Monday, January 30, 2006

Literary Life: My First Column!

Arts and Understanding (A&U), America's AIDS Magazine, said yes to a column idea of mine. We'd been going back and forth about what I could possibly contribute to this magazine that's currently celebrating it's 15th year of existence. The magazine started at about the time I started to do AIDS work. Then it came to me: why not do a column on those who have managed to work in the AIDS field for quite some time, atleast 5 years or so. The column, called "From the Trenches," would explore how these fine people keep going in a field where people usually leave after two years.

It'll be a quarterly column and it debuted in the January issue. I wrote about the inspirational Terri Ford, a woman doing AIDS work for 16 years now!

Friday, January 27, 2006

Literary Fray Over Frey

Enough. Enough. Enough. Enough. I'm going to explode into a million little pieces if I hear one more thing about James Frey and his memoir. Enough, enough, enough. Please, please, please. All of this will cause me to drink and smoke again. Please! Stop!!!

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Literary Passing: Dr. Betty Berzon

I got a call this morning that a vanguard of the queer literary scene passed away. Dr. Betty Berzon, a psychotherapist who promoted the well being of queer lives, won a Lambda Literary Prize for her memoir "Surviving Madness".

She had worked on several books on queer mental health, including "Positively Gay." She did a lot of work in educating everyone about the problems and solutions of being queeer in America.

I had the pleasure of meeting Ms. Berzon when she would support events at Skylight Bookstore. I also had the honor of interviewing her for a magazine piece on the 10th anniversary death of her friend writer Paul Monette.

She is survived by her longtime companion, Terry deCrecenzo. (I can't begin to tell you how heartbreaking it was to get that phonecall.)

Saturday, January 21, 2006

Literary Meditation

I take meditation very seriously. I can't properly start my day without meditating. What makes this experience imortant to me is having the time to feel truly calm and have a mind clear of obscuring thoughts.

Lately, my mind has been filled with plot points and character sketches. It's been seeping into my meditation sessions. It's become a double edge sword. I love having creative thoughts, but I know that it defeats meditating, a practice that asks me to have an "empty" mind.

Anyone out there in cyber world have any suggestions?

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Literary addictions

It is widely known that writers have some of the most addictive personalities. Of course, some of the addictions got the best of them. Some writers who have died from alcoholism include novelist Grace Metaloius and short story writer Raymond Carver. Of course, writers from Poe to Capote were also known to get sauced!

Then there are smokers like Hunter S. Thomposon (pictured) and Ernest Hemingway (also a drunk).

I confess that I used to drink and smoke. I thought all that shit helped me create. I hadn't had a drop of booze in 13 years and I recently honored my first year of being smoke free.

I've never been more creative.

Friday, January 13, 2006

Literary Fake Out?

I'm still spinning over the fact that JT Leroy, the much hailed writer who wrote sad, intense stories about abuse and prostitution, isn't real. I'm spinning because I met the "guy" when he came to Skylight to promote "his" work. We were all warned that he was highly protective of his identity and wore a blonde wig to conceal himself.

He didn't read his work. Actors and musicians read for him. A bandmember from Nine Inch Nails was one of the readers.

JT LeRoy struck me as a damaged creature and I felt sorry for him. Now, I want to kick him, especially since part of his identity was to make people believe he was HIV positive.

Thursday, January 12, 2006

Literary Controversy

I caught the Larry King Live interview with James Frey, the writer who has been under fire for embellishing his memoir. I knew that this category of "memoir" would confuse people. I'm glad that this little controversy took place, so there can be a clearer delineation between memoiric writing (taken from one's own memory) and autobiographical writinig (event driven).

Mr. Frey was a gracious guest, simply stating that what was being questioned in his book stood for a mere 5 percent of his story and the central themes of drug and alcohol addiction should take center stage.

This is not the first time books of nonfiction have been questioned: Alex Haley's "Roots" came under fire for historical accuracy and Carlos Bulosan's "America is in the Heart" because his adventures seemed too overwhelming for one person.

The high point of the evening was when Oprah herself called in to stand by her recommendation. I love live TV.

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Literary DC

I'm in DC for a conference. I've been "monumenting" on my off time. My favorite is the Lincoln Memorial. Alot of greating writing is associated with this memorial. From "Four score and seven years ago" to "I have a dream."

Literary Quiz: He is the only US President who hasn't published a book by the time he took office. Who is he?

Thursday, January 05, 2006

Literary Birthday

What do JD Salinger and I have in common? We share the same birthday. We were both born on January 1st. I turned 38 this week.