From Publishers Weekly
Believing that the "gay community . . . operates from a one-eyed, one gender, one colorstet without hyphens. sg perception of community ," Beam and Hemphill have compiled a volume of writings that addresspk the emerging black gay sensibility in all of its glory, pain and promise. The strength of the book's politics, however,pk is undermined by offerings of dubious literary merit.pk Generally, the short fiction is only adequately written, depicting young closeted men afraid to come out to their abusive parents and peers. One exception is John Keene Jr.'s "Adelphus King," a sweet tale about a man who falls head over heels for his cousin's boyfriend, a charismatic jazz musician. The poems in the collection speak routinely about sex and love; the most touching deal with the loss of loved ones to AIDS. By far, the most satisfying writing is Ron Simmons's incisive "Some thoughts on challenges facing black gay intellectuals," which exposes the homophobic views of many black writers and calls for the development of "an affirming and liberating philosophical understanding of homosexuality that will self-actualize black gay genius." Hemphill is a poet; Beam, who edited In the Life , died in 1988.
Copyright 1991 Reed Business Information, Inc.
About the Author
Poet, editor, and activist Essex Hemphill
was born April 16, 1957, in Chicago, Illinois. Hemphill's first books were the self-published chapbooks Earth Life
(1985) and Conditions
(1986). He first gained national attention when his work appeared in the anthology In the Life
(1986), a seminal collection of writings by black gay men. In 1989, his poems were featured in the award-winning documentaries Tongues Untied
and Looking for Langston
. In 1991, Hemphill edited Brother to Brother: New Writings by Black Gay Men
, which won a Lambda Literary Award. In 1992, he released Ceremonies: Prose and Poetry
, which won the National Library Association's Gay, Lesbian, and Bisexual New Author Award. His poems appeared in Obsidian, Black Scholar, Callaloo, Painted Bride Quarterly, Essence
, and numerous other newspapers and journals. His work also appeared in numerous anthologies including Gay and Lesbian Poetry in Our Time
(1986) and Life Sentences: Writers, Artists and AIDS
(1993). He was a visiting scholar at The Getty Center for the History of Art and the Humanities in 1993. On November 4, 1995, Hemphill died from complications relating to AIDS. Biography courtesy of Poets.org, the web site of the Academy of American Poets. Used by permission.
--This text refers to an alternate