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Outside the Lines: Talking with Contemporary Gay Poets Paperback – June 22, 2005
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From Publishers Weekly
Michigan is known for its Poets on Poetry series, which collects the prose statements, interviews and poetry-related ephemera of individual contemporary poets; this anthology of frank interviews fits nicely alongside it. Hennessy, an editor at Gay and Lesbian Review Worldwide, talks to 12 contemporary poets, from the late Thom Gunn to still-younger poets Reginald Shepherd and Timothy Liu. In between, J.D. McClatchy discusses his "audience pleaser" poem "Penis," Carl Phillips discusses how leaving his marriage cured his writer's block and Mark Doty tells of the relation between his lover's HIV diagnosis and the poems of My Alexandria. (AIDS comes up in nearly every conversation recorded here.) As an interlocutor, Hennessy is something like Inside the Actors Studio host James Lipton: deeply informed, with an ability to register the hotter material without comment.
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"Michigan is known for its Poets on Poetry series, which collects the prose statements, interviews and poetry-related ephemera of individual contemporary poets; this anthology of frank interviews fits nicely alongside it. . . . As an interlocutor, Hennessy is . . . deeply informed, with an ability to register the hotter material without comment."
Top customer reviews
The reviews are craft centered and that's a good thing and a bad. It makes for a certain similarity so that whatever differences these poets may have is occluded, and their responses are limited to a finite number of answers to the same questions. But on the plus side, at least these twelve men are being treated as seriously literary figures and not just as Merrill-eqsue epigones, eye candy for the light of heart. As a xonsequence, nearly everyone puts his best foot forward with Hennessy, almost as if they were wishing to please him and to further his line of thought. He gets nearly confrontational when asking Carl Phillips about his recent turn to the "stony" and "obdurate" but Phillips doesn't blink, he just answers the question like a mensch. Doug Powell on the other hand seems constantly to be sighing as though he were being asked all the wrong questions--no--better yet, questions that are so nearly perfect as to be a shame that perfection hasn't been achieved. And yet by the end Powell has produced the objective correlative the interview eeeks, as he holds out a piece of paper taped into a mobius strip, a poem written over it. "That's the greatest compliment that you can pay to someone else's work; it makes me want to write." Reading OUTSIDE THE LINES made me want to go out and interview someone, which is just as important a task.
What about the photos? Well, they all look good. Master anthologist JD McClatchy's perfect hair is a little scary, and Henri Cole could use a brush up, but Tim Liu could be acting in a Whit Stillman movie, his hips seeming to disappear into this super high style Breuer kind of office chair, his cigarette ajaunt, just the kind of thing they will have to airbrush out of the postage stamp when they honor Liu with his own stamp; he could sit on my face any old time, in fact maybe he did and I forgot.
Finally, how many gay poets are physicians anyhow? I know two of them I like, the rest of them should stick to their lasts.
Let there be volume two as soon as possible!