Thursday, November 3, 2011

Fashion Poetry Festival

Fashion Poetry Festival

“Wilde Boys, a roving salon
for self-described queer poets”
—Patrick Huguenin, “The Wilde
Boys Salon, for Poetry or Maybe
a Hot Date,” Style and Fashion,
The New York Times 11/2/2011

The Fashion in Poetry Festival is proud to present a special edition of Wilde Boys, an intoxicating exploration of costume and fashion as a form of poetic spectacle throughout the modern gay NYC poetry scene.

The program highlights those episodes in New York City which most distinctly foreground costume, adornment, and styling as vehicles of sensuous pleasure and poetic enchantment.

New fashionable underground poets like Anne Howe, Alex Dimitrov, Kenneth Dingwanger, Jack Smooch, Jose Rodriguez-Lorca, and Stanley Kowalski constitute one such episode. Their exquisitely decadent, highly stylized visions full of lyrical fascination with style, fashion, jewelry, textures, layers, luxurious fabrics, and make-up unlock the opulence of earlier periods of popular poetry, especially “spectacle” Weimar cabaret performances of the 1930s with such stylish fashions & exotica as Marlene Dietrich doing “Voodoo Love” in tres chic young apeboy nightclub drag in the exquisitely infamous “Blonde Venus” (1932).

The program forges a link with the characteristic visual intensity of Frank O’Hara’s New York School from the ancient 1950s poetics with its rather naïve, cosmopolitan, pre-Aids, dreamlike, sexy, marvelous world of risqué bars & Fire Island beaches of death. In O'Hara's magical and sometimes phantasmagorical tableaux, costume and artifice was more than just simply for cruising and display.

Instead, the new gay Fashion Poetics dazzles, seduces, surprises, and dramatically metamorphoses—into a new type of special effect. Boys of Paradise delves into the archives to show that costume and adornment have often been a key component in chic American poetics and has, from early on, proved absolutely vital in showcasing such basic properties as voice, movement, change, light and, of course, color.

Stressing the aesthetic aspects of fashion poetry, the program suggests one way of closing the cleavage (or at least temporarily suspending the opposition) between str8t avant-garde poetics and gay commercial poetry. This is very much in the spirit of such progressive journals as the pre-war French Cinéa-Ciné pour tous and the post-war American Film Culture, and of course, it’s this very attitude of experimental poetics & filmmakers collaborating in the YouTube future that has publishers entranced, now that all the chain-bookstores are folding because of the rather rude Miss Gutenberg Internet Revolution.

The Fashion Poetry Festival took place in Paris and its next venue will be at the Museum of the Moving Image and The Graduate Center, CUNY this April and May, followed by a symposium with screenings at Yale University in November.

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