Autobiography of Red by Anne Carson

Toby Sharpe

Edited by Vicki Madden

Art: Ottelien Huckin http://www.ottelienhuckin.co.uk/ 

‘Are there many little boys who think they are a

Monster? But in my case I am right…’ (Carson 12)

It is an onerous task to write about a book that you love. Harder still to write about one that so vigorously resists definition – and which seems to attack the idea that anything can have a single meaning. Anne Carson, a Macarthur ‘Genius’ who taught Greek at McGill University in Montréal, has adapted the Classical poet Stesichoros’s fragments into her own epic poem. This is perhaps the simplest way to describe a book which, in less than two-hundred pages, covers an almost absurd amount of ground –a text which offers me new interpretations each time I come back to it, and which manages to rock me, as a queer man, to my very core.

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On the Poetry of John Wieners

Dominic Hale

Edited by Avani Udgaonkar

Art by Figgy Guyver http://www.instagram.com/themineralfact/

In 2015, a new edition of John Wieners’ (1934-2002) selected poems was published by Seattle’s Wave Books in the US, and by Enitharmon Press in Europe. Supplication collects work from as far back as 1958 by one of the more inimitable, underrated, and devastating American poets of the last century, a writer who allies an almost anachronistic queer lyric abject to the hopeful projectivist experimentation of Charles Olson. Having studied at Black Mountain College and lived in Boston, New York, and San Francisco, Wieners is variously grouped with the Black Mountain, Beat and New York poets, and the San Francisco Renaissance, his writing often apparently overshadowed by better known figures such as Olson, Frank O’Hara, and Allen Ginsberg. This is a great shame. When set alongside a radical politics and praxis anathema to the neoliberal academy, and an experimentalism that repels classification, it’s evident why Wieners isn’t a widely taught writer. He ought to be, in my opinion, one of the most popular poets of the post-war period, and I’m profoundly grateful for his work’s courage, delicacy, and strength.

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Letters I Never Sent To You by Paula Varjack

Frederick Alexander

Edited by Toby Sharpe

Art: ‘Want and Need’ by Olivia Twist http://www.yesoliviatwist.com/

I would like to introduce Paula Varjack’s Letters I Never Sent To You as a text that may be used in an academic curriculum. During my undergraduate degree at the University of Edinburgh, I became involved with the Scottish and UK live literature performance network. Through this scene, I became aware of Varjack’s theatre work, in particular her solo performance ‘Show Me The Money,’ a piece of documentary theatre that explores the economics of artistry under austerity. I was excited for the release in 2015 of her debut collection, Letters I Never Sent To You, especially in the context of her previous work.

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Guapa by Saleem Haddad

Ralph Haddad
Editing by Toby Sharpe

Cover art by Emanuele Ragnisco

When I first read Guapa, I was taken aback by how relevant the book was to my own life. The narrative follows a queer Arab protagonist, as he navigates a day in his life in an unnamed Arab country. The opening scene sees the main character, Rasa, the morning after his grandmother – with whom he lives – catches him in bed with another man. This opening scene sets the tone for the entire narrative – themes of anxiety, self-doubt, tension, hopelessness, and shame come to dominate the story. It was the first book I read where I thought to myself: “Yes. This is it. This guy understands it.” The author, Saleem Haddad, is a self-identified queer man of various heritages – among them Lebanese, Iraqi, and Palestinian. The book itself follows the fairly conservative form of the conventional English novel; it does not claim to reinvent the wheel. It is not the most experimental work with a queer element that was published in 2016, but it is exceptional and refreshing in its content. Guapa was published originally in English under a publisher based in New York. The novel quickly received wide acclaim from contemporary Arab authors, such as Randa Jarrar, and ended up on many end-of-year lists on media platforms such as BuzzFeed and the Guardian. Haddad himself ended up on Out magazine’s one hundred most influential people of 2016.

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Metaphor and the Other: The Language of Nightwood by Djuna Barnes

Jessie Widner
Editing by Maria Elena Torres-Quevedo

Art: Mäda Primavesi’ by Gustav Klimt

How does one write about a novel that has already been prefaced by T.S Eliot and Jeannette Winterson? A novel described so perfectly as, “It is like drinking wine with a pearl dissolving in the glass. You have taken in more than you know, and it will go on doing its work. From now on a part of you is pearl-lined,” (Winterson). Both were fascinated with the dark poetics of the novel, the quality and rhythm of its language, and its immersive atmosphere.

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The Line of Beauty by Alan Hollinghurst

Review by Nuzha Nuseibeh
Editing by Cristina Dodson Castillon and Rianna Walcott

Art: ‘Italian Model’ by John Singer Sargeant

On the face of it, a novel about a young, gay man living in 1980s London has little to do with me. For one thing, I am not a man, nor was I alive in the eighties. Nevertheless, when I first read Alan Hollinghurst’s seminal novel, The Line of Beauty, it struck a surprisingly resonant chord.

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