The new issue of Mary is finally here! Mary loves you!
To order click here:
The Montauk Club is pleased to announce a very special fundraising reading curated by William Johnson, the editor and publisher of Mary Literary, a literary journal dedicated to publishing gay writing of artist merit. The reading will feature distinguished authors Nick Burd and Sarah Sarai and part of the ticket cost will be donated to the Ali Forney Center (AFC).
AFC was started in June of 2002 in response to the lack of safe shelter for LGBT youth in New York City. We are committed to providing these young people with safe, dignified, nurturing environments where their needs can be met, and where they can begin to put their lives back together.
AFC is dedicated to promoting awareness of the plight of homeless LGBT youth in the United States with the goal of generating responses on local and national levels from government funders, foundations, and the LGBT community
The reading is scheduled for June 22, 2011, at 8 PM in the historic 120 year-old Ballroom at the Montauk Club, 25 Eighth Avenue at Lincoln Place, Park Slope, Brooklyn (2/3 Trains to Grand Army Plaza). The reading will be followed with a cocktail hour and tour of the club’s landmark building: call 718-638-0800 for details. Reservations are strongly suggested: reserve to email@example.com.
Nick Burd attended the University of Iowa and received his MFA from the New School. His debut novel The Vast Fields of Ordinary was published in May 2009 by Dial Books for Young Readers and received starred reviews from Kirkus Reviews, Library School Journal, and BookList. The New York Times Book Review hailed the title as “fascinating and dreamy” and “the best kind of first novel” and also named it a Notable Book of 2009. The Vast Fields of Ordinary has been optioned for film and is currently being translated into German and Italian. Nick’s new book, The Ballad of Andrew Frank, will be released by Dial Books in 2012. You can follow him on Twitter at @nickburd.
Sarah Sarai writes poetry, fiction, nonfiction, non-poetry. Her poetry collection The Future Is Happy was released by BlazeVOX [books] in 2009. Her poems have been published in Threepenny Review, Mississippi Review, Columbia Review, Parthenon West Review, Pank, Eleven Eleven, Potomac, Minnesota Review, Red Peter, Fogged Clarity, Smoking Poet, Willows Wept Review, Ghoti, Terrain, Big City Lit, MiPOesia, Redheaded Stepchild, Other Rooms and many more.
The ticket price is free to Montauk Club members and $10 for all others. Proceeds of the ticket cost will be donated to Ali Forney Center. Visit our website at www.montaukclub.com for details on trains/transportation; RSVP to firstname.lastname@example.org.
We hope you can join us!
Well it looks like everyone’s favorite witty, bon-mot hurling, ironic/iconic pop star has finished his autobiography. Morrissey‘s–three year in the making- memoir is finished. It’s apparently a huge book coming in at some 660 pages.
Just what is going to be in this book? Vegan Recipes?
Tales of hot hookups with groupies.Celibate fireside chats with fans? Mean poems about Margaret Thatcher?
I am a card-caring, angst-ridden Morrissey/Smiths fan from back in the day, so whatever the bio contains, I will be first in line to get a copy of this book.
“I’m really not that interesting, so I don’t know why I’ve written so much,” Morrissey stated in an interview with BBC Radio 4′s Front Row. “I have been through the whole life. I just wonder if 660 pages are too much for people to bear. And then I sit down and think, well, are six pages too much for people to bear? I really don’t know….”
No Morrissey, 660 pages is not too much– not for you. You are that interesting. The memoir is the perfect forum to turn sad self-pity into high art, and you sir are the undisputed master of turning melancholy coal into little polished diamonds. It is why we all love you!
(Via The Guardian)
Great news all you gay anglophiles! Picador will be publishing, Booker award winning author, Alan Hollinghurst’s new novel The Stranger’s Child in July. All of us here at Mary love Hollinghurst’s writing, so we are eagerly awaiting the summer to get our–surely by then– sun pocked hands on this book.
In the late summer of 1913 the aristocratic young poet Cecil Valance comes to stay at ‘Two Acres’, the home of his close Cambridge friend George Sawle. The weekend will be one of excitements and confusions for all the Sawles, but it is on George’s sixteen-year-old sister Daphne that it will have the most lasting impact, when Cecil writes her a poem which will become a touchstone for a generation, an evocation of an England about to change for ever. Linking the Sawle and Valance families irrevocably, the shared intimacies of this weekend become legendary events in a larger story, told and interpreted in different ways over the coming century, and subjected to the scrutiny of critics and biographers with their own agendas and anxieties. In a sequence of widely separated episodes we follow the two families through startling changes in fortune and circumstance. At the centre of this often richly comic history of sexual mores and literary reputation runs the story of Daphne, from innocent girlhood to wary old age. Around her Hollinghurst draws an absorbing picture of an England constantly in flux. As in “The Line of Beauty”, his impeccably nuanced exploration of changing taste, class and social etiquette is conveyed in deliciously witty and observant prose. Exposing our secret longings to the shocks and surprises of time, “The Stranger’s Child” is an enthralling novel from one of the finest writers in the English language.
To pre-order the book click here.
Spring reading list!
Click picture to enlarge.
(photo by Louisa McCullough)
Interview by William Johnson
New York City based poet, author, and performance artist, Yolo Akili’s YouTube clip “Are We The Kind of Boys We Want?” has been stirring up quite a bit of a buzz. In over a week the clip has amassed over 2,000 views. The short clip is part choreopoem/part unscripted man on the street reportage. The video echoes Marlon Riggs’s film Tongues Untied–but with a refreshingly irreverent modern sensibility. The clip is composed of a group of men reciting Akili’s poem “Are We The Kind of Boys We Want?”– intercut with testimonials of young queer men of color casually discussing their own desires and proclivities.
Mary contacted Yolo by Google Chat to talk specifically about the poem–part of a larger performance piece titled Purple Galaxy that will be premiering in Atlanta in the fall, the process of composing the “Boys We Want” video, and what he personally learned by pulling the video project together.
Mary: What would you say is the overarching vision of the project?
Yolo: For Purple Galaxy– the show? Or for “Are We The Kind of Boys We Want?”
Mary: Let’s start with Purple Galaxy.
Yolo: You know it’s funny. When the show was in the initial planning stages, the vision was to simply create new monologues and poems interwoven with the video pieces. As the show has evolved though it’s become so clear to me that the universe is sending me [into] a different direction. A direction that is much more vulnerable and revealing. Purple Galaxy: A Poetic Experience will be more about my process and the stories around creating the poems. The experiences, traumas, challenges etc. It will include edited forms of “Are We The Kind Of Boys We Want?” and also several new pieces.
Mary: Would you say the poems being used in Purple Galaxy are personal and confessional?
Yolo: Well, all art is self-portrait on some level, but in this case not necessarily. I feel like there was a way I “hid” the real stories behind the poems by enveloping them in broader social messages/dynamics. In [Purple Galaxy] I share what made me write those poems explicitly–including the faulty choices I made, the “isms” I perpetuated, and more. You get more of the real story, and the real me in the show then the poems and videos reveal. It’s kind of scary for me too, because I’ve never really been this open before, but it’s exciting as well.
Mary: What has been some of the hardest things to reveal?
Yolo: What hasn’t? LOL. And the fact is, the show isn’t out there yet, so I haven’t shared much of it with anyone except the production team, but the hardest parts are talking about being sexually assaulted, growing up in an abusive household, and then going forth in my own relationships being aggressive and abusive. I think it was hard initially because many people in the community think of me as being some sort of “golden child” who never really went through much of anything or who miraculously managed to come into some sort of high “consciousness” from the moment of conception, and that’s just not true. These stories really show all of me. How I got to where I am now and the pain I created on my own journey for others and myself. It’s almost like this show is “shattering the myth of “Yolo” LOL.
Mary: Recently there has been a little bit of a backlash against memoir-based work. Oh it’s navel-gazing; it’s a product of a narcissistic culture. In your mind are there attributes that elevate memoir-based work from being simply acts of narcissism in to works of art?
Yolo: I think whenever someone is telling their story there is potential for healing and transformation for others through their sharing. I can’t say that there are specific characteristics that I think differentiate narcissist work from works of art. I mean, to me those categories are very fluid. Even the social understanding of that term “narcissist” gets thrown around so much that it seems to have lost its meaning. Some things that get elevated as “works of art” are the products of those who have been diagnosed or named “narcissist.” A more useful question to me is: Does it help others? Does it empower? Does it display a wholeness of the individual recanting their life situation, offering us a reflection of ourselves through the telling? I also have to say too, as someone who has been in the counseling profession for years I have big prejudices toward diagnosing individuals with the DSM based titles and even using those labels. I think that the literary world often uses them in a prejudicial manner which really discounts the fact that there are people struggling with cognitive differences
Mary: I hear that “narcissism” has actually been officially removed from the DSM. Now the term is used in a much more general way to denote self-absorption.
Yolo: Yes it has! But I think the prejudice of labeling someone with a mental “challenge” persists even still. The legacy of that term is still a big part of how it’s used.
Mary: I guess what I’m really getting at is: What do you think makes a story “good?” What aesthetic or content choices do you either respond to or employ to make your work a fully realized piece?
Yolo: I have to be honest; I respond to the heart of a work. How it feels. What it radiates. I’m not a writer in the technical sense, and I’m not a literary critic. I haven’t been trained in that tradition. I come from southern poets where there is an oral tradition of storytelling–and a [focus] on the soul of a work. [That] is the only device I knew how and know how to employ. I go with a feeling. That normally gets me in trouble with people who are “serious” writers, because I don’t know that language, and I’ve never really cared to learn. I know something when I like how it feels, and that’s where I live from. My goal with my work is to heal, to nourish and to transform; and I do that by exploring the psychological depths of different issues and phenomena, and offering different visions for what could be as opposed to what is. I try to invoke possibilities.
Mary: So on the transforming tip, there is a lot of buzz concerning your latest video…
Yolo: Yeah it’s been great. It’s definitely sparked a lot of conversation.
Mary: Can you tell me a little bit about how the video piece came about?
Yolo: The video? Or the poem itself?
Mary: The video.
Yolo: Sure. So I knew for this video, I wanted the voices of queer Black boys–especially young black queer boys considering that was where I was when I wrote it. I went out to Piedmont Park one day, literally with just my camera and releases, and just asked people if they were willing to do an interview and a lot did. It was a really fun process. For the second half I reached out to ATL gay male activists and asked them to recite the poem for me. The edited parts of that poem were meshed in with the interviews and that gave birth to the video.
Mary: When speaking to men in Piedmont Park did you go in with any preconceived notions on what the answers would be?
Yolo: I expected the answers to be diverse. I’ve worked with young Black queer men for years in HIV & AIDS work, and I knew the brilliance and nuance that existed within us. It was just a matter of capturing it or at least trying too!
Mary: What did you learn from the experience?
Yolo: I learned how much I love Black queer men. I learned how much I love interviewing us and hearing our stories. There’s so much footage I kept out of the video that maybe I’ll put it together in another project. So, I learned a lot. I also remembered that at one point I’ve shared each and every perspective of the men interviewed. It was a beautiful and fun experience
Mary: What is the story behind the poem itself?
Yolo: In short; me wondering why I was repulsed by others who were like me. Me looking around, and [looking at] my friends, and seeing how we were with boys who expressed like us, and thinking: Where does this come from? I can’t tell you how many men, at that point in my life; I turned away because their expression was not “masculine” enough. I see those men now, and I see love I lost. I [lost] a chance to share because no-one had ever pushed me to see beyond my prejudice and pre-conditioning. Like most of us, I had been force fed an image of what was desirable; and instead of digging deeper, I just kept digging into that plate; unappetizing as the main course was. LOL.
Mary: In tackling the “masculine men only” meme did you ever run across brothers who only wanted to date/have sex with feminine-identified men
Yolo: No, sadly, I didn’t.
Mary: Do you feel your dating habits have changed since you started this poem/video project?
Yolo: My desire has definitely evolved since I first wrote this poem. I’ve worked to be attractive to me and to examine my own desires of people romantically. It’s an ongoing process of course, and there’s no where to “arrive to.” But a lot to learn.
Mary: In a broader sense do you feel that self love and personal desire can be separated?
Yolo: Can you explain more what you mean?
Mary: Maybe desiring difference is not always problematic–in terms of a person’s own self-regard.
Yolo: Interesting. Well, first of all let me say, I believe everything is “problematic” because the nature of life itself is nuanced, and complicated, and not all what we might call “good;” but as far as desiring difference, I’ve seen that come up quite a bit in the conversations about the video. People seem to think that [in suggesting that you desire images of yourself or find yourself attractive] that means that’s ALL you should find attractive and that’s simply not the case. I think it’s wonderful to desire different expressions, images, and reflections of humans. The question being posed is not that you should not embrace your desire of difference, but that you should question your disdain for those who express [themselves] similarly and the [elevation] of specific expressions. The question “would you date yourself?” was just a fun and simple way to get people to think of these themes.
Mary: So what’s next for you?
Yolo: Well the project is currently going to be split in two directions. There will be more video poems released in the upcoming months for “They Will Hunt Us” and “Fagets R Not Responsible” and then of course the one man show Purple Galaxy: A Poetic Experience, will premiere this fall in Atlanta. From there I have more goodies planned. In the next few months Purple Galaxy, and myself, will be rolling out a lot of surprises.
Mary: Great. Well thanks for taking the time out to share your thoughts and good luck with your upcoming work.
Yolo Akili is currently raising funds for his one man audio visual show, Purple Galaxy: A Poetic Experience. To donate click here.
A Speech given by Huey Newton, founder of the Black Panthers, August 15, 1970:
During the past few years strong movements have developed among women and among homosexuals seeking their liberation. There has been some uncertainty about how to relate to these movements.
Whatever your personal opinions and your insecurities about homosexuality and the various liberation movements among homosexuals and women (and I speak of the homosexuals and women as oppressed groups), we should try to unite with them in a revolutionary fashion. I say ” whatever your insecurities are” because as we very well know, sometimes our first instinct is to want to hit a homosexual in the mouth, and want a woman to be quiet. We want to hit a homosexual in the mouth because we are afraid that we might be homosexual; and we want to hit the women or shut her up because we are afraid that she might castrate us, or take the nuts that we might not have to start with.
We must gain security in ourselves and therefore have respect and feelings for all oppressed people. We must not use the racist attitude that the White racists use against our people because they are Black and poor. Many times the poorest White person is the most racist because he is afraid that he might lose something, or discover something that he does not have. So you’re some kind of a threat to him. This kind of psychology is in operation when we view oppressed people and we are angry with them because of their particular kind of behavior, or their particular kind of deviation from the established norm.
Remember, we have not established a revolutionary value system; we are only in the process of establishing it. I do not remember our ever constituting any value that said that a revolutionary must say offensive things towards homosexuals, or that a revolutionary should make sure that women do not speak out about their own particular kind of oppression. As a matter of fact, it is just the opposite: we say that we recognize the women’s right to be free. We have not said much about the homosexual at all, but we must relate to the homosexual movement because it is a real thing. And I know through reading, and through my life experience and observations that homosexuals are not given freedom and liberty by anyone in the society.
They might be the most oppressed people in the society.
And what made them homosexual? Perhaps it’s a phenomenon that I don’t understand entirely. Some people say that it is the decadence of capitalism. I don’t know if that is the case; I rather doubt it. But whatever the case is, we know that homosexuality is a fact that exists, and we must understand it in its purest form: that is, a person should have the freedom to use his body in whatever way he wants.
That is not endorsing things in homosexuality that we wouldn’t view as revolutionary. But there is nothing to say that a homosexual cannot also be a revolutionary. And maybe I’m now injecting some of my prejudice by saying that “even a homosexual can be a revolutionary.” Quite the contrary, maybe a homosexual could be the most revolutionary.
When we have revolutionary conferences, rallies, and demonstrations, there should be full participation of the gay liberation movement and the women’s liberation movement. Some groups might be more revolutionary than others. We should not use the actions of a few to say that they are all reactionary or counterrevolutionary, because they are not.
We should deal with the factions just as we deal with any other group or party that claims to be revolutionary. We should try to judge, somehow, whether they are operating in a sincere revolutionary fashion and from a really oppressed situation. (And we will grant that if they are women they are probably oppressed.) If they do things that are unrevolutionary or counterrevolutionary, then criticize that action. If we feel that the group in spirit means to be revolutionary in practice, but they make mistakes in interpretation of the revolutionary philosophy, or they do not understand the dialectics of the social forces in operation, we should criticize that and not criticize them because they are women trying to be free. And the same is true for homosexuals. We should never say a whole movement is dishonest when in fact they are trying to be honest. They are just making honest mistakes. Friends are allowed to make mistakes. The enemy is not allowed to make mistakes because his whole existence is a mistake, and we suffer from it. But the women’s liberation front and gay liberation front are our friends, they are our potential allies, and we need as many allies as possible.
We should be willing to discuss the insecurities that many people have about homosexuality. When I say “insecurities,” I mean the fear that they are some kind of threat to our manhood. I can understand this fear. Because of the long conditioning process which builds insecurity in the American male, homosexuality might produce certain hang-ups in us. I have hang-ups myself about male homosexuality. But on the other hand, I have no hang-up about female homosexuality. And that is a phenomenon in itself. I think it is probably because male homosexuality is a threat to me and female homosexuality is not.
We should be careful about using those terms that might turn our friends off. The terms “faggot” and “punk” should be deleted from our vocabulary, and especially we should not attach names normally designed for homosexuals to men who are enemies of the people, such as Nixon or Mitchell. Homosexuals are not enemies of the people.
We should try to form a working coalition with the gay liberation and women’s liberation groups. We must always handle social forces in the most appropriate manner.
Editor’s Note: Huey! Progressive, righteous and fine as hell–and a Bob Dylan fan– who knew?(via History is a Weapon)
(No… Rainbow Brite won’t be there, but we can dream can’t we?!)
The Center for Lesbian and Gay Studies (CLAGS) is once again sponsoring the Rainbow Book Fair, the only LGBT Book Expo in the United States. Come and browse the tables of dozens of publishers and authors, and see what’s new in queer publishing.
The Book Fair also features an all-day Poetry Salon curated by Nathaniel Siegel, a reading series organized by Rachel Kramer Bussel, and panels on a variety of topics.When: Saturday, March 26, 11:00am – 5:00pmNew York, NY
For more information, go to www.rainbowbookfair.org.
(via @ youtube)
By William Johnson
“When I saw the first of these, I was like “oh, cool little video.” Then when I realized there were six videos all about that wig, I realized this is art.” –Colin Fitzpatrick.
Like Colin, I initially thought these videos by were the web diaries of an Atlanta-based kiki queen with a wig fetish. But after watching all these videos together, I realized Miss was on some brilliant performance art ‘ish.
Simply put: After watching all these videos, I no longer see a cheap wig….I now see magically layed hair.
“this hair is giving Pearl Cleage fish”)
“You’ll never live to be as old as you look, my love.”