“The Absinthe Drinker”

20140404-005901.jpgA couple months or so ago, this poem came out in Connotation Press: An Online Artifact. I was on the road at the time and didn’t have a chance to share it.

Here is “The Absinthe Drinker“. Click on the title to visit the page.


Interview from Outer Space

#poetry #WeaveMagazine #napomo2014 Recently Laura E. Davis, editor of Weave literary journal and blogger at Dear Outer Space, asked me five questions as part of a mini-interview about my writing process and my new book, Velvet Rodeo. The piece is now live at her site: http://dearouterspace.blogspot.com/2014/04/interview-McQuain.html #sasfest

Thanks, Laura!

Throwback Thursday Micro Poems!

Looking for something to read on Throwback Thursday? How about some Twitter poems from NPR? They published one of mine a while back. Check out the sound files at http://www.npr.org/2012/04/02/148546091/muses-and-metaphor-2012?sc=tw&cc=share.


Michael Cunningham–FREE!; Edward Hirsch

Hello, writer friends! The podcast of Edward Hirsch’s talk at the Free Library of Philadelphia is below at the link. I was happy to introduce him when he visited the Library recently, and I am likewise excited to introduce Pulitzer Prize-winning author Michael Cunningham on May 22nd. The new novel tackles religion, drugs and politics and is called The Snow Queen. The event is free! Maybe you will join me there? Learn more at http://libwww.freelibrary.org/authorevents/index.cfm?ID=42446&type=2

Edward Hirsch on The Poet’s Glossary (podcast)


It’s the year of the Queer Stamp!

#siblingrivalrypress #BLOOMLiteraryJournal #poetry #TomofFinland #HarveyMilTom-of-Finland-stamp-thumb-autox317-36710k

Does anybody know anyone in Finland? Maybe we can do a poetry postcard exchange–Harvey Milk stamped postcards sent to pen pals for postcards with this Tom of Finland stamp on them. Who’s in?

This summer, you can show your support of Gay and Lesbian Civil Rights by sending your bills and birthday cards with a Harvey Milk stamp. And, if you go to Finland, you can make my day by sending me a postcard that will shock my mail carrier.  Read more about each stamp at these links:

Tom of Finland

Harvey Milk.





Attention Philatelists!

What other queer pioneers have appeared on stamps? Leave a comment!

NYC-Part 2: New BFFs & NEWSIES

[More from our trip to NYC back in March. Composed on the train ride back to Pennsylvania] Sunday John and I played typical New York tourists. We were staying at a new Marriott Courtyard near Times Square. Formerly a newspaper distribution center, the hotel made for easy walking as we spent our day dodging puddles and pedestrians on Broadway. On a whim we went to Madame Tussaud’s on 42nd Street, where we hobnobbed with the likes of James Bond, Dorothy Parker, the Dalai Lama and P. Diddy. (You’ll always remain Puff Daddy to me, Mr. Diddy). Marvel Comics characters had invaded the museum, making Bela Lugosi’s Dracula and Boris Karloff’s Frankenstein seem like nostalgic relics. I barely survived a smash-em-up with the Incredible Hulk. I wore out John making him take pictures of me with all the people I’m certain would by my BFFs if only they were lucky enough to know me. Over drinks, say, with F. Scott Fitzgerald and Dorothy Parker (both of who are there). We can put them on Leo DiCaprio’s tab.

Hey Diddy Diddle.

Afterwards, we caught the matinee show of the musical Newsies. I really must commend the performance of recent Carnegie Mellon University grad Corey Cott in the male lead, Jack Kelly. Imagine a slimmed down, younger version of Hugh Jackman. Easy on the eyes, and with a tenor that is also easy on the ears. The musical debuted on Broadway in 2012 at the Nederlander Theatre and is based on the 1992 Disney film that helped launch Christian Bale’s career. It is but a tiny piece of Disney’s growing nine-billion dollar international musical theater portfolio. Alan Menken’s score was no shock, but I was surprised to find the book had been written by brass-throated Broadway vet Harvey Fierstein, an old favorite of mine, perhaps best known for playing Edna Turnblad in the movie-musical version of Hairspray (though to me it will always be his moving Torchsong Trilogy that anchors him to my memory).

Corey Cott in the lead role.

The story of Newsies centers on an 1899 strike by newsboys who hawked papers for the media magnates of the era, bigwigs like Hearst and Pulitzer, and their actions helped shine a spotlight on unfair child labor practices, though significant reform would be slow to come. The newsboys have inspired fictional works before, like DC Comics’ Newsboy Legion in Star-Spangled Comics (1942), and they share a kinship with the likes of the Bowery Boys and the Our Gang serials in other media.

On one level, Newsies is the kind of feel-good do-it-by-the-numbers musical that Disney has become known for. On another level, it’s an unintentional ironic critique of today’s shifting media landscape. As I watched each song and dance number about the injustice of child labor practices, it wasn’t lost on me that today’s newspapers are, if not disappearing, evolving into hybrids that morph social media into their folds and redesign the means of distribution. It also wasn’t lost on me that a hundred years after the newsboys’ strike the kind of child labor practices they railed against may no longer occur here, but they have most definitely been outsourced overseas. Somewhere I’ll bet children are sitting in sweatshops so I can type on my iPad or the teenager sitting behind me at the show could talk on her phone during the final act.

Disney films and musicals don’t scratch very deep when it comes to their messages. With its theme of solidarity through brotherhood, Newsies is a pleasure to behold if you don’t mine it too hard. And the performances are top notch, especially the ensemble numbers that showcase the amazing acrobatic skills of its young cast, who tumble and dance and flip around with great zeal.

At times during the show, I wanted to flip something, too: namely the bird at the girl next to me who picked at her blond hair with all the fervor of an OCD spider monkey grooming its fur. At least she didn’t eat any nits. I also wanted to swat the young men in the a row behind me with a rolled up newspaper in hopes it would put an end to the loud conversation they were having in Farsi. Maybe if today’s kids had to sell newspapers for a dime they’d learn the value of the theater tickets their parents bought them. I may have left Madame Tussaud’s behind, but Hulk still wanted to smash.

Newsies Highlights

NYC-Part 1: Queer Poetry, Queer Art

#RainbowBookFair #poetry #siblingrivalrypress

With the rough winter we’ve had, teaching at my college has been a bit of a bear lately, and I also had to deal with some recent eye surgery. So it was nice to go to NYC for the Rainbow Book Fair with John the last weekend of March.

The Cornelia Street Reading on Friday night was a blast, hosted by Sibling Rivalry Press and the gracious Bryan and Seth who run it out of Arkansas. My fuzzy vision had cleared up well enough for me to read in the cozy basement, there amongst the fifty or so attendees packed in. I heard a lot of new voices, and especially enjoyed sharing a table with poet Charlie Broadus.

On Saturday afternoon, I read at the Rainbow Book Fair and heard even more new voices. The poems by Steve Cordova and Vinton Rafe McCabe were especially provocative–I didn’t know their work before–and it was great to reconnect however briefly with David Bergman and Charles Rice-Gonzalez, whom I’ve known for awhile. I also have a longer list of standouts to investigate in the coming months…. All in all, I enjoyed making new friends and hanging out with old ones.

John and I also got to take a quick detour to the Leslie-Lohman Museum of Gay and Lesbian Art, where the current installation depicts images of male beauty in popular culture over the last sixty years (http://leslielohman.org/). I quite enjoyed the sixty years of visual time travel from Tom of Finland drawings of the Fifties to contemporary artists working today. Those pioneers were working as illustrators for gay men’s magazines: pencil, watercolor and gouache, were chief among the media they used, and I always learn something new in examining such work in close detail.

Our day was capped with drinks with old friend Jeremiah, followed by dinner and more drinks with Eric, whose sharp wit and literary knowledge seem peerless. Who cares that it rained and rained and rained? Every time you get outside your regular life, you learn new things about yourself. You learn who your friends are and who are the fakers. You get to fall in love again with Indian food, new whisky cocktails, Ukrainian food, and the kind of unruly soul-revealing conversations one can only have over beer and wine. You find pleasure in the smiles of people that you’ve never had the pleasure of laughing with before. That’s what I’ll remember.

So what more could I ask for? How about a late-night ride in a NYC pedi-cab in the rain, weaving in and out of traffic up 8th Avenue. Think the pedaler will keep in the bike lane? Think again. If that wild ride wasn’t an adventure, I don’t know what is.

Read part 2 here.