g

i
g
g
g
i
g
i
g
E
g
s
g
g
i
f
t
i
s

i

E

i

i
,

E

g
g
g

E
i
g
i
s
E

E
;

e
q
q
!

B
g
o t
r
t
r
o o a o o o
3
:

g
$

E
i
E
,

*
*
E
g
.
E

.
s
E
s
-
e
i
;
-
r
r
g
|
f
g
g
!
*
i
g
,
$
S
.
S
T
\
S
a
r
s
s \
3
a \
3
\
)
t
l
r
l
s \
S
s
a
S
{
a O O F
{
o
o
>
,
C
B
/
l
,
r
\
-
/ 1
-
I
(
J
r
-
1
)
-
{
C
O
d )
-
{
6
0
o
P
{
-
o
a O
-
l
iiiTh-is book Cbout.
"after
begging the bastaia'iird"it* :tffi
'
Nowadays, very few lesbian and home'
sexual writers are any longer'in the closef.
And very few would believe it necessary to
iden& themselves as lesbian or homosex-
'
'
ualWore identifying as writers. So why this
book? And why now?
In Western countries, there has devel-
bped a fully identified lesbian separatist
writing which has a small specialised
market. In the gay male subculture there is
a fecundity of fully identified homosexual
u'riting with a very large market. After the
early 1070s, Gay Liberation and 'effeminisf
movements were overtaken by Sontag's
cftlc businessmen and promoters who
created the gay community as a subculture.
This subculture seems to have become
politicised once again, and, sadly, mostly
because. of the terrible epidemic of Auto
Immune Deficiency Syndrome.
In the Introduction, which is in the form
{'
of a very casual conversation between the
two editors, Carl Morse declares, 'I'd say
that seventy percent of what we've got here
is virtually unavailable to straight readers.'
Morse intends this, the permission to gaze
(
upon the subculture from without, as a
favourable point. later he says, 'I urgently
want to expose straight people to these
. poems.'
The Introduction seems anachronistic,
p,
setting up a kind of sloppy, non-analytical
j.
'
celebration of a subculture. Co-editor Joan
t frtf.in: 'Thom Gunn is another poet whose
poetryinstead of life.
Well, gosh!
There are some poems in the book
which are self-conscious and concerned
with poetics and criticism. There are many
poems which are not poems at all
-
they
are vertical reportage. Beth Brant's 'Her
name is Helen':
She worked in a factory for ten
yearri, six months, making
carburetors for Cadillacs.
She loved factorywork.
She made good money, took vaca-
tions to New Orleans.
And the coeditor, Joan Larkin's'Rhyme of
my inheritance':
wasn't I out there on 8th street
wandering around looking for
someone to fill the gap where
my
center would have been.
There are other poems about rape
which are effective and political. Tommi
Avicolli's'The rape poem':
faP€,
rape as in genet, the rape of
humiliation
even aftersmashing
a hammer to his head if even after
that if he
and his buddies fuck me after that
then I consented and there was
no rape because finally you under-
'
stand finally
they fucked me over because I was
wrong I was
'r
wrong again to be me being me
.
where I was /wrong
to be who I am
which is exactly like South Africa
penetrating into Namibia penetrat-
ing into
Angola and does that mean I mean
how do you know if
Pretoria ejaculates what will the
evidence look like...
Pat Parker, another black activist, lists
current injustices and discriminations
against lesbians and homosexuals in a long
poem called 'Where will you be', and
includes a criticism of separatism in the
poem'My brother':
It seemed my lesbian audiences
were not ready for my faggot
brother
Another poem, by one of the founders
of 'the effeminists' in the early 1970s,
Kenneth Pitchford, is critical of the
masculinist behaviour of some of the 'broth-
ers'. And Robin Morgan, whose highly
intelligent theoretical book The sexuality of
terrorism was published late last year, has
written a poem on the wives of the men
involved in the Watergate scandal.
Other political poems don't actually
work. In a footnote, we are told about
Those normal pleasures of ttre sun's
kturydom
The hedonistic body basks within
And takes for granted
-
summer
on the skin,
Sleep without break, the moderate
taste oftea
In a dry mouth. You had gone on
from me
There are 94 poets collected here, from
the awful Larry Mitchell who teaches
Women's Studies
-
one of his poems is
called
.W'omen
wisdom'(!)
-
to the very
campy rhyming of James Merrill, there are
menstruation poetry by Susan Gffin, and
that dirtyold-man-hippie James Broughton
who is still saving water with a friend:
In his long bathtub
he sat me opposite him
and scrubbed away my guilt.
There's a lesbian insurance saleswoman
who writes under her real name, uses a
pseudonym to sell insurance and invest-
ment policies, and writes'she is still as
sleek as an unspayed siamese'. And a
gorgeous looking drag queen called Asotto
Saint. (There are photos of most of the
poets). There is some very good prose
poetry from Linda Smuliler and a clever,
piece written with the speed of light by
Eileen Myles. Both these women are soon
to have individual publications with
Semiotext(e).
Among the 17 famous there is Allen
Ginsberg's classic and oft-banned poem
'Howl', good writing from James Baldwin,
James Schuyler (who co-wrote the nutty
modern classic A nest of ninnies with John
Ashbery), Audre lorde, the complex and
This anthology belongs quite firmly to They took me to school where I
the gay male subculture. This is despite its learned to be cute.
formal and serious cover design
-
featur- I wore clean
jumpers
and washed
ing, misleadingly, photos of almost all of myhands...
the 17 famous poets in a collection of 94
-
its sheer size and the inclusion of many In her following po€ffi, 'Rape', she attempts
lesbians, Native Americans, Black, the poetic but it goes completely haywire
Chicanas, and Jews. with terrible lines like
29 EDIT!ONS
:.J
:.
.
-gxperienced
'
Muriel
Rukeyser
-""q
-
Adrienn.
ni"t''
Others
include
Robert
iun"*,
Tennessee
Williams'
W H Auden'
Iangston
Hughes,
Harold
Norse
and Frank
OTlara.
Notable
among
the missing
are
Hart
Crane,
Charles
Henri
Ford' John
Giorno "
*i
,o"*s
from
Christopher
Ishenvood's
'Exhumations'.
There
are
probably
many
others
whom
we have
read
but
whose
sexual
preferences
have
not
'been
our
primary concern'
The biographies
reveal
that
most of the
lesser-known
poets have
good
jobs in
academic
institutions
and
have
received
grants from
various
organisations'
Many
f,.u.
also
named
their
lovers
in their
biographies
-
let's
hope
they're
still
together.
1
\
,\
\
',i
1
I
!i
1
anthologY:
The 1?
Year
old
Puts
Leaaes
of
Grass
aside,
leans
back
on the chair
with his feet
on the wall
in the basement
at home
where
he
studies,
He likes Poetry,
but right now
he needs
a
good handiob
before
he can continue"'
Pamela
Brown
i's the author
of nine books
of
\oetry
and
prose includ'ingSelected
poems'
-the
second,
edition
of which
will be
frublished
by Wild and WooleY
in earlY
1990'
-
-A
-r-
'r-E