Homoerotica is a literary collective formed in San Juan, PR, composed of a diverse group that makes LGBTTQI issues the core of their writing, which includes narratives, performance art, theater, music, and mostly, poetry. They hold public readings, on average, every two months, and usually on even months. Their first reading, Amor de Hombre, was held in February 2009. I did not become aware of them until August that year and finally made it to a reading later that November. Papaya, it was titled, and its theme was lesbian love. The idea was great: Puerto Rico is starved for LGBTTQI expression. It's not alone in that, of course, but I found the idea so romantic, so exciting, so promising, because I too was starved. I wanted to love it, but couldn't. The poetry was cliched, rushed, amateur. I'm no poet, mind you, and sharing your creative writing in such an experimental environment in front of a starved audience, well, as the emcee cries out in the documentary Paris Is Burning at some point, "It do takes balls." But I couldn't make more of it than it was, so I attended the next one and then, disappointed, stayed home.
Altar de Autores tonight was not only better. It was good. Really good. People I had seen read before seemed so much more confident. The writing was much more complex. Raquel Salas and Abniel Marat actually made me cry. (Though Marat always makes me cry.) I was no longer so much starved as thankful. And inspired. Few things inspire me more than a group of people that bleed together and make something great out of despair and nothingness, who break silences and get their fingernails dirty to climb or dig or rip skin off their faces. Each presenter dedicated a piece to one or more authors who had inspired them. Garcia Lorca. Sylvia Plath. Sappho. Gabriela Mistral. William Burroughs. On and on and on. Beautiful black-&-white portraits projected onto a black background above an altar of colorful candles and books and drug kits and red slippers and flowers and seashells hypnotized me for hours on end while each poet stood there and told a story. Beautiful.
With this, and the UPR strike, living in Puerto Rico gets better by the day.
Monday, June 7, 2010
The University of Chicago Press gives away a free e-book every month. This month you may download Freaks Talk Back, by Joshua Gamson.
"Using extensive interviews, hundreds of transcripts, focus-group discussions with viewers, and his own experiences as an audience member, Joshua Gamson argues that talk shows give much-needed, high-impact public visibility to sexual nonconformists while also exacerbating all sorts of political tensions among those becoming visible. With wit and passion, Freaks Talk Back illuminates the joys, dilemmas, and practicalities of media visibility."