Interview: John Stahle on Ganymede & Gay Poetry

John Stahle is a proud New Yoker, self-publishing extraordanaire, and editor of Ganymede, a journal that features writing & art by gay men.

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How did the journal you edit, Ganymede, come into being? And what can we
expect to see from it in the future?

As soon as I worked through the new process of self publishing and printing
on demand, I knew I could create a bang-up journal without money, thanks to
this brilliant invention.

Our next issue is 344 pages and leads with an essay by Edmund White. Next
issue after that leads with David Sedaris, just as thick. We feature gay
work from all over the world. Recently, Time Magazine ran an article about a
Renaissance of young gay male poets in Singapore, writing in English. No
news to us: we’d already featured the three best, starting with Cyril Wong,
the one they interviewed! We are one year old this October and I can’t tell
you how many cool, historic things are in our pipeline–just stay tuned.
Ganymede shows the range, depth, power, and variety of gay male culture
today.

I’ve noticed that Ganymede takes photography as seriously as the written
word. Can you speak to the interaction between visual & written work?

Being gay is a sin of the eye, as that cunt Saint Augustine would have said.
I know gay writers who feel that gay literary journals should be chaste,
high-minded, Protestant, with no visuals, certainly no male-form
photography. Bullshit. Those journals are all gone now, and good riddance.
If a journal is gay, it can’t be boring, and that requires visuals as well
as writing. All first-rate work, in any medium, starts conversing when juxtaposed. In my
layouts, I love to make that happen.

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You and I recently had a really interesting discussion about gay poets &
identity politics. Care to share any of your thoughts on that topic? In
particular, does identity (as a subject) open up a possibility for poets or
does it tend to imprison our work?

Gay writers are in clover right now. No market in publishing is more loyal,
more discerning, more eager to buy new work, than gay readers. Yet…unlike
other genres, like romantic fiction, there is no format and you can write
whatever you want. You just have to come out, connect with your
constituency, then express your gay culture as it develops within you. Of
course, don’t be so stupid as to write only about straight people: you’ll
get the bum’s rush and deserve it. So it’s a great time to be a gay writer
or poet.

As a southern expatriate, I¹m still getting the hang of The City, so to
speak? What does it mean to be a poet in New York City these days? Does it
mean anything at all anymore?

Why, it means more than ever: New York is paved in lavender! We live all
over town now, especially along the L train, turning marginal neighborhoods
into fruity Gardens of Eden. We connect so easily with each other, then we
enjoy the city together as our playground. In New York, only the rents are
steep; everything else can be explored on the cheap. If I can waltz into the
Met Museum for one dollar, why would I live anywhere else? And you don’t
need a goddam car!

Who are some queer writers that we should all be reading?

The ones we discover, of course. Check out our two annual anthologies,
Ganymede Poets and Ganymede Stories (coming soon).


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One response to “Interview: John Stahle on Ganymede & Gay Poetry

  1. “Being gay is a sin of the eye, as that cunt Saint Augustine would have said.”

    That is some sort of beautiful. I think I might write a poem based entirely upon this quote.

    The rest of the interview is very good as well, of course. They’re difficult to see (more reason to look into the journal) but the photography looks amazing.

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