Category Archives: Literature

The Restless Yearning Towards My Self

SUNDAY MARCH 16, 2008 @ 3PM
Announcing the World Premiere of

The restless yearning

towards my Self

A Musical Collaboration
and a Transformative Work in Healing the Heart

“I see it as I am rowing on the dark waters

towards a rock, large and bright—like a moon,

rigged, distant, rising at the end.
It is that marker, moorage, beckoning;
I dreamed of it in the cold, my body rolled,

amphibian-soft, primitive as defense….”

from The Restless Yearning Towards My Self, Perry Brass.

Most people take many detours in the course of their lives, as they follow their goals and ambitions, often finding themselves detracted by a confusion of byways and misleading directions.

But at the center of their actions (and themselves), lies a psychic/emotional core, that they often lose sight of but the loss of which leaves them with an almost indelible sense of its absence. So, instead of re-discovering this core, they erect “impostors,” stand-ins for their real selves: bright, glowing public figures, of significance, certainly, to them and much of the outside world—while the real “Self,” that almost physical realization of the inner soul, still waits, until some moment of starkest Self recognition, which brings with it an almost uncontainable feeling of contentment and a much longed for, blessed unity.
“The restless yearning towards my Self” is about realizing this search, and finally achieving its goal, when the Self after years of denial recognizes and claims you; when the deepest part of you speaks to you, and offers you that genuine feeling of achievement and unity most of us seek. It is this great recognition that in many ways powers the most lasting of the Arts, and we have brought to life once more this recognition of the Self by merging the text of a starkly moving poem by poet/novelist Perry Brass (“The restless yearning towards my Self”) to music by opera composer Paula M. Kimper, scored for counter-tenor and string quartet.

This premiere will be part of


mimi stern-wolfe, artistic director
St Marks in the Bowery  10th street and 2nd avenue
Restless Yearning will feature counter tenor Marshall Coid, and a string quartet. This piece lasts approximately 26 minutes.
Also on this program will be MADELEINE DRING (Trio for oboe, flute & piano); MARY CAROL WARWICK (premiere) (Viola Sonata); (Song: (Imagination) (Ilsa Gilbert ) Dan Strba (vla);  & Mimi Stern-Wolfe, piano.
MEIRA WARSHAUER (Aecha)  with Downtown Chamber Trio  A. Bolotowsky, fl;; Jeffrey  Hale, oboe; LAURA WOLFE, vocals and guitar with DAVE EGGAR:, cello; (Original songs); MIRA SPEKTOR, (Turn Around) ;Songs:  Maeve Hoglund, soprano.
Suggested donation: $10, 15;  information:;;; 212 477 1594

Ancestors – One and the Supremes

January 15th is a red letter date in GLBT history, and particularly in the history of Gay publishing (blogger Jim Burroway has a very nice remembrance of this at Box Turtle) and in light of the recent passing of Mattachine assimilationist, Kennith H. Burns in Los Angeles it seems even more trenchant.

Fifty years ago, a Supreme Court unsullied by religion and right-wing fundamentalism ruled in One Inc. v Oleson that a magazine for Gays and Lesbians could be sent through the mail and not be seized as pornography, per se. To be entirely accurate, One Inc. v. Oleson was on the docket for the Court when they decided Roth v. United States, which vaguely held that "pornography" could have "no sociably redeeming value" and the court went on to issue a one sentence per curiam i.e. "by the court" with no assigned findings included, — much as Gore v. Bush was decided, incidentally — that the lower court ruling against One Inc. was inconsistent with Roth so it could, indeed, be published and mailed.

Under the  editorial leadership of Martin Block, Dale Jennings, Don Slater and Donald Webster Cory, ONE magazine was a first class product, a dramatic departure from the underground, mimeographed and stapled sheets which were more common at the time. In the throes of McCarthyism, the sophisticated and slickly produced one reached the astounding readership of 2,000 (more, sad to say, than this magazine reaches, now, 50 years later).

One_magazine_cover_aprilmay_1956 ONE’s  tone was bold and unapologetic, covering politics, civil rights, legal issues, police harassment (which was particularly harsh in One’s hometown of Los Angeles), employment and familial problems, and other social, philosophical, historical and psychological topics. Most importantly, ONE quickly became a voice for thousands of silent gays and lesbians across the U.S., many of whom wrote letters of deep gratitude to ONE’s editors.

Other founders were Merton Bird, W. Dorr Legg, and Chuck Rowland. Jennings and Rowland were also Mattachine Society founders.

In January 1953 ONE, Inc. began publishing ONE Magazine, the first U.S. pro-gay publication, and sold it openly on the streets of Los Angeles. In October 1954 the U.S. Postal Service declared the magazine ‘obscene’. ONE sued, and finally won in 1958, as part of the landmark First Amendment case, Roth v. United States. The magazine continued until 1967.

ONE also published ONE Institute Quarterly (now the Journal of Homosexuality). It began to run symposia, and contributed greatly to scholarship on the subject of same-sex love (then called "homophile studies").

ONE readily included women, and Joan Corbin (as Eve Elloree), Irma Wolf (as Ann Carrl Reid), Stella Rush (as Sten Russell), Helen Sandoz (as Helen Sanders), and Betty Perdue (as Geraldine Jackson) were vital to its early success. ONE and Mattachine in turn provided vital help to the Daughters of Bilitis in the launching of their newsletter The Ladder: a lesbian review in  1956. The Daughters of Bilitis was the counterpart lesbian organisation to the Mattachine Society, and the organisations worked together on some campaigns and ran lecture-series. Bilitis came under vicious attack in the early 1970s for ‘siding’ with Mattachine and ONE, rather than with the new separatist feminists.

In 1965, ONE separated over irreconcilable differences between ONE’s business manager Dorr Legg and ONE Magazine editor Don Slater. After a two-year court battle, Dorr Legg’s faction retained the name "ONE, Inc." and Don Slater’s faction retained most of the corporate library and archives. In 1968, Slater’s faction became the Homosexual Information Center, a non-profit corporation that survives today.

In 1996, ONE, Inc. merged with ISHR, the Institute for the Study of Human Resources, a non-profit organization created by transgendered philanthropist Reed Erickson, with ISHR being the surviving organization and ONE being the merging corporation. The organization also merged with Jim Kepner’s International Gay and Lesbian Archives. The current organization entitled the ONE National Gay and Lesbian Archives is the world’s largest gay and lesbian archives. It is located in Los Angeles near the campus of the Uuniversity of Southern California. It holds the archives of ONE Magazine, ONE INC., and many leaders of the early gay movement including Dorr Legg, Pat Rocco, Morris Kight, and the LA Gay Center, as well as numerous audio and video tapes of ONE INC and other early gay panels and programs.

White Crane stands in awe and respect of those who went before us.

Edward II

I had the immense pleasure of seeing an amazing play recently. What makes the pleasure all the more thrilling is that the play was written more than 400 years ago, by an ancestor who was nothing less than Shakespeare’s chief competition! As we plan the spring issue of White Crane on Ancestors, it was deeply satisfying to see this production made possible by no less than three major Gay allies or ancestors, Christopher Marlowe, Garland Wright and Edward II himself (kudos to the still with us — and with it! — Red Bull Artistic Director, Jesse Berger, too, of course!)

Starting with the historical Edward: he was the first "Prince of Wales." He is the king who established colleges in the universities of Oxford and Cambridge; he founded Cambridge’s King’s Hall in 1317 and gave Oxford’s Oriel College its royal charter in 1326. And yes, he did have a tendency to sort of ignore his "nobility" (pre-shadowing Whitman’s "working class camerado’s" by a couple of centuries) and run around with sexy, young minions. Marlowe took a collection of "favorites" and created the archetypal character of Piers Gaveston to represent Edward’s "proclivities." Companions had been brought over from France to teach the young prince how to be a gentleman. If they only knew. Ahhh…if we only knew.

Edward_iiThe late Garland Wright was the visionary director and a leading figure in both the New York theater scene and the regional theater movement in America, most famously as the Artistic Director of The Guthrie Theater. He died at the tragically young age of 52 while in the middle of preparing this production of Christopher Marlowe’s legendary Edward II. His commitment to Gay causes, particularly his opposition to Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell brought him to an interest in Marlowe’s Edward.

There is no way I can improve on the review of the play in the NY Times and other places. Does it ring any bells to say this is the story of a leader whose lover distracts him from his duties, tells the story of sexual obsession, religious power and the intersection of the political and personal lives of a flawed leader. Throw in some church/state tensions and you might well be talking yesterday, not 400+ years ago. Add Queer As Folk’s blond boy Randy ("Justin") Harrison in a featured (and, I might add, impressive…newly hirsute-for-this-play Mr. Harrison is virtually unrecognizeable, "boy " no more…this man can act!) role, and you have a damned sexy and theatrically fascinating evening.

It is tempting (and wrong) to believe  that the modern GLBT civil rights movement is the first time a movement has attempted to upset the social order (and despite what the assimilationists would have you believe, this is what it’s about, dear ones) and create an alternative to traditional gender roles, definitions of sexuality and hierarchal power structures. It is bracing to realize that Marlowe was doing this 400 years ago, before there was any other word for who we are than "sodomy." There was no "Gay," no "homosexual," no "same-sex love." It was sodomy, plain and simple, and a clear demonstration of the implicit role church has played in statecraft since its earliest days.

Further, this is the story that first turned this writer off Mr. Mel Gibson, waaaay before his drunken, entitled, anti-Semitic outbursts. His gratuitous and flat out historically wrong-headed re-telling of the murder of Edward’s beloved, Piers Gaveston, in Braveheart, where Gibson has Edward’s father (who was dead before any of the gist of the story we know happened) throw Gaveston out of a tower to his death made Gibson persona non grata in my eyes. Hollywood’s traditional "kill the queer" has never been more distasteful to me than it was in that horrible movie.

But, back to happier stories…the king and his beloved frolic on a wildly sexy set, in costumes (and the tasteful lack thereof) that reinvents the whole "suit and tie" Shakespeare fad. This play is gripping, intellectually and visually, from the dimming of the lights to the last ovation.

In a word: Run, don’t walk, to see this play at the Red Bull Theater on 42nd Street. Its run has been extended through the end of January. This is a must-see.

Beebo Brinker Chronicles — Live On Stage!

Beebo_brinker I don’t think there are books in the Gay men’s community that compare to Ann Bannon’s 50s and 60s Lesbian bodice rippers…Odd Girl Out…I Am A WomanWomen in the Shadows…and Journey to A Woman…but while the stories are women’s stories, there is a universal truth in them, about the coming out process in another time, when shame and shadows and anguish — what the Radical Religious Right would call "The Good Old Days — were the words that ruled Gay and Lesbian lives.

Bannon’s Odd Girl Out was the second biggest selling paperback of 1957…something she didn’t learn until 30 years later! The books were popular when they were first released, and have proved a remarkable longevity especially for pulp fiction, being reprinted in three different issues, and several languages. That iconic longevity, the characters and the books themselves earned her the title of "Queen of Lesbian Pulp Fiction." When depictions of Lesbians in written literature were quite rare, and what there was was dismal and unhappy, her books set her apart from other authors who wrote about Lesbianism. She has been described as "the premier fictional representation of US lesbian life in the fifties and sixties," and that her books, "rest on the bookshelf of nearly every even faintly literate Lesbian."

Last night we went to see the Hourglass Group’s production of Kate Moira Ryan and Linda Chapman’s  The Beebo Brinker Chronicles, an adaptation of three of Bannon’s books. Ms. Bannon was in attendance, looking stunning, and receiving the adulation of her fans. All of us. It was marvelous. Can’t recommend this play highly enough. If your first thought is "I’m not a Lesbian, what would this have to say to me?" you couldn’t be more mistaken. The writers could have easily played this for camp, but they didn’t. It is poignant, witty, thoroughly entertaining, smart, funny theater. There’s a fine cook’s hand at play, with just a soupçon of camp…enough to make you laugh out loud, partly from the humor, partly from the buzz of recognition. The writers (and Bannon) are word perfect in capturing the early Lesbian and Gay "zeitgeist," all the lies we all bought into before we knew we were more than the only queer on the planet.

If Logo was programming like this, instead of the dreck like "Rick and Steve" I’d probably be watching Logo a helluva lot more. This material could…should…easily be translated into one hot television series…Desperate Lesbians!

If you are, as they say, "of a certain age," Lesbian or Gay, you will see yourself up on the stage ( there is a bravura performance by Obie winner, David Greenspan, the likes of which we haven’t see since Take Me Out…as well as the marvelous performance…and buff body…of Bill Dawes, the cuckolded husband Laura leaves.)

If you’re lucky enough to have been born "post Stonewall" you need to know these stories. This is your heritage. This is where Stonewall came from.

There is something incredibly important about the "particularity of voice"…which is why we continue to insist that White Crane remains for and by Gay men. Welcoming, as they say, but we only purport to speak for ourselves as Gay men. Last night was an opportunity to hear the Lesbian voice…and it was proud and clear and true. For all of us. Brava to everyone who had anything to do with this play. By the way….Beebo playwright, Linda Chapman and her partner, Obie-award winning actor, Lola Pashalinski, have a featured article inthe fall White Crane, Lovers.

A limited run…through October 20. Tickets available here.

Congratulations to Toby Johnson and Steve Berman


We get letters because we have….Charmed Lives.

Greetings on behalf of the American Library Association’s
Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender Roundtable’s Stonewall Book Awards. As a member of the Stonewall Book Award Committee Jury, I am seeking review copies of books being considered for the 2008 award.

We are very pleased to inform you that CHARMED LIVES: GAY SPIRIT IN STORYTELLING, edited by Toby Johnson and Steve Berman, has been recommended for nomination for the 2008 Stonewall Book Award.

Formerly called the GLBTRT Book Award, the Stonewall Award is the oldest book award given for outstanding achievement in Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender Literature nationally. It is an official award of the American Library Association and is given each year at the Association’s annual conference. Additional information about the award can be found on our website.

Each year two awards are given in Literature and Nonfiction for outstanding works about GLBT issues or by GLBT authors. Each award comes with a $1,000.00 honorarium. Winners will be notified in January, 2008. The committee would greatly appreciate if the entire committee of 10 jurors could receive review copies within 10 working days. Juror contact information is below. Thank you for your assistance in this matter. If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact me.

Sincerely, Beth L. Stonewall2sm_2

White Crane Books is proud to have Charmed Lives: Gay Spirit in Storytelling in the White Crane Wisdom Series, and warmly congratulates Toby Johnson and Steve Berman — and all the participating authors — for the continued success and recognition for this fine book.

Andrew Harvey at the NYC LGBT Center

Out at the Center’s Chris Dawes was involved with both shooting and editing this segment and had this to say about his experience: "I initially chose to produce the Sacred Activism segment because of the spiritual element inferred by the intriguing title. I am very interested in religion and spirituality, so I tend to gravitate towards such stories. After hearing Andrew Harvey speak however, it was his empowering message to the LGBT community that struck me the most; we are unique and gifted and special and we have the power to change the world for the better and better ourselves in the process if we so choose. During my coming out process, I read somewhere that you eventually come to feel glad that you were born Gay instead of straight, because you are different and special. I could never fathom myself feeling that way, but after hearing Andrew Harvey speak, I can now see it. It was difficult to edit his powerful message and his wonderful wit and sense of humor down to just five minutes. White Crane thanks Richard Davis for providing this clip. We will also shortly be posting an interview done by Out At the Center with Mark Thompson on the occasion of the opening of the White Crane sponsored Fellow Travelers exhibit.

My Forebears, Whitman, Brown & Cox

As a poet and writer living and working in DC I like to pay attention to writers like me who may have experienced many of the same things I have.  What I mean is I’m conscious that my work (hopefully) has something to say about the place I live in that is in conversation with others who’ve written here as well.  That’s not to say that all my poetry is place-specific, but a lot of it is.  I become more and more conscious of the poets who have called Washington home.

Bk_leaves Yesterday I picked up my partner from work and we went to have drinks at a little bar in Logan Square (we were enticed by some very crazy martinis they’re famous for at this place).  While we sat there on comfy couches by the front of the bar I pulled out my trusty copy of Walt Whitman and started reading into Pete’s ears.  Just loud enough for him to read…

I am indifferent to my own songs—I am to
          go with him I love, and he is to go
          with me,
It is to be enough for each of us that we are
          together—We never separate again.

And we had our delicious fruity drinks and enjoyed being connected to a poet we both love and admire.

I dance with the dancers and drink with the drinkers.

We would’ve danced if the drinks hadn’t been so powerful.  Now, I’m sure there were a lot of folks wondering what we were doing there in this bar reading from a book.  But Whitman deserves to be read aloud in all places and especially in the Washington he loved so much (the city he probably would’ve been buried in had he not suffered a stroke and had to move closer to family in Camden).  So, I take Whitman with me in a lot of places and I become more familiar with the Whitman-specific things in DC (thanks to Kim Roberts, Martin Murry and many writers).

I also think of Sterling Brown because he lived in Brookland and I live in Brookland.  I sometimes wonder how he experienced these same sidewalks and blocks in our corner of DC.  I think that it’s good to remember you weren’t the first to experience life where you live.  Whenever I think it might be odd to be writing about my life or the place I live I recall those who came before me.  Those who wrote and to whom I’m endebted for populating my historical mind with precedents of verse and imagery.

EdcoxWhich brings me to Ed Cox.  Yesterday I was given a delightful gift by Kim Roberts of an old cover of the Washington Review featuring a great photograph of Cox (by Jesse Winch) on the cover.  Cox was part of the Mass Transit poetry scene of the 1970s. 

I never knew Ed Cox and didn’t move to DC until 10 years after his death.  I first heard about Cox when I picked up a copy of his Collected Poems put out by Paycock Press.  I was stunned by his poems.

Bk_cox_collectedworksAlong with Beth Joselow, Michael Lally, & Terence Winch, Cox was a key figure in that circle that created Some Of Us Press.  As a partner in bringing a small poetry press to life there’s some connection there too.  A group of poets wanting to bring the work of their fellows to life.  His connection to a circle of friends, literary and artistic reminds me of the work I do with Bo on White Crane.

So, discovering a poet like Ed Cox, who made a life here and was so involved and committed to the city and its people and to living an out life as a Gay man in the 1970s is helpful to me.  A poet who was kind and thoughtful and a good listener.  These are all good things to aspire to.

If you don’t know who Ed Cox is or aren’t familiar with his work, we are again endebted to the amazing work of Kim Roberts, whose Beltway Poetry site serves as repository of the brain of DC Poetic history.  There are a lot of amazing pieces there including a remembrance by Richard McCann, and an old interview of Ed Cox by E. Ethelbert Miller which was originally in the old Washington Review (where the above Cox photo by Jesse Winch comes from).  In his gorgeous piece, McCann remembers his old friend as having "a gift for listening deeply, with a patient and even profound attentiveness."  This gift, McCann observes, can be found throughout Cox’s poetry.

I am you,
as you are me in the misery of these avenues
and streets.  Cuddle the bricks, whisper
beneath the great map of stars.

It seems fitting to remember the work of Ed Cox on this Gay Pride Month.

Great Night at the Lammies

Lammylogo Thursday night, May 31st, a nice contingent of White Crane folks descended on the Lambda Literary Awards held at the Fashion Institute in New York City.  These events are always a lot of fun as they afford an opportunity to see a lot of writers and artists whose work has meant so much.  Dan drove up from with partner Pete and went with Bo and his partner Bill Foote.

CharmedlivesWhen we got to F.I.T. we were delighted to meet up with Toby Johnson and Kip Dollar, in from San Antonio. Toby was a finalist in the Anthology category for the White Crane Books project he and Steve Berman edited, Charmed Lives. Berman appeared a few minutes later and we had a great time talking with each other, catching up (such is the nature of internet publishing 68jeff_mannand editing, that one relishes the opportunity to just look at each other in the face and be in one’s presence!) The winner, alas, was not our book, but Love, Bourbon Street, edited by Greg Herren and his partner, Paul J. Willis. Next year…All: A James Broughton Reader!

Other friends at the reception included Jeff Mann, author of the amazing collection of poetry, On The Tongue (reviewed in the Summer ’07 of White Crane) and the scorching A History of Barbed Wire, winner in the category of Gay Erotica. 

We had a great interview with Jeff last year when his last book Loving Mountains, Loving Men came out. You can read an excerpt of that interview online.

Perry Brass, author of Angel Lust, and Substance of God and regular contributor to White Crane was there as well and it’s always good to see Perry.

Tom Spanbauer, who was nominated for his latest novel Now Is The Hour was there from Portland with mural painter, theatre technician/designer, tattoo artist, and permaculture specialist, Sage Ricci.  It was wonderful to meet them in person after the interview (online excerpt) Bo had with Tom in White Crane a few years ago.

Timmons_gayla Frequent contributor and friend Stuart Timmons was a double winner last night with the Lambda Literary Awards for GLBT Non Fiction and GLBT Arts going to the book he co-wrote with Lillian Faderman Gay L.A.  Since Stuart wasn’t able to attend the ceremonies Bo and I had the good fortune of stepping out of the hall and calling him to give him the good news after each win. The book is really a wonder and it’s a well-deserved double win.

It was also great to see Gregg Shapiro, a wonderful writer and poet we’ve featured in White Crane at the ceremony. Gregg has a book of poetry coming out next year and we had a chance to catch up with him as he’s on a whirlwind tour of the East Coast doing some music reporting and generally being a charm in every circle he enters.

It was great to see many legends at the event too, like Martin Duberman, author of the brilliant biography of Lincoln Kirstein, The Worlds of Lincoln Kirstein, was honored with the Pioneer Award at the gala event, and the brilliant Alison Bechdel, of Dykes To Watch Out For and author of Lesbian Memoir/Biography Lammy winner, Fun Home, to name just a few. Bechdel got to present a Lincoln_kirstein Pioneer Award to Marijane Meaker, author lesbian pulp novels in the fifties, to groundbreaking young adult books like Dinky Hocker Shoots Smack! to her amazing memoir Highsmith, A Romance of the 1950’s, which is about her relationship with Patricia Highsmith. She just turned 80.

Afterdeath_2 The winner in the Spirituality category was Michael McColly’s The After Death Room (Soft Skull Press) which is reviewed in the Summer 2007 issue of White Crane. We will have an interview with the author in an upcoming issue.

The After-Death Room is McColly’s chronicle of the events that took him from the day in a Chicago clinic when he heard the news that so affected his life, to the many steps he took to reconcile himself to the diagnosis, to becoming a world traveled AIDS activist and journalist.

Jim Elledge’s A History of My Tattoo won in the Gay Poetry category.

The 2007 Triangle Awards


I count myself among the "word-loving, book-besotted" and last night I found my people.

I sat with author and White Crane Institute Advisor, Perry Brass and the Gay Glitterati, last night, at a lovely evening honoring LGBT writers, the annual Publishing Triangle’s Awards presented in the Tishman Auditorium at The New School.

Yoshino Eight Publishing Triangle Awards were presented to various men and women, including The Randy Shilts Award for Gay Nonfiction, which was awarded to Kenji Yoshino (at the left), for his groundbreaking and important book, Covering. Other nominees in the category were Bernard Cooper for The Bill from My Father and Rigaberto Gonzalez for the beautiful and poetic, Butterfly Boy. Coveringcov

Nancy Bereano (below right), a frequent Lammy winner, was honored by PT for her two decades of work as the founder and publisher of Firebrand Books, one of the most successful lesbian/feminist presses in the world. The press publishes such titles as Alison Bechdel’s (another honoree last night) Dykes To Watch Out For, Audre Lorde, Dorothy Allison and Barbara Smith. Nancy_bereano

Along with Alison Bechdel, who won for Lesbian Nonfiction for her masterful Fun Home, Catherine Friend was nominated for the delightful Hit By A Farm, and Marcia Gallo was acknowledged for Different Daughters, an important history of the Daughters of Bilitis.

Chris Weikel, a founder of the Tosos II Theater Company, received the Robert Chesley Emerging Playwright Award.

Gutted Poets Jennifer Rose and Justin Chin won, respectively, for Lesbian and Gay Male poetry. Justin’s Gutted was nominated along with Jim Elledge’s A History of My Tattoo and Greg Hewett’s The Eros Conspiracy. Robin Becker and Kate Lynn Hibbard were nominated for The Domain of Perfect Affection and Sleeping Upside Down, respectively.

Fiction was ably represented in both Men’s and Women’s categories. Rebecca Brown’s The Last Time I Saw You, Lisa Carey’s Every Visible Thing, and Ivan E. Coyote’s Bow Grip in the Lesbian Fiction catergory. Men’s Fiction was acknowledged with Martin Hyatt’s A Scarecrow’s Bible (from Suspect Thoughts), Steven McCauley’s Alternatives to Sex and (the winner) Christopher Bram’s elegial Exiles in America. Exiles_2

Bentley230_2 The truly remarkable renaissance man, Eric Bentley (at the left) was recognized for his lifetime (when he mentioned in passing that he was 90, the room gasped!) of writing and activism…critic, playwright, editor, translator of Brecht, chronicler of Oscar Wilde in the play, Lord Alfred’s Lover…Bentley’s comments, which we hope to be able to reproduce here or in the pages of White Crane, reminded everyone present that LGBT people are still the targets of religious fanatics. He spoke of the pivotal roles that "love and death" play in the arts and literature and cautioned that there was still plenty of both in store for LGBT people.

Grief_2 Finally, Andrew Holleran, recent author of Grief, and the fabled Dancer From the Dance, received the Bill Whitehead Award for Lifetime Achievement.

The Publishing Triangle presents the annual Triangle Awards in collaboration with The Ferro-Grumley Literary Awards, the Robert Chesley Foundation and the New School.

Stay tuned…in just over two weeks, we will be reporting onthe 19th Annual Lambda Literary Awards. White Crane Books’ Charmed Lives is a finalist in the Anthology Category.

Gay Wisdom: David & Jonathan

Dj_casparluiken1TODAY’S GAY WISDOM – David & Jonathan

Many of our stories can be found in the great traditions.  One of the oldest stories in existence, Gilgamesh & Enkidu is a love story of men.  Another is the great love of David & Jonathan found in the Hebrew Tanakh, known as the Old Testament to Christians.  The story of David & Jonathan has been retold for centuries.  One gorgeous retelling is that of the contemporary poet Steven Schecter, who wrote a beautiful book-length poem titled David & Jonathan: An Epic Poem of Love & Power in Ancient Israel.

Schecter_davidjonathanToday’s Gay Wisdom is an excerpt from the poem in which Schecter retells the exchange between the lovers told in two verses at the end of the 20th chapter of the book of Samuel.  In the book of Samuel the story is recounted as:

41 And as soon as the lad was gone, David arose out of a place toward the South, and fell on his face to the ground, and bowed down three times; and they kissed one another, and wept one with another, until David exceeded.
41 ‘Go in peace, forasmuch as we have sworn both of us in the name of HaShem, saying: HaShem shall be between me and thee, and between my seed and thy seed, for ever.’

Schecter’s retelling fills in the unmistakable details of this meeting of lovers:

~ ~ ~

David hears Jonathan’s lonely footsteps
and waits no longer.
At once rises.
A diver breaking the water’s surface.
A prisoner his bonds.
A wail its sorrow.
And falls.
Three times rises and falls
until the full-length lover has turned
to a howl in the dust.
Jonathan stares like a bronze,
surprised at the derelict hands
encircling his feet.
They knew it could come to this,
would come,
David more than he,
but knowing the future is sometimes
like knowing the past,
the battle dates mere numbers
to reveal a tale of hope and ruin;
one is therefore well advised to sound one’s heart
before entering history.
Even a priest listens
before dashing blood against the altar.
But not David,
who picks up people like war campaigns
and figured it all as the calculus of God’s grace.
Jonathan does not approve,
has never approved,
has more than once told him he misreads his own heart,
but has come to appreciate
that his lover, like a caterpillar,
only learns by shedding his mistakes;
and so ought not to be surprised.
And yet is.
The man’s pain is so great
it cracks the ground on which he kneels
and runs the fault line to Jonathan’s heart
that weeps, weeps,
for this poor tumbleweed of love.
It is all he can do to pull the man up.
His cries screech against the air,
are gone,
again rise up,
a mad assault on a sponge.
Jonathan hugs David close,
his lips on his neck, in his ear,
murmuring the prayer for ex-lovers:
"God Almighty, let him not fall by the wayside,
not rot in despair,
not spit on hope.
May he remember life is long,
and that I love him;"
and with the hand that caressed him to the tailbone
rubbed the prayer into his bones.
Quiet limped into David’s body.
His sobs grew less and turned to tears
that flowed over the prince’s shoulders,
wet, warm watermarks of love
that mingled with kisses;
and the kisses soon drew forth an embrace,
and one embrace drew forth another,
until David,
as tradition would later have it,
And then Jonathan sent him off
in peace as they had sworn,
tongue to tongue
and seed to seed
as God was their witness.
And when David could no longer be seen,
Jonathan also turned his back
and returned to the city of kings.

from Stephen Schecter’s David & Jonathan published by Robert Davies Publishing.

~ ~ ~

This entry was also this day’s Gay Wisdom email
Sign up today to get our emails on Gay History and Wisdom!