Life Sentences [ePub]

by Thomas Avena

Since antiquity, art has concerned itself with the central issues of mortality, sexuality, and the relationship of survival to the artistic imperative and to the larger concerns of living. Life Sentences develops these themes within the context of AIDS. In this collection of new and powerful memoirs, poems, and interviews, critically acclaimed writers and artists (most of whom are HIV positive) incorporate their intensely personal experiences with AIDS into their art. Included is the last work by Bo Huston, a memoir detailing the novelist's controversial AIDS treatments in Zurich. Here, the voyage becomes a powerful vehicle for confronting the shifting relationships among fear, desire, and attachment. "Vital Signs" is poet Essex Hemphill's remarkable narrative exploring the nature of desire, sexuality, and responsibility in the black gay male community during the plague years. In Thomas Avena's interview with Diamanda Galas, the composer and performer details the creation of the powerful Plague Mass; combined with Michael Flanagan's historical "Invoking Diamanda, " the selection creates a challenging portrait of the artist's vision and its fulfillment. Tony Kushner's poetic monologue, "The Second Month of Mourning, " is an impassioned effort to grasp the enormity of loss; Tory Dent's poems, elegiac in tone, are broken efforts at asserting the integrity of the damaged self; and Thom Gunn's poems detail the intrusion of ghosts upon the living. In "The New Eyes, " Adam Klein's irreverent and affecting portrait of artists Jerome Caja and Charles Sexton, human ashes are the materials of a memorializing art pact. The interview of filmmaker Marlon Riggs explores his relationship to the dynamics of sexuality, community, and race through the lens of his changing body. In "Last Time, " William Dickey has crafted an elegant yet intensely political and personal memoir of the difficult truths surrounding his confrontation with seropositivity. David Wojnarowicz's "Spiral" contra



Back to Top