Category Archives: Updrafts

WC80 Updrafts

Edited by Dan Vera

Help these boys build a nation of their own. Ransack the histories for clues to their past. Plunder the literature for words they can speak. And should you encounter an ancient tribe whose customs, however dimly, cast light on their hearts, tell them that tale, and you shall name the unspeakable names of your kind, and in that naming, in each such telling, they will falter a step to the light. Jamie O'Neill

If people are highly successful in their professions they lose their senses.  Sight goes.  They have no time to look at pictures.  Sound goes.  They have no time to listen to music.  Speech goes.  They have no time for conversation.  They lose their sense of proportion — the relations between one thing and another.  Humanity goes.
Virginia Woolf

Poetry is just the evidence of life. If your life is burning well, poetry is just the ash.   Leonard Cohen

I do not care much about the mysteries of the universe, unless they come to me in words, or in music maybe, or in a set of colours, and then I entertain them merely for their beauty and only briefly.
Colm Tóibín

Writing poetry is the hard manual labor of the imagination.  Ishmael Reed

The beauty of words in a democracy is that anyone can offer them up, and they live or die not by the ruler’s dictate, but by their ability to permeate hearts and minds, to ignite passions, and to provoke action. Throughout our history, we have learned that words with enough resonance — whether from a slave, a student, or a songwriter — can change history as dramatically as any decree.  Joannie Fischer

A verbal art like poetry is reflective; it stops to think.
Music is immediate; it goes on to become.      W.H. Auden

Oh fellow mortal out there in the world!  Until you learn how to join together once more, to fuse your sorrowful and lonely hearts in some new communion, you can never make true music.  The sound you will produce will continue to be the agonized expression of separate and unshared life.  Mabel Dodge Lujan

So long as the human spirit thrives on this planet,
music in some living form will accompany and sustain it
and give it expressive meaning.   Aaron Copland

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

Updrafts is a regular feature of  White Crane.  If you have a little bit  of wisdom to share with us, send it to us at

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WC79 – Updrafts


I love to walk because it releases all the stuff pent up inside. There is something for me about the Brooklyn Bridge. I must walk it at least once a week. I walk from the friary downtown and then across the beach and maybe keep going out to Brighton Beach. I get an ice cream cone there and then I come home.  I get ideas on the Brooklyn Bridge.  Even when I’m not looking for one. The stone on the buttresses of the bridge is from West Milford, New Jersey, the place where I was last pastor. I love to look at the Statue of Liberty, the lights of the city, the Verazzano Bridge, the Manhattan bridge carrying the subway cars. The city is just the most extraordinary place.    Mychal Judge

To seek approval is to have no resting place, no sanctuary. Like all judgment, approval encourages a constant striving. It makes us uncertain of who we are and of our true value. Approval cannot be trusted. It can be withdrawn at any time no matter what our track record has been. It is as nourishing of real growth as cotton candy. Yet many of us spend our lives pursuing it.    Rachel Naomi Remen

It is necessary to leave the impersonal highway… to step inside the garden gate and close it behind. . . One is now inside… Out of one world, and in the mysterious heart of another… and after long years of spiritual homelessness, of nostalgia… Here is that mystic loveliness… Here is home… An old thread, long tangled comes straight again.    Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings, Cross Creek

Thousands of nerve-shaken over-civilized people are beginning to find out that going to the mountains is going home; that wilderness is necessary and that mountain peaks and reservations are useful not only as fountains of timber and irrigating rivers, but as fountains of life.    John Muir

Do not keep anything in your home that you do not know to be useful or believe to be beautiful. William Morris

I have an idea that some men are born out of their due place.  Accident has cast them amid strangers in their birthplace, and the leafy lands they have known from childhood remains but a place of passage.  They may spend their whole lives aliens among their kindred and remain aloof among the only scenes they have ever known.  Perhaps it is this sense of strangeness that sends men far and wide in the search for something permanent, to which they may attach themselves . . . Sometimes a man hits upon a place to which he mysteriously feels that he belongs.  Here is the home he sought, and he will settle amid scenes that he has never seen before, among men he has never known, as though they were familiar to him from his birth.  Here at last he finds rest.
W. Somerset Maugham, The Moon and Sixpence

I would not think that philosophy and reason themselves will be man's guide in the foreseeable future; however, they will remain the most beautiful sanctuary they have always been for the select few.  Albert Einstein


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your friends who could use some wisdom!  If there's an article listed
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WC78 – Updrafts by Dan Vera


Edited by Dan Vera

I think that the majority of the gay press is quite bad and misleading to the intellectual and physical health of homosexuals. It betrays the historical legacy of brilliance that once existed in the gay world, of being the true guardians and keepers of intellectual and artistic brilliance. Gay people have upheld high art for years. Now, in the gay male press, there's nowhere for the opera queens, there's nowhere for the faggy snobs. It's all about youth and body image. It's very light reading, you know?  And on the physical health side, there's a total glorification and acceptance of extreme drug use and sexual license. I don't want to seem like a prudish person–I believe that what happens in a person's bedroom is private–but I do believe that the press have to get a little more proactive about the health of our community.   ~ Rufus Wainwright

When a flower blooms and then dies, we do not call that flower a failure.  And flowers don’t so much die as go to seed.  We all carry the seeds of our experience in our hearts, and we plant these wherever we go.  ~ Carolyn Shaffer

The warm bodies
shine together
 ~ Allen Ginsberg

If you want to build a ship, don't drum up people together to collect wood and don't assign them tasks and work, but rather teach them to long for the endless immensity of the sea.   ~Antoine de Saint Exupery

We must get back into relation, vivid and nourishing relation to the cosmos. The way is through daily ritual and the reawakening. We must once more practice the ritual of dawn and noon and sunset, the ritual of kindling fire and pouring water, the ritual of the first breath, and the last.    ~ D.H. Lawrence

I think now especially we’re misled so often.  We have our eye on the horizon looking for a genius of some sort to save us.  There is no genius coming.  The genius is already here.  It’s in the community.  And our difficulty seems to be that sometimes we confuse the manifestation of genius in an individual with the notion that that’s where it resides.  But it doesn’t reside in an individual.  Its in the community of people.  ~ Barry Lopez

He who binds to himself a joy
Does the winged life destroy
But he who kisses the joy as it flies
Lives in eternity’s sunrise.
  ~ William Blake

Don't listen to those who say, “It's not done that way.” Maybe it’s not, but maybe you will. Don't listen to those who say, “You're taking too big a chance.” Michelangelo would have painted the Sistine floor, and it would surely be rubbed out by today. Most importantly, don't listen when the little voice of fear inside of you rears its ugly head and says, “They're all smarter than you out there. They're more talented, they're taller, blonder, prettier, luckier and have connections…” I firmly believe that if you follow a path that interests you, not to the exclusion of love, sensitivity, and cooperation with others, but with the strength of conviction that you can move others by your own efforts, and do not make success or failure the criteria by which you live, the chances are you'll be a person worthy of your own respect.   ~ Neil Simon

We all belong to the “community of life."   ~ Daniel Quinn 

This is just an excerpt from this issue of White Crane.   We are a reader-supported journaland need you to subscribe to keep this conversation going.  So to read more from this wonderful issue SUBSCRIBE to White Crane. Thanks!

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

Updrafts is a regular feature of  White Crane.  If you have a little bit  of wisdom to share with us, send it to us at

WC77 – Updrafts by Dan Vera

Edited by Dan Vera

The exchange of thoughts is a condition necessary for all love, all friendship, and all real dialogue.
Jorge Luis Borges

The Christian Right says bring back the melting pot. Restore ‘traditional values.’  Re-institute prayer in schools. Preserve the primacy of Western civilization (the only one that matters anyway). And not least, protect that critical bedrock of American greatness: ‘the American family.’  Such pronouncements reveal an intense, even pathological desire to perpetuate a thoroughly obsolete myth of America, and through this, a repressively orthodox system of sociocultural entitlement.    Marlon Riggs

Third World populations are changing the face of North America.  The new face has got that delicate fold in the corner of the eye and that wide-bridged nose.  The mouth speaks in double negatives and likes to eat a lot of chíle.    Cherríe Moraga

If I have one word for fellow Christians, I would ask them to keep their eyes on the love of Jesus, and not to confuse the blood at Calvary with the KoolAid of homophobia in America.  We have to call into question our own particular prejudices that we inherit, that have nothing to do with the loving gospel of Jesus.  That challenge is to the Black Church precisely because we have too many Black folk who are suffering because of the inability to talk about sexuality.    Cornel West

Question: I have always felt that feminism/gay rights was piggy backing off the civil rights movement. I will never forget and never forgive feminists for basically throwing Fannie Lou Hamer out of their movement because of her deep opposition to Abortion. Your movement is profoundly, to use your own neologism, classist and I suspect racist.

Suzanne Pharr: I think that there is deep racism and classism within the women’s movement, and the gay and lesbian movement. But I also think there are individuals and organizations in both those movements that have gone to the line on the issues of civil rights. I wouldn’t say that we piggybacked on the civil rights movement. I would say we’re a daughter of the civil rights movement. It gave birth to the women’s movement, the gay and lesbian movement and to The People With Disabilities movement. I think we should never use the scarcity model when thinking about civil and human rights. That is, we should not think that if someone else gains civil rights protections, that it will take away something from me. We are seeking a democracy here, trying to build one, and it’s going take a large sense of generosity and tolerance and inclusion.    Suzanne Pharr

What passes for identity in America is a series of myths about one’s heroic ancestors.    James Baldwin

I love the wry motto of the Paleontological Society (meant both literally and figuratively, for hammers are the main tool of our trade): Frango ut patefaciam — I break in order to reveal.”    Stephen Jay Gould

There is a very advantageous position among leftist writers who live in capitalistic countries who enjoy all the benefits of democracy and great profits they earn while attacking democracy while they live in a democratic country.  Maybe if those writers lived in a communist country from where they could not get out – they might change the way they think. Since living there, they would not be able to write a word!  So for us, who suffered so much in Cuba,  it’s infuriating to see people enjoy all the security that comes with democracy – getting pleasure attacking it and becoming rich from doing this!    Reinaldo Arenas

We’re always constructing ourselves, so I don’t think there’s an end to it.  in fact, to me it’s liberating to not think of identity as some organic property that we have to find and stick to, but actually something that is constructed, or that’s imposed, that we can then counter by taking a different route and re-dressing it, and the re-dressing it again.  It’s like having every possibility at your fingertips, as opposed to some natural sense of who we’ll be imprisoned by for the rest of our lives.    Todd Haynes

This is just an excerpt from this issue of White Crane.   We are a reader-supported journal and need you to subscribe to keep this conversation going.  So to read more from this wonderful issue SUBSCRIBE to White Crane. Thanks!

Updrafts is a regular feature of  White Crane.  If you have a little bit  of wisdom to share with us, send it to us at

WC72 – Updrafts

Edited by Dan Vera

Abstinence is a “neuter” movement.  I don’t care what people do in bed, or if they don’t do anything. I just don’t think that everybody else has to feel how you feel about it. Whether it’s sex, religion or politics.
~John Waters

We are all one and if we don’t know it, we will learn it the hard way.
~Bayard Rustin

Ring the bells that still can ring
Forget your perfect offering
There is a crack, a crack in everything
That’s how the light gets in.
~Leonard Cohen (shared by Bernard Morin)

When I took the battered Bolex into my own hands I wanted to explore a more fluid form of cinema, using poems as shooting scripts…I wanted to see a cinema that would dance to words. I wanted to unite my two passions, poetry and dance, into something magical. I had always wanted to dance impossible dances. ~James Broughton

As someone who is simply making his best effort to be a rational human being, I am very slow to draw metaphysical conclusions from experiences of this sort. The truth is, I experience what I would call the “selflessness of consciousness” rather often, wherever I happen to meditate-be it in a Buddhist monastery, a Hindu temple, or while having my teeth cleaned. Consequently, the fact that I also had this experience at a Christian holy site does not lend an ounce of credibility to the doctrine of Christianity. ~Sam Harris

Anyone who has swallowed the scriptwriter’s notion that this is a film about the superiority of “home” over “away,” that the moral of The Wizard of Oz is as sickly sweet as an embroidered sampler, “east west home’s best,” “there’s no place like home” would do well to listen to the yearning in Judy Garland’s voice as her face tilts upwards to the skies.  What she expresses here, what she embodies with the purity of an archetype, is the human dream of leaving.  A dream at least as powerful as it’s countervaling dream of roots.  At the heart of the Wizard of Oz is the tension between these two dreams.  But as the music swells and that big clean voice flies into the anguished longings of the song, can anyone doubt which message is the stronger?

In its most potent emotional moment this is unarguably a film about the joys of going away, about leaving the grayness and entering the color, of making a new life in the place where there isn’t any trouble.

“Over the Rainbow” is, or ought to be, the anthem of all the world’s migrants, all those who go in search of the place where  “the dreams that you dare to dream really do come true.”  It is a celebration of escape, a grand paean to the uprooted self, a hymn, THE HYMN, to “elsewhere.”
~Salman Rushdie on The Wizard of Oz

The gay social contract allows a different, more generous, permission to center bliss in our lives.  “Bliss” here does not mean simply plastering a beatific smile across one’s face. Bliss transcends recreation. It means something more philosophical, akin to what the cultural critic Joseph Campbell meant by his dictum “follow your bliss.”  It is what Paul Monette described as our “flagrant joy.” Call it fun, call it play, call it eros, it encompasses a wild gamut of playfulness, pleasure and performance, whimsy and wackiness, silliness and spectacle.  By whatever name, there is something markedly different in how our queer customs support the pursuit of happiness. Our bliss is the next page where we color outside the lines laid down by the larger culture. The centrality of bliss and play in our lives has political and social implications, affects our cultural and artistic contributions, and may even shape the well-being of the species. We may be having fun, but we’re not just fooling around.
~David Nimmons, The Soul Beneath the Skin

Archbishop Peter J. Akinola, primate of the Church of Nigeria and leader of the conservative wing of the communion, recently threw his prestige and resources behind a new law that criminalizes same-sex marriage in his country and denies gay citizens the freedoms to assemble and petition their government. The law also infringes upon press and religious freedom by authorizing Nigeria’s government to prosecute newspapers that publicize same-sex associations and religious organizations that permit same-sex unions.

Because the conflict over homosexuality is not unique to Anglicanism, civil libertarians in this country, and other people as well, should also be aware of the archbishop and his movement. Gifts from such wealthy donors as Howard Ahmanson Jr. and the Bradley, Coors and Scaife families, or their foundations, allow the Washington-based Institute on Religion and Democracy to sponsor so-called "renewal" movements that fight the inclusion of gays and lesbians within the Episcopal, Methodist, Presbyterian and Lutheran churches and in the United Church of Christ. Should the institute succeed in "renewing" these churches, what we see in Nigeria today may well be on the agenda of the Christian right tomorrow.

Surprisingly, few voices — Anglican or otherwise — have been raised in opposition to the archbishop. When I compare this silence with the cacophony that followed the Episcopal Church’s decision to consecrate the Rt. Rev. Gene Robinson, a gay man who lives openly with his partner, as the bishop of New Hampshire, I am compelled to ask whether the global Christian community has lost not only its backbone but its moral bearings. Have we become so cowed by the periodic eruptions about the decadent West that Archbishop Akinola and his allies issue that we are no longer willing to name an injustice when we see one?   
~John Bryson Chane, Episcopal Bishop of Washington

“For the Greeks the essence of friendship consisted in discourse. They held that only the constant interchange of talk united citizens in a polis…However much we are affected by the things of the world, however deeply they may stir and stimulate us, they become human for us only when we can discuss them with our fellows…We humanize what is going on in the world and in ourselves only by speaking of it; and in the course of speaking of it we learn to be human.”   ~Hannah Arendt

This is just an excerpt from this issue of White Crane.   We are a reader-supported journal and need you to subscribe to keep this conversation going.  So to read more from this wonderful issue SUBSCRIBE to White Crane. Thanks!

Updrafts is a regular feature of  White Crane.  If you have a little bit  of wisdom to share with us, send it to us at

WC71 – Updrafts

A quarterly column of wise words…

I am a lover of truth, a worshipper or freedom, a celebrant at the altar of language and purity and tolerance. That is my religion, and every day I am sorely, grossly, heinously and deeply offended, wounded, mortified and injured by a thousand different blasphemies against it. When the fundamental canons of truth, honesty, compassion and decency are hourly assaulted by fatuous bishops, pompous, illiberal and ignorant priests, politicians and prelates, sanctimonious censors, self-appointed moralists and busy-bodies, what recourse of ancient laws have I? None whatever. Nor would I ask for any. For unlike these blistering imbeciles my belief in my religion is strong and I know that lies will always fail and indecency and intolerance will always perish.
You should try the fruit of every tree of every garden in the world. But ‘try’ is the word. Some fruits will be rotten, some will be poisonous, and some will be so seductive you eat nothing else and become malnu-treated, if there is such a word.  STEPHEN FRY

The integrity of love is always more important than the purity of dogma.  UNKNOWN

Our life is but a mere tracing on the surface of mystery.  And the surface of mystery is not smooth. ANNIE DILLARD

Did you once desire to shine among your peers—or did you shrink from the knowledge of your won defect in the midst of them?
Did you, friend, covet so to be more beautiful, witty, virtuous—to be able to tell a store or sustain an argument well, or to be able to discourse on any subject, or to be a skilful rider or a good shot?
Or shrank from the ridicule which the reverse of these excited—which was certain and is still certain to come upon you?
Was it really your own anxious face you used to keep catching in the glass? was it really you who had so many things, one way or another, you wanted to conceal from others—so many opinions too to disguise?
All that is changed now.
The doors that were closed stand open.
Yet how slight a thing it is.
The upturning of a palm?  the curve of a lip, an eyelid?  Nothing.
Nothing that can be seen with the mortal eye or heard by the ear, nothing that can be definitely thought, spoken, or written in a book—
Yet the doors that were trebled-bolted and barred, and the doors weed-overgrown with rusty old hinges,
Fly open of themselves.  EDWARD CARPENTER

Tell me the landscape in which you live, and I will tell you who you are. JOSÉ ORTEGA Y GASSETT

If I could take all my parts with me when I go somewhere, and not have to say to one of them, ‘No, you stay home tonight, you won’t be welcome,’ because I’m going to an all-white party where I can be gay, but not Black. Or I’m going to a Black poetry reading, and half the poets are anti-homosexual, or thousands of situations where something of what I am cannot come with me. The day all the different parts of me can come along, we would have what I would call a revolution. PAT PARKER

When you consider that God could have commanded anything he wanted—anything!—the Ten [Commandments] have got to rank as one of the great missed moral opportunities of all time.  How different history would have been had he clearly and unmistakably forbidden war, tyranny, taking over other people’s countries, slavery, exploitation of workers, cruelty to children, wife-beating, stoning, treating women—or anyone—as chattel or inferior beings. KATHA POLLITT

Ours should be a vision willing to exceed all that attempts to confine and intimidate us.  We would be wise to develop strong powerful voices that can range over the entire landscape of human experience and condition. ESSEX HEMPHILL

This is just an excerpt from this issue of White Crane.   We are a reader-supported journal and need you to subscribe to keep this conversation going.  So to read more from this wonderful issue SUBSCRIBE to White Crane. Thanks!