28 May 2012

Recent Reading (Memorial/Memory Day)

Although Memorial Day is set aside to honor those in the Armed Forces, this excerpt from Keith Haring's fantastic Journals - which I have NOT been able to put down all weekend! --  that speaks to keeping alive the memory of our friends, mentors, and those who have inspired and helped show us the way in life (there are many ways to be 'of service to our nation' which is what Memorial/Decoration Day is supposed to commemorate)

I feel the way Haring does about SO MANY friends, family and fellow writers and artists, some of whom are still alive, and some who have passed on - or, better said, who have "dropped the body," for their spirit still survives and the memory of them and what they gave me and others survives to this day. I am eternally grateful to them, and thank them for welcoming me into 'the brotherhood.'

(And a special thank you to Keith and the Brooklyn Museum!)

Friday May 22, 1987

Quick meeting with a woman who called and wanted to talk about Brion Gysin and the problem of not letting him disappear.... Brion Gysin and William Burroughs have had an incredible influence on me and provided a lot of inspiration....It's important that his work be available for future generations of artists. Their work gave me a structure to understand what I had already done....

Also, it was my first real contact with "the brotherhood" of artists that has existed through the ages. They initiated me, in a way, into this "brotherhood" by sharing with me some of the secrets and intimacies of their lives as young, gay artists. There is a very real historical line that can be traced all the way back. Brion knew all about this. He spoke of it very eloquently and, although thoroughly more intelligent than me, never talked down to me, but talked to me as if I were also a part of this. Through his confidence in me and his assurance and analogies to my historical counterparts, I began to accept the fact that I am part of this, whether history will accept it or not. Many, like Brion, have been written out of history by the uninformed, barbarically (fake intellectual) conservative, homophobic public. It is up to the people who knew Brion and understood his importance to try to fight against his disappearance....

Self-Portrait with Glasses Painted by Kenny Scharf, circa 1980. Polaroid photograph. Collection Keith Haring Foundation. © Keith Haring Foundation

I strongly encourage you to visit Haring.com and the Haring Foundation Blog for more about Keith, and the work his art continues to do.

17 May 2012

International Day Against Homophobia/RIP Donna Summer

How sad and slightly ironic that the "Disco Queen" Donna Summer should pass today, the International Day Against Homophobia. Founded by the Martiniquean academic Louis-Georges Tin, the day attempts to coordinate events around the world to garner support and respect for lesbians and gays.

So to lose Donna today - Wow...Her music was the soundtrack of my young and not so young life. You HAD to hear a Donna Summer song at least once every time you went to a club. Although she became 'Born Again' and may have fallen and bumped her head on a Bible at one point, most of us continued to love her and play her music. In addition to a terrific (underrated) voice, Donna's music was all about love and joy (and not just the infamous, glorious "Love to Love You Baby" kind of love either.) There's an infectious joy to Donna Summer's music, which we all tried to embody on the dance floor.

In the midst of dealing with very sad news related to the bullying of both adults and teens, it is so important to remember this community of loving friends we have around us, and try to expand it and make it embrace the world.

A poem by the fabulous D. A. Powell. My apologies to him for not being able to accurately capture the  spacing of his glorious long lines.

[now the mirrored rooms seem comic. shattered light: I once entered the world through dryice fog]
"this was the season disco finally died" 
- Kevin Killian, Bedrooms Have Windows
now the mirrored rooms seem comic.     shattered light:     I once entered the world through dryice fog
not quite fabulous.     just young and dumb and full.     come let me show you a sweep of constellations:
16, I was anybody’s.      favorite song: dance into my life [donna summer]     and they did dance
17, first fake i.d.     I liked walk away [donna summer] I ran with the big boys 
18, by now I knew how to move.   on top of the speakers.   give me a break [vivian vee]
19, no one could touch me.   donna summer found god.   I didn't care.   state of independence
20, the year I went through the windshield.    sylvester sang     I want to be with you in heaven

I said "you go" and "scared of you."    I listened to pamala stanley   I don't want to talk about it
from Tea by D. A Powell (Wesleyan University Press, 1998)

02 May 2012

Poem: Gospel by Rita Dove

Who says you can't read/post poetry AFTER Poetry Month? Particularly something as delicious as this one, by former Poet Laureate Rita Dove, from her 1987 Pulitzer Prize winning collection Thomas and Beulah?

Note to poets and other writers: Rumor has it that Thomas and Beulah was rejected by numerous publishers before being picked up by Carnegie Mellon....so keep writing and hang in there!


Swing low so I
can step inside

a humming ship of voices
big with all

the wrongs done
done them.
No sound this generous
could fail:

ride joy until
it cracks like an egg,
make sorrow
seethe and whisper.

From a fortress
of animal misery
soars the chill voice
of the tenor, enraptured

with sacrifice.

What do I see,

he complains, notes
brightly rising

towards a sky
blank with promise.
Yet how healthy
the single contralto

settling deeper
into her watery furs!
Carry me home,
she cajoles, bearing

down. Candelabras
brim.  But he slips
through God’s net and swims
heavenward, warbling.

from Thomas and Beulah (Carnegie Mellon Univ Press, 1986)

And a heads up for those in the New York area (h/t thanks to the Poetry Society of America)

Friday, May 4, 7:30pm

Queens, NY

Rita Dove's Thomas and Beulah

Poets in the Playhouse, brings  poetry from page to stage, beginning with a theatrical staging by students of Thomas and Beulah, the Pulitzer prize-winning collection by Rita Dove at Queens College with a theatrical staging by students. Introduced by Darrel Alejandro Holnes.

Co-sponsored by the MFA Program in Creative Writing and Literary Translation and the Department of Drama, Theatre & Dance.
The Little Theater at Queens College
King Hall, Room 115
65-30 Kissena Blvd
Flushing, New York