My first full length collection of poetry is now available.
The Desire Line is a textual and photographic meditation on memory and impermanence.
Sven Davisson’s poetry is a bracingly unique combination of Buddhism, eroticism, urbanity, mythology, and modernity. Walt Whitman, Allen Ginsberg, and Frank O’Hara all seem to speak again through him. –Jeff Mann, author of Ash: Poems from Norse Mythology
We now live in an unprecedented world of images. The gilt icon of ages past, the altar triptych with its eternal dramatis personae, was a singular awe-inducing experience. Modernity as encapsulated in the endless reproducibility of images and words has given rise to a new magical landscape, personal and pagan in its fetishism. Susan Sontag writes in On Photography, “All photographs are memento mori“. They capture an instance in time that will never occur again. Living or dead, the faces that look back at us from family snapshots are no more. Time has moved on, that fractional moment is past. Every photograph is an evidentiary exhibit of impermanence, itself impermanent as light slowly fades that which light and chemistry created.
Is a photograph the past, the now, or something yet to be? What are these catalogs of images and words? reference points in a personal cosmology? a rotating exhibition of impermanence in a mental museum?
Black Freemasonry: From Prince Hall to the Giants of Jazz, Cécile Révauger
Inner Traditions, 2016, $29.95
Already the author of several books on Freemasonry in French, University of Bordeaux professor Cécile Révauger turns her attention to the history of Black Freemasonry in the United States. As early as the eighteenth century, the Masonic lodges of Europe were open to both white and black men. The story was different in the United States, however, where African Americans were barred from admittance. This gave rise to a separate lodge system for black Masons (originally operating under a charter from the Grand Lodge of England). Révauger begins her history with the origination of “African Lodges” in Boston and Philadelphia during the last quarter of the 18th century. By the early 1800s, this network of lodges had changed its name to Prince Hall Lodges taking the name of the legendary founder of the first black lodge in Boston. The author had access to diverse archives maintained by the Grand Lodges, Masonic libraries, and museums. The richness of the material shows in the detailed history provided. She provides insights into the founding of the first lodge and the historical personage that was Prince Hall through a detailed examination of his letters. Black Freemasonry provides a fascinating historical account of the development of Prince Hall Masonry, its role in the Civil War, the structure it provided during reconstruction, and its influence on the early Civil Rights Movement.
Meticulously research, Révauger’s Black Freemasonry provides a fascinating historical ride from the development of Prince Hall Masonry during the revolutionary period through the rise of Jazz to the battles of the Civil Rights Movement.
of muddy water
after it sits
My review of Hugh Urban’s Zorba the Buddha: Sex, Spirituality, and Capitalism in the Global Osho Movement is now up at Ashé Journal.
Despite the ubiquity of news coverage in the 1980s, the Osho-Rajneesh movement’s experiment in building a spiritual city out the Oregon desert has for the most part receded from the national memory. It is little more than a quirky footnote to the history of Reagan’s American. There remain a few old enough to remember (when nudged) that guy with all the Rolls Royces. This despite the fact that at the time the creation of Rajneeshpuram (and later the “takeover” of the town of Antelope) was one of the most covered national news stories of its day and the creation of the Oregon commune one of the greatest social experiments of its kind in the history of the United States.
Though the movement attracted a degree scholarship during its early phase in India and initially after coming to America, since the dissolution of the Oregon commune there has been scant academic attention paid to the movement. One exception being Lewis F. Carter’s book Charisma and Control in Rajneeshpram: The Role of Shared Values in the Creation of a Community, published in 1990 less than five years after last the Rolls left the Bhagwan’s city on a hill. Carter’s book deals almost exclusively with the development and eventual demise of the Oregon commune and its legal aftermath. There has been no book length scholarly examinations of the movement as a whole from Acharya Rajneesh’s earliest years in Bombay to its later transformations and the movements relation to the larger spiritual and global landscapes of the late twentieth century. That is until now with the University of California publication of Hugh Urban’s Zorba the Buddha: Sex, Spirituality, and Capitalism in the Global Osho Movement.
I have a short review of Nonomura’s Eat Sleep Sit: My Year at Japan’s Most Rigorous Zen Temple is now up at:
At the beginning of a successful career, the author decided to enter a Buddhist monastery. Putting everything else on hold, he entered the priestly training program of Eihei-ji, Japan’s most famous Soto Zen monastery. Founded in the 13th century by master Dogen, Eihei-ji is Soto Zen’s main training temple and is renowned for its difficulty and rigorousness…
For Brandon Lacy Campos
Watching Naked Poetry Series on YouTube
the retroactively ironic title, “I Live”
set against the previous in the playlist
unripe plums, metaphysics,
and Whalen’s meditation
on William Carlos Williams
Looking up from the digital
to the IRL window
the derelict blue house
its gutters hanging down
the tree scorched by fire
the vacant lot diagonal
where the house so recently burned
under renovation reclaiming the poetry
of a previous century’s architecture
gone in minutes of heat and electric fireworks
the lot now a graded smooth expanse
where once a firm frame structure stood
for a century or more
The Zendo near our house in Maine
the sound of the han echoes off trees and hill
and large rock where Gato-Roshi’s ashes lie.
The songs of birds chattering and trilling to each other
the mournful coo-ah coo of a pair of doves
and the cutting craw of a crow
the lone doe siding her way silently
through the remnants of harvest
the resonant tonal croak of a bull frog in the pond
the strike of an early rising carpenter’s hammer.
Here, the morning framed
by the warning of heavy equipment backing up
the rhythm of a train behind the house
broken by the sharp sound of poorly lubricated iron
wheels’ screech on rail as it makes the turn
edging by the decommissioned naval station
the backhoe digging through gravel and river silt
repairing the gas lines beneath the street
the occasional siren from the substation
at the end of the next block
workers’ voices raised over the noise of machines
five horns of a tug in the canal
and the answering clanging bell
as the drawbridge goes up
a car with bad muffler and loose belt waiting.
Behind the sound of rock on steal,
the sounds of two birds singing
a dog barks
a feral rooster crows WAKE UP
New Orleans 10.6.15
New content posted regularly and selected highlights from our archives… Ashé Journal 2.0
Hard to believe it’s been thirteen years since the first issue. After 23 issues, we took a short hiatus to work on other projects (not least of which the 80 or so titles from Rebel Satori Press). Now the journal is back with an updated online presence:
Now up at Ashé Journal, my review of The Source Family DVD and book…
A teaser from my novel in progress…
His name was Setn’iak, but everyone called him Angel.
The first time, he was wearing a black t-shirt, a fleur-de-lys disappearing at the edge of its left side, jeans worn a gentle variegated blue, and a white belt covered in a collage of skulls. Spiked hair, a goatee snaking the perimeter of his chin stained red by the moving lights.
At first a slight movement in my peripheral vision, I turned to look across the dance floor. Surrounded in a blazing coat of light. Outlined by the strobes, the tips of his hair a blond glory.
Fuck. I was made in that split-second. My breath stopped in a painful catching and Joe’s story disappeared instantly.
Moments passed and I started breathing.
“Cade…?” Joe touched my arm. “Are you ok?” he asked as my eyes re-focused on him.
The magical essays contained in this collection were written over a twenty year period. They center around the image of spiritual entity Set, from early Egypt through the Gnostic to the medieval Seth. Building on Llee Heflin’s groundbreaking magical experiments, the title essay brings the QBLH into the New Aeon. Each is a glimpse into the magical explorations of The Brotherhood Of Seth.
Rebel Satori has announced their 2014 list of forthcoming titles. This selection includes a collection of magickal essays The Star Set Matrix & Other Magickal Essays. This collection brings together pieces that I have penned over the years—many unpublished until now. The collection includes the title piece a practical extrapolation of Llee Heflin’s “Diamonds of CHAOS”. Also included on some musings on Egyptian and Gnostic Set/Seth that appeared in the zine mektoub.
Also on the list are new titles by Craig Gidney, Wayne Gregory, Kyler James and (yes, finally) the much anticipated reissue of Kevin Killian’s Shy. Also in the mix is a long-term project No Sh•t! Liberation in the hands of generation why by Swami Prem Arun.
Carrie Mae Weems 30-year retrospective opens today at the Guggenheim. I studied with Weems my first two years at Hampshire. Enjoyed sharing a darkroom space with her and watching her work. She and Jerome Liebling (very different photographers!) shaped my college photo work and early academic life.
Unlike HRH QEII in nineteen-hunder-and-two, 2013 is a year I will look back on with pretty much “undiluted pleasure.” It was highlighted by the closeness and support of my loving partner, family and friends (old and new).
In September, after a quick second-in-a-row trip to DC, I returned home at 1am to discover that Nate and our friends had spent every waking moment while I was gone completely redoing my home office. They replaced the base white walls with fresh paint and the and dogerized white carpet with wood floors. The colors chosen are perfect, unbeknownst to all parties, being a subtle reflection of Tibetan Buddhist robes. The offering bowls on the meditation altar each had a lit tea-light. They even went to the length of taking a picture of each bookshelf to ensure that all books went back in the correct order.
In the midst of the overwhelming surprise, he got down on one knee and proposed. So above all else, thank you to my husband-to-be.
Rebel Satori Press issued five strong titles that I am very proud of: a new collection of poetry from Emanuel Xavier, Nefarious; the second book in LA Fields’ Disorder series, Dysfunction; J. Warren’s Silencing Orpheus sequel to Stealing Ganymede; Thomas Moore’s A Certain Kind of Light described by Dennis Cooper as “easily the most extraordinary, momentous work yet by this singular and sublime wordsmith”; and Peter Dubé’s unique modern grimoire Conjure: A Book of Spells.
Dubé’s Conjure was shortlisted for the A.M. Klein Poetry Prize of the Quebec Writers’ Federation. It was selected for several Best of the Year lists—in their list Out In Print described it as “the most challenging book I’ve read all year. Once its secrets were unlocked, however, I found it fascinating, enthralling reading…” and Barry Webster called it “the most original book I’ve read this year” in his selections for the Band of Thebes.
Emanuel Xavier’s fourth collection of poetry, Nefarious, was highlighted by the San Diego Multicultural LGBT Literary Foundation and recognized by the Poetry Foundation. Xavier took the book on the road with readings in San Antonio, New Orleans, Fort Lauderdale and San Diego as well as his hometown New York.
Halloween and All Souls Day we (Nate, my mother and I) spent in New Orleans realizing our dream of gaining our first foothold in our heart-city: a classic 1860s double in the Faubourg Marigny, traditional bracket house in a arresting yellow. We met many new friends and discovered our new neighborhood. Shout out to Rusty, Don, George, Richy, Jose and the rest of the folks at Friendly Bar. And thank you Billy for sharing the journey with us.
Made a long overdue foray back to my own writing with my first published story in several years selected for Steve Berman’s queering Dracula anthology Suffering the Night—garnering the adjective “wonderful” in Anthony Cardno’s Lambda Literary review.
For 2014, the press has several exciting projects in the works including new works by Wayne Gregory, Craig L. Gidney, Kevin Killian (reprint), and Kyler James.
Day job going well and still incredibly rewarding. Helped organize the annual meeting the Association of Independent Research Institutes (AIRI). While in DC made my first new heart-city connection while conducting the fast-paced negotiations via Latter & Blum in New Orleans. There were a lot of three-way Maine-DC-NOLA phone calls.
Got my camera out a lot more in 2013 (portfolio at www.svendavisson.net) and looking forward to more shoots in the future…
And also working on two new writing projects of my own…
So tonight I lift a glass in toast tof family (mom and Nate), good friends old (Billy, Adam, Crystal, Eric, Lincoln, Anson, Jess, Emanuel, Justin, Peter, Steve, Leonidas) and new (read “NOLA” Don, Rusty, Richy, Jose, Steve and James). To 2013 and the year as yet to be created!
The Steve Berman edited anthology of lgbt takes on Stoker’s Dracula is now available in print and kindle editions.
One of the more admired characters in Western literature happens to be a murderer, a villain, a fiend: Count Dracula. Irish author Bram Stoker’s classic novel stands high in the canon of speculative fiction, influencing countless twentieth- and twenty-first-century storytellers in a variety of mediums. It is only natural for the outsiders of society to reinterpret the world’s most infamous vampire through the lenses of their own experience. Who is more outside of society than Dracula? Perhaps the writers of queer-themed speculative fiction and their characters….
In Suffered from the Night: Queering Stoker’s Dracula, editor Steve Berman provides a worthy companion to Lethe Press’s widely acclaimed earlier anthologies of queered canon, A Study in Lavender: Queering Sherlock Holmes and Where Thy Dark Eye Glances: Queering Edgar Allan Poe. Here you will find dark tales (and a poem) of Dracula himself, his minions willing and not, his implacable enemies, and their heirs. Prepare to be guided into the deep recesses of the queer imagination by an impressive array of award winners, veterans, and bright new lights.
Thirteen stories and a poem by: Jason Andrew / Laird Barron / Steve Berman / Seth Cadin / Traci Castleberry / Elka Cloke / William P. Coleman / Sven Davisson / Rajan Khanna / Livia Llewellyn / Ed Madden / Jeff Mann / Damon Shaw / Lee Thomas
My story “A Closer Walk With Thee” will be included in the anthology Suffered from the Night: Queering Stoker’s Dracula edited by Steve Berman and published by Lethe Press.
Here’s the full table of contents at SF Signal
I’ve been asked quite a bit recently as to what is happening with the press. Rebel released 7 titles in 2012, but we have had an admittedly quiet winter. Now we’re gearing up to kick off 2013 with announcing 10 upcoming releases! I’m exciting about all of them—focusing on quality, not quantity and maintaining the joy of publishing and working with authors I love and count as dear friends.
Conjure: A book of spells, Peter Dubé
Evoking hidden worlds, summoning visions and making magic happen, Conjure: a Book of Spells is filled with vivid image and tantalizing narrative fragments that stir the heart, mind and eye. Echoing the tone and structure of Medieval and Renaissance grimoires, Dubé’s unique collection joins surrealist automatism with rigorous formal discipline and offers readers a profound and complex work. Street date July 23.
Orpheus has vowed never to touch a woman, play music or sing again if he can’t be with his wife. Since he cannot cross the river Styx, he has spent millennia wandering. Others are watching him, though, and waiting to balance the natural order of things. Can a boy who was almost sold into a life of sexual slavery teach this immortal to love again before it’s too late? The sequel to the underground hit Stealing Ganymede.
Recent runaway Marley Kurtz (Maladaptation) is back home in Florida after a long road trip. He and his boyfriend Jesse get jobs, move into a loft above a mechanic’s garage, and start living the good life. They don’t stay free for long however; Marley is eventually pressured into reuniting with the family that sent him away. Far from being disowned, Marley soon finds himself pulled in too many directions at once.
Along with his sister, Lindsay, and his boss’s new foster son, Tristan, Marley must figure out what kind of family he’ll choose to call his own. Will it be the parents who raised and abandoned him, or the friends and adults in his life who have proven they really care? It should be an easy decision, but letting go is never easy.
Told through the eyes of a nameless teenage boy, A Certain Kind of Light sees the narrator attempt to find some kind cohesion in a life from which he feels increasingly disconnected. As his family, friendships, sexuality and even his taste in music and pornography begin to feel distant from him, his alienation expands. The things that once meant everything to him are stripped of an essence he begins to doubt they ever had. He fixates on a profile of a boy that he finds on the Internet, projecting illusory ideas upon a person that he has never met but feels a profound intimacy with. Feeling more and more lost, he attempts to work out the connection between a disparate set of coincidences, objects and events: a dead, mangled bird, the funeral of his best friend’s father, a horrific experience with LSD, obsessive sexual fantasies and the disintegrating suburban life in which he was raised. Intensely emotionally and disorientating, A Certain Kind of Light focuses on the intricacies of confusion. On Dennis Cooper’s “most eagerly anticipated books of 2013” list.
Also releasing later this year:
Nefarious, Emanuel Xavier
Weekend before last found Nate and I in the French Quarter enjoying the Tenth Anniversary Saints & Sinners/NOLA Literary Festival. It was great to see so many old (read cherished not aged) friends and colleagues! And making some new acquaintances (Justin Torres We the Animals).
Trebor and I were back organizing the reading at Otis’s Faubourg-Marigny Art and Books (FAB). Well more Trebor than me this year, but I did my little part keeping it alive in Treb’s absence. Rebel authors Emanuel Xavier and Peter Dubé read. Press plug: both have books coming out this year Peter a prose poem collection Conjure: a book of spells and Emanuel a collection of new poetry.
Also good to hang out with Sheri Johnson (DeVante’s Coven and DeVante’s Children) who was forever losing her ever-patient husband Dave. (Thank you for keeping my copy of Chulito safe. Looking forward to reading Charles’ inscription once the book makes its way back from NOLA via Minnesota.)
And as ever the food! Pim’s Cup at Napoleon House, shrimp po’boy at Magnolia Grill, burgers at Clover… Fried green tomatoes at Eat, amazing. The entire weekend washed down with happy hour ($2 rail) drinks served by the ever-present Aletha!