By Amy Musser
W A T C H:
Here in time for Pride is a reissue of the 1994 documentary “Before Stonewall,” playing at The Northwest Film Forum in late June. This award-winning documentary explores the riots that occurred fifty years ago after a police raid at The Stonewall Inn in NYC in 1969, and the Gay Liberation movement it sparked. Narrated by Rita Mae Brown, Before Stonewall features interviews with activists and pioneers like Ann Bannon, Martin Duberman, Allen Ginsberg, Barbara Gittings, Harry Hay, Mabel Hampton, Dr. Evelyn Hooker, Frank Kameny, and Audre Lorde.
Equally moving are the timeless, profound stories of LGBTQ Americans who populate this film as it artfully traces the historical roots of a rising movement. On making the film, Director Greta Schiller explains that soon into the process she realized she had to tell the story of the marginalized people who hadn’t yet really had a voice, not just the doyens. To capture those narratives, she had a team that interviewed hundreds of people to create “scrapbooks” of their stories for all the world to witness and learn from. Don’t miss the series of screenings happening at Northwest Film Forum from June 23 through June 28 commemorating the 50th anniversary of the historic Stonewall riots.
W I T N E S S:
On June 22, an outstanding group of writers, poets and artists will gather at Volunteer Park to celebrate the works of famed poet, philosopher and activist Allen Ginsberg. Writers Rae Armantrout, Ron Silliman, Dorothea Lasky, Sadie Dupuis, Ryo Yamaguchi, and more will explore Ginsberg’s legacy and the enduring relevance of his poem Howl--one of the most widely read poems of our times. Howl, a rollicking three-part critique of modern society that sings of jazz, radicals, and the original hipsters with bravely graphic intimacy via breath-length narrative lines, reads like an enraged outcry full of subversive and poignant imagery.
The idea to do a festival in honor of Ginsberg was partially prompted by Geoffrey Farmer’s installation piece “If You Want to See Something Look at Something Else.” Tree Swenson, Director of the Hugo House, said the installation provides an unexpected perspective, much like Ginsberg’s work. The writers and poets participating in this tribute have been asked to respond to Ginsberg in whatever way they please. Some will be providing comment on Ginsberg himself, and others will be reading their own work.
“It wouldn’t be in the spirit of Ginsberg to be too dictatorial,” says Tree, “so we’ve simply asked these writers to share their perspective in whatever form they choose, and it will be festive, in honor of PRIDE.” This free poetry festival will undoubtedly provide a unique opportunity to not only remember the Beat generation and Ginsberg, but to also to see him through the eyes of so many brilliant contemporary poets and writers. The festival is Saturday June 22, 2-4pm.
R E A D:
The Paris Review, Summer 2019, Issue No. 229
This quarterly literary review, first founded in Paris in 1953, has made a name for itself by featuring an array of beautifully edited literary prose, poetry, interviews and nonfiction. Within the first five years of its naissance, writers like Kerouac, Robert Bly, and V.S. Naipaul were already gracing its pages. Today’s issues feature a nice mix of new and known writers. In this particular Summer 2019 issue, there seems to be a fluid and subtle theme around the notion of revisiting the past, and of revision in general. In an interview with Lewis Lapham titled “The Art of Editing,” the famed essayist and editor, first at the helm of Harper’s, and later at Lapham’s Quarterly, explains his own revisionist methods in both revising his own, and other people’s work, and likewise revising his own life.
“A lot of my life has been learning what I’m not,” Lapham says on learning he wasn’t a gambler, and maybe not a musician, but rather a journalist or writer and editor, as he moved to endeavors in his life that better-suited his talents. On explaining how he’d select and edit content for Lapham’s Quarterly, he speaks of history and how it is always informing us.
“History is the vast store of human consciousness adrift in the gulf of time, the present living in the past and the past living in the present…It’s why we still read Edith Wharton, Virginia Woolf, James Baldwin, and Flaubert—what survives the wreck of time is the force of the imagination and the power of expression.”
In another poem in this same issue, we revisit Jorge Luis Borges through one of his earliest published works, “Morning,” first published in Ultra, a Spanish avant-garde magazine, in 1921. Fans of Borges may be excited to read such an early work from the esteemed Argentinian poet and essayist. Pick up a copy of The Paris Review at Elliot Bay Book Company, or check out the podcast at https://www.theparisreview.org/podcast.