J. B. “Landed Gay Gentry”, in Alternative, février 1980
Lesbian Peoples: Material for a Dictionary by Monique Wittig and Sande Zeig; Avon: 1979; Paperback: 160 pages: $5.95
The Gay Stud’s Guide to Amsterdam by Jacob Lowland: CJ. Aarts| The Netherlands; 1979; paperback: 32 pages; $2.50
A Lover’s Cock by Arthur Rimbaud and Paul Verlaine; Gay Sunshine Press; 1979; 64 pages; bi-lingual edition; $3,95
There is something unsettling in reading bad verse by a figure as revered as Rimbaud. But everything can’t be deathless poetry, and perhaps knowing that even Rimbaud could turn out the trite might bring some comfort to the lesserknown struggling gay poets of our time. When approaching A Lover’s Cock, the reader has to remember that he is reading some of the first attempts as explicit homosexual verse written almost a hundred years ago and its inherent historical importance goes without saying. Occasionalty the collection is redeemed by works like Rimbaud’s “The Tortured Heart”; a description of the poet’s rape by a gang of French soldiers. When Rimbaud’s passions are as deep-seated as this, the genius breaks through with a devestating cry. But in his and Verlaine’s coauthored rhymes to various body parts, it remains, on the whole, silly and awkward.
Jacob Lowland is, unfortunately, less rewarding. Time and place (Amsterdam and various gay bars) mean everything to The Gay Stud’s Guide to Amsterdam and little to the untraveled reader. The familiar poses are in abundance.
Lesbian peoples (originally published in France as Brouillon Pour Un Dictionnaire Des Amantes), on the other hand, is a compelling and often devestating reconstruction of women’s mythology. Wittig and Zeig are pure visionaries; structuring a history that both inflames and soothes. Often scandalous, shocking to the run-of-the-mill chauvinist; this foundation for a race of ancient lesbians amazes and convinces. The redefined subjects range from Gaul (where the Red Dykes invented vanishing powder) to the Lance (“Amazons invented the lance from the exterior appearance of the vulva”) to the orgasm (“The companion lovers of Taprobana say that on their island the blue lights produced by orgasms can illuminate the sky”). Believe it.