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 ( 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.


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