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Blind Item: Jennifer Lawrence & Miley Cryus Might Be Involved In Bisexual Affair While Liam Hemsworth Left Out Of Threesome!!!

[JanetCharlton] These two young stars costarred in one of the biggest movies of the year and everyone speculated that they had an affair. But that’s only half right. The female lead DID have an on set fling – but not with her costar – with her costar’s GIRLFRIEND when she came to visit! Ironically, the girlfriend is also a major star but she wouldn’t let her hunky boyfriend join in the fun. Both women are bisexual and he’s straight.

My Guess: Jennifer Lawrence and Liam Hemsworth both starred in the blockbuster hit The Hunger Games. Miley Cyrus is the girlfriend of Liam Hemsworth. I must admit Jennifer definitely sets off my gaydar  she  is a bit butch. 

Actress: Jennifer Lawrence

Actor:  Liam Hemsworth

Actor’s Girlfriend: Miley Cryus

Rare Clip Of Anne Sexton Reading Poetry

Are you having a bad day? Feeling a bit depressed and miserable? Want some introspection? Do you want to listen or read some morbid poetry? Why don’t you visit the bookstore or local public library and read some of Anne Sexton’s  incredible poetry. Anne Sexton’s poetry deals with gender, sexuality, depression, and suicide. Many of Sexton’s poems are about feeling unfulfilled with life yet wanting more out of life. The desperation in the poems are shocking yet also powerful.

Anne Sexton has written many poetry volumes but she is perhaps most famous for the wonderful book “Live Or Die” . “Live Or Die” is a fantastic volume of poetry. Anne Sexton is considered the second most important mid twentieth century female poet after Sylvia Plath. Anne Sexton committed suicide in the year 1974 the unhappiness proved to be too overwhelming for her she couldn’t deal with life anymore.

Despite Anne Sexton’s mental illness her poetry has incredible clarity, conviction, and honesty. In my mind Sexton was the superior poet after all Anne Sexton won the Pulitzer Prize for her groundbreaking 1967 collection “Live Or Die”. If you ever get a chance to read “Live Or Die” you will learn more about Anne Sexton’s issues with mental illness, depression, her thoughts of suicide, unhappiness, and despair. The poems are important in order to understand the real Anne Sexton. Here is a rare clip of Anne Sexton reading her poetry.

I Applied to Another M.A. Creative Writing Program

Today I decided I might as well continue trying so I decided to apply to a second M.A. Creative Writing program. I mailed transcripts, letter of recommendation, published articles, reviews of “You Don’t Know Me”, and the essay express post.

Just Applied to M.A. In Creative Writing Program

Okay, I finally applied to a M..A. Creative Writing Program. I paid the money order, mailed off a copy of my university transcript, letter of recommendation, photocopies of my writing samples, photocopies of some reviews of “You Don’t Know Me”. I mailed everything off express post. Now I am plotting my next move. I have to do things that make me happy.

I am also applying to a second M..A. in Creative Writing Program as well. I am just glad I finally decided to take the next step and actually apply. I procrastinate too much always guessing and wondering. It does feel good to actually take action.

The Female Writers That Inspire Me To Write

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Today my sister and I decided to visit the local bookstore. I wandered to the poetry section. I was surprised to see a copy of my book “You Don’t Know Me” on the shelf. My sister was shocked as well. Feelings of sadness and despair washed over me as I picked up a copy of “You Don’t Know Me”. I just wish “You Don’t Know Me” was better it could of been so much better. I wonder if this is it? Will I ever get another book published? Am I doomed forever I wonder?

My sister decided to purchase a copy of Tupac Shakur’s poetry book “The Rose That Grew From Concrete”. I was impressed with Tupac’s poetry especially the poem about his close friend Jada Pinkett Smith. I decided to buy a book of selected poems by Emily Dickinson because I am a fan of her work.

I never really thought about writing until I started university. Very few male writers actually interest me and I don’t know why? The only male writers I have read a lot are James Baldwin and Langston Hughes perhaps its due to the black gay male connection? Most of the writers I read tend to be female. I was having a conversation with a friend the other day and he says I liked depressed and suicidal female writers a lot. I laughed I never thought about this before. I don’t think Evelyn Lau’s literary work is suicidal although her work does tend to be very depressing. Lau writes with such clarity about fractured male and female heterosexual relationships. I love Lau’s short story collection “Choose Me” every single story is written with great precision.

Lorraine Hansberry has a very special place in my heart because her play “A Raisin In The Sun” was the first broadway play produced by a black lesbian playwright. Although Hansberry had to conceal her lesbianism due to male supremacy and heterosexism. I gained an appreciation for theater when I read Hansberry’s work. Some people forget that Hansberry actually wrote a second successful play “The Sign In Sidney Bustein’s Window” ran for 100 performances and closed the night she died on March January 12th 1965.

I have read a few of E Lynn Harris books he’s certainly a good writer but he writes from a perspective I find a bit too much like a soap opera. I prefer to read books that are more pragmatic and realistic. Harris books are about rich blacks that have amazing jobs, always fly first class and basically are celebrities. I guess for some people they like this kind of fantasy writing but this doesn’t interest me. I do like Harris first novel “Invisible Life” I feel this is his best and most honest book. I wonder why Harris has never gotten the mainstream attention that Terry McMillan has? Harris book sales are incredible he sells a ton of books and yet none of his books have been made into movies yet. I wonder why?

I wouldn’t say I only like reading works by female writers and poets that are depressed. Emily Dickinson was an incredible poet. My favorite poem by Dickinson is “The Chariot”. Dickinson became reclusive later on in her life and may have suffered from depression. Although I feel a connection to this form of writing. I will admit I love Angelina Weld Grimke’s poetry and yes her poetry does tend to be depressing but so honest and true. I also love Evelyn Lau’s poetry she is a young Canadian feminist writer and poet. Lau actually is very famous in Canada she because a superstar in the Canadian literary world at the tender age of eighteen in the year 1989.

Of course I cannot forget about Zora Neale Hurston she’s perhaps the most controversial writer I have ever read in my life. Hurston’s memoir “Dust Tracks On A Road” is pure fiction. A lot of scholars have bashed Hurston for writing her autobiography. It is true Zora does lie about her age, where she was born, and a few other things. However, some scholars ignore the fact Zora’s publisher had the ultimate control she wasn’t able to publish everything she had written on her own terms.

Evelyn Lau’s first book “Runaway: Diary Of A Street Kid” is a depressing tale about the two years she spent living on the streets of Vancouver as a prostitute. Lau wrote a second memoir in 2001 “Inside Out A Reflection Of A Life So Far” looking back on her past experiences. Lau also explores about the turmoil she endured in her life dealing with father figures, the literary battle with an ex lover, eating disorders, depression, and about the present. The odd thing about Evelyn Lau is she always ignores the issue of race in her writing. In Lau’s fiction and sometimes even in her non fiction she always concentrates on white society. I am also interested in learning about Lau’s views about race from an Asian Canadian woman’s perspective.

I have a fascination with Anne Sexton I never understood why Sylvia Plath is considered more famous then Sexton? I always felt Anne Sexton was a bit underrated and she was the superior poet.

I used to be a big Terry McMillan fan until I realized this woman is bat crazy and bonkers and not in a good way. Terry’s last novel “The Interruption of Everything” was so sloppy and poorly written. The characters weren’t developed enough, the narrative was slow and the book dragged a bit.

Two writers that I read often are Makeda Silvera and Dionne Brand. Silvera and Brand are both black Canadian lesbians and they both have been instrumental in bringing the black lesbian experience to the masses. Silvera used to run her own publishing company in the 1990s called “Sister Visions Press”. Brand is one of Canada’s most successful black woman writers ever. Brand’s poetry is just amazing but I love her fiction and non fiction works too.

Watch Out For Duplicitious Editors!!!

Last week Friday I was excited because an American editor said he wanted to publish an article I had written. My work has already been published in Toronto that’s not exactly a big thrill anymore. I must confess I do like getting my work published internationally. The only condition was that I had to reduce the word count for the opinion article to 800 words. I immediately asked the editor politely about the payment schedule for the article. I was stupid I admit this now I should of asked for a contract.

I did not receive a response from the editor until this morning. I believe a writer should be paid for writing. I do not believe in writing for free this isn’t charity this is business. I worked really hard on my article all weekend. All weekend I slaved over the article trying to make it coherent. Next, on Sunday afternoon I e-mailed the finished piece to the editor. However, this morning the editor e-mails me back and he now claims that his publication doesn’t pay for opinion articles.

Next, this tacky editor has the audacity to ask if I am still interested in having the piece published for free? I refused because I believe it is a matter of principle. Why should I write for free? What am I getting out of it? I’ve written for free before I’m not doing that anymore. I’ve been writing for a while now and I refuse to be taken advantage of.

I am sure everyone knows by now that I do have a temper I admit this. I can be a real nasty bitch if I am pissed off about something. I don’t think I react sometimes when I am angry and it can get ugly. Let’s just say I am a work in progress. I am cognizant of the fact that getting angry doesn’t always solve something. However, sometimes I believe anger is justified.

However, I quickly called my good friend this morning to calm down and diffuse the situation. I don’t know how he does it but my friend he always has such a positive personality. He just makes me feel good and helps me put my thoughts and emotions into perspective. I also asked my friend for some advice he was in a hurry because he was getting ready for a lecture. We didn’t have any time for one of our usual two to three hour phone conversations. Today our conversation was short only forty five minutes. Anyway, my friend told me to just try to calm down. He told me it is okay to be angry. However, my friend said just make my point to the editor without resorting to swearing. So I e-mailed the editor back I was “polite” but I let the editor know I did not appreciate his unprofessionalism.

Next, the editor replied back claiming there must of been some “confusion” and that the publication does not pay for opinion articles. The editor is a liar there was no confusion he just wasn’t honest from the start. Why couldn’t the editor just be honest with me? Why lie? Why lie to me and lead me on? I am so sick of this shit. However, I can admit that I am partially at fault because I should of asked for a contract instead of asking about the “payment schedule”. I think the word “payment schedule” is pretty clear though? I definitely inquired about payment I made sure I let the editor know I don’t write for free.

I am so stupid to not realize at the time this is the oldest trick in the book. A legitimate editor will discuss contracts and payment immediately after they accept an article for publication. I should of known the delayed response from the editor is proof of his nefarious character. I know from prior experience this is not how the publishing world works. I am at fault, my article didn’t get published but at least I didn’t allow this editor to undermine me and get away with it. I will continue to pitch my piece to other publications and hopefully it will be published soon and hopefully I will get paid for my work as well. I wonder if I am the only one that goes through this kind of bullshit?

PS. If you are a professional editor reading my blog and are honest about payment then feel free to contact me. I write about anything and everything. I specifically write about the intersection of pop culture, sexuality, race, class, and gender. I also have written about sports I know a lot about professional tennis and also have an understanding of Canadian and American politics.

Mr. Procrastination

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I admit it I am Mr. procrastination. I always tell myself that I’m going to do something and then I forget about it for the longest time. Today I am drafting a list of all the things I want to try to do in 2008. I won’t put the pressure on about finding a publisher in 2008 because that’s a lot of pressure. I think the important thing for me in 2008 is to be effective.

I also tend to say I am going to do something and then eventually get around to doing it at the last minute. Although, I already have one book published “You Don’t Know Me” I didn’t appreciate the way TSAR published the poetry volume in 2005. At least I have a professional credit and the book is available in libraries. When I think about it 2005 is almost three years ago it is time to move on. I will never have that first experience again but maybe I can have better experiences the next time around.

It is time to move on from that painful experience. Just because I had one bad experience doesn’t mean every other experience with writing is going to be bad. I need an attitude adjustment ASAP! I tend to get down on myself when bad things happen. I am cognizant of having these negative feelings and emotions. Sometimes I think the negative thoughts surround me and I allow these negative thoughts to control me. I have to break the cycle. I am aware of the patterns this vicious cycle that has entered my mind and I doubt myself. I guess everyone has doubts? I will be honest I definitely think will I ever get another book published? I have this thought a lot.

I received a letter from a fellow writer in November 2007 and he told me to never surrender. Sometimes it is hard because a lot of the time a writer is waiting. You are either waiting for an e-mail or letter of acceptance for publication or a letter or e-mail for rejection. I also realize nobody owes me anything. It is harsh but true the editor or publisher either likes my work or he or she doesn’t. So it is my job to make sure my work is polished. The waiting game can be psychologically, emotionally, and physically exhausting. However, when I receive an e-mail of acceptance it makes everything worth while. It gives me the courage to not give up.

I guess everyone has doubts. Sometimes I wonder am I good enough? Why is it taking so long to receive a response? I always send S.A.S.E. with my submissions because I know publishers will throw your work in the garbage if you don’t send S.A.S.E. I also always send international reply coupons as well.

My printer is acting up again! I hate when that happens! I think I need some new computer ink.I know it sounds corny but I got to keep on trying. Isn’t that corny? So its time to move on from that negative experience and I am looking for a new publisher to republish “You Don’t Know Me”. I also have a second poetry manuscript completed and I am conducting a lot of research. Let me tell you it is so hard to get a poetry book published. Poetry isn’t considered a money maker in the book industry unless you are famous. Everyone knows that I am certainly not famous. I am just an ordinary man that has a love for poetry. For the past two years I have tried and tried to get another poetry book published only to encounter rejection. I still haven’t given up on poetry because I have a passion for it I love to sit and write out my thoughts on paper. I love to read my poetry aloud it is a very soothing experience.

I am still sending my poetry out to magazines, literary journals but I am going to focus less on poetry in 2008. My poetry was published in a literary journal and an anthology in 2007. I have decided I am going to leave poetry behind for a bit. I am now going to concentrate on a manuscript that I had written over three years ago yet it has been collecting dust in my drawer.

I have this fear about fiction writing I can admit it. Fiction is my weakness I haven’t written a lot of fiction. I only had one short story published and that was five years ago. I tend to write mostly non fiction such as poetry, essays, opinion pieces, and features articles. I feel more comfortable with this form of writing then with fiction. However, I’ve decided that I’m going to try in 2008 to find a publisher for my novel.

A few years ago I bought the Writer’s Market Literary agent book and I will be honest I didn’t find the book very helpful. One reason was a lot of the agents in the book simply were not looking at new writers. Of course, I realize the Writers Market book is only one book to find an agent.

In Canada, one of the problems here is that there are simply very few literary agents. The Canadian book industry is very small. The Canadian publishing industry is kind of pretentious in the sense it is all about literary fiction. You know the drill a lot of Margaret Atwood and her clones. I find Canadian writing so boring it just doesn’t interest me. The way I write I know that it would work with an American publisher. The Canadian book industry also has a very myopic attitude towards black writers. One literary agent told that the Canadian book industry thinks blacks don’t sell and that we don’t read.

The United States book industry has a much larger black book market. I won’t make the mistake I made a few years ago. I think the USA is the way to go! The dilemma is most of the literary agents in Canada will only work with seasoned pros because these writers are already established. So I have decided I’m not even going to bother looking for a Canadian literary agent. I am going to look for an American literary agent.I thought about looking for a UK literary agent too? I am going to think about the English language world I don’t know why I wasted so much time thinking about Canada?

I am still going to research on the internet. I was thinking about buying a book on literary agents. I think tomorrow or perhaps next week I will visit the public library or bookstore? I already know a few things to watch out for. The literary agents that charge fees for a manuscript evaluations are agents I will avoid like the plague. Also, I realize even if I do find a literary agent there is no guarantee he or she can sell my book? I am also thinking about conducting more research on small press publishers in North America as well. Also, I need to find a literary agent that is gay positive because the novel I have written deals with homosexuality. I definitely don’t want an agent that is homophobic or has a problem with gay writers.

I Hate The Toronto Theatre Scene!!!

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Is the Toronto theatre scene boring? The answer is yes. Is the Toronto theatre scene racist and anti black male the answer is a resounding yes.  I hate when I receive e-mail rejections and there isn’t even an explanation there is all this politically correct bullshit. Nobody wants to be rejected of course, but I prefer an explanation. I prefer an honest answer, I don’t like it when people lie to me.  I will have to look over my play again to see where the miscommunication or disconnect is?

I think there is a fear about my play because it is extremely explosive and controversial!  My play tells the truth to the world about how racist, sexist, misandrist, and homophobic the city of Toronto really is!!!

I just hate when I receive responses such as you know what I’m talking about “there were a lot of submissions this year” or I love this line “it was really difficult to choose.” I am not giving up on my play and I definitely want to improve it. I was really psyched up and excited about a people of colour play festival in Toronto. However, I doubt any black gay men will be included in this so called fucking Toronto theatre festival!!!!

I just received a rejection via e-mail this afternoon. I am crushed. I hate receiving e-mail rejections I find that so impersonal.  If you’ve going to reject me give me a fucking reason damn it!!!  Yes, I am going to bitch right now because I feel like it so let me bitch for a moment and burn off some steam here!!!!!

What can I do? I guess all I can do is try to improve my play. Earlier this year, another Toronto play festival claimed my play was “excellent” and “made the short list”. I immediately asked for advice because obviously words mean nothing if my play isn’t on the stage for the world to see.

Next, the woman claimed they had a “very tough” decision.”  Yet when I look at the Toronto theatre scene all I see is bullshit. Where are the plays specifically about the young black gay Canadian male experience? Yeah, the black lesbians in Canada are actually a part of the theatre scene here but that’s  got nothing to do with me.  Young black gay Canadian men we are invisible in the Canadian arts.There are black gay Canadian male artists here but some of those guys are such cowards they hide in the closet. I’m not hiding in the closet but I am also no wallflower either. I speak up for myself and what I believe in.

Is it possible my play was a bit too political and not politically correct? I guess for some Toronto theatre festivals they can’t  handle strong language and powerful art. I guess my play should have been written differently you know I could have written a lie and claim the city of Toronto is a utopia paradise and is perfect with racial harmony? Or should I tell the truth that beneath the surface. I believe there is an “invisible code” to the pernicious, deleterious, and horrible anti black racism that takes place right here in Toronto. Why are people so fake here?

I swear I hate this country! I honestly think I am in the wrong place?  I’m going to leave this shit hole of a country.  Canada is too limiting and too politically correct. I think its time to look into getting a visa and just leaving this shit hole of a country. Everyone is so fake and pretentious here.

Take a look at the Toronto theatre scene especially the black Toronto theatre scene it is so derivative, pathetic, and lacking in details. How many times can a play about a black inventor, or about slavery or the fucking Underground Railroad be produced? How many times?  I am serious. Don’t worry during black history month next year there will be a whole bunch of slave plays to choose from for you’re viewing pleasure.

Yes, I am venting now and I am going to vent!!!! Thank goodness, I have enough brains to send my play to the United States. Why do I have this feeling that my play is going to get produced first outside of Canada? Canadians are so fucking fake and phony!!!!

Anne Sexton Was An Amazing Poet

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          I remember when I was in high school  a good friend of mine introduced me to the singer Vanessa Daou. Daou’s first album “Zipless” incorproates  Erica Jong’s poetry with music. The hit song off of “Zipless” is Sunday Afternoons. I love this song I recall playing the song  over, and over, and over, and over, again. Vanessa went on to explore other musical sounds such as smooth jazz, trip hop, electronica on other albums.

 The first time I was introduced to “Anne Sexton” was a song on “Zipless”  called “Dear Anne Sexton”. “Dear Anne Sexton” is actually a poem Erica Jong wrote about her friend.  I kept on wondering as I listened to “Dear Anne Sexton” over and over again who was Anne Sexton? Why did Erica Jong decide to write a poem about her? I think the poem is a tribute to her. I remember visiting the public library and researching Anne Sexton because I wanted to know more about her. I began reading  the volume of poetry by Sexton called “To Bedlam And Part Way Back” immersing myself into Sexton’s world. I also read another volume of poetry by Sexton called “Love Poems”.  Anne Sexton was born in the year 1928 in Newton Massachusetts. Sexton had a history of depression for most of her life but she found solace through writing.

I definitely find internal peace when I have something interesting to write about. Perhaps this is one of the reasons I identify with Sexton? I only tend to write my poetry when I am depressed. Isn’t that strange? Anyhow, when I write poems I tend to be confessional. I cannot write about a flower, or a bug, or a plant. I cannot just “write” a poem. Something in my life has to push me or even force me to write poetry. I have to have conviction when I write poetry there is no other way for me to write poems. Now of course, I know I can improve my poetry I will definitely admit that. Perhaps I am afraid to write poetry? I get insecure and I wonder is my poetry any good? I don’t know these thoughts race through my mind.  I know other poets can just “write” a poem at any moment with free will but I cannot. I never write my poetry that way. I usually grab a piece of paper sit down and I think about what I want to write about.

I usually just write a quick first rough draft. After that I will rewrite the poem over and over.  I usually get my good friend to listen to my poems and he will tell me if he likes it or not.  Its so funny because my friend will be silent and then he will say “oh Orville this is really good or oh this can be improved to or oh this sucks”. I really value his opinion so much because he’s honest with me about my work. I can pretty brutal and extremely critical about myself its one of my major flaws.

 Most of the poetry I write is autobiographical I’m not going to lie about that. I hate when writers say “oh my work isn’t autobiographical or it doesn’t have any autobiographical elements.” Its like give me a break.  Perhaps this is true but I think with poetry the poet is “closer” to the “material” then say when a writer writes a novel. I think poetry is one of the most “real” forms of writing because the poet is trying to “send” a message to the “reader” and its up to the reader to discern what the poet is trying to say.  In some ways I feel poetry is one of the most honest forms of writing even more honest then the autobiography or the memoir.  A poem is like a picture at first it is a blank canvas that needs to painted in, coloured with the essence of the poet’s life experiences. I think that’s one of the fun parts about poetry there are so many interpretations to a poem. 

 I think when when I write I take my life experiences and in some way it can become a sentence, a phrase, or paragraph in a poem. Of course, I also write poems that are pure fiction but in my first poetry collection  “You Don’t Know Me” most of the poems were mostly autobiographical. I mean why should I lie to readers about that? Its pretty obvious to anyone that bothers to read “You Don’t Know Me” that this volume deals with a lot of painful experiences I had in my life when I was younger. Even though “You Don’t Know Me” is out of print now I wonder if people still read it? Well that’s another blog entry isn’t it?

I gained a lot of appreciation for Anne Sexton because of her fearlessness. Sexton challenged the American literary industry in the sense she brought the issues of gender to the masses. Sexton was indeed very popular in her lifetime in North America and in the United Kingdom.   I really feel a connection to Erica Jong’s poem about the poet “Anne Sexton”. I don’t think Anne Sexton gets the credit she deserves.

Everyone talks about Sylvia Plath she definitely is considered more “famous” then Anne Sexton. I wonder why Plath was more “famous”? I don’t get it?  I never felt a connection to Plath although she definitely was a solid poet. I remember when I was a kid I loved reading Emily Dickinson’s poetry a lot.  I always felt I had a connection to Anne Sexton’s poetry I just loved the way Sexton used language. Sexton’s poetry in my mind had much more “urgency” and power. 

Erica Jong even uses the line “Live or Die” in her poem “Dear Anne Sexton”. Anyone that has read Anne Sexton’s poetry knows that Sexton won the Pulitzer Prize in 1967 for her powerful confessional poetry collection “Live or Die”.  If you ever get the chance read “Live or Die” its such a great read. Sexton is a confessional poet the emotion, passion, frustration, and anger, from her poetry moves me. Its sad that Anne Sexton is not respected as a “premier” American female poet as Plath. Sexton was more controversial she wrote about abortion, depression, suicide, death, menstruation, and other topics in the 1950s and 1960s.

Anne Sexton and Sylvia Plath were actually “friends” there have been rumors about the “nature” of their friendship may have had an undercurrent of lesbianism but perhaps that’s just mythology? There is no “proof” of a “lesbian relationship” between Plath and Sexton even though the rumour still exists after all these years.The truth is though Sexton and Plath did meet at a poetry workshop in Boston in the 1950s and became friends. After Plath died Anne Sexton even wrote a poem about Plath. 

     Another poetry collection by Anne Sexton that I love is called “Transformations” in this volume Sexton takes classic fairy tales and puts her own “twist” on them. “Transformations” is a very interesting read. Sexton committed suicide in the year 1974 but she will never be forgotten. If you ever get a chance go to the library and read Anne Sexton’s poetry you will shocked by the incredible power, imagery, sadness, and honesty of her poems.

Book Review: The Big Sea Langston Hughes first memoir.

I just finished reading Langston Hughes first memoir “The Big Sea”. I love Langston Hughes and Zora Neale Hurston so much they are my favourite writers. I really can’t choose between Langston and Zora both are incredible writers and they mean so much to me. I love them both.

If you want to gain a real appreciation for Langston Hughes as a writer do yourself a favor read the book at the public library or just buy the book. The Big Sea was published in the year 1940 it is an account about the early part of Langston’s life from birth to his early 30s. Langston discusses how he got “discovered” by the white American poet Vachel Lindsay. Langston writes eloquently about visiting Africa and Europe for the first time during the 1920s and the trials and tribulations of being a sailor.

I was most impressed with Langston’s description of the Harlem Renaissance. I felt like I was there with all of the energy, excitement, and electricity of the moment. Langston met other famous black writers such as Zora Neale Hurston, Countee Cullen, Wallace Thurman, Richard Bruce Nugent, the sculptor Aaron Douglas, and the white gay writer Carl Van Vechten. I think Langston was brave to travel to Africa and Europe as a young man. I guess he was seeking adventure and wanted to see the world.

Carl Van Vechten is a very interesting figure in the history of the Harlem Renaissance because he was the only white person that was a part of the “inner circle”. Later on in his life Van Vechten also got involved in photography. Van Vechten met Langston and Zora Neale Hurston in the 1920s and he was friends with both writers for the rest of their lives.

Van Vechten became famous in the 1920s because he was part of a controversy over a book he had written called “Nigger Heaven”. Now the title of the novel of course is controversial. However, Langston Hughes, Zora Neale Hurston and other black writers actually defended Van Vechten when some black critics during this era slammed Van Vechten and called him racist. The term Nigger Heaven actually refers to the balcony section in the movie theaters where blacks were forced to sit during the 1920s.

I think Van Vechten had another meaning for “Nigger Heaven” that “Harlem” was like a gallery where whites were able to “watch” blacks but at a “distance”. I also believe Van Vechen was “referring” to whites viewing blacks as science experiments something to be “gawked” at and not taken seriously. Van Vechten was clearly writing about the racial and social apartheid in America he was criticizing white Americans for their hypocrisy. If blacks are so fun to be around why the need for the American laws to treat blacks as second class citizens? I won’t call “Nigger Heaven” a protest novel but clearly the book is important.

Van Vechten was ahead of his time he was cognizant of the hypocrisy and racism of white America. In Harlem blacks were barred from certain clubs such as the Cotton Club that was reserved for whites only. The only blacks allowed inside this exclusive venue were the entertainers such as the singers, musicians, and dancers that performed for whites.

Van Vechten also was very instrumental in connecting Langston Hughes with Alfred Knopf to publish his work he also helped other black writers reach a larger audience. Van Vechten, although gay, he was married to a woman; he drank heavily too, but he was a very charismatic kind of a person and threw great parties. Van Vechten is really one of the few whites during the Harlem Renaissance that wasn’t “exploiting” blacks but really had a genuine interest in black art and black culture.

During the numerous parties on the weekends regular folks mingled with celebrities like Ethel Barrymore, Salvador Dali, and even royalty in Harlem. White people flocked to Harlem to “watch” blacks. Josephine Baker was a hit on Broadway in the play “Shuffle Along.” Langston also discusses his cynical view of the Renaissance about how white Americans viewed black people as “primitive” and as a form of a social experiment or entertainment.

Langston Hughes and Zora Neale Hurston also had a patronage with a mysterious wealthy white woman named Charlotte Osgood Mason also known as “godmother.” Ms. Mason paid Zora and Langston a salary to find the black “primitive art” she was so interested in. Hughes became disillusioned with Ms. Mason and stopped working for her around the year 1930 because he didn’t feel that she really “respected” African American culture. Langston felt Ms. Mason had a myopic view of blackness and black people.

Langston also discusses a legendary feud with Zora Neale Hurston about a play they wrote together called “Mule Bone.” Its kind of sad that this great literary friendship ended over a play. The story goes like this Zora wrote the play and wanted Langston to help her fix it up and he did. Langston helped write the final draft of the play. Now a typist Louise Thompson was hired but Zora didn’t want the other “woman” to claim credit to the play. Zora visited Langston’s mother’s house in Cleveland and she was furious screaming and yelling at Langston. Ms. Hughes had to calm Zora down. Zora continued to insist that Langston was trying to give credit to “another girl”. Ms Hughes was not pleased but eventually Zora and Langston had a discussion about the play but the friendship was over at this point.

In Zora’s memoir, “Dust Tracks On A Road”, she ignores Langston and the entire Mule Bone incident. In Carla Kaplan’s wonderful biography “Zora A Life In Letters” she connects the dots. Now I know Langston was a homosexual but I get this sense that maybe Zora had feelings for him? Were Langston and Zora lovers? I wonder? Maybe I am imagining things but I sense Langston and Zora may of had a romantic relationship? Did Zora know she had feelings for a homosexual? Now I am not suggesting Langston and Zora were lovers but why was Zora so upset about Louise Thompson? Its interesting in Langston’s memoir he doesn’t mention the typist Louise Thompson by name yet Carla Kaplan’s book does. Its kind of sad that this play destroyed their friendship. Langston and Zora only briefly communicated after the “Mule Bone” incident a few times in the 1930s and that was it.

Langston discussions about the incredible racial discrimination blacks experienced even in Harlem is very powerful. Blacks were viewed as just the “entertainment” often blacks were not allowed to enter certain clubs such as the “Cotton Club.”

I just love this book so much! Its so inspiring to read about his writing career and his life and the difficulty he had with maintaining a relationship with his father. Langston did not enjoy visiting his father in Mexico he even says he “hated” his father.

It was depressing at times to read about the incredible struggles Langston endured just because he was a young black man. I just cannot imagine the incredible amount of racial discrimination Langston endured during his life. I am not just talking about just the physical also the psychological effects this racist treatment must of had on older generations of black people. I think younger black people we forget the horrible treatment our elders experienced. I cannot imagine what he went through. Langston was forced to sit in the black section of a train or bus due to race. Langston also was not allowed to get accommodations at certain hotels due to being black. Blacks also were barred from using washrooms in public places as well. Even going to the park was an a big issue for African Americans during this era.

The racial apartheid of America was in full force. The Harlem Renaissance was an important time for black writers because it was the first time blacks believed there was “hope” through art. Angelina Weld Grimke the black lesbian poet had written her play about lynching “Rachel” in the year 1920. Nobody knows exactly when the Harlem Renaissance started but historians do say it ended around the 1929 or perhaps 1930.

The one area of “The Big Sea” I noticed Langston was reticent about is his love life. I was so curious I craved to know more. I believe this is the most frustrating part about the memoir I still didn’t feel like I knew everything about the real Langston Hughes? I find it very hard to believe that a man so attractive, so handsome, so charismatic, so beautiful, so intelligent such as Langston Hughes was unable to find a male lover?

Langston must of had some male or female lovers during his early life? Langston’s love life is basically non existent in “The Big Sea”. The question remains why?I find this part of the memoir most perplexing. I want to peak into Langston’s mind. I want to peel beneath the surface and shatter the canyon of silence. There isn’t even a section about his so called “heterosexual” romances much less about his gay love affairs. There appears to be a dissemblance by Langston around the issue of his homosexuality. Later on in Langston’s life he does write about homoerotic themes such as the poem cafe 3 am.

I understand during this period it was hard for African American gays and lesbians to be “respected” by the heterosexual black community. It was basically impossible to be out of the closet Langston didn’t have a choice he had to conceal his homosexuality. I think the constant need to “hide” his sexuality affected Langston emotionally and psychologically. I cannot imagine the intense fear and pressure he endured wondering if the black race would respect him if they knew he was gay.

Although the famous butch piano player Gladys Bentley was “out” about her lesbianism during the 1920s society was less fearful of lesbianism then male homosexuality. Gladys moved from Harlem to Hollywood and later on in her life shifted back to heterosexuality. Bessie Smith the Blues singer she “out” as a bisexual she had numerous affairs with female singers and dancers during the 1920s. Ma Rainey was also bisexual as well. However, Langston was a black man and the fallout would of been much greater if he did come out as gay.

It makes “sense” for Langston to conceal his homosexuality during his lifetime. How could Langston possibly come out in an era where black people still didn’t have equal rights? What good would that do? People have to remember that black gays in Langston’s era encounted multiple layers of oppression.

If Langston came out during his era it would destroy his career and maybe even his life. Langston also didn’t write much about homosexuality during his lifetime because I believe he always had a “fear” of being outed for a variety of reasons. The USA government even had witch hunts against gays in the 1940s and 1950s. Langston most likely did the “right” thing to remain in the closet he had no choice. Sure, one can argue the African American James Baldwin was brave and he was.

James Baldwin was also born in 1924 he was over twenty years “younger” then Langston Hughes. Baldwin I believe really was brave to write “Giovanni’s Room” in 1956. Notice though in “Giovanni’s Room” the protagonist is a white boy and not black. Some people say Baldwin made the characters in that book “white” to reach a larger mainstream audience there was a higher potential to make more money. And of course its true its just shrewd business. Baldiwn knew if he wrote the main gay characters David and Giovanni as “white” both white and black America would just see the book as pure “fiction”.

After all, an argument is why can’t a black writer write a book with white characters? However, think about the time period that Baldwin lived in. Would “Giovanni’s Room” really be as celebrated by the white heterosexual or homosexual communities if the characters in that book were African Americans? Wouldn’t this give racist organizations in America ammunition to pathologize blacks more?

Often a lot of gay historians and scholars always exclude this important point. Baldwin wouldn’t be “celebrated” at the beginning of his career by the black or white press if “Giovanni’s Room” was about black gay men. The civil rights movement just started in 1955 one year before “Giovanni’s Room” was published. Baldwin would be crucified by the NAACP and other black heterosexual leaders if “Giovanni’s Room” was about black gay men they would brand him as a traitor and a sell out. Baldwin would lose his “place” within the private sphere of black society. I also believe the white mainstream media would be hypocritical. Racist organizations such as the KKK would just say blacks had “no morals”. During the 1950s homosexuality was thought of as a disease of the mind an affliction that could be “cured”. James Baldwin would be thought of as a “race traitor” and as a disgrace.

Also, the black media didn’t mind “Giovanni’s Room” because the book had “nothing” to do with the black community. If Baldwin had written “Giovanni’s Room” with black gay male characters during the 1950s I think it would really tarnish his reputation with the heterosexual black community during that era. There would be a storm of controversy and anger by straight blacks it could of been a major uproar against Baldwin.

Its easy for people in the 21st century to say Langston Hughes could of or should of come out but we have to remember the time and space Hughes lived in. Homosexuality was still considered a mental disorder during Langston Hughes lifetime. The black and white heterosexual communities still looked down on homosexuals for both religious and personal reasons.Homosexuality was also considered to be something “white people” engaged in but not civilized black folks. If Hughes did come out he never would be respected by the heterosexual black community. Hughes would never be considered the “hero” of black literature that he is viewed as today. Its not right the kind of thinking that existed during Langston Hughes lifetime but that was the reality. The gay and lesbian movement didn’t really start until the late 1960s and early 1970 far beyond Hughes lifetime.

I sense some internalized homophobia from Langston in the memoir when he describes other gay black men. Langston is projecting the image in the memoir that he is heterosexual and this is false. In fact, according to Faith Berry’s 1992 biography on Langston Hughes she says Hughes had an intense romantic relationship with a Jamaican man.

However, in “The Big Sea” Hughes does write about drag balls from a homophobic perspective. Langston calls the black drag queens “pathetic”. The whole aspect of drag in black queer history is important because it proves black gay men existed despite living in separate spheres. Black gay men won awards and prizes for wearing the most sensational outfits and performances at the drag balls. during the 1920s.

One black man that had an intense infatuation with Langston was the openly gay black professor Alain Locke. In fact, I believe Alain Locke and Langston could of had a secret relationship perhaps? Locke has written many letters to Langston that are quite passionate and if you read between the lines you can tell Alain was in “in love” with Langston. Although I think it was an unrequited love. Langston doesn’t discuss Alain Locke’s obvious attempts to “gain” his attention and his infatuation with him. I think its a tragedy that Langston Hughes wasn’t able to be more free and live without judgement as a black gay man during his lifetime.

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