You're Invited to West 10th's Poetry Workshop!

Attention all NYU undergrads: Our first workshop of the year is coming up! On Wednesday, October 19th at 7:30pm, join West 10th for a poetry workshop in Seminar Room A at Palladium Hall.Make sure to RSVP and check out the Facebook event, too!Bring up to two works of poetry (two pages maximum) to receive some feedback from your West 10th Editors. See you there!Just a reminder that we are still accepting submissions until December 15th!

From our Editors: LGBT Novel Recs from Allen Fulghum

Hi all, I’m Allen, one of West 10th’s prose editors. I’m a senior in Gallatin studying modernism, homosexuality and the First World War. When I sat down to make a short list of my favorite 20th century LGBT novels to share with you all, I realized that I’d chosen at least one representative of each decade from the 1910s to the 1960s—so here are six decades of LGBT literary history, condensed. 

Six decades, six brilliant LGBT novels

Maurice - E.M. Forster (1913)66ce77a8-5861-4597-ad54-795fc667828eWritten in 1913 but only published posthumously in 1971, Maurice was well ahead of its time in its nuanced depiction of a young man discovering and coming to terms with his sexuality. While Forster carefully examines the difficulties of identity and love, Maurice is ultimately founded on the belief that same-sex relationships have the capacity to be profound, beautiful and happy—a radical thesis for a novel written when men were still routinely arrested and imprisoned for having sex with other men.   
Orlando - Virginia Woolf (1928)d43caa20-84a8-4de0-81e5-6746f1f1a21eSubtitled “A Biography,” Orlando was written as a paean to Woolf’s friend and erstwhile lover, the aristocratic Vita Sackville-West. With typical élan, Woolf transforms Sackville-West into the novel’s eponymous protagonist, a sex-changing immortal who begins as an Elizabethan nobleman and ends as a successful female author in ‘the present day’ (that is to say, 1928). Traversing three hundred years of Orlando’s life, Woolf relentlessly questions conventional notions of history, authorship, gender and sexuality.   Nightwood - Djuna Barnes (1936)dc0d6d65-ee3c-4182-b604-469e86106307Contained in a deceptively slim volume, Nightwood is a superbly stylized portrait of a doomed lesbian relationship in the bohemian Paris of the interwar years, explicated through the head-spinning speeches of Dr. Matthew-Mighty-grain-of-salt-Dante-O'Conner (who is just as campy as his name suggests). This modernist masterpiece was lauded by T.S. Eliot as “so good a novel that only sensibilities trained on poetry can wholly appreciate it.”    Notre Dame des Fleurs/Our Lady of the Flowers - Jean Genet (1943)b9f2103a-0cad-446a-9298-e28f205ea50bSimilarly to Nightwood, this novel renders the Parisian underworld in prose so rich and revelatory it practically creates a new class of literature. The lives and loves of its central characters—sex workers, trans women, and teenage murderers, all bearing charming monikers like Divine and Darling Daintyfoot—are unspooled by a capricious narrator who creates the world of the novel while masturbating in his prison cell (!!!).   The Charioteer - Mary Renault (1953)Renault, having worked as nurse at a British military hospital during the Second World 938fdf19-6cb0-4cac-8085-f7edca07323fWar and later emigrated to South Africa to live with her female partner, was uniquely equipped to write this novel, which follows a British soldier who falls in love twice over as he recovers from a combat wound. With equal measures of heartfelt psychological insight and cutting social observation, The Charioteer struggles with the tensions between idealism and reality, individualism and community, and innocence and experience.  Another Country - James Baldwin (1962)An earlier novel of Baldwin’s, Giovanni’s Room, is often hailed as a masterpiece of gay literature, but while Giovanni’s Room is a claustrophobic investigation of one man’s psychology, Another Country seems to encompass an era. 2dedb81c-2e50-4c36-8d58-de261d3251ceThe characters are gay, straight, bisexual, questioning and in denial; white and black; working-class and middle-class and destitute and wildly successful. In a rhythm reminiscent of jazz, the novel traces the cast as they move in and out of each other’s lives, coupling and splitting up and getting back together, rising and falling in fortune—but always circling around the specter of a character who commits suicide at the end of the novel’s first act.

From our Editors: why Su Young Lee writes

Su Young Lee—this year’s prose editor here. Currently a sophomore who hopefully and finally narrowed it down to studying English Literature, Journalism, and Creative Writing (fun fact, I’m indecisive). Why (How) I Write   I see a man with his daughter on his lap, brushing her hair away from her small sleeping face as if they weren’t sitting in the middle of a crowded subway train. I like their intimacy and decide that maybe I’ll write about them someday. I never do. I sit in a café and eavesdrop on a job interview as the man becomes increasingly and amusingly anxious, visualizing his half-uttered sentences in the air, full of ellipses. I sit in my room on an especially bad day and decide that the imagined tragedy of how I feel will look good on paper, but all I can manage is jot down a few phrases that all sound like half-finished lines from terrible poetry—my poetry—and I throw the piece of paper away. You see, I like thinking about writing. Sometimes I convince myself I’m really a writer because all I can think about is how something will look on a page.     Then I come to my senses and decide that a writer is probably someone who actually writes. This is discouraging because writing is kind of hard. I plan characters, conversations, odd little phrases but when it comes to writing them down and filling in the gaps I find that I’m not a writer after all. Not a writer I’d like to be, or maybe I think I should be, the clichéd artist tortured by the task of translating their genius onto paper. The only thing I’m tortured by is my fear, laziness, lack of inspiration. While everything I see and hear and feel I think about writing down, it’s rare that I actually do.     This is partly why I sign up to a creative writing class. People say writing comes from the heart, the soul, from whatever other metaphorical body part, but honestly sometimes I just need someone to make me write because otherwise I never will. I have to make it inevitable because when I finally start writing I confirm what I suspected all along—that I hate writing.    This is the process of writing that I loathe: in bed. I don’t like sitting on a desk because it seems like I’m doing work, even though writing is really hard work. I put on some music before I decide that it’s distracting. I stare down at a blank piece of paper—or Word document. I tend to start with paper the first few times because I think writing by hand is romantic but I throw down my pen and hate myself finding I have more scribbles and crossed-out words than useable material. Blankness is encouraging—threatening—and maybe promising. The ugly blacked out words, however, are sad visual reminders of my failure that I’m too conceited to stand.     But if I hate it so much, why do I do it? Despite all the complaining and self-loathing, there’s something addicting about the adrenaline that comes with writing, beyond the effects of all the caffeine I consume. It’s the starting that’s hard, but once something is on the page the next words tumble after each other. I let myself ramble. When I finish the piece (the draft) it’s like finally letting out air after holding my breath. It’s at that moment when I close my laptop and go to sleep, because I conveniently write in bed, that I think I have found the reason I write. The feeling of satisfaction. There are a lot of other and often forgotten reasons too, like how I want to be eloquent but writing is the only way I can achieve it, how I like to hide behind the anonymity of words on paper, but how I also like the intimacy it provides. Sometimes I hate it because having to write something interesting is a reminder that my actual life is unexciting, but maybe I like that I can live through the pages I write. I don’t know if that’s sad. Sometimes I think being a writer means being sad—dragging up things that have happened, bad things, or things that never will.        Ultimately though, being a writer means writing. I may hate the act of writing but I love its effects, a similar relationship I have to cooking and actually eating the food. Hate the labour, if you will; devour the fruit. If I want to be a writer there’s really nothing else for me to do but write. That’s the one thing that all writers of all genres have in common—writing words, instead of just thinking about them. No matter how bad you think you are or how much you dislike the physical act of writing, writers write. So to all you aspiring writers: give yourself deadlines, make others give you deadlines, find some way to force yourself to put words on a page.

Prose Workshop Open to All NYU Undergrads

Our prose workshop, our second of the year, is coming up! It will be on Thursday, November 19 at 7pm, at Seminar Room B in Palladium Hall. Here is the Facebook event page, you could also RSVP here.12170691_10206922203350348_1892283009_nThis workshop is open to all undergrad students! So bring up to 1500 words of fiction/non-fiction prose to receive some feedback and comments from your West 10th Editors.Just a reminder that we are still accepting submissions until December 8th!

A Review of Das Energi by Paul Williams

Sifting through second-hand paperbacks at a musty bookstore on the Upper West Side I stumbled upon Das Energi, a hippie-spiritual classic from 1974 that I’d heard my friend’s parents talk about when they would reminiscence about times when music was political and LSD was legal. It was one of those popular books that everyone eventually forgot about as the decade passed and the peace and love mentality of that generation faded into the 80s.Usually these kinds of “Feel the world, heal the world” narratives can be hard to get through, mostly because they are repetitive and almost always vague, but this one struck a somewhat different note. Paul Williams manages to weave lyrical prose with hard slang into a strong and thoughtfully structured manifesto, a mantra for a new way of living life. The structure of Das Energi follows suit, each page as varied as the voice. Some pages are run-on paragraphs, set in a conversational tone Williams asks an obscure “you” why fear is so potent, why we choose to ignore the metaphysical implications of our existence. Others are only a line, something short and thoughtful to be repeated over and over again. Though he traverses a number of topics, from guiltless sex to our obsession with efficiency to the potency of religion, the one line he refers back to constantly is: “You are God”.  Williams seems to believe that worshipping a separate and nonhuman entity is pointless and detracts from the self-evolution and discovery that is necessary to contribute to the energy flow of the world.In some ways Williams came very close to sounding like the stoned middle-aged gypsies you might bump into at Burning Man while waiting in line for beer, but it is his stylistic voice that separates him from the ‘wishy washy’ aspects of spiritual culture that mainstream society can’t seem to handle. He has a very forceful approach to his doctrine and often ends up sounding much more like Karl Marx than Gandhi. His constant reference to “shedding old skin”, “setting yourself free” and of “not seeking but finding” are dispersed between urgent didactic lines like “Here and now, boys. Or else spend infinite future fighting quarrels of endless past.” He pushes forward the importance of responsibility and even outlines three self-made laws of the economics of energy. Admittedly Williams’ inconsistency in writing is sometimes shaky—it is harder to sink into a piece that chooses not to commit to any tone or mood—but he is nevertheless an earnest and often charismatic writer with enough skill to pull off a book that could have been excruciating. His words are familiar the way an old jazz tune at a coffee store is; you know the basic melody but the vocal riffs and trumpet solo always take you buy surprise.--Michelle Ling, Art Editor