Monday, August 14, 2006

Literary Lineup

This past week, Christopher Stackhouse and I recorded an interview with poet and DJ Keith Roach for Eadon's Place/Live365 online radio. We were talking up our collaborative book project, Seismosis (1913 Press), and other things as well. It aired yesterday from 3-5 pm, and will repeat several times this week. The Eadon's Place/Live365 schedule is available here. The clip is about 45 minutes or so long, and includes me reading the essay-poem "Color."

Mendi O. tagged me with a book meme (which Littlemilk has already undertaken), so I promise to get to it soon. For the entire history of Jstheater, I don't think I've ever undertaken a meme (which was one of my unspoken first-year daily blogging rules), but I've seen a few I've liked and earlier this year did begin one, only to set it aside to work on something else. Mendi's and Littlemilk's are fascinating, so check them out.

Speaking of literary news, one of my Brazilian correspondents, poet, journalist and literary impresario Valdeck Almeida de Jesus, has published his first novel, Mistério Policial en Estocolmo (Salvador, 2006), through the Fundação Cultural do Estado da Bahia, under its "Letras da Bahia" imprint. Valdeck is also the author of Heartache Poems. A Brazilian Gay Man Coming Out from the Closet (New York: Editora iUniverse, 2004), a moving collection of poems written and published in English; Feitiço Contra o Feiticeiro (São Paulo: Editora Scortecci, 2005); and Memorial do Inferno. A Saga da Família Almeida no Jardim do Éden (São Paulo: Editora Scortecci, 2005). In addition to these projects, he also edited an anthology of poems, and is the founder and head of the Jean Wyllys Fan Club, which celebrates his fellow Bahian writer and the winner of Brazil's Big Brother 5, Jean Wyllys. Congratulations on the new novel, Valdeck!

I've been translating Wyllys's award-winning collection of stories, Aflitos, which was originally published by the Fundação Casa Jorge Amado in Salvador, and was republished by the media conglomerate Globo. The beautifully preserved egg-shell blue colonial house in Salvador's Pelourinho district where Amado lived for decades not only houses the foundation, and research and cultural center, with a café and theater, but includes a bookstore that features books by many of Bahia's contemporary writers, from the internationally famous (Amado, João Ubaldo Ribeiro) to the less-well known. Aflitos deserveedly received Bahia's Premio Copene de Cultura e Arte. The several dozen stories, some as brief as an extended paragraph and many as lyrical as prose poems, often treat raw subject matter in quick, clipped stylistic strokes, somewhat in the manner of stories by one of the authors Wyllys quotes, one of Brazil's most remarkable writers, Clarice Lispector. Like Lispector's stories, they frankly address social inequities, including the most elemental depradations of human existence, and sexual relations, though Wyllys, as a young (32) out gay writer of Afro-Brazilian ancestry concentrates more directly on the vicissitudes of Bahia's Black population and on the queer currents within the city's demimondes. I find the work's abruptness and bitter edge bracing, and hope to complete my translation in the near future so that others who don't read Portuguese will have access to this work.

Back to these shores, Bernie alerted me to a recent post on Keith Boykin's blog about complaints lodged by writer Randy Boyd. There have since been 137 comments in response, and I have little to add except to say that I think Boyd's complaint not only a bit tired but misplaced, especially given that the vast majority of depictions of gay American male life are eurocentric and White-normative (actually, I'd add gay, lesbian and bisexual American lives), and, until fairly recently (within the last 25 years), many novels and extended works of fiction by African-American and other Black gay male authors centered on Black-White relationships as opposed to intraracial or any other racial or ethnic combinations--where Boyd he been? Does he read any prior African-American gay male writers?--but he's apparently found his home with the NABWMT/MACT crowd, which shares his "dream that a black boy and a white boy can be in love and deal openly and honesty with the crap from both the black and white communities" (um, hello, do any other races or ethnicities exist?). Yeah, okay. Yawn!

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