Friday, December 30, 2005
Kudos: Author and composer Ned Rorem received a Grammy nomination in the category of Classical Contemporary Composition for the recording of Nine Episodes for Four Players (Contrasts Quarter). Author Maureen McHugh is one of the three finalists for The Story Prize, for her collection of 13 stories, Mothers & Other Monsters, published by Small Beer Press. The prize will be announced January 25, 2006 and the winning author receives $20,000. The finalists for the 2005 ISO Violet Quill Award are Setting the Lawn on Fire by Mack Friedman, Mother of Sorrows by Richard McCann, Bilal’s Bread by Sulayman X, A Really Nice Prom Mess by Brian Sloan, Third Girl from the Left by Martha Southgate, Acqua Calda by Keith McDermott, and The First Verse by Barry McCrae. The film version of Annie Proulx’s short story Brokeback Mountain received Best Picture nods from the Los Angeles Film Critics Association, the New York Film Critics Circle, the Boston Society of Film Critics, the Dallas-Fort Worth Film Critics Association, the Southeastern Film Critics Association, the San Francisco Film Critics Circle, as well as seven Golden Globe nominations, including Best Picture. It’s also landed on numerous Top 10 lists including those from the American Film Institute, National Board of Review, and the New York Film Critics Online. Philip Seymour Hoffman continues to collect praise for his title role in Capote. The actor has received acting nods from the Los Angeles Film Critics Association, the National Board of Review, the New York Film Critics Online, the Boston Society of Film Critics, the Dallas-Forth Worth Film Critics Association, the Southeastern Film Critics Association, the Toronto Film Critics Association, and a nomination from the Golden Globes.
Open calls: Deadline for submissions for Best Gay Erotica 2007 is April 15, 2006. Richard Labonté is the series ongoing editor and Timothy J. Lambert is this year’s judge. E-mail submissions to: firstname.lastname@example.org. Rachel Kramer Bussel and Christopher Pierce are editing three anthologies for Alyson: What Lies Beneath: Erotic Stories about Underware and Lingerie, The Sexiest Soles: Erotic Stories About Feet and Shoes, and Secret Slaves: Erotic Stories of Bondage. Deadline is January 15, 2006 for all three books. E-mail submissions to email@example.com and firstname.lastname@example.org. Starbooks Press is back in action and looking for submissions to several new anthologies: Deadline for Muscle Worshipers, edited by Eric Summers, is February 1, 2006. Email email@example.com. Summers is also editing the anthology Love in a Lock-Up for Starbooks. Deadline is August 30, 2006. E-mail submissions to firstname.lastname@example.org. Cleis Press is looking for stories for several anthologies. Tom Graham is editing Cowboys: Gay Erotic Tales. Deadline for submissions is January 10, 2006. E-mail submissions to CowboysBook@aol.com. Cleis is also looking for submissions for After Midnight: True Lesbian Sex Confessions. Deadline is January 10, 2006. E-mail submissions to AfterMidBook@aol.com. Johnny Hansen is editing Trucker Sex: True Gay Erotica for Cleis. Deadline is February 1, 2006. E-mail submissions to TruckersBook@aol.com. Cleis is also inaugurating Best Gay Romance 2007. Deadline is February 25, 2006. E-mail submissions to BestGayRomance@aol.com. For Best Lesbian Romance 2007, deadline is also February 25, 2006. E-mail submissions to BestLesbian@aol.com. Lethe Press is looking for submissions for Tales from the Den: Wild and Weird Stories for Bears. Deadline is March 31, 2006. E-mail submissions to email@example.com
Passages: Hallam Tennyson, the great-grandson of British poet Alfred, Lord Tennyson, was found stabbed to death at his North London home in December 2005. The body of Tennyson, 85, a former BBC executive, was found by a former partner. Several newspapers reported that Tennyson led a “flamboyant and “colorful lifestyle,” often inviting men back to his apartment up to three times per week. In 1998, Tennyson, writing about his sexual orientation, said, “Lord Tennyson, my great-grandfather, lived from 1809 to 1892 and would, no doubt, be absolutely horrified by me. He was a sexual prude, whereas I’ve always been very liberal when it comes to sex.” Tennyson, survived by two children and seven grandchildren, was married for 30 years and was up-front with his wife about his sexual orientation. “I told Margo before we married that I was a homosexual, but she did not know what that meant,” he wrote. “I explained it to her, but she said she didn’t mind. Looking back, we were terribly rational about it. I went to see a psychiatrist, who told me, quite ridiculously, that it was just a passing phase and that the love of a good woman could change me.” Tennyson also penned an autobiography in 1984 (Alfred Lord Tennyson: A Memoir by His Son, Volumes 1 and 2), discussing a gay-bashing incident as well as his many trysts: “Instead of spending hours haunting public lavatories or other pick-up points, I might have read several books as long as War and Peace—I might even have written one.”
Wednesday, November 30, 2005
A wider orbit: PlanetOut Inc. has acquired LPI Media Inc., the Los Angeles-based publisher of the Advocate, Out, Out Traveler, and HIV Plus magazines, for $24 million in cash. The acquisition creates the world’s largest media company serving gay men and lesbians. Privately held LPI, which also publishes books under the Alyson imprint, has 123 employees and about $30 million in annual sales. PlanetOut, with 152 employees, operates the Web sites PlanetOut.com, Gay.com, and Kleptomaniac.com. PlanetOut went public last year and reported third-quarter earnings of $841,000, or 5 cents a share, contrasted with a loss of $29,000, or 25 cents, for the same quarter in 2004. Revenue was $7.6 million, up 20% from $6.3 million. With the acquisition, PlanetOut hopes to double its revenue, which was $25 million last year. Bob Cohen has been named as the interim president of LPI Media.
Kudos: Adrienne Rich won the 74th annual Gold Medal for Poetry from the Commonwealth Club of California for her collection The School Among the Ruins: Poems 2000-2004. Andrew Sean Greer of San Francisco won the Gold Medal for Fiction for his novel The Confessions of Max Tivoli. Winners each received $2,000. Alexis DeVeaux’s biography of poet Audre Lord, Warrior Poet, won the Zora Neale Hurston/Richard Wright Foundation Legacy Award in Nonfiction given annually to outstanding books by writers of African descent. Winners receive $10,000. Among the gay titles and GLBT authors on the prestigious International Impac Dublin literary award “longlist” are The Line of Beauty by Allan Hollinghurst, The Confessions of Max Tivoli by Andrew Sean Greer, The Master by Colm Tóibin, Now is the Time to Open Your Heart by Alice Walker, and Lighthousekeeping by Jeannette Winterson. The winning author receives Є100,000.
Open calls: Alyson is putting together two new anthologies of “travelrotica” — one geared for gay men, the other towards lesbians. Deadline is January 15, 2006. E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org for more details. Alyson is also assembling an anthology of queer fetish erotica for both men and women. Deadline is also January 15, 2006. E-mail email@example.com for more details. Eric Summers is editing an erotica anthology for Starbooks Press titled Men Who Like the Feel of a Real Man. Deadline is February 1, 2006. E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org for more details. Shane Allison is editing an anthology for Cleis titled Hot Cops: Gay Erotic Tales. Deadline is March 1, 2006. E-mail email@example.com for more details.
Courting Customs: Little Sisters Book and Art Emporium, a Vancouver gay bookstore, has been given the go-ahead to argue in front of the Supreme Court of Canada that the government should fund its legal dispute with Canada Customs. Jim Deva, a co-owner of the bookstore, said fighting Canada Customs in court could cost the store $500,000 to $1 million, which he characterized as an impossibly high figure for a bookstore (or almost anyone else) to come up with. The bookstore has been fighting Canada Customs because the federal agency blocked the importation of several books and magazines at the U.S. border, claiming they were obscene. The seized material included two series of Meatmen comic books and two books that depicted bondage and sadomasochism. In July, 2004, a British Columbia judge ordered the federal government to pay the bookstore’s court costs, because it was an important constitutional case that touched the interests of all book importers, big and small. In February 2005, the B.C. Court of Appeal reversed the lower-court ruling and killed the funding, saying that Little Sisters had assumed the role of “watchdog” over Canada Customs, but that the public had not appointed the bookstore to this role. Now, the Supreme Court of Canada will hear an appeal of that ruling, and will likely provide some guidance on what kind of cases are important enough to get “advance funding,” when the litigants can’t afford to carry the costs. Joseph Arvay, a lawyer for Little Sisters, said that if the bookstore had not been granted the chance to take its case to the top court, it would have had to give up the fight. The decision creates a rematch for Little Sisters and Canada Customs at the top court. In 2000, the court criticized the agency for using arbitrary and inconsistent policies when seizing material the store was trying to import. The court did not strike down Canada Customs’ powers to censor material, but said it needed to fix its procedures. But changes implemented by the agency were done without consulting anyone in the book business or people with expertise in gay and lesbian sexuality, worsening the situation, Mr. Deva told The Globe and Mail. The agency adopted specific rules about what was not allowed into Canada, he said, but he questioned the logic behind the guidelines. “Suddenly, out of the blue, the licking of boots was not acceptable,” Devay told a reporter, as an example. “If they had known more about that fantasy, and about that sexual act perhaps they wouldn’t have thought of it as dehumanizing and degrading.”
License to Chat Revoked: University Place (Wash.) school officials have banned Geography Club, a novel about gay teens by Brent Hartinger of Tacoma, from the district’s library shelves following parents’ complaints. In an Associated Press article Superintendent Patti Banks said she was alarmed by the “romanticized” portrayal of a teen meeting a stranger at night in a park after meeting the person — revealed to be a gay classmate — in an Internet chatroom. Banks had the book withdrawn from Curtis Junior High and Curtis Senior High school libraries after a University Place couple with children in both schools filed a written complaint dated Oct. 21, 2005 asking the district to remove the book. They wrote that reading the book could result in a “casual and loose approach to sex,” encourage use of Internet porn, and the physical meeting of people through chatrooms. Banks said her decision to remove the book was not due to the homosexual theme of the novel. “We want to send a strong consistent message to all our students that meeting individuals via the Internet is extremely high-risk behavior,” Banks wrote in a letter dated Nov. 2, 2005 to the parents. “To the extent that this book might contradict that message, I have determined it should not be in our libraries, in spite of other positive aspects (e.g., a strong anti-harassment theme).” Parent Connie Claussen disagreed with Banks’ decision and said she plans to appeal to the district school board. “It is about gay students. However, the most important part of the book is that it’s about bullying, outcasts, about tolerance,” she said. “This is a really good book for any student to read.” Geography Club is one of 10 nominees for the Evergreen Young Adult Book Award 2006. “The reason gay teens are drawn to the Internet is that’s a safe place to explore their identity without being harassed or bullied,” Hartinger said in the AP article. “It’s ironic my book would be pulled for this reason, contributing to this atmosphere of silence and gay intolerance.”
License to Advertise Revoked: When lesbian couple Robin Beck and Patty Henges, co-owners of the year-old Another Book Store in Mishawaka, Ind., decided to start a queer youth support group, they also decided to advertise their bookstore in the local Mishawaka High School student newspaper Alltold. They gave a copy of their business card and a $25 check to a store regular who is on the high school newspaper staff. But Henges received a call from newspaper advisor Jeff Halicki telling her the ad wouldn’t appear in the publication and that officials at school had responded that they did not want to “expose our teens to your type of establishment,” according to the South Bend Tribune. The school’s action could be a violation of the First Amendment, said Mark Goodman, executive director of the Student Press Law Center in Arlington, Va. “They have to present some legal justification,” Goodman told the Tribune. “If the student [or advertiser] could show that this was in fact an attempt to silence this viewpoint, then that may very well be impermissible under the First Amendment.” School newspaper editors may decide not to run an ad based on content, but court decisions suggest that school officials may not be able to censor ads, Goodman said.
Between the Lines: CyLibris, a gay publishing company in France, has just published a French-language edition of a collection of my gay and AIDS-themed short stories titled Les Fantômes (translation The Ghosts) — in cooperation with “sida, Grande Cause Nationale 2005,” a national French AIDS organization. World AIDS Day is this month (Thursday, December 1) and I hope that we can all take a moment and remember those we have lost from AIDS and what we can continue to do to help fight and bring attention to the ongoing epidemic both in the United States and abroad. In case you are a little curious about how this book came about: A little more than a decade ago, Anne-Laure Hubert, a graduate student in Belgium, translated into French my first collection of short stories, Dancing on the Moon, for her masters thesis. Two years ago, Anne-Laure located me on the Internet and e-mailed me to let me know she had translated my stories and asked if I wanted to see her thesis. For me, it was a truly strange experience — to read and rediscover my early stories (and now in a foreign language) and to revisit many of the issues and themes which seemed to have evaporated from gay life — and my own consciousness. Anne-Laure had several unanswered questions regarding her translation — idioms and footnotes and specifics relating to gay life or life in the U.S. — and together we polished a final translation which we submitted to CyLibris — and this edition really owes a lot to her tremendous faith and understanding of these stories, as well as her acceptance of gay life and the historical impact AIDS has had upon it, particularly in the early years of the epidemic and in the United States. Olivier Gainon and the folks at CyLibris have produced a beautiful edition of these short stories — and if you know any French language speakers or citizens, I hope that you will encourage them to support Cylibris and any French, international, or local AIDS organization this holiday season.
Monday, October 31, 2005
Kudos: Houston resident Greg Chapman was selected from among 6,000 entrants to read his essay about putting aside the teachings of childhood and embracing his homosexuality on “This I Believe,” a series of weekly essays featured on National Public Radio. James Purdy received the Clifton Fadiman Medal for Excellence in Fiction from the Mercantile Library of New York for his controversial gay novel Eustace Chisholm and the Works, published in 1967, two years before the Stonewall Riots. The award carries a $5,000 cash prize from Bookspan. The novel was selected by Jonathan Frazen as the most memorable book published at least a decade ago. Julie Marie Wade of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania won the Fourth Annual Oscar Wilde Award sponsored by Gival Press for her poem entitled “The Lunar Plexus.” An Interdisciplinary Introduction to Women Studies, edited by Robert L. Giron and Dr. Brianne Friel, won the 2005 DIY Book Award for Compilations/Anthologies. The book includes essays by lesbian writers Teresa Bevin and Rita Kranidis. PressPassQ reported that the National Lesbian and Gay Journalists Association has established a Hall of Fame. Initial inductees include NLGJA founder, the late Leroy Aarons (who in retirement sat on the board of the LGBT publication We The People); partners Del Martin and Phyllis Lyon, co-editors of the The Ladder, considered America's first publication (1956) for lesbian readers; the late Sarah Pettit, co-founder and editor of Out magazine (1992); the late Randy Shilts, whose career included a stint at The Advocate; and the late Don Slater, founder and editor of the crusading gay publication, ONE, whose five-year battle against antigay U.S. postal rules ended in a 1958 U.S. Supreme Court victory for all gay media. Among the titles which made Time magazine’s Best All-Time Novels were The Berlin Stories by Christopher Isherwood, Brideshead Revisited by Evelyn Waugh. The Bridge of San Luis Rey by Thornton Wilder, A Passage to India by E.M. Forster, On the Road by Jack Kerouac, Naked Lunch by William Burroughs, Mrs. Dalloway and To the Lighthouse by Virginia Woolf, Deliverence by James Dickey, Falconer by John Cheever, Go Tell it on the Mountain by James Baldwin, The Sheltering Sky by Paul Bowles, The Heart is a Lonely Hunter by Carson McCullers, I, Claudius by Robert Graves, and To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee.
Open calls: Amie M. Evans is accepting submissions for an anthology titled Drag Kings: Short Story Erotica involving drag kings on or off the stage. Deadline is April 1, 2006. For more information write firstname.lastname@example.org. Mattilda, a.k.a. Matt Bernstein Sycamore, is seeking essays up to 6,000 words for an anthology titled Realness Is Overrated: Rejecting the Requirement to Pass. Essays should explore and critique the various systems of power seen (or not seen) in the act of passing. Deadline is January 31, 2006. For more details and submission guidelines, e-mail email@example.com.
The Lone Star State of Mind: Members of the American Veterans in Domestic Defense staged protests at six local libraries in Montgomery Country. The group cut up 70 books they considered “perverted” and containing pornographic pictures or promoting homosexuality. Some of the titles include It’s Perfectly Normal, The Perks of Being a Wallflower, and The Plastic Man. St. Andrew’s Episcopal School, a private school in Austin, declined a $3 million donation rather than cut a gay-themed short story from the English curriculum. English teacher Kimberly Horne has included the short story “Brokeback Mountain” by Annie Proulx, a love story of two gay cowboys, as optional reading in her high school class for several years. The Austin American Statesman reported that parents Cary and Kate McNair met with other parents and school authorities and objected to the short story and the school’s participation in Day of Silence, an annual event that seeks to address antigay discrimination on school campuses. McNair is the son of oil magnate Robert McNair, owner of the Houston Texans pro football team. After the school refused to remove “Brokeback Mountain” from the assignment list, the McNairs pulled a $3 million pledge.
Between the Lines: If my recollections are right, I heard of Sam D’Allesandro in several ways. First, there was “Nothing Ever Just Disappears,” his short story that was included in the anthology Men on Men, edited by George Stambolian and published in 1986 by Plume. Before the deluge of gay-themed fiction and erotica anthologies of this century, twentysomething years ago in the last one there was just Men on Men and a few gay bookstores where this particular anthology could be found, and for those of us trying to imagine ourselves as a new breed of writer — a gay writer writing about gay life — being included in Men on Men meant that Sam was already some kind of god-like talent. A few years later I learned of The Zombie Pit, Sam’s collection of short stories which arrived in 1989, because I knew of Crossing Press, having had a correspondence with editor John Gill over a potential collection of my own short stories (and which didn’t come to pass). At the time I was living in exile in New Hope, Pennsylvania, after a decade of struggling in New York City, quietly having a breakdown after the death of a friend, disassembling all the pieces of my psyche, repairing and polishing them, and reassembling them into what I was hoping would be a new and improved model of the cheerful young man I had once been. I’m not exactly sure where I picked up my copy of The Zombie Pit — it must have been at either the Oscar Wilde Bookshop or A Different Light during a weekend jaunt back into New York City — or maybe even at Giovanni’s Room in Philadelphia, but wherever I purchased it, when I sat down to read it, I was struck by lighting when I came to the second story titled “Electrical Type of Thing.” “Electrical Type of Thing” is the story of a young man obsessed with another man who, as the story progresses, becomes obsessed with another young man. Also, as this simply written episodic tale unfolds, the first young man finds another man who becomes obsessed with him. In other words, guy likes guy likes another guy in a sort of series of overlapping triangles. Before I read this short story I had always dreamed of taking the best parts and traits of one boyfriend and graphing them onto another imperfect boyfriend, in hopes of creating the ideal kind of boyfriend — or at least the sort of perfect one that I could set out and search for. Having that sort of romantic quest, I was usually unfulfilled in matters of both love and sex. Somehow, it had never dawned on me that I might be a different person with different people as Sam so vividly explains in that story and my psychological awakening of that notion was a truly inspired moment — the kind of thing whereby a reader turns to fiction in order to better understand his own life, to find his world illuminated and explained in a way he might not be able to grasp himself, and zing-zap-crash-boom! — it actually happens, only it is something different than what he thought he would find. Mind it, that year I was still a neophyte in affairs with men and grieving over just about everything that had come to pass thus far in my life. And the truth of the matter was I discovered “Electrical Type of Thing” at the same time I was discovering a lot of other first-rate writers — at the time I was also slowly making my way through Echo Press’s thirteen volumes of the Collected Short Stories of Anton Chekhov. But my psychological awakening of what to expect from sexual relationships also incorporated an awareness that Sam D’Allesandro was a very talented writer and that the bitter truth was his bright light had already been diminished. In the back pages of The Zombie Pit was a chronological time line of Sam’s life, with the startling fact that he had died February 3, 1988, at the age of thirty-one, a year or so before I had ever picked up this book. For years I’ve held onto my copy of The Zombie Pit and used “Electrical Type of Thing” as one of those occasional touchstones a writer often refers back to, turning to it for inspiration when an idea strikes me and I begin to work my way into writing a new story or to revisit to see if a final version of a story is working as well as I hope it does — and I can trace Sam’s influence on a string of stories I’ve written over the years — particularly those triangular ones where matters of the heart often intersect with the realities of sex. So it’s heartwarming to discover that good gay writing lasts because it’s good gay writing. Suspect Thoughts Press has recently issued a new collection of Sam’s writings titled The Wild Creatures. Delightfully included is “Electrical Type of Thing,” a story I hope many other would-be gay writers will discover, enjoy, and find inspiring.
Passages: Theodore ‘Tobias’ Schneebaum, artist, author, and anthropologist, died September 20 2005 in Great Neck, NY, from complications of Parkinson’s disease. He was in his mid-80s and a longtime resident of Greenwich Village. In 2000, Mr. Schneebaum was the subject of the documentary, Keep the River on Your Right: A Modern Cannibal Tale, which follows his return to the Amazon and to Indonesian New Guinea, where he also lived. Mr. Schneebaum came to prominence in 1969 with the publication of his memoir, also titled Keep the River on Your Right, which was published by Grove Press. The book, a cult classic, described how a mild-mannered gay New York artist wound up living among, and ardently loving, the Arakmbut, an indigenous cannibalistic people in the rain forest of Peru. In 1955, Mr. Schneebaum, then a painter, had won a Fulbright fellowship to study art in Peru. There, he vanished into the jungle and was presumed dead. Seven months later, he emerged, naked and covered in body paint. After his return to New York, Schneebaum travelled widely, often visiting isolated people, and settled in New Guinea in 1973, where he spent 10 years studying the art of the Asmat head-hunters in Irian Jaya and serving as assistant curator of an art museum. He also took a married tribesman lover, named Aipit. His other published works include Wild Man, Where the Spirits Dwell, and Secret Places: My life in New York and New Guinea.
Friday, October 07, 2005
Saints and Sinners Update: Paul Willis and Greg Herren, the fabulous duo of editors and writers and the life force behind the annual Saints and Sinners Literary Festival of Queer Writers in New Orleans, are both safe and at work. Greg is back in Louisiana and posts often to his blog, Queer and Loathing in America . A recent email from Paul Willis, now in Illinois, also arrived with an update on the next Saints and Sinners and I’ve posted it below for any and all who want to attend or contribute funds.
"I'd like to thank everyone for their kind emails, good wishes, and offers of help and support. Greg and I were able to get out of New Orleans on Sunday before Katrina ravaged the city. After a stressful drive along with 100,000 other folks fleeing the city at the time, we made our way to my parents place in Kewanee, Illinois. And as luck would have it, Labor Day weekend happened to be Hog Days. We weren't much in the spirit of celebrating but did make our way to the library book sale and the flea market. I was glad to find a hard cover of Val McDermid's novel A Place of Execution.
As I'm sure you all know from your own communities, it has been amazing to me how far reaching the impact of this tragedy has been. Here in Kewanee alone, a couple from Chalmette, LA have relocated staying with friends they met on the internet eight years ago, a woman and her two kids have also temporarily found shelter here in the Hog Capital. Every store is taking collections, individuals are organizing fundraisers, and as of September 7, Kewanee-area residents have given more than $10,000 to relief efforts.
I've slowly, but surely been able to get organized and set up in my new surroundings. But as you can imagine, I can't wait to get home to New Orleans and get my life back. One of the things that I can do while I'm here is to make efforts so that the Saints and Sinners Literary Festival will still take place as scheduled May 12-14, 2006 in the city of New Orleans. I appreciate the interest people have shown in wanting to make sure that the event will continue. If you'd like to make a donation towards this project, checks should be made out to the NO/AIDS Task Force and can be sent to me at my temporary location:
P.O. Box 102
Kewanee, IL 61443
If you make a donation and/or would like to correspond, please include your email address, and I'll get you added to the e-newsletter list for the Saints and Sinners newsletter so that you can keep updated on the progress we're able to make. The website for the literary festival is www.sasfest.com. Your support will go a long way to benefit the GLBT literary community, the NO/AIDS Task Force, and the city of New Orleans.
The dynamic array of GLBTQ literary talent for this year's Saints & Sinners program is already coming together with presenters to include: Jake Shears from the Scissor Sisters, award-winning writers K.M. Soehnlein and Michelle Tea, authors and poets Martin Pousson and Elena Georgiou, along with master classes facilitated by Steven Saylor and Karla Jay. Literary Sponsors include Bold Strokes Books, Bywater Books, DREAMWalker Group, Gival Press, Harrington Park Press, InSightOut Books, Lodestar Quarterly, Suspect Thoughts Press, and Wildcat Press.
Once again, my thanks to everyone for their generosity and support of the New Orleans community.
I'll keep in touch and hope to get the first e-newsletter out by mid-October.
All the best,
Paul J. Willis"
Friday, September 30, 2005
Kudos: Ann Beattie is this year’s recipient of the Rea Award for significant achievements in the short story form. Beattie, one of my favorite writers, is the author of the short story collections Distortions, The Burning House, Where You’ll Find Me, Park City, Perfect Recall, and most recently Follies. Beattie has always included thoughtful and well-rounded gay characters in her fiction. Among her finest stories with gay characters are: “The Cinderella Waltz,” “The Burning Bed,” “Second Question,” “The Infamous Fall of Howell the Clown,” and “The Famous Poet, Amid Bougainvillea.”
More news from the Big Easy: PressPassQ reported that the New Orleans-based Ambush magazine will not publish for at least a month, but that its staff is safe, according to staff member Phyllis Denmark who spoke to reporter Eleanor Brown. Publisher Rip Delain-Naquin and his male registered domestic partner, production director Marsha Delain-Naquin, own a three-story building in the French Quarter which houses both the Ambush offices and their home. “We were safe and sound in the building,” Denmark said. “Then on Tuesday the looting started.” Denmark said staff left the city and that the Delain-Naquins are at a relative’s in northern Louisiana. For the last three years Ambush and the Delain-Naquins have hosted the fabulous opening night party for the Saints and Sinners Literary Festival for queer writers.
My Dinner with Andy: Last month I had a chance to have drinks and dinner with Australian/Canadian writer Andy Quan , who was in Manhattan for vacation, work, and to promote his new book Six Positions, now out from Green Candy Press. Andy has been one of my favorite gay writers ever since I read his short story “How to Cook Chinese Rice” in the 1993 anthology Queeries, one of the first books published by the Canadian publishing house Arsenal Pulp Press. Andy writes the kind of stories that other writers wish they could do, but often can’t. “How to Cook Chinese Rice” is about a gay Asian man’s search for identity, multi-layered with irony and witty details — a sort of short, gay version of Like Water for Chocolate. When Andy’s first collection of short stories, Calendar Boy, came out (and it included “How to Cook Chinese Rice”), it snagged a 2001 Lambda Literary nomination for best small press (in spite of being extremely hard to find in the U.S.). What makes Andy’s work so exciting to read is his continual innovation with structure and language — his best work often explores and deconstructs a particular thematic issue of interest to gay men (i.e. muscles in “Something about Muscle,” hair in “Hair,” serostatus in “Positive.”). Among my favorite pieces in Six Positions are “Mistakes were Made,” a disastrous hook-up as seen from both sides of the dating coin, and “Why I’m,” a searing, high-flying manifesto of what it means to be gay and male and alive in the 21st century. Andy also recently (and deservedly) snagged the Best Writer citation from London’s Erotic Awards for Six Positions. As his day job, Andy does international policy work for Australia's national HIV/AIDS organization, and he is also a singer and songwriter — he’s recently released his first CD of music and lyrics, Clean.
Open calls: Gertrude Press, the Portland, Oregon non-profit organization which publishes many gay and lesbian authors in their literary journal Gertrude, will begin publishing limited-edition poetry and fiction chapbooks in 2006, with a letterpress cover and a limited press run of 200 copies. Green Candy Press is seeking essays and memoirs of gay men with gay brothers for a new anthology titled My Gay Brother. Deadline is January 22, 2006. Bookpuppy.co.uk has launched an erotic short story competition. First prize is £100. Deadline is January 1, 2006. See the Web site for details. Forbidden Fruit, a new e-zine, is seeking gay-themed literary erotica. The e-zine will publish three times a year (January, May and September) and have a minimum of eight short stories (or serial extracts) per issue. The Arch and Bruce Brown Foundation will be awarding competitive grants for playwriting. Deadline is November 30, 2005. Plays may be full-length, a long one-act, or an evening-long collection of related one-acts. All works must present the gay and lesbian lifestyle in a positive manner and be based on, or directly inspired by, a historic person, culture, work of art, or event. See the Web site for more details.
On and off the Shelves: Women in Print, the feminist Vancouver bookstore, closed its doors on September 11, 2005. Owners Carol Dale and Louise Hager have been in the book business since the 1960s. They met working at Duthie’s bookstore and then opened their first bookstore, Hager Books, in 1974. Women in Print has been in existence for 12 years and the co-owners plan to continue selling books online at womeninprint.ca. Hager and Dale, both cancer survivors, are also looking forward to dedicating more time to volunteer work.
Hush, hush: The Publishing Triangle will hold a silent auction on Tuesday, October 18 from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. at the Remy Toledo Gallery (529 West 20th Street, 8th floor) to benefit The Triangle’s Shilts-Grahn Nonfiction Awards and the Lorde-Gunn Poetry Awards. You will have an opportunity to bid on items such as original artwork, theater tickets, CDs, DVDs, cookbooks, gourmet catering, massages, and much, much more. Mexican hors d’oeuvres will be served, courtesy of La Cocina Mexicana. All proceeds go toward the fund-raising drive for the awards. Also of note: this year the Publishing Triangle will give a new award: The Edmund White Award for Debut Fiction, open to first-book authors of any age whose work contains queer themes.
Passages: Poet Thomas Avena died August 3, 2005 in San Francisco after a twenty-year battle with AIDS. He was 43 years old. Avena first gained attention with his literary journal, Bastard Review. He was the author of a collection of poems, Dream of Order, and edited Life Sentences: Writers, Artists, and AIDS, which was awarded the Before Columbus American Book Award and the San Francisco Mayor’s Medal in 1995. He was the editor for “Project Face to Face,” an AIDS oral history and arts installation, and served as the project's writer-in-residence during its exhibition at the Smithsonian Institution's Experimental Gallery in 1991. Known for his work on issues of treatment advocacy, he addressed the National Institutes of Health and the Zurich AIDS Congress. He was the recipient of the Joseph Henry Jackson Award in Literature and the International Humanitas Award for his work in AIDS education and the arts. He was also the author, with Adam Klein, of Jerome: After the Pageant, an exploration of the life and work of the painter Jerome Caja. Mr. Avena's work also appeared in The American Poetry Review and Best American Poetry 1996.
Monday, September 05, 2005
Over the last two years I have made six trips to New Orleans to research material for a novel inspired by the ghosts of the French Quarter and to attend the Saints and Sinners Literary Festival, an annual gathering of queer writers. I won’t relay my shock and horror at the unfolding events of this crisis -- many others are at work passionately writing about this already, but I was heartened to receive an e-mail yesterday from Greg Wharton and Ian Philips, the mighty hearts behind the Suspect Thoughts Press, which contained a wrap of the whereabouts of several New Orleans writers and their families.
Here’s a repost of their e-mail:
Greg and I decided to do something different this newsletter. Rather than do our usual show and tell about Suspect Thoughts Press, we thought we’d do a show and tell about what we know about the people we love in New Orleans.
And give you some numbers and websites, just in case you don’t already have them, that you can use to locate lost loved ones, offer up a room of one’s own, or make a donation.
As many of you know, Greg and I go to New Orleans each May for Saints & Sinners. The queer literary festival conceived of and made marvelous each year by Paul Willis. But Paul doesn’t work alone and we’ve met so many amazing fellow New Orleanians through him. And I know a lot of you getting this newsletter have met them too. So, here’s what we know.
Author/editor/executive director (of both Saints & Sinners and the Tennessee Williams Festival) extraordinaire Paul Willis and his partner, author/editor/blogger extraordinaire, Greg Herren are safe at Paul’s parents in Illinois. To learn more, please visit Greg’s blog at http://www.livejournal.com/users/scottynola/. (I encourage you to check out the collage of Bush in New Orleans in the comments to Greg’s post of September 2nd under the heading “Until We Meet Again in New Orleans.” Nero fiddled while Rome burned, and our Bush, he plucked while New Orleans drowned.)
Author Poppy Z Brite (Liquor, Prime, and many more) and husband Chris DeBarr are safe at her mother’s house in central Mississippi. Unfortunately, they were only able to take their dog and one of her 28 cats. She hasn’t heard anything about her house in Uptown or her cats yet. You can find out more at Poppy’s blog at http://www.livejournal.com/users/docbrite/. (There is a section of animal rescue sites in the links below.)
Author/bisexual activist/creatix of Mind Caviar and so much more/suspect thoughts journal columnist Jamie Joy Gatto and her partner Ben are safe--but only after witnessing firsthand the hell on earth of New Orleans the last week. They made it to Houston where she and Ben are staying with a fellow bi-activist. She wrote to say that what she and Ben saw was far worse than anything reported on TV. Sage Vivant and M Christian are raising funds for Jamie Joy and Ben through PayPal. [Per Sage: If you'd like to contribute (and honestly, any amount you can spare will be helpful), please go to http://www.paypal.com and send money to me (firstname.lastname@example.org), specifying that your payment is for Jamie Joy. PayPal's records will help me keep track of who gave what, and I will then send her a check for the total amount collected along with a list of names who contributed. M. Christian and I would like to send this check no later than September 8.]
Author Elyn Selu (Pretty Is Just a Face I Make) and her husband Brad are safe, but like so many others, including my aunt Gail and her family, their house is under water.
Author Martin Pousson (No, Place Louisiana and Sugar) and his Chihuahua, Butch, are safe and at his parents in Lafayette. Martin doesn’t have a car and didn’t plan on going to the shelters because they weren’t taking dogs. But his parents drove down and got them out Sunday night before Katrina made landfall.
Author Jean Redmann (Lost Daughters, The Intersection of Law and Desire) is safe and staying with friends in Orange, Texas.
Cherry Cappel (web designer extraordinaire who created the Saints & Sinners site) and her partner Beth Blankenship are with friends in Dallas.
Karissa Kary, Paul’s golden right hand at both Saints & Sinners and the Tennessee Williams Foundation--and one of the kindest and most on-the-ball people I’ve ever met, is safe with her boyfriend Rolf in Kansas.
Pat Brady, Saints & Sinners hostess with the mostest and author of Martha Washington: An American Life, is safe and staying with her beau in Hammond, LA.
The family of author Marty Hyatt (A Scarecrow’s Bible), including his mom and aunt, are safe and sound.
The family of New Orleans born-and-bred Patrick Ryan (author and founder and editor-in-chief of Lodestar Quarterly) are safe. Patrick’s mom is going to be staying with him in San Francisco until she can return.
The family of San Francisco’s own Melinda Adams, aka LilyCat, a New Orleans native and a networker, promoter of San Francisco’s various alt-lit communities through nonstop readings and benefits, is safe. She’s organizing a Red Cross benefit in San Francisco this October. To find out more, visit her blog at http://www.livejournal.com/users/mskittywhore/.
And now here’s some of those sites I mentioned earlier if you’d like to locate loved ones, offer up a room of one’s own, or make a donation.
Locating Loved Ones:
Katrina I’m Ok (http://katrina.im-ok.org)
You can enter phone numbers to let people know you’re okay as well as look for others.
This site belongs to a woman who has the same name as the hurricane. She got so many requests for information that turned her site into info clearinghouse. Also there are message boards for people locating each other.
MoveOn.org created this site. If you have room to offer, post it here.
American Red Cross (http://www.redcross.org/) or 1-800-HELP-NOW
Second Harvest (http://www.secondharvest.org)
Provides food--almost all the money donated goes to just that food, not overhead.
Acorn Institute (http://www.acorn.org)
This group focused on affordable housing is headquartered in New Orleans, yet it keeps on trying to find housing for others.
Mercy Corps (http://www.mercycorps.org)
I hadn’t heard of this group before, but they are focused on rebuilding the entire community that has been devastated, not just temporary emergency relief.
Episcopal Relief &Development (http://www.er-d.org/) or 1-800-334-7626
United Methodist Committee on Relief (http://gbgm-umc.org/umcor/emergency/hurricanes/2005/) or 1-800-554-8583
Salvation Army (or http://www.salvationarmyusa.org/) or 1-800-SAL-ARMY
Catholic Charities (http://www.catholiccharitiesusa.org/) or 1-800-919-9338
FEMA Charity tips (http://www.fema.gov/rrr/help2.shtm)
National Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster (http://www.nvoad.org/)
American Humane Society (http://www.americanhumane.org)
Louisiana Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (http://www.la-spca.org/)
North Shore Animal League (http://www.nsalamerica.org)
EARS (Emergency Animal Rescue Service) (http://www.ears.org)
Noah's Wish (http://noahswish.com)
Saturday, September 03, 2005
Kudos: Nominees for the newly initiated Quill awards, includes Magical Thinking by Augusten Burroughs in the memoir/biography category. Jesus and the Shamanic Tradition by Will Roscoe and Queering Creole Spiritual Traditions by Randy P. Conner with David Hatfield Sparks are finalists for the 2005 Ashé Journal Book Award. Aaron Smith’s Blue on Blue Ground, winner of the 2004 Agnes Lynch Starrett Poetry Prize, has been published by the University of Pittsburgh Press.
Open calls: David Olin Tullis, who published and edited The Great Lawn, a gay literary magazine which was published in the 1990s, has launched CreamDrops, a new art and literary journal for gay men. The first three issues are now available online. Last month, The Big Gay Read competition was launched in the UK to find Britain’s favorite gay novel. Coordinated by queerupnorth, commonword, Time to Read, and Manchester, Salford, and Blackpool Library services, the winner will be announced at a special event during the queerupnorth Festival in May 2006. Submissions for the favorite gay novel, which need not be one of the organization’s recommended books, must be in by February, and can be made through the Web site.
On and off the Shelves: In August, Bookselling This Week reported that Alamo Square Distributors (ASDI), a book distributor that specialized in the gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, and sexual alternative market, would close at the end of the month. Shortly thereafter, Bert Herrmann, the founder of ASDI and publisher of Alamo Square Press, announced that he would be opening ASP Wholesale (a division of Alamo Square Press) and expected to be ready for business on September 15. Herrmann had sold ASDI four years ago to buy a retirement home in New Mexico. In an e-mail Hermann wrote, “These are hard times for wholesalers and also particularly hard times for smaller gay/lesbian/sexual alternative presses…. I have devoted much of my life to this industry and I have decided to step back to the plate and try one more time to keep our small presses alive.” In Sweden and Holland, libraries are “lending out people”—volunteers from outside of the mainstream, including gay men and lesbians, who sit in a cafeteria with library patrons, have a cup of coffee, and chat with them about their lives. These “living books” projects are meant to tear down prejudices about different religions, professions, and sexualities.
Up in Arms: In August, 365Gay.com reported that a judge ruled that the Pleasant Valley (Iowa) School Board acted appropriately when it told teachers they may not read to their classes a book with a gay character. The 4-3 vote last December, however, allows the book, The Misfits by James Howe, to be kept in school libraries, but out of the hands of small children. The Misfits is about four 12 year olds, best friends and the target of cruel name-calling who decide they aren’t going to take it anymore. One of the characters in the book is gay. The board’s action followed a complaint from a parent who said that if sexual orientation is part of the curriculum, then the Bible and the Ten Commandments should be read aloud, too. Two other parents appealed the board’s restriction to the state, saying the decision was motivated by “moral or religious reasons.” Iowa state administrative law judge Carol Greta ruled that the board “acted out of the legitimate educational concern of age-appropriateness” when it restricted access to the book. Greta said had the board voted to remove the book entirely from schools the decision would have faced a greater degree of scrutiny. Her ruling noted that “the local board has the authority to determine what curricular materials are appropriate for the different grade levels of students in the district. It did not interpret its statutory authority in an illogical or irrational way.” The ruling does not carry the weight of law and is considered a recommendation.
Passages: Al Carmines, who as assistant rector of Greenwich Village’s Judson Memorial Theatre, helped create the experimental crucible that was the Judson’s Poets’ Theatre, and became one of the seminal forces of the Off-Off Broadway movement, died Aug. 11, 2005 at St. Vincent’s Hospital in Manhattan. He was 69. Alvin Allison Carmines was born in Hampton, Virginia, on July 25, 1936. His father worked as a fishing trawler and his mother was a substitute schoolteacher. Raised as a Protestant, he soon developed a knack for performance, and won a music scholarship. However, he didn’t go into music, but studied theology at Swarthmore. He later enrolled at the Union Theological Seminary. Upon earning his bachelor of divinity, he was hired at Judson Memorial Church. From 1961, when Carmines was hired by Judson’s senior minister Howard Moody and charged with creating a theatre, until 1981, when the effects of an aneurysm forced him to resign, Carmines wrote about 80 musicals, operas, and oratorios. He often played his music in performance and was frequently called upon to act. Carmines wrote several musicals based on the Gertrude Stein’s work, including In Circles, which set the non-linear prose of Stein to ragtime, tango, waltz, opera, barbershop quartet, jazz and other musical styles. For the production, the composer wrote and performed a different opening number every night. The show won Mr. Carmines an Obie Award in 1968. He won other Obies for Home Movies and What Happened in 1964, for Promenade in 1965, and for Sustained Achievement in 1979. Other Stein works musicalized by Carmines include Dr. Faustus Lights The Lights, A Manoir, The Making of Americans, Listen To Me, and What Happened. Another favored theme was gay life. The title of one such Carmines show, 1973’s The Faggot (in which he also appeared as an actor), drew the ire of the gay population. Carmines wrote one musical for Broadway, W.C. Fields, which closed out of town. In 2003, Carmines was presented with a lifetime achievement award from the Publishing Triangle and the Robert Chesley Foundation.
A memorial celebration of the life of gay activist pioneer and journalist Jack Nicols (1938-2005) will be held Sunday, Sept. 25 at 3:00 pm, at New York’s LGBT Community Center, 208 West 13th Street. Openly challenging psychiatry’s position at the time that homosexuality was a sickness, in 1961 Nichols and Frank Kameny co-founded the Mattachine Society of Washington, D.C. In 1965, he led the first gay demonstration of a federal building—the White House—and organized the first East Coast ecumenical conference on homosexuality, later called the Washington Area Council on Religion and the Homosexual. In 1967, Nichols was interviewed by Mike Wallace in the first network (CBS) documentary on homosexuality. Nichols wrote four books, including Men’s Liberation: A New Definition of Masculinity (1975), and The Tomcat Chronicles: Erotic Adventures of a Gay Liberation Pioneer (2004). He edited the first gay weekly newspaper, GAY, and as a journalist wrote the columns “The Homosexual Citizen” and “The Homosexual Anarchist.” During the last ten years of his life, he served as the editor for the widely-read online news-journal, GayToday. Speakers at the memorial will include gay pioneer activists Dick Leitsch and Randy Wicker; authors and journalists Charles Kaiser (Gay Metropolis), George Weinberg (Society and the Healthy Homosexual), David Carter (Stonewall), and Perry Brass (How To Survive Your Own Gay Life); as well as Shelbiana Clarke Rhein, sister of Nichol’s long-time companion Lige Clarke.
Monday, August 01, 2005
Kudos: Lesbian poet May Swenson’s portrait will soon hang in the National Portrait Gallery of the Smithsonian Institution. Swenson was born in Utah in 1913 and died in 1989 in Delaware at the age of 76 and published 11 volumes of poetry. The 1960 portrait, in pastels and on paper, is by gay artist Beauford Delaney, a friend of Swenson’s. The National Portrait Gallery brought the portrait from the poet’s literary estate in May. Poet Eloise Klein Healey received Antioch University’s Horace Mann Award. Mann was the first president of the university, founded in 1852. Healey is the founding chair of Antioch’s MFA Creative Writing Program. Her most recent collection of poems, Passing, was a finalist for the Lambda Literary Award and the Audre Lord/Publishing Triangle Poetry Award.
Open calls: Hand.tooth.nail, a new literary e-zine, is now accepting submissions of poetry, prose and fiction. Kirkus Reviews is launching the annual Virginia Kirkus Literary Award for the best unpublished first novel or short story collection. Deadline is November 1, 2005 and the submission fee is $150. The Rauxa Prize carries an award of $1000 given annual to an erotic short story of exceptional literary quality. Nominations are due by September 15, 2005
On and off the Shelves: A new gay bookstore has opened in the Dupont Circle area of Washington, DC. G Books, 1520 U Street, NW, sells trade used and new gay books, magazines, movies, and music. John David Hinkle has opened gay-friendly John David’s Lightly Used Books in Lansing, Michigan. After many years and a lot of different jobs in Chicago (including writing a column for Gay Chicago Magazine), Hinkle plans to have the store serve as a meeting place for local groups and as a "no-hate zone." "If this town can support four gay bars, they can support me," Hinkle told a reporter for the Lansing State Journal. Seattle’s Beyond the Closet closed its doors on July 28, 2005. Owner Ron Whiteaker told the Seattle Gay News that declining sales, Internet discounting, and "armchair buying" contributed to the store’s closing after 17 years. The Women’s Review of Books, which ceased publication last December, will resume publication in January 2006. The magazine will return as a bi-monthly and with the same editor, Amy Hoffman. Wellesley will co-sponsor the publication along with Old City Publishing.
Up in Arms: In July, the Anderson County School Board of Tennessee decided Alice Walker’s novel, The Color Purple, was too off-color for 13-year-olds enrolled in a summer reading course. Parents voiced concerns to board members and school officials about graphic passages dealing with rape and incest and didn’t want their kids in the class if and when the book was discussed. Walker’s novel was suggested by the teacher as summer reading to coincide with student interest in the Michael Jackson trial. The Sydney Morning Herald (Australia) reported in July that an application was filed to ban the theatrical release of the film version of Scott Heim’s Mysterious Skin due to the pedophilia story line. Australia’s Office of Film and Literature Classification gave the movie a R18+ rating, describing the film as "a serious and legitimate exploration of a disturbing and confronting theme."
Passages: British novelist and screenwriter Gavin Lambert died July 17, 2005, of pulmonary fibrosis in Los Angeles. He was 80 years old. Lambert works include Inside Daisy Clover (novel and screenplay), The Slide Area, GWTW: The Making of Gone With the Wind, Mainly about Lindsay Anderson, The Ivan Moffat File: Life Among the Beautiful and Damned in London, Paris, New York and Hollywood, On Cukor, Norma Shearer: A Life, and Natalie Wood, A Life in Seven Takes. Born in Sussex, England, on July 23, 1924, Lambert attended Cheltenham College and Magdalen College, Oxford, where he became friends with aspiring filmmakers Karel Reisz and Lindsay Anderson, with whom he co-founded and co-edited the film journal Sequence in 1947. From 1949 to 1955, Lambert edited the film journal Sight and Sound before writing his first film Another Sky, which he also directed. In 1961, Lambert wrote the screen adaptation, along with Jan Read, of Tennessee Williams's The Roman Spring of Mrs. Stone, which starred Vivien Leigh and Warren Beatty. He penned another Williams adaptation in 1989, the TV version of Sweet Bird of Youth, starring Elizabeth Taylor and Mark Harmon. Lambert became a U.S. citizen in 1964 and was twice nominated for awards by both the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences and the Writers Guild of America: for the 1960 screen adaptation of D.H. Lawrence's Sons and Lovers, which he wrote with T.E.B. Clarke, and 1977's adaptation of the I Never Promised You a Rose Garden, which he wrote with Lewis John Carlino.
Monday, July 04, 2005
More buzz on Lambda: Eleanor Brown reported in the June issue of Press Pass Q that the James White Review was close to finding a new home. The quarterly gay men’s literary magazine, under the auspices of the Lambda Literary Foundation, recently suspended publication. The JWR began in the summer of 1984 and was taken over by LLF in 1998.
Kudos: Sugar Rush, Julie Burchill’s controversial about schoolgirls discovering lesbian love, was shortlisted for a for the British Booktrust Teenage Prize. Robert Taylor’s novel, Whose Eye Is on Which Sparrow? won the 2005 Independent Publishers Book Award for the best book of the year with a gay or lesbian theme, including both fiction and nonfiction.
Open calls: Project QueerLit #2 has begun, and is open to all first-time novelists with queer, bent, or outsider worldview content. Novel submissions will be accepted from September 1-December 31, 2005. Winners will be announced in December 31, 2006. Visit www.projectqueerlit.com for more details. The Arch and Bruce Brown Foundation grants for 2005 will be for Playwrighting. All works must present the gay and lesbian lifestyle in a positive manner and be based on, or directly inspired by, a historic person, culture, work of art, or event. All works (Drama or Comedy or Musical) submitted must be unpublished, original, and in English. Adaptations or translations of other works are not acceptable. Plays may be full-length, a long one-act, or an evening-long collection of related one-acts. All submissions must be postmarked by midnight November 30, 2005. All works selected by the judges will be announced in Spring 2006. Visit www.aabbfoundation.org for more details.
Love, Uncovered: An unpublished love poem written 2,600 years ago by the Greek poet Sappho, the "10th muse," debuted in the Times Literary Supplement in June 2005. The poem was discovered in 2004. The 12-line poem, only the fourth to have been recovered, was rediscovered after researchers at Germany’s Cologne University identified a papyrus once wrapped around an Egyptian mummy as part of a third century B.C. roll containing poems by Sappho. They noticed that some of the verse fragments on the crumbling Cologne material matched parts of lines already identified as Sappho’s on a papyrus discovered in 1922. By combining the two they were able to reconstruct the original, adding likely missing words in the gaps that remained. In the newly published verses, originally sung to music, Sappho laments the passing of time as she compares the youthful bodies of dancing girls to her own weak knees and white hair. The first four lines of the translated verses read: "You for the fragrant-bosomed Muses’ lovely gifts,/Be zealous, girls, and the clear melodious lyre:/But my once tender body old age now/Has seized; my hair’s turned white instead of dark."
On the Shelves: A new GLBT bookstore opened in June in Omaha, Nebraska. Books, magazines, gourmet coffee, music, authors, artists, and speakers are on the menu at The Reading Grounds, 3928 Farnam Street. The Taipei Times reported that Gin Gin’s, the GLBT bookstore in Taipei, celebrated Gay and Lesbian Pride Month in June by moving to a new, larger location. The bookstore was recently found guilty of selling "indecent material." "These setbacks, however, only reinforced the need to keep the bookstore open for the gay community," owner Lai Jeng-jer told a reporter from the newspaper. Gin Gin’s has been in business since January 1999.
Passages: Jean O’Leary, a Democratic activist and leader of the early lesbian feminist movement, died June 5, 2005, at the age of 57 in San Clemente, CA. The cause was lung cancer. Born in Kingston, NY in 1948, O’Leary entered a convent as a teenager and her story was a much-discussed chapter in the book Lesbian Nuns: Breaking Silence. She left and joined the Gay Activists Alliance shortly after the Stonewall riots and soon helped branched off to help found the Lesbian Feminist Liberation. In 1974, O’Leary joined Bruce Voeller at the National Gay Task Force and became co-executive director. O’Leary organized the first White House meeting on sexual orientation, a three-hour session between leaders and Carter aide Midge Constanze in 1977. In 1988, O’Leary, along with Rob Eichberg, created National Coming Out Day. She is survived by her partner, Lisa Phelps, and two children.
Friday, June 17, 2005
On a personal note, I've always had a tremendous amount of respect and admiration for Jim Marks because of the gargantuan tasks he has faced keeping the Foundation running and consider him a good friend and a huge supporter of gay literature at a time when those supporters seem to be diminishing. I've also enjoyed being a part of the LBR and working with Jonathan Harper and Lisa Moore and I look forward to working with all of them in possible future venues.
Friday, June 10, 2005
"Jim Marks tendered his resignation as Executive Director to take effect on July 1, 2005. The Board acknowledges that Jim has been key--indeed, vital--in the work of theorganization and extends its heartfelt and profound appreciation to Jim for his dedication and hard work over the years. We wish every good fortune to Jim in his future pursuits. Remaining Board Members Jim Duggins, Katherine V. Forrest, Karla Jay, and Don Weise of the Lambda LiteraryFoundation's Board of Trustees are evaluating the impact of this resignation and factoring it into other structural plans discussed at the June 3, 2005 Board meeting. It is expected that other announcements will be forthcoming."
Friday, June 03, 2005
Gay Men's Debut Fiction
Clay's Way by Blair Mastbaum, Alyson Publications
Gay Men's Fiction
The Master by Colm Toibin, Scribner
Lesbian Debut Fiction
Crybaby Butch by Judith Frank, Firebrand Books
A Seahorse Year by Stacey D'Erasmo, Houghton Mifflin
Sweet to Burn by Beverly Burch, Gival Press
Gay Men's Poetry
Written in Water by Luis Cernuda, City Lights Publishers
Hancock Park by Katherine V. Forrest, Berkley Prime Crime
Gay Men's Mystery
Flight of Aquavit by Anthony Bidulka, Insomniac Press
Fresh Men: New Voices in Gay Fiction edited by Donald Weise, Carroll & Graff
I Do/I Don't: Queers on Marriage edited by Greg Wharton and Ian Philips, Suspect Thoughts Press
Name All the Animals by Alison Smith, Scribner
Warrior Poet: A Biography of Audre Lorde by Alexis De Veaux, W.W. Norton
Best Gay Erotica 2005 edited by Richard Labonte, Cleis Press
Almost Like Being in Love by Steve Kluger, HarperCollins
So Hard to Say by Alex Sanchez, Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers
Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Denim by David Sedaris, Little, Brown
Jesus and the Shamanic Tradition of Same-Sex Love by Will Roscoe, Suspect Thoughts Press
I am My Own Wife by Doug Wright, Faber and Faber
The Ordinary by Jim Grimsley, Tor
The Gender Frontier by Mariette Pathy Allen, Kehrer Verlag
At Ease: Navy Men of World War II by Evan Bachner, Harry Abrams
For the Love of Women: Gender, Identity and Same-Sex Relations in a Greek Provincial Town by Elisabeth Kirtsoglou, Routledge
The Arch and Bruce Brown Foundation winners for Short Fiction were presented to Quiara Alegria Hudes, Dennis Jordan, and C. Kevin Smith.
The Independent LGBT Press Award was presented to Bella Books.
The Editor’s Choice Award was presented to Richard Canning for Hear Us Out (Columbia University Press).
Thursday, June 02, 2005
Kudos: Andrew Sean Greer, the 34-year-old author of The Confessions of Max Tivoli, won the New York Public Library’s Young Lions Award, given annually to an emerging author. Tony Kushner was inducted into the American Academy of Arts and Letters in May. The Saints & Sinners Literary Festival in New Orleans inducted Patrick Califia, Jim Grimsley, Ellen Hart, and Carol Seajay into their Hall of Fame. Ellen DeGeneres won her second consecutive Emmy for Outstanding Talk Show and her first as Outstanding Talk Show Host. She has also signed to do six more seasons. Stockard Channing won for Outstanding Performance in a Family Special for Jack, about TV adaptation of A.M. Home’s novel about a father who comes out of the closet. Actress Cherry Jones was cited with an Obie Award for her performance in John Patrick Shanley’s play Doubt. Winners for the Arch and Bruce Foundation short fiction competition are: First Prize: Quiara Alegria Hudes of Pennsylvania for "Stargazers," Dennis Jordan of New York City for "Sweet Jermone," and C. Kevin Smith of Big Sur, California for "Not the Last of the Mohicans." Second Prize went to Joel A. Nichols of Philadelphia for "Angels on Water" and Wendell Ricketts of San Francisco for "Speedos and a Sweatshirt." Third Prize honors went to Donna Barr of Bremerton, Washington for "A Good Example," Carolyn Gage of Portland, Maine for "Entr’acte," Veronica Holtz of Philadelphia for "A Respectful Distance," Neil Ellis Orts of Houston, Texas for "Men Dancing," and Donald Yonker of New York City for "Everything I Know I Learned from Musical Comedy." Edmund White was named one of the Scholars & Writers at the Dorothy & Lewis B. Cullman Center at the New York Public Library.
Kerouac, past and present: A bobble-head doll of author Jack Kerouac, created as a promotion by the minor-league team, the Lowell Spinners, joined the collection at the Baseball Hall of Fame in May. It is believed to be the first literary figure so honored. The bobble-head was unveiled at the ball game of August 21, 2003 to honor the Lowell-native and helped raised more than $10,000 for Jack Kerouac Scholarships. Also recently unearthed from a New Jersey warehouse was Beat Generation, a unpublished play by Kerouac. The play recounts a day in the life of the hard-drinking, drug-fueled life of Jack Duluoz, Kerouac’s alter eager. Kerouac’s biographer Gerald Nicosia reported that the play was written in one day after the author had returned to his home in Florida following the publication of On The Road. An off-Broadway producer named Leo Gavin had expressed interest in a play. The play was never published or performed, but the third act became the basis for a film, Pull My Daisy, starring poet Allen Ginsberg. Kerouac’s agent, Sterling Lord, said the play had been submitted to several producers but was turned down. Kerouac also sent the play to Marlon Brando. Brando never responded and the two men only met once, in 1960, when Kerouac enrolled in the Actor’s Studio. After 15 minutes of the class, Kerouac asked, "Don’t they give you any drinks in this place?" Spotting Brando, he invited him for a drink. Brando refused. The play will be published in October by Thunders Mouth Press and a staged reading is scheduled for New York in January 2006. Mr. Nicosia told a reporter from the London Guardian that it was not unusual for work by Kerouac to remain unpublished. "A lot of Jack’s greatest works were never published in his lifetime. The Kerouac estate has been releasing stuff from the archives over the last 10 years... He had a brief moment in the sun, but the right wing launched a major attack on him. They saw him as a major threat to society. They really succeeded in knocking him down."
Attacks Continue: The New York Times reported in an early June 2005 article that according to the American Library Association, which asks school districts and libraries to report efforts to ban books by having them removed from shelves or reading lists, that 547 books were challenged in 2004, up from 458 in 2003. Judith Krug, director of the ALA’s office for intellectual freedom, attributed the most recent spike to the empowerment of conservatives in general and to the re-election of President Bush in particular. The same thing happened 25 years ago, she told the Times. "In 1980, we were dealing with an average of 300 or so challenges a year, and then Reagan was elected. And challenges went to 900 or 1,000 a year." The Oklahoma house approved a $6.68 million budget for state libraries in May and vowed to study local library policies on the placement of gay themed books on children’s shelves. Sally Kearn, a member of the house subcommittee that funds the libraries, had threatened to withhold extra funding for libraries over the issue o gay-themed books. Earlier in the month, the Oklahoma house voted overwhelmingly to recommend creating adult-only sections in all public libraries to shield children from gay-themed books. In late April, police in the Boston suburb of Lexington, MA arrested a father after he refused to leave his six-year-old son’s elementary school over a book that featured a gay family. The father spent the night in jail and was freed after being ordered off school property. Also in late April, Chris Crain, editorial director of the Window media newspaper chain which operates the Washington Blade and Southern Voice, among other newspapers, was beaten by seven men in Amsterdam while he was walking hand-in-hand with his boyfriend early one morning. "I hope our gay friends in Holland realize that it’s a bit too soon to declare victory and go home, now that they’ve won their legal battles," Crain wrote in a subsequent editorial in his newspapers. "Winning the hearts and minds of the people will be a much more challenging task."
Off the Shelves: Cuttyhunk, Boston’s 12-year old gay bookstore, will close in late summer of 2005. Formerly known as We Think the World of You, owner Paul Rehme will close the store to "seek new challenges, including the creation of an exciting new real estate company," as relayed on the bookstore’s Web site. The 18 year-old Tomes & Treasures, the Tampa gay bookstore, gift shop, and coffee house located for the last eight years at its current S. Howard Avenue location, closed in June 2005. Owner Bill Kanouff told the St. Petersburg Times that large bookstore chains, the Internet, and the "mainstreaming of gay culture" helped bring about the store’s demise.
Passages: Indian-born film producer Ismail Merchant, who partnered with director James Ivory to create the award-winning adaptations of E.M. Forster’s novels A Room With a View, Maurice, and Howards End, died May 25, 2005 in London. He was 68. Born in 1936 in what was then Bombay, Mr. Merchant moved to New York in 1958 and earned a master’s in business administration at New York University. His professional partnership with Mr. Ivory continued for 44-years. Mr. Ivory survives him, as do four sisters: Saherbanu Kabadia and Ruksana Khan, both of Mumbai; Sahida Retiwala of Bergenfield, N.J.; and Rashida Bootwala of Pune, India.
Activist and author Jack Nichols died on May 2, 2005, in Cocoa Beach, Fla. He was 67. The cause was complications of cancer. Nichols was born in Washington, D.C. on March 16, 1938, and came out as gay to his parents as a teenager. Along with Frank Kameny, Nichols founded the Mattachine Society, an early gay advocacy group, in Washington in 1961. In 1967, Mr. Nichols became one of the first Americans to talk openly about his homosexuality on national television when he appeared in the CBS documentary "’The Homosexuals." For years Nichols was one of the activists who campaigned to have the American Psychiatric Association remove homosexuality from its list of mental disorders. In 1969, after moving to New York, Mr. Nichols founded Gay, the first gay weekly newspaper in the United States, with his companion, Lige Clarke (who died in 1975). Until recently, Nichols also edited the online publication GayToday.com. Among Mr. Nichols’s books are Men’s Liberation: A New Definition of Masculinity (Penguin, 1975); The Gay Agenda: Talking Back to the Fundamentalists (Prometheus, 1996); and The Tomcat Chronicles: Erotic Adventures of a Gay Liberation Pioneer (Harrington Park Press, 2004), which was nominated for a 2004 Lambda Literary Award in the Memoir/Autobiography category.