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.