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.


VELVET RODEO Book Tour – Spring 2014

Announcing the VELVET RODEO Book Tour!
Scroll down for dates. #VelvetRodeo #Poetry

VELVET RODEO is the recent winner of the Bloom Chapbook Prize, judged by poet C. Dale Young, who wrote of it: β€œβ€˜The tongue I try to master / is a sticky one, forked and full of tricks,’ is the opening of a poem in Velvet Rodeo, and it becomes a point of return for the collection. These poems understand that to tell the truth, one must lie, play tricks, and even dare to say the unbelievable. Careful and exacting, these poems exact a price from a reader. They linger with you long after you have finished reading them.”



Order at:


March 28, 2014. Friday, 6 pm. SIBLING RIVALRY PRESS Group Reading. Kelly McQuain’s first reading in NYC! The New York debut of Velvet Rodeo! Celebrating the Rainbow Book Fair at Cornelia Street Cafe, 29 Cornelia Street. With Sibling Rivalry Press authors. Hosted by Bryan Borland and Seth Pennington.

March 29, 2014. Saturday afternoon. Rainbow Book Fair Reading at the Midtown Holiday Inn, New York City. Noon.


April 4, 2014. Friday, 7 pm. VELVET RODEO — the Philly Book Launch!!! Tattooed Mom’s bar, South Street, Philadelphia. McQuain reads with Laura Spagnoli and Pittsburgh poets Bob Walicki and Angele Ellis.

April 12, 2014. Saturday. PHILADELPHIA POETRY DAY!
3 pm: Reading at the Philadelphia Sketch Club. On April 12, 2014, poetry will bloom in Philadelphia. Poetry Everywhere! Here at the Sketch Club in the Exhibition Gallery surrounded by the works of the Small Oils Exhibition, a poetry reading by four area poets is scheduled from 3:00 to 4:30 pm. Juditha Dowd, Kelly McQuain, Helen Mirkil and Wendy Steginsky!

May 13, 2014. Tuesday, 7 pm. PAINTED BRIDE QUARTERLY Featured Reading at Black Sheep Pub, 247 S. 17th St., Philadelphia. Also featuring poet Teresa Leo, author of Bloom in Reverse.

May, 2014. Saints and Sinners Literary Festival — TBA.

June 11. Wednesday. 7 pm. MOONSTONE READING SERIES. Fergie’s Pub. Reading with Teresa Leo. Open mic to follow, hosted by Charles Carr.

If you’d like a sneak peak at one of the poems in the collection, here’s one that appeared in Bloom:

Another of the poems, “Lent”, is scheduled to be republished in The Philadelphia Inquirer on April 30th.