Tuesday, May 01, 2007

May Publishing Notes

The buzz: Disabled author Peggy Munson’s omission from the Lambda Literary Awards reading in San Francisco created a wave of e-mails, blogs, accusations, apologies, and articles, with Heather Cassell of the Bay Area Reporter filing a recent article in the weekly paper. Munson, the author of the novel Origami Striptease, nominated in the Lesbian Debut Fiction category, had been scheduled to appear via DVD when she was omitted from the event. Author Hanif Kureishi (My Beautiful Launderette) accused the BBC of censorship after Radio 4 dropped a broadcast of his short story “Weddings and Beheadings,” describing the work of a cameraman who films the executions of western captives in Iraq. Author David Sedaris weathered assertions in the New Republic that he has fictionalized his nonfiction. Author Robert Marshall filed an investigative report for Salon.com on how Carlos Castaneda passed off ten novels as works of nonfiction. Frontiers magazine has launched a series of audio walking tours of the gay and lesbian history of Los Angeles. Audio is available through the magazine’s Web site or iTunes. A plea for help on the myspace page for Chicago’s Women And Children First bookstore saved it from shutting down. Carol Seajay of Books to Watch Out For, a monthly subscription e-mail service about feminist, lesbian and gay books, has moved to England to be president and CEO of Mslexia, a quarterly magazine for women in the UK who write. A major archive of letters, photographs, handbills, manuscripts, publications and other materials gathered by activist, editor, and writer Barbara Gittings and her partner photojournalist and author Kay Tobin Lahusen have has been acquired by the New York Public Library. The Barbara Gittings and Kay Tobin Lahusen Gay History Papers and Photographs will be housed at the Humanities and Social Sciences Library’s manuscripts and archives division on Fifth Avenue and 42nd Street.

The Gay Cannon: Gay.com/UK reported that Hal Gladfelder from the School of Arts, Histories, and Cultures of the University of Manchester has uncovered excerpts from a 258-year-old book written by Thomas Cannon, an Englishman thought to be the first advocate for gay rights. Gladfelder learned of the previously unnoticed tract while doing research at the British National Archive in Kew, outside London. The 3- by 5-foot scroll is a handwritten court indictment of the printer of a book titled Ancient and Modern Pederasty Investigated and Exemplified. Written by Cannon in 1749 and suppressed immediately after publication, the book is an anthology of stories and philosophical texts in defense of male homosexuality. Gladfelder said, "This must be the first substantial treatment of homosexuality ever in English. The only other discussions of homosexuality were contained in violently moralistic and homophobic attacks or in trial reports for the crime of sodomy up to and beyond 1750." Gladfelder came across the scroll in a box of uncatalogued legal documents from 1750. No copies of the book itself are known, but the indictment scroll contained long extracts.

Nothing Routine About This: Amy Sorrell, 30, an Allen County, Indiana teacher for eight years, was put on paid leave in March following the publication of a pro-gay tolerance essay by sophomore Megan Chase in the Woodlan Junior-Senior High School Tomahawk (which Sorrell supervised). Following a warning for “insubordination” by the school’s principal, Sorrell was suspended from teaching and put under “investigation.” A recent report in the Indianapolis Star stated that Sorrell would be “transferred to another school and barred from teaching journalism for three years.” The Fort Wayne Journal Gazette reported that as part of the settlement reached with the county school officials, Sorrell, who had to issue an apology stating that she did not intend her actions or comments over the last three months to suggest that administrators were intolerant towards homosexuality, was also given a written reprimand for neglect of duty and insubordination. Administrators also stated by taking the issue to the media, it also inflamed what would have been just a routine personnel matter, turning it into a national story. District administrators have heard from people across the country on the issue in recent months, many who chastised and ridiculed them. At the recent Ball State University J-Day for student journalists, Sorrell’s students won the most awards in the district. The awards included a superior award for sophomore Megan Chase for the column that sparked the controversy.

Filed Under Missing: The Advocate reported that a man in Bentonville, Arkansas, the father of two teenage boys, aged 14 and 16, wanted $20,000 from the city after his sons found The Whole Lesbian Sex Book by Felice Newman on a public library bookshelf. The man also requested that the library director be fired. He stated that finding the books “greatly disturbed” his sons and that the book caused “many sleepless nights in our house.” The boys were reported searching for material on military academies. The man faxed a letter to the mayor of Bentonville, Bob McCaslin, which stated that the book is “patently offensive and lacks any artistic, literary, or scientific value.” The maximum amount that can be paid in damages for obscenity under Arkansas is $10,000 per victim. According to a report by KOCO TV in Oklahoma City, city attorney Camille Thompson dismissed the man’s claim as baseless because the book is not pornographic. "There is not a valid legal concern here," Thompson said. "In fact, [the request for money] made me question his motivation." Since the incident the library’s board voted to remove the book from circulation, with one board member saying the library would replace it with one that takes a more clinical approach. According to the article, the book has been deemed appropriate for public libraries by the trade publication Library Journal, which the Bentonville library consults to stock its stacks. The man wrote in an e-mail to KOCO TV that he would fight any effort to put the book back in circulation, threatening “legal action and protests from the Christian community.”

Kudos: Gore Vidal was the recipient of the PEN/Borders Literary Service Award. Allan Gurganus was recently inducted into the American Academy of Arts and Letters. Author Fenton Johnson received a Guggenheim Fellowship in Nonfiction. Marijane Meaker and Martin Duberman will receive the Pioneer Awards at the Lambda Literary Awards event on May 31, 2007 in New York City.

Open calls: Jesse Grant is seeking stories of up to 4000 words for Ultimate Gay Erotica 2008. Deadline is June 1, 2007 and stories can be e-mailed to alysonanthology@planetoutinc.com. Nicole Foster is editing the 2008 edition of Ultimate Lesbian Erotica. Deadline is June 1, 2007. Submissions can be sent to alysonanthology@planetoutinc.com. Dusk Peterson has started a subscription news and market report covering the growing markets of Original Slash, Femslash, Yaoi and Yuri titled The Slash Skinny. Visit the Web site http://www.duskpeterson.com/ for more details.

Passages: Writer, artist and gender activist kari edwards was honored at a memorial on Friday, April 27, 2007, at the San Francisco campus of the California College of the Arts, co-sponsored by the MFA Writing Program of CCA and by Small Press Traffic Literary Arts Center. A recent article in The Bay Area Reporter noted that edwards died on her 52nd birthday, December 2, 2006, of a pulmonary embolism. She had been seeking treatment for unexplained shortness of breath since October of last year; examinations revealed an enlarged heart but no known cause, and the blood clot was not evident in early X-rays. She was the author of obedience (Factory School, 2005), iduna (O Books, 2003), a day in the life of p. (subpress collective, 2002), a diary of lies – Belladonna #27 (Belladonna Books, 2002), and post/(pink) (Scarlet Press, 2000), and the forthcoming Having Been Blue for Charity (Blazebox press) and Bharat Jiva, a collection of her writings from her nine-month stay in India. Ms. edwards’s work can also be found in Scribner's The Best American Poetry (Scribner, 2004), Civil Disobediences: Poetics and Politics in Action (Coffee House Press, 2004), Biting the Error: Writers Explore Narrative (Coach House, Toronto, 2004), and Bisexuality and Transgenderism: InterSEXions of the Others (Haworth Press, 2004). She was a winner of Small Press Traffic’s Book of the Year Award in 2004, and was a recipient of New Langton Art's Bay Area Award in literature in 2002. Born in Illinois and raised in Westfield, New York, edwards studied art and creativity, became a sculptural artist, and taught for many years in the art department at Denver University in Denver, Colorado. She left DU and began to transition to female in the early 1990s, then enrolled in the Naropa Institute in Boulder, Colorado to pursue an advanced degree in psychology. She and her life partner Frances Blau moved to San Francisco in 2002. Edwards worked for New Leaf: Services for Our Community, as an intake coordinator, and was active in the local poetry community while doing transgender education for Bay Area agencies and schools. She also published the popular Transdada blog. In addition to Blau, edwards is survived by her parents, Bud and Marlene (Loomis) Robbins of Westfield, New York; her brother Scott Robbins, his wife Laurie, and their children, Katie and Andrew of Westfield.