Thursday, December 31, 2009

Happy New Year!

Due somewhat to psychic pain that still simultaneously zaps my strength and energizes me, that fills me with contempt and sadness and teaches me love and compassion, I started this blog.

My partner of going on twelve years describes it best: “I thought you were sick. But you’re really just an asshole.” Thank you for never pitying me, partner.

Of course there were other factors in creating the blog: my desire to write a long essay about one of my gay poet heroes Mark Doty; to show my respect for Reginald Shepherd; to make myself visible after Proposition 8 said to gays everywhere: you should die; to redeem myself to the young gay men I failed in the worst queer literature course ever taught. I’m sure there are others reasons, too.

There are many, many people I would like to thank. But I hate naming names; I always forget one and then feel like a jerk.

I never thought anyone would read my blog. It’s nice to know a few individuals do from time to time. In the beginning, I just hoped that the gay poet/blogger pioneers that I look up to would maybe glance at it. And once in a while when I get sad, I make myself feel better by imagining them. I hope that maybe when they have a little time away from their busy schedules, they take a brief look at my words .

There are many things I’m proud of. The most significant is that I like to think that I contributed in small part to the disappearance of what became the most dangerous blog in our literary community.

Even though I appreciate the praise, I embrace the people who have challenged me and annoyed me and even hurt my feelings. You’ve kept me honest.

And most of all I’d like to thank all the gay poets I’ve named on my blog. I haven’t necessarily liked your work, but that’s not really important. It’s all in the spirit of poetry and love and words. And if you haven’t realized that, it doesn’t matter. Your words made me love you in such a way that I wrote about them. It’s one of the only ways I know how to say I love you, and that love, for me anyway, doesn’t need to be reciprocated. That’s what makes it love.

An Open Letter to Bill Henderson, Editor of Pushcart Prize Volumes

I always hate it when poets are cynical towards other poets who brag about being nominated for a Pushcart Prize. I like it when someone's happy. It makes things feel better. "Who isn't nominated for a Pushcart Prize these days?" a friend said recently. This was he truth: me.

But my friend misses the point. There is something special when you're singled out. When you say in your introduction that you received more than 7,000 submissions that means a hell of a lot of people have been singled out. And I like that. What can it hurt? I've always found it cool when a lit mag posts its nominations. And a lot of them do. Your annual volume has offered the hope to so many writers of their work being made even more visible. And, for me, anyway, maybe because I am a gay man, visibility is always better than invisibility-- in all realms of life.


In graduate school, my best friend said that she had two goals: to be nominated for a Pushcart Prize and appear in Glimmer Train. Glimmer Train has always freaked me out. Does anyone really want to see someone's childhood photo next to their published story? It's creepy.

But a Pushcart Prize feels like a normal, good , healthy thing.


Here are the some things that concerned me about your introduction that makes me fear that your amazing project is losing its integrity and even worse its necessity:

1.) I fear that you might find yourself charming in a cranky, old codger way when you say that on-line magazines aren't as significant as print ones. You write, "Another lust that consumes our culture today is speed, not the drug but the electronic version. This is especially deadly to writers. One demand vanity publishers will zip out your efforts, no questions asked (and usually no readers found)." This feels at best hypocritical and at worst mean. Your volume, I always thought, was meant to be for the magazines that no one sees. Those very small presses.

There are, as far as I can tell, no stuff from the electronic version in this volume. For a man as energetic as you are, I cannot imagine that you haven't had curiosity at what's out there in that cyber world. If you haven't, I don't think you've looked hard enough.

2.) And then there seems to be an annoying glorification of old age itself: "The electronic juggernaut drives their frenzy for renown and is very destructive, particularly to young authors. It takes years, maybe a life time, to figure out what you want to say and how to say it."

The most revealing statement: "Because you can burp out a poem or short story online, you will not immediately join the ranks of the immortals."

That's true, but another reason is that your volume has grown committed to publishing people who have been around forever. Or the few, same young people have been published volume after volume after volume. Or you choose judges that I thought were already dead. This year it was Rosanna Warren (a poor woman's Linda Gregerson) and Wesley McNair (who I met once and loved. He was a true gentleman, something there needs to be more of these days.) See. I'm already writing their eulogies.

Do people really change ultimately for the better as they grow old. Look at Louise Gluck in this volume. She's been recycling the same issues over and over again--which just goes to you: psychotherapy never works. We need more drugs. And yes: no matter how you may resist, speed should be a choice. You can't tell me you didn't at least a caffeine pill or two when you went through the alleged 7,000 submissions you received.

3.) Don't quote people like Rosanna Warren who have the audacity to say that poetry at this historical moment "exhibits a blessed profusion not easily categorized-thank heavens-into schools..."

When you have conservative poets --not that that's necessarily a bad thing--like McNair and Warren doing the judging, you get a lot of what you expect: strategically flat, unadorned understated narrative. When people complain about the Best American series being rigged, I find it annoying. They're guest editors, what do you expect. Of course, people are going to publish their friends? Who else are they going to? Their enemies?

But with all these nominators, and screeners, and judges, you expect more difference.

4.) Who the hell is Diann Blakely?

I swear she must nominate at least half of the 7,000 submissions. I see her name reprinted at least a dozen times every volume. Confess, Bill. Have you succumbed to the conglomerates? And if so, does she have stock?

It makes me queasy that out of 60 of the award winners, they come from only 41 different magazines. I'm not going to get into a numerical analysis. You can make statistics mean whatever you want them to. To a certain extent anyway. Also: I'm too lazy to make a pie chart. But you know what I'm saying. It doesn't take much time to scan the volume and see that a lot of the small magazines aren't that small.

Your volume was a great thing, but now it's starting to date itself before it's even be released. Here are some ideas to rejuvenate it: a.) make a concerted effort to peruse those on-line magazines, or at least put them in the maybe pile. (I'll be happy if at the end of my life the Universe puts me in the maybe pile. It's fitting closure) b.) if someone's already won a Pushcart, maybe they should be ineligible. c.) reprint only one entry from a magazine for each volume.

With 7,000 or so nominations you can't have at least a few runner ups. And isn't the Pushcart Prize volume all about the idea of the runner-up. It's about those of us who have exerted ourselves, hoping secretly that we might move beyond the small presses into undeniable fame. But through our own egotism forget that coming close is all as anyone--even those who have, indeed, "placed"--can do.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

On Mark Doty's Essay "Bijou" and Techno-Necrophilia

In the most recent and boring Pushcart Prize XXXIV, the volume sports an exciting, if flawed, Mark Doty essay entitled “Bijou.” Although he never names it, Doty raises the possibility of a techno-necrophilia as a way of assuaging (if not eradicating) gay male grief related to losing lovers in the AIDS epidemic.

The essay begins with a wonderfully bold set-up. Doty writes about watching a 1972 porn film. The film follows an attractive man Bill who witnesses a woman hit by a car. Instead of helping, he grabs her purse and runs only to go home where he ends up, according to Doty, nearly ejaculating in the shower as he thinks about the image of her being almost (or actually?) killed.

The scene then ends abruptly. We never see him ejaculate. As Doty remarks: “just as he’s about to come he sees the woman in fur flying when the bumper of the car strikes her. That’s the end of that, the erotic moment is over, for him, and for the viewer, once the image returns.”

It’s a bit blurry as to what exactly happens in the film. Do we see Bill disgusted with himself for secretly being around by the image and then he stops? Does the director of the movie edit the scene in such a way that his stopping may be implied? Or does Doty simply guess that he doesn't finish? Could some viewers believe that he does, indeed, masturbate to the desired end point? It just is never definitively seen.

Isn’t it at all possible that the film is edited in such a way that we are meant to imagine what may be the most repulsive act to some viewers which they are indeed complicit in emulating: the idea of someone (and themselves by extension) getting off on the image of a (possibly) dead woman?

Perhaps the film (like Doty himself) can’t show or name the taboo: a sort of techno-necrophilia is taking place. We are implicated in the “inappropriateness of the scene.” By watching another man being aroused by the dead, we’re vicariously having a sexual relationship with the dead as well. In the essay, Doty immediately confesses that he doesn't know how to categorize the film and name its intentions: "I'm hesitant to call it porn, since its intentions are less obvious that then..."

Doty does tell us that the film’s protagonist ends up out of the shower (after he may or may not have ejaculated) and back into his own bedroom where he looks through the contents of her purse again. He find an invitation for a “party? An event? Someplace called Bijou at 7 p.m. Then he’s walking in Soho-the old Soho, long before the art glamorous and even longer before the Euro-tourist-meets-North Jersey shopping districts...”

Doty further describes:

“He finds the address, goes in and up, and the movie shifts from the gitty Warholian vocabulary it’s trafficked in thus far to another cinematic tongue. An indifferent woman in a lot of eye makeup sits in a glass booth; Bill proferrs the invite; she gestures toward a door and utters the movie’s only line: Right through there. ‘There’ turns out to be a hallucinatory space, its dominant hue a solarized, acidy green.”

In this space, he ends up engaging in what may be best described as a weird, no-holds-barred homosexual orgy.

Perhaps the most important sentence in the essay appears after he completes the description of the film:

“It makes the viewer feel suspended in a sort of erotic haze, but whatever arousal I feel in imagining Bill’s complete submission to pleasure suddenly comes to a halt, as surely as if I’d seen that woman struck down in the crosswalk again, because I realize that all the men in the scene I’m watching are dead.”

My question is this: since Doty draws an analogy to one's (and his own) inability to masturbate to the visualization of “the dead” (the woman hit by the car, the gay men), what would it mean if one could overcome that taboo behavior? What if one allowed himself to ejaculate to these images?

It doesn’t needs to be said that the presence of technology grows in its sophistication and presence. This may be one of the cures of gay male grief: to use technology as a way of making the bodies of our loves appear and use those images as a way of getting off. This could be a healthy form of what I’ll name as techno-necrophilia. Religious conservatives love to group our sexual acts with anything that is seen as an abomination. I think we should take the word, the idea of necrophilia back from these same very people, and recharge the word with our own meanings, ways of survival.

Many, many years ago, over fifteen years, when I lost a lover to AIDS, I found myself with all this stuff: pictures, home movies, etc. I didn’t know what to do with it, and in my predictable impulsiveness, I threw it out. I couldn’t be reminded of his body. I had tapes of his voice on my answering machine and I kept those, playing them over and over again. I used them for a sensual experience. I was lonely and depressed, and I used his voice as a way of making me full of some sort of desire, even sexual.

I kept on thinking, I wish I could touch him. If only I could touch him. How many of us, as gay men, have thought to themselves, If only I knew that was the last time we would have sex? That question haunts us.

My response: Maybe by keeping my films of him, using them as sexual material, I would have had a sort of physical communion with him. I would have touched him and he me one last time and have been released from my grief, or at least on a more determined, expedient path.

Isn’t watching an image of the dead a way of possessing his body one last time? Is it an ethical and useful form of necrophilia created by our technological resources?

Can’t engaging in masturbatory activities with an image of our dead homosexual lovers, staring as close as you can at their flickering images, even touching the TV screen, and feeling them, provide a necessary release? Doty smartly says he wants to "revive" the phrase : to "have knowledge of someone." Their technologically created bodies are more than memories. You could say they are the real thing. They are the knowledge. You don’t need to remember. His body is right there in front of you. All you have to do is look at the screen and touch yourself and maybe even him. Indeed, you are with him at least one last time.

Monday, December 21, 2009

My Potty Mouth Interview with Neil de la Flor

He's not that hot, but I did an interview with Neil de la Flor anyway. (Pity fuck.)

And how could I not want to take a few swipes at my usual targets with the year coming to an end?

Randall, hurry up and win that Lambda so I can write my final rant about your poems!

Here's the link:

Friday, December 18, 2009

On Greg Miller's "Watch" (Part One)

I never want to go see the Grand Canyon. There's so many postcards of it. Who needs to see it in person? Why should I see something the world has already has seen? That's what I kept thinking when I read gay poet Greg Miller's "Watch" (University of Chicago Press, 2009)--one of those double meaning titles that feels like default wit. Except the trips he or his protagonist seem to have taken have been a bit more expensive.

What's with the University of Chicago Press? The press has always been sort of dull. One of the few exceptions is Bruce Smith; Miller and Randall Mann could learn a thing or two from him. Smith's wild, eccentric rhymes feel so much younger than the rote hard rhymes of Miller.

And why is this press obsessed with gay poets who are aces at scansion. Do you immediately have a shoe in the door if you can master hard end rhyme? Is this what academic queer affirmation action has been reduced to?

Get over Thom Gunn, guys! He's so 1993. For the University of Chicago Press, Joshua Weiner edited a collection of Thom Gunn essays, assembling a few good ones, one great, making it a worthwhile anthology. How many pieces really matter in any compliation? That's the fun of reading an edited collection--you feel like you're the editor when you separate even further the special from the dross.

You would think that a reputable university press, they would be looking for some aesthetic diversity. That's one of my goals with this review: to encourage University of Chicago to include a more diverse aesthetic range. If I was an editor there, I would say their books feel dated even before they're released.

With rhymes or no rhymes, Miller's poems that aim for a meditative , transcendent quality, perfunctorily weight down with high culture/literary allusions. It's like reading a Sam Hamill derivative crossed with a Richard Howard travelogue.


Here's the opening of the poem "Lost" where Howard wins out:

A cloud from the Cape's base stalks us catlike
making fantastic shapes rising and stretching,
white megalithic pincers and mute O's,
until the wind turns again and I'm lost
I hear the breaking waves, one warbler, then
the drone of an engine scuttling the cliff.

Miller's trademark meditative poems here, emblematic of a lot of his work. You think that if you really are "watching," privileging descriptive pictures of this world that you, as a poet, would see something a bit more idiosyncratic.

Unfortunately, Miller allows himself to become a pretty decent tour guide, taking us to a stop where "Churchill summered here. Napoleon spent/the night once in a small, freestanding room." And then, of course, things culminate "At dusk in the Greek theatre I watch/stars piece the cobalt dome and I hear wings." It's the ultimate middle-class epiphany: your summer vacation becomes a moment of spiritual transcendence, making you feel guilty about the trip most people can't afford. Which perhaps is an unfair thing to say. But what surprises me about this book is how much seems so self-content with itself. You can't help but wonder what redemption Miller could find in Disneyworld.

At the same, there's nothing wrong with having money, but what feels like a sham is its narrative arc. Why does the pathos for his father's illness in the first part of the three-section book seem to drive the protagonist in his spiritual journey? Worse the poems are poor. Here's the second stanza of "River":

My father's legs were swollen.
His once thin ankles barely fit his shoes.
His heart no longer fed his body
Toxins and liquids began to drown him.
His swollen doctors didn't see
He couldn't breathe.

The lines are as flat as the poems of the shockingly overrated Patrick Phillips--there's only so much of this father-son suffering we can take. As Miller himself writes "Maybe artless misery's what's true." Maybe. But this is taking it to an extreme.

Autobiographical or not, it feels creepy to make the father into such a cipher when he seems to be the impetus for the journey in the rest of the book. Why not eradicate and immediately transport himself into all these foreign countries

I am always suspicious of middle-class poets who travel to faraway places and bring back a bad slide show and spiritual transcendence. Why not create a series of poems simply about indulgence? Why justify it? There's nothing worse than a significant friend who takes up your time with six hundred photos of their trip to Ecuador or Hong Kong. And then apologizes for taking up your entire afternoon.


Sunday, December 13, 2009

On Houses and Homes

My partner and I are the only people in our department who do not have a house. I've always wanted a house. A house is a good thing. This is obvious. More poems need to say the obvious. They need to say a house is a good thing.


My partner's mother had two houses. One of them burned to the ground. It was a weird thing when my partner received the phone call. It felt like one of those things that only happens in the movies. "My house burned down," he said. It wasn't his house. It was his mother's. But still. In a family, a house is a house. It was a good thing that his mother had a spare.


My family never lived in a house. We lived in a trailer. I remember complaining even back then that we didn't have a house. "Shut up," my mother said, "You have a home. If you have a home, you don't need a house."


I like when people tell me how much their house costs. It almost feels like we're trading social security numbers. It feel like they're sharing. Maybe they only tell me because they know I don't have a house.


I like when people invite me into their house. Somehow I feel special.


Until gay men can get married, it is impossible for them to have a home. They can only have houses.


People who have houses or homes have almost all the time been nice to me.


The patriarch of my department tell me that we need to have a house. That's how he says it: "You need a house. Professors need a house. Especially ones who are full-time. Or else everybody expects them to go on a job market. And move somewhere else where they'll buy a house."


A lot of people in my department tell me they struggle a bit. But they have houses.


It always seems the nicer the house the less it feels like a home.


We buy a lot of books, DVDs. Do we not have a house because we buy those things? Or do we buy those things because we don't have a house?


Houses seem to have less stuff than homes.


You feel less guilty spilling wine on the couch in a home as opposed to house.


It's home, sweet home. It's not house, sweet house.


Houses are more silent than homes.


Homes contain less ghosts than houses.


I never know what to say when I enter a nice house. Most people in our departments who have houses say when they enter another house, "What a wonderful house!" That's the etiquette, I guess. It feels like a bad thing to say even though you have to say it. It feels like saying, You have a lot of money. In fact, what else can you really be saying? It's not like you're saying, I like the way you arrange the furniture. You're saying I'm impressed at how much you spent on this house. At the same time, if you're out for dinner with someone who has a house, you can't say, You have a lot of money, coded or not. You have to say you have a nice house when you're walking through the immediate thresh hold: the door to the house. The doors to a house seem less open than a home. But there are always more visitors in a house.


Houses always contain more parties. Homes more get-togethers.

Monday, December 7, 2009

On the Need for the Gay Male Poet to be a Repulsive Braggard

Recently a gay poet said to me that no matter how silly it may be, he wanted to create poems that would last forever. Ever since he started writing poems, he decided to edit out any words, any references that may "date" it. There was something admirably self-aggrandizing about such a statement. For the record, I think gay men need to be less modest. I want more self-serving bragging in the poetry world. Gay male poets need to brag in every single venue (on Facebook and blogs and conversations with friends and enemies) about every single accomplishment they receive: grants, reviews, publications, book contracts, the slightest mention in any magazine or newspaper, no matter how ostensibly insignificant). For a gay poet to be called self-aggrandizing is a sign that he may be worth exploring. I love Richard Siken’s poems that refuse to be aligned with the left-hand margin; their obnoxiousness in sprawling out all over the page. With all the hatred created in mandates like Proposition 8 (and New York’s recent denial of gay marriage), it’s important that queer poets take up as much space as possible. Lethe Press’ decision to make Charles Jensen’s book “First Risk” oversized is an act of love, a crucial political decision. It doesn’t fit conveniently in the stack of books on my bedroom floor. Its cover protrudes from the others. It doesn’t allow for neat piles. What wonderful self-aggrandizement!

Any gay male poet who desire to create timeless poems may automatically be, to a certain extend, a fraud. There seems to be something at least questionable, if not corrupt, in a gay male poet even considering the idea of achieving immortality through his words. It seems hypocritical to expect something like Proposition 8 to be banished due to its dangerous word choices; and at the same time, believing that any gay male poet’s words should become a permanent monument, inevitably anthologized. Perhaps gay male poetry should load itself with even more references to popular culture, proper names that make the poem a mere in-joke, meaningless factual accuracies (and inaccuracies), self-conscious references to friends in and out of the poetry world that already makes the poems dated. We should want our readers to feel like they missed something. This literary choice of making our own art obsolete may be one of the few potentially successful acts of resistance to a canon which excludes us and the laws that hate us.

Footnote: It seems that one of the most important queer presses has become Lethe Press. Which this year alone has produced two amazing gay male poetry titles: Ragan Fox’s “Exile in Gayville” and Charles Jensen’s “First Risk.” They seem to be producing wonderful books in every genre. With the death of so many gay bookstores, I hope that the queer male community supports its own presses. I know what my partner will be purchasing me for Christmas: books from Lethe Press. Here is the link to the press:

Thursday, December 3, 2009

On Gay Poet Randall Mann's Poem "Monday"

Recently appearing in the Washington Post, Mann’s autobiographical poem "Monday" focuses on a bad date with a beautiful, dumb gay man who was too lacking in cultural knowledge to keep up with him. From a cursory glance at the poem, it may seem unfair to raise any questions about its aesthetic or cultural politics. But the ending of the poem, an attempt to transcend its comic origins, reveals that the poem begs to be taken seriously. It wants to be seen as a work of art with a capital A. If Mann had the courage to make a simple comic rift, I would have left it alone. But he wants to go a step further, and as a result, so will I.

I have a two fold purpose in offering an analysis of this poem: 1.) to identify the ways in which gay narrative poets feel compelled to transform comic frivolousness into something tragic and the ostensibly meaningful 2.) the reasons behind that decision 3.) how critics unyieldingly affirm that decision through privileging the serious over the comic; thereby, marginalizing poets who don't depend on pathos for their work in terms of awards and grants.

I have written about Mann's work before. In my previous post, I wrote about James Allen Hall. I am currently working on a longish essay about these two poets and a few others. This post is an attempt to explore my ambivalent feelings about them and the critical inception they have received. As narrative poets, they may appear to be on opposite sides of the poetic continuum, but, in actuality, they are relying on similar popular rhetorical strategies, which (justifiably and unjustifiably) result in them being the two most reviewed young gay poets receiving cross-over success. This analysis is crucial when so many other gay poets with so many other aesthetic camps are ignored.


Here’s the more fun first two stanzas of Mann’s poem “Monday”:

While you wait for the J train, for work, think

of your new boyfriend, who loves apostrophes,

sizzle-pants, and you.

Who pointed out the "Andrew Lloyd Webber" house


and said his feelings have started to "Escalade."

You'll forgive him for now, smarty pants.

(Your last, the crisp progressive, declawed

his cat to save his Ethan Allen chairs.) Besides,


there's such promise, such furniture and new sex!

I do hope that Mann radically changed the details of his autobiographical experience. It would be unethical for him not to do otherwise since his date is living in the world.

Having said that, here’s the significant problem: its final lyric moment:

Look: wildflowers bloom in the streetcar tracks;

a syringe lies in the grass. It isn't

beautiful, of course, this life. It is.

Like some gay poets, you could make the claim that there’s a particular queer writerly anxiety in legitimizing their comic work with an unnecessary seriousness. He makes a leap from the playful to what some choose to seem as a profound worldview: there are the wildflowers blooming, a syringe laying the grass.

Perhaps the word “look” in the tenth line that bothers me the most. That damned imperative.

Am I supposed to look towards the sunflowers or look away from his satirical targets. If it’s the latter, I need to ask why Mann feels the sudden need to avoid his autobiographical comedy. Is there something else to see in them, something beyond the strategic caricature, that he allows himself to be distracted; or is it the former, he needs to ditch his comedy and towards that dreadful seriousness, those stupid looming wildflowers.

The world is beautiful and frail, Mann purports, emblematic of his characteristic ambivalence toward humanity. Mann is a comic, and his best work illustrates that. One of the rules of comedy: don’t apologize for your own jokes. The weak philosophizing is nothing more than a way of saying I’m sorry, I really am a serious poet. Or worse: see I'm more than gay. I can move beyond the camp. Queer poets need to see camp as something that could and should be honored as an end in and of itself.

With Proposition 8, I find this sort of philosophizing annoying. The world is not beautiful for gay men. It is a bad place where bad institutions (LDS churches) say that gay men are not equal. It's much more important to "flame on" than wallow in our own false, romantic perceptions of the world that lead to further middle-class inertia. How many gay poets does the Washington Post publish? And what is their stake in publishing a poem that allows a tired universality eclipse specific gay content?

Here’s a poem of his when he’s doing his better work:


Brent is a total fox and a mustache thief.

I’ve got amyls,
videos of dogs peeing,
and some time to kill.

What’s a mustache thief?
Like a turd burgler?
Or a butt pirate?

Please do not write dreamless prose.
It makes us feel awkward.

Free strong bad advice right here.

Fuck my fucking hole you fuck.

Flame on!!!

Mann feels no need to add on a closure that ultimately serves as an apology. Celebratory, tasteless, he offers a poem that no Washington Post would ever consider running. It's a truly gay poem. "Monday" ditches its queer sensibility, campiness, shallow one-liners, for an uninspired universality. You can feel heterosexual audiences saying, "Oh. That's what you were up to all along." And worse: we, as gay poets and critics, give them their cues.


I'd rather read the poem against the grain, and make the claim that Mann is strategically parodying himself. While he insensitively (and I mean that descriptively, not critically) cruelly mocks the uneducated queer, ribs the middle-class one, he --the artist with the capital A--tries to justify his own disappointments with his what ultimately is a hyperbolic "literary" non-sequitur, rather than an artful extension of one-liners. It's the ultimate declaration of self-pity: your date went bad and now the whole world is falling apart. What’s a poet to do, but share it with the rest of the world?


To draw the most embarrassing broad analogy, the critical reception of Mann’s work acts in the same way awards ceremonies treat films from the Coen brothers. (Who aren’t gay, unfortunately.) When they’re engaged in their best comic riffs like “Burn After Reading” or ”Ladykillers,” their work is ignored, but attach Cormac McCarthy and some pontification embedded in the narrative, you’ve got one of the most overhyped (Academy-Award winning) movies of all time: “No County for Old Men.”


Needless to say, this is unfair nit-picking over a single poem. But this example is meant to prove a larger point: gay poets often feel the need to ditch their comedy in an attempt to be seen as an important poet. Which isn’t that bad of a thing: everyone wants good reviews.