Saturday, June 09, 2012

China Hiatus

Off to China today, with nine students, and another teacher. We will spend three days in Beijing, a lot of time in Kunming, a day in Dali, four days in Shaxi and three days in Shanghai. Shaxi and Shangahi are new to me, and I am looking forward to seeing both.

My last trip to China was two years ago. I had a very good time, though I was experiencing China very much as an anxious first-time chaperone. I did write some poetry based on my experience, and I hope this time will give me much to think about too.

I will be back on June 30, and until then this blog is probably on hiatus.

Tuesday, June 05, 2012

24th Annual Lambda Literary Awards

Attended the 24th Annual Lambda Literary Awards last night and presented the gay and lesbian poetry awards with J. Bob Alotta. GH, who egged me to accept Don Weise's invite to be a presenter, was there too. The lesbian poetry award went to Love Cake, by Leah Lakshmi Piepzna-Samarasinha and the gay award to A Fast Life: the Collected Poems of Tim Dlugos, edited by David Trinidad. I was too nervous, really, to enjoy the reception before the ceremony, though I was glad that GH had the chance to talk to Armistead Maupin, the recipient of this year's Pioneer Award, and to Olympia Dukakis, who was presenting the award to the author of the Tales of the City series.

GH kept urging me to talk to people but since I was doing this event with half a heart, I was uneasy with myself and resentful of him. He was so good at talking to the celebrities and thought up great lines for me to use during my presentation. I resisted him throughout, thinking and thinking that we are such different people, and that I was the fish out of water. I did not photograph GH with Olympia Dukakis when I had the chance because I kept waiting for them to turn towards the camera. To my mind, the event had nothing to do with writing and reading, both of which are essentially solitary activities. When I told GH that, he scolded me for not joining up the dots. It was a bad idea to attend this stressful event on our second anniversary.

The only moment, really, for which I was whole-heartedly glad to be there was the presentation of the second Pioneer Award to Kate Millet. The feminist author of Sexual Politics was very old. Though I don't remember much of that seminal book now, first read back in college, I admire her intellectual influence and moral courage in denouncing patriarchy in the writings of D.H. Lawrence, Henry Miller and company. She spoke about a farm in upstate New York that she is opening up as a center for the arts, a colony for women writers, also open to men, on some conditions. The center is, she said in a quavering voice, her gift to the community. Precious though that gift is and will be, she is herself the greater generosity.

Kate Clinton, who emceed the show, said something quite true: women are the new gays in this period of Republican antagonism.