February 22, 2016

Review Revue for Pride 2016: podcast and... poem!

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Following on our last post, where we enticed you with a transcript of one of the six reviews performed in our rainbow Review Revue, we can now offer you the podcast of the full line-up:

 Michael Giacon on Young Robert Duncan: portrait of the poet as homosexual in society by Ekbert Faas

 Jade du Preez on How to be both by Ali Smith

 Richard Galloway on Mary Renault, author of The Charioteer and many other works of LGBTQ fiction

 Morgan Borthwick on Cinnamon toast and the end of the world by Janet E. Cameron

 Christopher Dempsey on Hear us out: conversations with gay novelists by Richard Canning

 Carole Beu on Lucky us by Amy Bloom

I loved it when Michael launched the evening by confessing "I have had this book since 1989 and I have just started reading it".   I trust we all have our own versions of this confession.

What we probably all don't have is the experience of having read Robert Duncan's revolutionary love poem which Michael refers to, "The Torso". I hadn't, but I hunted it down, and now that I've read it and found it as amazing as Michael gave us to believe, I want to give you the chance. I am not sure what year it was written, but it was at least 50 years ago, and it would be daring stuff even now.

The lines Duncan put in italics are quotes from "Edward II", Christopher Marlowe's tragic drama about the king who "cares for poetry, philosophy, and the commoner Gaveston more than war, statecraft, and his politically advantageous wife" as one of the writers on the University of Illinois page about this poem puts it. Attention to the last line, though: Duncan has altered one word from Marlowe's text, and with that changed everything. "The King upon whose bosom let me die." wrote Marlowe. "The King upon whose bosom let me lie." wrote Duncan, throwing off the death sentence of the homosexual.

Most beautiful! The red-flowering eucalyptus
                    the madrone, the yew
                    Is he...

       So thou wouldst smile, and take me in thine arms
       the sight of London to my exiled eyes
       Is as Elysium to a new-come soul

              If he be Truth
              I would dwell in the illusion of him

  His hands unlocking from chambers of my male body

            such an idea in man's image

       rising tides that sweep me towards him

              . . .homosexual?

                 and at the treasure of his mouth

              pour forth my soul

                 his love   commingling

  I thought a Being more than vast, His body leading
            into Paradise,   his eyes
              quickening a fir in me,   a trembling

            hieroglyph:   At the root of the neck

       the clavicle, for the neck is the stem of the great artery
         upward into his head that is beautiful

                 At the rise of the pectoral muscles

       the nipples, for the breasts are like sleeping fountains
         of feeling in man, waiting above the heat of his heart,
         shielding the rise and fall of his breath, to be

                 At the axis of his mid riff

       the navel, for in the pit of his stomach the chord from
         which first he was fed has its temple

                 At the root of the groin

       the pubic hair, for the torso is the stem in which the man
         flowers forth and leads to the stamen of flesh in which
         his seed rises

  a wave of need and desire over   taking me

              cried out my name

       (This was long ago.   It was another life)

                        and said,

            What do you want of me?

  I do not know, I said.   I have fallen in love.   He
     has brought me into heights and depths my heart
             would fear   without him.   His look

       pierces my side . fire eyes .

     I have been waiting for you, he said:
                 I know what you desire

            you do not yet know   but through me .

     And I am with you everywhere.   In your falling

     I have fallen from a high place.   I have raised myself

            from darkness in your   rising

                      wherever you are

       my hand in your hand   seeking   the locks, the keys

     I am there.   Gathering me, you gather

            your Self .

       For my Other is not a woman but a man

       the King upon whose bosom let me lie.

--Robert Duncan, The Torso

You can listen to Review Revue via Soundcloud below or search for "Auckland Libraries" in iTunes or on your favourite podcast app to download the episode.

Ditulis Oleh : Karen Craig // 22:00


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