Category Archives: Poetry

Congratulations to Dan Vera: Letras Latinas / Red Hen Poetry Prize Winnter

DanWe (and by “we” I mean “I”) are (am) proud to announce that my friend, Dan Vera, aka Managing Editor for White Crane, has been Letras-Latinas-Logo-300x250chosen as the awardee of the Letras Latinas / Red Hen Poetry Prize, for Latino poets who have already published at least one or two books of poetry. The inaugural judge for this prize was poet and Notre Dame professor Orlando Ricardo Menes.

Dan’s winning entry, slated for publication in 2013 is The Guide to Imaginary Monuments. In addition to his White Crane Journal and White Crane Books duties, Dan is a DC-based poet, and also the author of The Space Between Our Danger and Delight (Boethuk Books, 2008).

Two manuscripts were selected, and their publication by Red Hen Press will be spaced two years apart, to give Letras Latinas momentum to promote and publicize the winning books, its authors, this new literary series. 

The second award was given to William Archila’s second book, The Gravedigger’s Archeology, which will be published in 2015. His first book was The Art of Exile (Bilingual Press, 2009), a book that speaks to Archila’s Salvadorean heritage and his immigration to the U.S. during the Central American civil war. He is based in Los Angeles.

Malcolm Boyd: Gettin’ Kinda Jazzy!

Malcolm_Boyd-Social_Vagrant[1] White Crane friend, advisorand
all round mensch
Malcolm Boyd, will give a concert reading of his prayer-poems
accompanied by a jazz trio at the
2010 Sausalito
International  Film Festival
on August
14. Musicians appearing with Boyd are guitarist Johnnie Valentino, composer
Scott Page
-Payter on keyboards and percussionist
Marino Bambino.

Boyd's words are combined with musical themes by the late legendary
jazz musician Vince
 "The Anatomy of Vince Guaraldi," a new film in
which Boyd appears, will be screened at the festival. Over four weeks in 1966 a
remarkable series of performances at the hungry i
nightclub in San Francisco's North Beach captured the imagination of hip
audiences and resonated around the world. Dick Gregory gave the stage to
Guaraldi and Episcopal priest-author Boyd.  Prayers, Beat poetry and jazz
fused.  Though covered by global media the performances were never
recorded.  Very few had an opportunity to experience this happening. Until
now. The prayer-poems are from Boyd's bestselling classic "Are You
Running with Me, Jesus?"

White Crane Books offers two other titles by Boyd Take Off The Masks, his classic spiritual biography and coming out story and A Prophet in His
Own Land: The Malcolm Boyd Reader
,  collected writings
from five decades.


Brose Lawrence
Brose is an experimental film artist and has created over thirty films since
1983. His films have been shown at international film festivals, museums, art
galleries, and cinematheques in the United States, Europe, Asia, Australia and
South America. Brose’s most recent film, De Profundis has been greeted with
critical acclaim and has been screened at more than eighty venues and festivals
worldwide since its release. De Profundis is a 65-minute experimental film
based on Oscar Wilde’s prison letter with an original score for the film by the
American composer Frederic Rzewski. In 1989 he began a series of film
collaborations with contemporary composers to explore the relationship between
the moving image and music.

The Issues

The issues here are fundamental: freedom of speech, freedom of
expression, and artistic freedom. The case is precedent-setting, and
will help determine whether anyone exercising their right to free speech
can be criminalized merely for their ideas—a fundamental violation of
the United States Constitution.

The case of Lawrence Brose is a prime example of the contemporary
abuse of power by Homeland Security and the Justice Department. The
charges brought against Brose essentially make engaging a difficult
issue a criminal offense and recall the government’s tactics during the
McCarthy trials of the 1950s. Like that infamous challenge to
Democracy, this case questions how far the government can reach,
unopposed, into artists’ studios, galleries, museums, and even our homes
to silence free speech, thought, and inquiry.

Case For Support

Lawrence Brose is not a criminal, he is an artist, doing what artists
do best: asking difficult questions about our life and times in order
to illuminate a new perspective as we struggle to move forward as a
Deprofundis logo
culture. His experimental cinema has a distinguished track record of
engaging issues that affect the gay community, such as AIDS and
hostility from certain segments of the public. Facing problematical
subjects is precisely the job that people like Brose carry out in our
society – they explore unexamined dilemmas and present them for our
contemplation. It is truly tragic to see him attacked with the blunt,
and misguided legalistic weapon of pornography prosecution.

Lawrence Brose is working in a well-established tradition of image
appropriation, drawing specifically on images of masculinity in home
movies, old films, Gay erotica and documentaries. Brose collects found
still images, which he then processes and re-processes to find more
depth in the picture, producing complex layers of imagery that are
highly conceptual and offer a poignant commentary on normative
conventions of gender and sexuality. The final product is as abstract as
the paintings of Willem de Kooning, and a seizure of source material
entirely misrepresents the final outcome.

As experimental filmmakers Kenneth Anger and Andy Warhol before him,
Brose’s work pushes the envelope to create space for new expression.
For our society to remain open and vibrant, the answer is not to
criminalize that space for investigation, but rather to welcome it into
the marketplace of free ideas for examination.

The case against Lawrence Brose demonstrates an inappropriate
application of laws intended to protect children, and in the process
victimizes an experimental artist seeking to comment on societal woes.
The fact that he is under indictment for using images made by others to
examine the taboos that the laws are meant to prevent–is as
overreaching as it is troubling. It is so far from the intent of the
law, that it serves only to create a climate of fear. The result is
censorship and a chilling effect on the free expression of all artists
and all people. Censorship of this nature, and in all of its many forms,
occupies a realm of self-righteous presumption that abjures complexity
and results only in contradiction. It is very important that as
individuals living in a democratic society, we contribute to and speak
out openly in Brose’s defense, in essence defending our own lives and
our fundamental rights to think, work, and create freely.

This is the first time a case of this nature will be taken to trial.
It is important to note that Brose was not searching for the alleged
images nor is he accused of producing, distributing, buying or selling
pornography. This suit will be a protracted and expensive ordeal; one
that will have a profound impact on all artists. Your support is
greatly needed and much appreciated.

This website has been published by friends, colleagues and supporters
of Lawrence Brose, an artist and arts curator who has recently been
alleged to possess purportedly illicit digital images. One hundred of
the listed images are film frames from his highly acclaimed film De
, based on Oscar Wilde's prison writing. The purpose of the
website is to attest to Lawrence’s innocence, to provide a forum for
testimony on his behalf, and, importantly, to collect funds needed for
his legal defense.

We are in the process of collecting testimony from individuals, many
of whom are artists, academics and curators significant to the fields of
art and culture.

The Lawrence Brose Legal Defense Fund is a Class A Non-Profit
Corporation registered with the State of New York. Donations are not
tax deductible.
To donate please send a check payable to "Lawrence Brose
Legal Defense Fund" and mail your check to PO BOX 501, Callicoon, NY
12723. Please see the Donate Now page for additional information. Or make a donation using Paypal.


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Different Light Bookstore and ADLBooks.Com
Different Light Bookstore opened it's doors in November 1979.  As
with all of the independent gay bookstores during that time, our stores
became meeting places to promote GLBT writers, as well as gathering
places for GLBT activists.  And our independent gay bookstores served us
well in working towards the equality we have achieved today and are
working for in the future.
As you
are aware, from surfing the net to reading the few newspapers
and magazines that are still in print, our gay community bookstores,
publishers and many other gay community small businesses are closing
their doors.  It is a fact that businesses are only as good as their
customer and vendor bases.  And as history as shown us, change is
It is
my belief that the GLBT community is the best read and highest achieving
groups of people anywhere in the world.  I also believe that in the
future when the digital revolution has settled down that community based
businesses will again serve as a place of social interaction that the
human condition needs so badly.
saying this, A Different Light Bookstore and "need your help and support" to
continue to be a presence in San Francisco and online for our
communities that we ship to all over the world.
every customer in our store and online who receive our new product
updates would commit to investing $10, $20 or more each month in
purchasing our products, that would be an enormous step in continuing to
preserve  this very important part of our community.
effect of this action is more then just keeping our
business operational, but it also trickles down to our vendors.  Equally
important, your support will help keep and create local jobs that are
so important to our community.
are two actions that I would like you to consider.  The most immediate
action is of course stopping by our store or signing onto our website
and buying a great book, gift, movie, magazine or DVD's.
more serious request, and one that I think would set a stage for
preserving GLBT literature for the future is that you might consider
buying 1-10 copies of each Queer Classic and "donating" it to a school, university, GLBT
Center Library, local libraries or any of your favorite organizations. 
In addition to our GLBT archives around the world, this would put our
literature in the hands of readers who might otherwise not have access
or are being censored.
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for our customers who visit and buy from us on a regular basis.
you for your consideration and taking the time to read this note.
Different Light Bookstore and ADLBooks.Com

WC80 – Editor’s Note

20080803_3021a By Dan Vera

It’s hard not to take a defensive crouch when writing an introductory essay to a special issue on poetry and music.  Truth be told, the defensiveness has more to do with the poetry than the music.  Music everyone loves and understands.  Poetry?  That is a more contentious idea.  Or seems to be. 

I feel compelled to make the case for poetry, to argue for the importance of poetry and the desire for others to read more poetry.  Arguments of this kind usually include a mention of the endangered nature of poetry, how no one reads it anymore and how it’s tied to the decay in society.  I somewhat agree with all these things, but those kinds of essays always take on the feel of a commercial for high-fiber cereal “You should eat it because its good for you damnit!”

The truth is I’ve always found these kinds of arguments a bit boring and beside the point.  Poetry is in our lives and has been there since the beginning.  Think of it. For most of us our first real exposure to poetry occurs in childhood with rhymes and little stories.

 Jack be nimble, jack be quick… 
 Jack Sprat could eat no fat… (Jack was a busy boy.)
 Eeny, meeny, miny, moe…

They’re the indelible songs we first learned

 Mary had a little lamb…
 Twinkle twinkle little star…

These poems are the first stories that stuck because they embedded themselves in the brain.  But somewhere down the line — and it almost always happened (or happens) in a classroom — the pleasurable experience of enjoying this art form of wordplay is replaced with a mechanical exercise in pulling the little wonder apart, in dissecting the corpse of what was so alive in the ear. For most people I’ve spoken with, these approaches had the result of causing them to run for the exits.

For the last 7 years I’ve run a small reading series in my neighborhood.  Most of our work in building an audience has been rehabilitating poetry in the ears and minds of the people who come forth; healing the bad memory of poetry as an aloof inaccessible thing or a laborious exercise for the listener.  Our readings are a bit different as we choose a theme and then collect poems from the contemporary and legacy poets we know.  So if you came to our reading on “dog poetry” (every June) you would hear 45 of the best poems on dogs written in the English language (some translated into English).  So it’s more like an anthology.  I mention this not as a plug for a local series but to share that we rarely have the opportunity to hear, much less read good poetry.  With the exception of The New Yorker, it is rare to find a poem in a magazine today.  Much rarer Gay poetry.  I can’t tell you the last time that The Advocate published a poem in its pages.

This was not always this way.  Not long ago it was unheard of to publish a magazine without having a poetry editor and publishing a few poems in magazines.  [White Crane has long had a poetry editor.  Bo Young, the publisher in these parts, began his connection to the magazine as it’s poetry editor.  I served as poetry editor for RFD before coming to White Crane.]  Theories abound as to the why and when this changed but that’s not really the point here.  The point is that there is great poetry being written today but fewer places to read it and fewer places to enjoy the best.
We care about poetry here.  For no other reason than poetry is Gay.  Yes, I wrote it.  Poetry is so Gay.  It’s impossible to know the history of the art form and deny that it bears a huge resonance for Gay people and that Gay people have mastered it in powerful ways.  Do I need to make the list?  Okay then: Whitman, Dickinson, Lowell, Cavafy, Stein, Bynner, Lorca, Lorde, Bishop, Auden, Jordan, Ginsberg, Hughes.  All Gay.  The list is too long to write here and I haven’t even touched the contemporary poets.

So no defensiveness then.  We publish poetry because Gay people write poetry.  Damn good poetry too.  Which brings us to the damn good poetry in this issue (see how these things flow?). 

We’re delighted in this issue to publish the poetry of James Nawrocki, the first winner of the White Crane/James White Poetry Prize for Gay Men’s Poetry.  Nawrocki hails from San Francisco, and we here at White Crane are proud of the fact that his work has previously appeared in these pages.  The prize itself was judged this year by the powerfully good poet Mark Doty, who has honored us all by looking through the work of the finalists and selecting Nawrocki’s manuscript for publication.  We are also proud to publish some poems by the two other finalists Jeremy Halinen of Seattle and James Najarian of Boston.

In striving to honor the muses of Poetry and Music, we have a fantastic interview with the Pulitzer-prize winning composer David Del Tredici and an essay by Arthur Evans on the creative universe.
So enjoy! And I hope you are amused.

Amused. That’s the word the poet Frank O’Hara used when he came across something that really moved him.  Something that “touched his muse.”  If he loved something, he found it “amusing.”  If he was not impressed or moved, he found it “unamusing.”  It’s perhaps one of my favorite phrases and I share it with you.

Be amused.  Be very amused.

Dan Vera is the White Crane's managing editor.  He is also the author of the recently released book of poetry, The Space Between Our Danger and Delight (Beothuk Books).  He lives in Washington DC.  For more on Dan visit

For more White Crane, become a fan on Facebook and join us on Yahoogroups.

Subscribe today and keep the conversation going!  Consider giving a gift subscription to
your friends who could use some wisdom!  If there's an article listed
above that was not excerpted online, copies of this issue are available
for purchase.  Contact us at

WC80 – James White Poetry Prize – Finalist

James Najarian
Finalist for the 2009 White Crane / James White Poetry Prize

Travelogue by James Najarian

Our travel papers are seldom in order.
We lack a visa, or the proper stamps.
More often than not, we're stopped at the border,

Our documents held to the light, just like this.
Our endorsements are in the wrong color ink,
Our signatures void, our persons suspicious.

This isn't the first time we've been refused entry.
You are a country we will never visit.
We view your coast from a deck on the sea,

Or get a hold of photographs, somewhere.
The kind of pictures that reveal nothing –
Cloudy landscapes taken from the air –

They tell us nothing we're not meant to know.
No one responds to calls at the consulate.
There's no national airline or tourist bureau.

You are a nation whose borders are closed:
A tiny state in the hills, like Bhutan.
The ridges and valleys stay unexposed.

Or you are a gap on the map of the world;
Your body, a continent, could be Antartica:
Cool, pale, and barely explored;

It could be perilous – the Khyber Pass,
A place without settlers – the Serengeti,
Or a place found only on a prewar atlas

Where half the globe is either pink or blue
Ubangi-Shari, or Bechuanaland,
Or someplace even harder to get to:

Cathay, Cibola, Lemuria, Mu.

James Najarian teaches nineteenth-century poetry at Boston College.  He is the author of the critical work Victorian Keats: Masculinity, Sexuality, and Desire published in 2002 by Palgrave Macmillan.  He lives in the Brighton section of Boston.

For more White Crane, become a fan on Facebook and join us on Yahoogroups.

Subscribe today and keep the conversation going!  Consider giving a gift subscription to
your friends who could use some wisdom!  If there's an article listed
above that was not excerpted online, copies of this issue are available
for purchase.  Contact us at

WC80 – James White Poetry Prize – Winner

NAWROCKI_photo2 James Nawrocki
Winner of the 2009 White Crane / James White Poetry Prize
His winning manuscript House Fire will be published by White Crane Books.

House Fire by James Nawrocki

It seems too staged, too weirdly poetic this way,
the house where we first met going up in flames
but this is exactly what I come out from my yard to find
as the sirens die at their loudest just up the street
and I follow the uphill stream of spectators
and the trail of the smoke blowing down to us

to find the fire has picked this one. The truth is
we never really came to much: a few torrid meetings
when you were renting a room there and I
trudged up the slope to your door. The truth is
we fell into each other too fast and lasted
just as long as our particular heat required, as if
desire had been stored up in us like so much fuel
and its reckoning had come. We’ve moved on

and now this haunt meets its end as well, the orange flames
like the arms of a maniacal crowd tearing at the wood,
flinging their colors out the ruined windows as if
to answer the gaze of all these witnesses:
the curious, the bystanders, none innocent, none without
a bit of that gleaming-eyed thrill
that regards all destruction.


Golden Gate by James Nawrocki

Brian and I step off
the road into sloping dirt,
down steps molded from
arms and feet of roots,
the trees’ bodies bent down
and standing up, like prayer,
the light there and gone
and there again
as we run
beyond the halted trees
and land safely
at each leap down
from shade into the pitch
of sun and rock,
our feet passing,
pressed in the dust
with other feet as we come
toward the Pacific.

Maybe this is the only way
we will ever free ourselves,
not up from the world, but down
to front the double vault
of heaven and ocean,
the beach like the brief margin
between two states,
the vastness
that teaches the body to be small.

A native of Ohio, James Nawrocki has lived in San Francisco for over 13 years where he works in corporate communications.  In addition to having appeared in White Crane, Nawrocki’s poems have appeared in Kyoto Journal, Chroma Journal, Gay & Lesbian Review Worldwide, Poetry, Poetry Daily, modern words, The James White Review, Mudfish and numerous other publications.  His fiction and essays have appeared in Gay & Lesbian Review Worldwide and Geek Monthly.

For more White Crane, become a fan on Facebook and join us on Yahoogroups.

Subscribe today and keep the conversation going!  Consider giving a gift subscription to
your friends who could use some wisdom!  If there's an article listed
above that was not excerpted online, copies of this issue are available
for purchase.  Contact us at

WC80 – James White Poetry Prize – Finalist

Jeremy Halinen
Finalist for the 2009 White Crane / James White Poetry Prize

Afternoons Above I-5 by Jeremy Halinen

We used to drop acid
and sit on the overpass
to watch the dragon faces
the cars would make at us
as they raced
beneath our dangling legs.
Cars like it when you’re high enough
above them to notice
more than their surfaces.
It’s the story of their exhaust
they want you to care about,
not their paint jobs
or the treads
on their tires. They want you to lean down
and touch them.
Halinen-photo I know what you’re thinking.
It’s dangerous,
what we used to do. But
the cars told us they’d catch us if we fell.
You say, So what if they did?
And you’re right.
There’s always a catch.

Jeremy Halinen is a coeditor and cofounder of Knockout Literary Magazine. Some of his recent poems appear in Arroyo Literary Review; Best Gay Poetry 2008; Dos Passos Review; OCHO, Pontoon: An Anthology of Washington State Poets; and Rio Grande Review. He holds a MFA in creative writing from Eastern Washington University, where he served as poetry editor of Willow Springs. He resides in Seattle.