Diversity on the Mississippi

Crescent parkBefore the Saints and Sinners Literary Festival began last weekend in New Orleans, the friend I stayed with took me to newly opened Crescent Park. We climbed the elegant rusted steel Piety Street Bridge (one block from Desire) to cross the railway tracks and explore the beautiful, if minimally designed, riverfront gardens. All that remains of a once bustling wharf is a lone three-story white wall and the burned out skeleton of beams extending over the muddy water. The city skyline glimmers in the distance. Rusty poles bearing words like Diversity are interspersed with concrete slab benches etched with quotations.

Diversity Pole“Culture – The common threads of life that tie us together… roles, rules, rituals, languages, music, spirituality, and soul.”

That quote in particular struck a chord, though I couldn’t quite put my finger on why. Perhaps a premonition of the experience I anticipated having the next four days? I’ve attended many festivals, conventions and conferences in the last two years. Saints and Sinners, with its combined queer and literary focus, was by far the most inspiring, entertaining, enlightening, and – (How do I say this? In Dutch the word is ‘gezellig’ – an almost untranslatable mix of cozy, warm and friendly.) I thought: this is what Christopher Isherwood meant when he wrote about his tribe.

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Flowers and a Single Man

Early in 2012 author Edmund White was asked by The Browser to select five gay novels with beautiful writing. His top two choices: Jean Genet’s Our Lady of the Flowers and A Single Man by Christopher Isherwood. He praised Genet for his sumptuous poetic style, Isherwood for his chaste simplicity. Polar opposites, some might say. And yet, true to my contrary nature, I find a certain confluence. Continue reading