undertones, and his first erotic novel, “Wings”, a story of a young man in St. Petersburg learning to accept his homosexuality. Told with Platonic subtexts, the novel caused a scandal but was immensely popular. Kuzmin’s writing style earned praise from the critics, which protected it from prosecution in the Tsar’s crumbling regime. 

Kuzmin’s  work, original and philosophical with a simple unpretentious style, set him apart from his Symbolist contemporaries’ writings. With the success of his publications, Kuzmin became a member of Russia’s cultural elite, his work sought by prestigious journals and publishers. In 1908, Kuzmin published “Seti (Nets)”, his first collection of one-hundred poems which was widely acclaimed. He was living in that year with set-design artist Serge Sudeikin and Sudeikin’s first wife, Olga Glebova; however, he was asked to move out after Olga discovered the affair between Kuzmin and her husband. 

In February of 1913, Mikhail Kuzmin met in Kiev the seventeen-year old writer and painter Yuri Yurkun, who would remain his lover until Kuzmin’s death. They lived in St. Petersburg with Yurkun’s mother in a communal apartment. Yurkun was arrested in 1918 by the Bolsheviks and detained for a brief period. Two years later, Yurkun met the young actress Olga Arbenina, who moved into the couple’s apartment and later married Yurkun. Kuzmin distanced himself from all political events after the Russian Revolution and continued writing; but it was clear that his writing was becoming less appreciated. 

For the rest of his career, Kuzmin made his living primarily as a literary translator most notably of Shakespeare’s plays. The last volume of poetry Kuzmin published was the 1929 cycle of narrative and lyric poetry entitled “The Trout Breaks the Ice”, which except for two contemptuous reviews, was ignored by the Soviet press. Mikhail Kuzmin died in poverty of pneumonia in St. Petersburg, then Leningrad, in March of 1936. Two years later in 1938, Yuri Yurkun was arrested by the secret police and executed in a massive political purge. 

At Kuzmin’s birthday ceremony in 1920, poet Alexander Blok expressed in his speech a wish that conditions be created in the future where a literary artist such as Kuzmin would have the right “to remain himself”. Considered by literary figures of his time to be a pioneer for a future age of sexual tolerance, Kuzmin became after the revolution a nonperson. The Soviet government for decades attempted to dismiss Kuzmin’s contributions to literature and kept his diaries from Western scholars.

The personal diaries Kuzmin kept from 1905 to 1934, previously published only in part, occupy a special place in his legacy and has been prized by historians of Russian culture for its unique intimate view of the country’s cultural life during that period. Interest in Kuzmin’s works and life was revived in the 1970s with the 1977 publication of a three-volume edition of his poetry, and a twelve-volume collection of his prose which was published between 1984 and 2000. Several editions of Kuzmin’s works also have been published in Russia since 1990.

Top Insert Photo: Photographer Unknown, “Mikail Kuzmin”, circa 1911

Second Insert Image: Aleksander Golovin, “Mikhail Kuzmin”, 1910 Oil on Canvas

Third Insert Image: Original Book Jacket, Hand-Colored Linocut by Ekaterina Turova for Mikhail Kuzmin’s 1913 “Dvum (For Two)”

Bottom Insert Image: Photographer Unknown, “Yuri Yurkun”, Date Unknown

Andrea Vanía: “Paolo”

Andrea Vanía, “Paolo”, Photo Shoot for Pineapple

Andrea Vanía is a photographer, dancer and choreographer who used his skill at visualizing concepts through imagery for a career in fashion and advertising. In that career, he set up art scenes for shooting both video clips and for music and fashion sets. Seeking to work without restraints from client requests, Vanía started freelance work to explore his own personal esthetic view.

Trained as a dancer to use the human form and the surrounding space as a way to interpret music, Vanía also used drawing to describe and understand the tensions and harmonies of a human body in motion. Now as a photographer, he attempts to produce intense and honest work that explores both the power and the fragility of the male nude. The figures in his work are presented through a wide range of lighting techniques and are set in environments ranging from interiors and urban settings to lush forests. 

Vanía’s photo session of Paolo, shown above, was produced for Pineapple, an online site for explicit artworks and photo sessions. It serves as an exhibition space for the wide spectrum of emerging artists and photographers in the gay scene. The site also presents interviews with the various contributing artists. 

Pineapple’s site, with contact and submission information and purchasable artwork, can be found at: http://pnpplzine.com

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

Photographers Unknown, A World of Color

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

Rane Arroyo, Brokeback Mountain

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

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

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

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

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

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