Thursday, April 29, 2010

On Eric Leigh's "Harm's Way"

Sincerely dutiful, gay poet Eric Leigh’s debut book “Harm’s Way” moves through themes that sometimes seem retro, as if it was catapulting us back to the early to mid 1980s, the beginning of the AIDS crisis. It doesn't offer retrospective commentary of that time; it feels a bit standoffish in wanting to talk to gay men about the now.

You can feel Leigh sometimes using the pathos of HIV-impacted lives as a way of giving his exploration of family some gravitas. The book's congenial arc gathers momentum even though it feels predetermined.

The final poem “Sickness & Health” exemplifies what’s wrong and right with the book. In a cross-cutting narrative, Leigh has his HIV-positive narrator reflect about his ex-lover and the myth of Persephone. There are some undeniable nice line breaks in its intertwining of myth and experience:

So much time to lose yourself in the glossy pages
of someone else’s sorrow, while you wait,
while you wonder why Persephone chose that one
flower out of all the glade? I do not know

his name, the man who infected me. I know his smile
and lacquered hair...

But why is Leigh writing this poem in a book published in 2010? At one point, he writes in the poem: “You were the nightmare/that we’d forgotten, the tragedy we were told/didn’t happen anymore...” Does that "anymore" refer to us now? In 2004? 1997? 1993? Time for gay men is a precarious thing; with rights being taken away and moving forward, hope for AIDS cures offered and then deflated, we often don't know where we are, as if we're in a busted time machine. And, as in the case of Proposition 8, we often find someone else guiding the control panel, hoping our final destination won't be where we had already landed: mired in federal restrictions that oppress us in crucial aspects of our lives.

Some critics may make the claim that Leigh is more interested in content than form, and no doubt they are right. Personally, I think sometimes our political situation is so urgent that we do need to resort to plain-spoken narrative. Sometimes you sacrifice creativity for immediacy. Leigh's impulses are good here, and I hope he will develop them further.

One significant problem with some of Leigh's narratives, however, is that they can occasionally seem interchangeable with Paul Monette or Essex Hemphill’s landmark work. In the poem “Watching the Virus Attack a Cell” Leigh falls into a popular default mode, making the poem a passive examination of the language surrounding HIV. Leigh writes: “Give me/the cold reserve of your language:/attachment binding, fusion/ You mean to help me understand/how something replicates, loves/itself enough to make more of itself.” Well-intentioned, the poem reads like the Spark Notes of Susan Sontag’s 1988 classic “Illness as Metaphor and AIDS and Its Metaphors.”

One could see Leigh's poems as a blend of James Allen Hall’s domestic narratives in “Now you’re the Enemy” and Mark Wunderlich’s “The Anchorage” which then, too, offered snapshots of silent daddies and drag queens. Here’s an excerpt from Leigh's “On the Day the Last Drag Queen Leaves Town”:

Truth is you’ll be just fine. Remember, a girl
In high heels can still win a race.
You’re just missing the way she knew you-
The way the tree stump loves the ax,
because the blade still sees a use in an old piece
of oak.

His analogy is sweet, but Leigh is working too hard to prove his artistic chops--a sign that he may at some time create some great work. But he's not there yet-- too many moments like that (unintentional?) allusion to Shel Silverstein’s “The Giving Tree" bog down his attempts.

It may seem to be an act of unkindness to be so critical of a first book by a gay poet, especially one who is still trying to find his subject. With all the difficulties that queers still face in the publishing world, why criticize? At the same time, Leigh's book is filled with dramatic monologues, direct addresses, and second-person narratives; we can't help but think he wants us to react, and how ungenerous it would be not to respond.

In one of his AIDS narrative "Bel Canto for Beginners," Leigh writes:

My first love was a tenor who sang only my name,
stretching those two syllables to their breaking
until his mentor told him, "Right now,"
someone else is practicing-and he will win."

He made a sign of it and hung it in his room.
How many nights my eyes spied that sentence
from his bed.

Autobiographical or not, Leigh could benefit from that same advice. He just needs some practice. From reading a contemporary anthology like David Groff and Phillip Clark's AIDS anthology "Persistent Voices: Poetry by Writers Lost to AIDS" Leigh could "spy" sentences and lines, and, yes, whole poems, that will encourage him to find other rooms--hospital and stanzaic--to nurture what could be a fine career.

Friday, April 23, 2010

On Stephen S. Mills' Poem "Against Our Better Judgment We Plan a Trip to Iran" from the most recent issue of "knockout"

In the Spring 2010 issue of knockout, I came across a brave poem entitled “Against Our Better Judgment We Plan a Trip to Iran” by emerging poet Stephen S. Mills, who makes a complicated argument that addresses among other issues the controversial issue of bareback sex in the gay community.

In the poem, a middle-class man projects his apprehensions about going to Iran upon his partner:

You want to see the spot where they hang boys

for sodomy, want to feel the danger of being two men

together, of being caught in the act, one behind the other.

And the self-indictment grows as the poem continues in blunt and admirably unsparing ways:

...You are unmoved by my politically correct

pleas for respect to culture, to a religion that isn’t ours to have.

Fuck religion you say, and I want to agree.

Yet fear you long to be hanged, that the martyr in you

is desperate to get out, biting at your ribcage,

tearing at your flesh.

The final stanza of the poem develops the complicated theme:

But by morning you’ll back out, rip our plane tickets

into pieces, and we’ll lie in bed watching CNN,

fucking without condoms until everything burns.

You can’t help but admire the ambiguity of this closure: are we meant to see the “fucking without condoms” as an equivalent of “longing to be hanged”? Except that it takes place in ostensibly safe domestic sphere?

Or are we meant to consider bareback sex can be an opportunity for solace in a world that advocates for violence against gays. If people are encouraged to harm the gay male body, can bareback sex be seen as a form of queer radicalism—we’re risking the safety of our bodies in the way we choose.

It’s no coincidence that the poem ends with the word “burning.” On the most obvious level, the poem can be said to see bareback sex as a comfort in a world plagued with political national crises, leading perhaps to its imminent destruction: a burning from weapons of mass destruction.

But you can also see the “burning” as the result of a sexual disease, say, gonorrhea or chlamydia—which provides another ambiguity. Are we supposed to see the closure as an ironic reversal: American gays are in their own way causing their own physical pain as much as governmental sanctions in Iran.

Or again, is the gay male choice of engaging in risky sex an acceptable way of defending himself? If an aspect of sexual pleasure is to take your bodies to spaces it has never gone before, pushing your body beyond its past limits, cannot a secure private space where one can make choices, be oddly the most safe? Is the poem a refusal of the demonization of bareback sex as a necessary gesture of resistance against gay hatred or is it a critique of risky sexual activities that could lead to the destruction of the body, a self-imposed and misguided "marytrdom"?

What is remarkable about Stephen S. Mills' poem is that it doesn't take any easy way out, nor close off a conversation on bareback sex. In a mere three lines, a final stanza, he opens up a dialogue in a way that I haven't seen from a gay male poet. From his contributors' notes, he doesn't have a book of poems out yet. With as important and, dare I say, "risky" work as this, I look forward to it.

Friday, April 16, 2010

On Knockout, Jeff Mann, and Paul Lisicky

You've got to hand it to editors Jeremy Halinen and Brett Ortler for daring to call their new magazine "knockout." I always think it's dangerous to give something a name that you could easily turn into an insult with a slight inflection of your voice. Knock it out of the ballpark. Or knock you out like a sleeping pill. But fortunately for the editors' sake, their magazine is dynamic and fun.

A lot of literary magazines, especially the predominantly gay ones, are sweetly boring. I usually end up giving up and just reading the contributors' notes. The same way I did craigslist personals when I was young and single.

Not only is the content excellent, but the magazine is "doing its part of fight suicide in the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and questioning youth population." Charity and beauty don't often go hand-in-hand, but these co-editors show us they can. As the editors tell us "five percent of the proceeds from sales will go to The Trevor Project, which focuses on helping the young people of our community.

Now I'm even more pissed off that I was solicited and then rejected!

But when a job's well-done, a job is well-done. I haven't read every single piece but so far I think that the stand-outs are Jeff Mann's "Here's to the Death of Our Enemies" and Stephen S Mills' "Against Our Better Judgment We Plan a Trip to Iran."

Do help make sure this magazine stays alive. Please buy an issue. If you're unhappy with it, I'll personally write you a note of apology. Even if you're not interested in the magazine, give something to their charity which does help queer youth. Here's the link for the magazine:

Here's the link for The Trevor Project:


On my Facebook page, I always switch my age from time to time, moving it back slowly, but sometimes too fast so that one of my students recently said, "You're just like Benjamin Button." Growing old is horrible. Yet old queer codgers need to stop whining that young queers aren't reaching out to them.

They are. Or at least they reach out to the ones not obsessed with proving their scholarly erudition. But sometimes it's even tough not to wonder "why should they?" Educational institutions still don't help GLBT students much. ROTC is still here, and domestic partnership isn't a reality even at a lot of institutions. School essentially teaches you to be a middle-class professional, fitfully dull and reasonable. Edgy, contemporary literature remains invisible, and rarely do we question if the stuff in the Norton anthologies hold any value for us.


So much gay literature dealing with growing older possesses a wistful thoughtfulness that borders on the ingratiating--spiritual transcendence is more than not an overrated phenomenon; we're stuck on earth--let's deal with it. And for a gay man to engage such questions regularly, you can't help but wonder if they are in some sort of denial. We're being killed. Don't abandon us for an angel who has the privilege of moving up and away.

One of the remarkable finds in "knockout" is Jeff Mann's "Here's to the Death of Our Enemies". It's a rightfully erratic sloppy sonnet, loosely rhymed except in the final couplet. Look at the opening:

Memorializing the banal or constructing wish-fulfillment
fantasies, these fill my forties. Men I'd like to rape, men
I'd like to kill. Weight Watches recipes, cat littler at Wal-Mart,
new varieties of gin...

Queer male rage is something not often explored, or even acknowledged.

For me, I always become nervous, perhaps unjustifiably so, about middle-aged wistfulness. My partner and I fought about the merits of Paul Lisicky's "On the Table" in the same issue, an honorable elegy to Arden, his dead dog. I was called a speciest for not valuing the poem as much as he did. And I fear he might have a point. "Would you question a poem about Gesundheit?" Gesundheit was the name of our pet bunny. She was sick at a pet store, and her cage was right next to the snake's, so I had no choice to buy her. Much to the shock of the octogenarian store owner. She sneezed a lot (the bunny, not the store owner), so we named her Gesundheit.

It's perhaps too easy for me to devalue the domestic and jump headlong into the public. Today the federal government allows us same-sex visitation rights, and we're supposed to jump up and down. Sadly, I thought those were already offered. We're further behind than I even thought. So it's a relief for Mann to write:

...Right-wingers dead, pious eyes grown black
with flies, heaps and heaps, and our apish executive branch
simmering among them , sweetly gutted....

Anger is something that always scares people. Some straight people value our victim narratives a bit too much. But perhaps gay men privilege them even more. To a degree. Or for different reasons. But still. What do we do with a cathartic fantasy of us causing the harm, rather than the other way around?

The spiteful cacophony, its jagged syntax is justified, its refusal to be tamed, necessary:

...More and more,
manner sleep, fail to fill the breach. The list of hate
grows longer. The skull smokes and churns, a dark ark,
More and more, out Elysium's illegal, our skin is bark.

Unlike some of the well-meaning gay older men, Mann restores these literary allusions in a way that is useful--his elders should pay special attention. It's a rare occurrence that a gay poet uses the literary allusion not to pander to straight audiences. If you're drawing on the classics, then your works contains a certain literary gravitas. I think it's important than Mann reclaims the classical reference--telling everyone with a ferocity we have to find new ways of living. The poem names the classical reference as a limitation rather than elevating it as a way of receiving dumb affirmation.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

How Oliver de la Paz Ruined My AWP Experience, or, a Final Letter for Eduardo C. Corral

dear eduardo,

because oliver posted on facebook that there were all these problems with transportation to the airport, i rushed here, and now i'm stuck here with about three hours to my flight. the good news: now i feel no guilt about giving him the cold shoulder in the hotel lobby. he needed to be take down a notch.

but enough of that. i have time so i want to supply you with some guidance for next year's awp. this is some stuff i learned and i think it might help you. i've never met you but you strike me as a sensitive person and i always feel the need to take care of sensitive people. i'm good at saying the obvious so a lot of this is obvious but that doesn't mean you should be any less grateful. here are some of the things. i don't mean any of them figuratively. all of this is literal, what actually happened, so don't think i'm trying to wax poetic:

1. you can be 34 years old and still be disappointed that you didn't get invited to the cool kid's parties.

2. the next morning after that kind of stuff happens, you'll go to lunch with your best female friend and tell her of this, and she'll say, "stop whining. think of yourself as rudolph the red-nosed reindeer and you'll feel better." and you will.

3. what matters is what's on the inside not the outside

4. if you make one special friend during the conference, thank god. usually, a special friend takes years to make. and make sure you stay in contact, you'll regret it later.

5. don't cut in line to get to the airport faster. as they say disney world, line-jumping is prohibited.

6. if you hear that one of your heroines would like to meet you and you're too shy to go, don't feel bad. somethings you've got to do when you're ready. take losing your virginity for example. and that really is ok. move at your own pace. ignore the peer pressure.

7. don't worry if you don't get to meet someone super popular, they have plenty of love and you'll meet them sometime later in life or the next.

8. don't tell people you spent time in a ward when what you really meant was an emergency room. they'll get the wrong idea.

9. don't listen to people who don't like awp. all it is is a lot of people getting together to share their words and try to convince other people that their words matter. yeah: people may be underhanded or not very nice or rude or backstab, but it's really ultimately no big deal. all anybody really wants at awp is love and sometimes you try to get that love in dumb ways. no one is building a nuclear bomb or commiting an act of genocide. they just want to be told that they're special. and they are. but sometimes you need to hear it. and that's not a bad thing.

with love,

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Call Me Mr. Faux Pas, or, Some More Bits about AWP (for eduardo c. corral)

i asked one of my favorite gay poets if he was sending his book out. he said he was taking a break, it was expensive. i asked, "what's your salary?"
a gay poet who just had his book released from marsh hawk press approached me in the bookfair. I was walking around talking crazily on a cell phone. "are you really talking on the phone, asshole?" and lo and behold, i wasn't. Of course, I wasn't.
i wanted to introduce myself to every gay male poet here. that was my goal. it was a selfish one. i wanted to overcome my own homophobia. i have no gay friends, i always feel judged and the need to judge them back. (is that one of the reasons i started this blog?) in graduate school, an editor who is gay of a significant lit mag arrived my second year. all us grad students were at a retreat and i could feel myself wanting to hurt him. of course i didn't.
so i did the next best thing: when we started talking about poetry, i made myself become a vicious parody of the gay aesthete. i felt compelled to show him that i could see the flaws in all the queer male authors. i was so mean. i could feel myself becoming more and more gay. Except the way it was happening was dumb and pointless and i couldn't control it. or i didn't want to.
as this conference went on, i hid from gay men more and more. next year if i should come, i'll try to accomplish my goal again.
i like awp. next year i will attend at least one panel or reading.
i hate when a gay man says to another gay man in a platonic relationship that they want him or that they find him attractive. it always feels gratuitous even when they mean it.
tonight i'm saying a prayer for my sick brockport friend. she isn't feeling well, and i love her. i wish i prayed kneeling down. it feels like the smartest way to pray. i always say my prayer lying on my side in bed. which sometimes i fear make them less effective.

last call, last call, last call (yet even more awp bits) (for eduardo c. corral)

once someone asked me during a game of truth or dare: "What quality would you want to be remembered for that you do NOT possess?" And this is what I said: to be able to dance. whenever i first meet someone, i always imagine what they dance like, and no matter what i think, it always makes me appreciate them in a way i hadn't expected. i wonder if people go to the final party/dance here.
the benu press reception went well. i always get nervous about those things. i forgot to brush my teeth as i always do. but no one seemed to notice. all i know is a nice number of good people showed. thank you all for coming! and for making me realize people won't resist me as long as i can offer them a free drink ticket.
this conference made me realize how much i miss people who are pretentious. i teach in upstate new york and my students are often first generation rural upstate new york kids. they're the furthest thing from haughty. this is a good thing and a problem. they reject poetry out of hand: it's not for the masses, it's elitist. they have a point, but i don't care. i want to help them become snobs. or at least more curious. can you teach curiosity? i think you can.
i went to the university of utah reception. i saw my first graduate creative writing teacher: melanie rae thon. this was at syracuse. during my first semester of grad school, i went through a serious depression (i didn't know that's what it was at the time.). i couldn't write. all i did was sleep literally twenty out of twenty-four hours a day, and eat macaroni and cheese. one time i went to her office to talk about a story and i started to cry. she shut the door, turned off the lights, and held me. i think of her as an angel.
are there any restaurants who serve great macaroni and cheese? it's my favorite food.
when i finally went up to melanie in the middle of the utah reception, i started to cry. it wasn't subtle. one friend from grad school said, "i forgot how sentimental you are." this is what i love about melanie: i just wanted to hold her and have a moment of silence with her. i didn't want to talk to her, and she knew that, what is there to say?
without words, i wanted to say i'm here in the world and i think of you. i would never have become a writer without you.
my weight is really starting to get to me.
i drank two nights in a row. the first night with my new favorite person and the second with a group of people and we went bar-hopping. i love hearing someone say, "last call." Last call! Last call. Do you hear it?
i think i might stay in the hotel tonite alone. i've run out of friends to hang out with and i need to stop drinking. the movie "daybreakers" is on pay-per-view-- it's the vampire movie starring ethan hawke. i love ethan hawke. "before sunset" is one of my all-time favorite movies. i like to watch it alone. that movie has one of the best ending ever.
my first undergraduate poetry teacher is here. laurence leiberman. how old is this man? he has a new article about hart crane in the latest american poetry review. i haven't read it yet. it's very long and dense looking. i can tell i'm going to want to read it with a pen in my hand and take notes. how does he still write these exhaustive pieces at his age? i said to him, "next time i see you, you better be walking with a cane."

Friday, April 9, 2010

on day two of awp (pre-benu press reception) (for eduardo c. corral)

i met with my publishers today and they are the nicest people. they have restored my faith in the world of publishing. i hope when i become mature im like them.
the reception is from 7-8:15 pm in Mineral Hall E, Hyatt Regency Denver, 3rd Floor. feel free to come, take some food and drink and then dash away. no-strings. but plenty of fats and femmes.
one of my old friends from syracuse has a new book from university of pittsburgh press. she was married when i knew her. weve talked several times over the years and she made references to a lesbian partner. i thought she was joking. today she stopped at the benu table and told me that she was with a woman and they have two kids. i didn't believe her, but then she showed me the pics. it freaked me out. i felt this need to say, i like you. why would you choose this lifestyle?
i signed books alongside suzanne frischkorn today for the writer's center. i really like her. she smelled nice too which made me like her even more.
i hope my suny brockport friend is less sick.
one of my students sent me an email telling me she got a really nice handwritten rejection letter from passages north. i was so proud of her. she wrote the essay in my class. i like to take credit for other peoples' accomplishments

recap of day one of AWP

I don't think I've ever felt more like Sissy Spacek in Carrie.
I was sent a text message that there was a slumber party at a famous gay poet's hotel room. When I replied, asking, "who is this?", no one answered or texted me back. I had another glass of wine. Curious, I called again, taking on the persona of a gay poet more attractive than me. I disguised my voice appropriately and left a message. Still nothing. I still believe that the homosexual who texted me is the Amy Irving type--he had a change of heart and saved me from imminent humiliation. If I had gone to the slumber party, a bucket of pig's blood would have crashed on my head and I'd be more of the laughing stock than I already am.
Speaking of laughter, I went up to one gay male poet who I've reviewed on my blog and he immediately turned his back. Very high school. Later, he was talking to several gay men about how they should create an AWP panel about the crucial role of Log Cabin Republicans in the literary community.
I had several drinks with a very charming gay male poet who said he hadn't drunk a single drop of alcohol in a year. Liar, I thought. Tragically, though, it was true. He gradually became nervous and maudlin (my favorite emotional states) and I felt the night was a total success. He's my new favorite person.
My new favorite person said earlier in the day (twice), "Tomorrow I'm going to tell people that you're not a complete asshole." I guess he liked me, too.
One of the woman writers I loved when I went to Breadloaf made me feel loved and comfortable (as she always does) I don't like my photos taken, but with her I didn't mind. Her spirit helped lessen my anxiety. It's weird how the simplest of acts can make an entire trip special. If only Carrie had friends like these, she might not have gone all telekinetic apocalyptic at the prom.
Much as it will shock everyone, I'm not an innocent in bad behavior either. One of my Brockport colleagues saw me and I hid. Apologies. No ghosts of Christmas present during my trip.
I miss one of my Brockport colleagues who I love and is sick and not here. I hope everything is going well.
Sometimes I get sad when I meet someone who I've only known from online. I feel vulnerable and want to say, I'm sorry. This is all I am.
I miss Phil.
It creeps me out when a gay male puts a post up on his blog and then his partner posts a comment three minutes later. Talk about gay co-dependency. Phil deliberately stays away from posting here (he's posted maybe three times in the more than a year I've been running this blog) and I know he's had to bite his tongue not to on more than one occasion.
I met a gay poet who has been published by the same poetry press as me, and he seems as unpretentious and ultimately goofy and kind as his poems. But then again, I talked to him for two minutes. He still could be an asshole.
One of my best friends is having a book signing today and she has been invited to one of those fancy secret dinners that only the best of the best get invited to. You need a special invite that you MUST bring to the event place. There's a musclebound bouncer at the door if someone's a fraud. See, John Gallaher, now I have proof those parties indeed exist! ...And when I asked the same friend if she'd get a drink with me after her dinner, she said, "don't you have someone you hang out with?"
I had dinner with the woman who published my first essay ever, and wrote an illness memoir I'm currently teaching. She said that based on my writing she expected me to be thin and have angular features (re: not fat). She looked exactly how I thought she would: she had a generous open face. I liked her a lot.
I am now going to have spinach omlettes and mimosas with my hotel floormate, Seamus Heaney. Okay, maybe not Seamus Heaney.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

as a service/tribute to eduardo c. corral, michael musto, and awp....

i will be blogging at awp.
i hope they have wireless access at the bookfair. i'd rather keep my eyes on the computer screen than have to awkwardly smile at somebody who is trying to ignore me the second time they pass by my table. once is always enough.
i'm going to have a series of blind items michael musto-style throughout the few days im there.
i wonder how many gay men will be cuter than me and how many ill be cuter than. im going to secretly take a photo of each one i encounter and send them to my partner. he says it'll probably be fifty-fifty.
i have no lunch/dinner plans with anyone. except the amazing s.l. wisenberg who wrote a book i taught called "cancerbitch." it's a non-fiction book entirely composed of blog posts. it's great. she also published my first prose piece ever. it was about thom gunn and was over ten pages long. no anthologist asked me to republish it.
it seems that so many people have scheduled dinner plans months in advance for awp. it reminds me of what my mother once said about the bozo show. you had to wait sometimes a year to get your kids on it.
i was supposed to be on a panel but someone kicked me off it before they submitted the proposal. they said the other panelists thought i was a trouble maker.
its fun getting ready for awp. i love putting all my meds in my plastic blue container. it makes me feel like im a complicated person.
whenever i received a facebook invitation to attend a reading/event on facebook i thought i was being singled out. i didn't find out this isn't the case until twenty minutes ago. you can send group invitations. i thought for awhile there i was the most popular writer in the nation.

Saturday, April 3, 2010


Hi Everyone,

If you read this blog, please come to an AWP reception hosted by Benu Press.

It is Friday April 9th from 7 pm. To 8: 15 p.m., Mineral Hall E, Hyatt Regency Denver, 3rd Floor. (You can check the AWP Conference schedule.)Thank you for considering to come.

This is an opportunity for you to meet new people and who knows? maybe someone will advance your career. Or mine.

In all seriousness: please, please come especially if you're awkward or shy or chubby or lonely or somewhat depressed--all of which I am. I'm a total geek. The last time I went to AWP, I hid in my hotel room, and called my boyfriend every hour, complaining that I felt so out of it and I didn't have any friends. Which I didn't. For most of meals, I ate alone at Burger King, figuring that someone who was cool and had friends wouldn't be dragging their ass into Burger King. And the one time I did see someone I knew (who did have a friend), I pretended that someone stood me up, even though no one had stood me up. I had no friends to eat with at Burger King.

So come hang out with me. I'm not cool. All that will be offered is a smile and conversation and drinks and some food. But sometimes that's more than enough.

We'll climb our way to the top (especially since there's never been a chance of me sleeping my way to the top.)


Friday, April 2, 2010

Not an April Fool's Joke, or, On Getting Ready for AWP and Other Deadly Serious Matters

I am starving myself for beauty. Two pounds. Only one Weight Watchers Brownie for dessert. Not three. I will find my way into all the big bashes. Or crash them. I need to fit into my AWP night wear. My white jeans and Ultimate Merona Black Polo Shirt. (If my clothes don't work, I'm going to claim to be Neil de la Flor's date. Or Randall Mann's. Sometimes you've got to settle.)


One of my closest friends told me that she wouldn't be able to hang out with me at AWP. (She's a star on a panel.) Too busy. I wish I could say this was an April Fool's Joke. She said that perhaps at night--in her room or mine, with the curtains drawn.


I am very sad that my partner is not going to be there. I have no idea why, but sometimes he says that distance makes the heart grow fonder. "What does that have to do with me?" I ask. And then the volume to the TV goes up.


We're going to buy him a cell phone (we got our first one three weeks ago) so when I'm walking around the book fair, he can call me and look important, pretending he's someone else. Then I'll stop at someone's table all frazzled and ask them if I could jot down a phone number, and they'll be nice and give me something to write with, and I'll say thank you, thank you, and buy one of their ugly ass books, and get extra points for being charitable. No way someone won't invite me to a party then.


I always think that I'm going to be happy being away from my partner, but after one night, I get homesick and want to go home. Why did you make me love you, asshole!


No help from me, the wonderful Rane Arroyo came to read at Brockport, and he danced. I like dancing. Or when other people do it. This was the question I was once asked during Truth or Date: "What quality would you be remembered for that you do NOT possess?"

I said, "To take up space well."

The next round I was dared to dance. There was only one catch. The gamer said: "Wait for all of us to close your eyes. Then do it."

I hope I get to see some happy male people dancing.


I'm going to have someone take a photo of me and John Gallaher. So he can put it on his blog and I'll feel popular.


Yesterday a famous poet/blogger responded to my status update. My update said that I'd pay $50 for someone to invite me to a party that you needed to an invitation for. He wrote: "Is this an April Fool's Joke?" And then he deleted it! A new low.


I have a new tic when I teach. I stare at one student and then ask another to answer the question. It freaks them out a bit. I like it. If I meet a gay couple, I'm going to try it out in a social situation. And see if it makes me look sexy.


I suffer from insomnia--real insomnia--not the kind where you get four hours of sleep and then don't look pretty. Once I've gone three days without sleeping--started to have delusions. Warts on peoples' heads. Shit like that. For the first time, I'm going to try melatonin which I heard is a lot like pot but legal.


I'm going to buy every single book by a gay author that I can find and don't already have.


I'm going to hang out with my publishers LeRoy and Lesly Chappell and tell them how much I love them.


I'm going to any panel about gay issues I can and then race back to my room and write about it.


I'm going to go up to at least six different complete strangers and tell them I love their work. Everyone has the right to feel like they have anonymous fans.