Friday, October 16, 2009

My Diva

It was a total pleasure this afternoon to be part of a reading at the CUNY Graduate Center to celebrate Michael Montlack's anthology MY DIVA, a collection of essays by gay male writers about female figures who've possessed their imaginations. Wayne Koestenbaum read an essay on Anna Moffo, Michael himself a piece on Stevie Nicks, Jason Schniederman read a kind of cautionary meditation on Liza Minelli, and Richard Tayson celebrated an early infatuation with Helen Reddy (who, it turns out, is now a hypnotherapist in Australia). Alfred Corn read a poem in which Billie Holiday figured, and yours truly read a piece about Grace Paley. I'd been feeling that the diva as glamorous and glittery figure had been pretty well explored, in her role as a mirror of gay men's longings for beauty, power and authority. What about other kinds of female figures who might embody different aspects of our interiority? So I decided to see if I could tap into my inner grandmotherly upper West Side Jewish anti-nuke activist. Anyway, the reading and conversation after were welcoming and lively.

One aspect of the conversation I liked was the acknowledgement of the big range of ways in which men think about "divas" -- as "role models," as objects of curatorial interest, as obsessive touchstones, as icons of eros, as emblems of courage, or mirrors of vulnerability and shame.


Mim said...

Now you're mishpucha.

Joelle Biele said...

Thanks for the notice about the book!

Sifi said...

I was glad to see Kate Bush included. She has always meant a lot to me. To the American ear, I think "The Sensual World" would be a good place to start with her.
On another topic, I just read your School of the Arts and loved it. My favorite among the poems was the one on the Art Auction, which evoked the town so beautifully. Thank you.

A.H. said...

Divas? Or as projections of the inner Anima. I found the latest conversation between Jericho Brown and James Allen Hall fascinating in this respect. This post, too, is very interesting.