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Top Shelf republished Alan Moore's excellent novel, Voice of the Fire (which is a fine and excellent novel that you should all go out and read) and they have now released Moore's historical poem, The Mirror of Love, which is accompanied by a beautiful series of images from Jose Villarrubia. (Villarrubia also gave images to Voice of the Fire, but his contribution here is much more substantial.)

The Mirror of Love recounts the history of homosexuality, written in 1988 in response to the creation of an anti-homosexual law, in England, called Clause 28. There's always the potential for such a poem to have less resonance now than what it had back then, and perhaps, by itself, this would be the case, if ever so slightly. But there's Jose Villarrubia's illustrated narrative to accompany the poem in the book, and if there was a sense that it was tied to the late eighties, then it is gone now. The images are violent, delicate, dark, bright, beautiful, and ugly, and they're laid out perfectly next to Moore's poem.

The point of the poem is to show how long homosexuality (indeed, loving freely to any gender) has been around since the dawn of time. It's scope, therefor, is not limited to England, but instead weaves through history, picking famous figures like Oscar Wilde and Shakespeare to show that contributions to society was not done by pure, Christian folk, but by men and women of all sexualities. The Mirror of Love is a political poem, not stopping to tell you to that there is nothing wrong with homo or bi-sexuality, because it knows there is nothing wrong with it.

This is, I think, my favourite section of the poem:

By 1933, we were already
targets of the Reich,
but still did not suspect
how far we had to fall.

In slaughterhouses,
labeled with pink triangles,
our thousands died.

The showers, they say,
held bodies piled
as if the strong and desperate
had climbed on lovers' backs
to flee the gas,
betraying at the last
our love,
the thing we thought
they couldn't take.

Can you imagine?

Can you?


The Villarrubia images that accompany this section are some of the most powerful. You want this. Yes, you do.

Comments

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bodhichitta0
Jun. 18th, 2004 07:10 am (UTC)
So what are you, a writer or something? Now I am going to have to fight the impulse all day to go and buy The Mirror of Love thanks to your persuasive journal entry. Jeez.

In all seriousness, what a beautiful section you pulled from the poem. It answers a lot about why there has to be such ugliness in the world, doesn't it? So people like that can create beauty from it.
benpeek
Jun. 18th, 2004 07:19 am (UTC)
i am a writer, or something, actually :) check the bio part of this page, it'll have a list of stuff i'm in. and you shouldn't fight the want, you should go out and buy it.

it's a beautifully designed book, too. and you should buy a copy of his novel, which is utterly fantastic.

bodhichitta0
Jun. 19th, 2004 06:05 am (UTC)
I read your bio and you are cracking me up. When I have more time I'll try and find your columns. I'm sure I'll enjoy them. Are you in anything else I can see online?

And I'll probably end up buying that stuff from Top Shelf. I am easily swayed to buy new reading material. I could probably support several starving children each month on what I spend on books.

And something completely unrelated--have you ever read any Graham Greene?
benpeek
Jun. 19th, 2004 10:07 pm (UTC)
there's a story of mine, 'cigarettes and roses', that's still up on this site: www.tabula-rasa.info/MirrorDanse/CigarettesAndRoses.html

it was used to advertise the anthology it was in, which was nice. it's a couple of years old, now, but i think it holds up okay.

the column ranges in quality, as the editor/website and me didn't really gel together. i've been told that they start out mildly interesting, and lose that soon enough. which mirrors my interest in them. (one of the problems i had was that the editor didn't like my humour, and felt it was just mean, rather than funny. there was more, and bigger issues, but in the end, you can't please everyone.)

and yeah, i've read a bit of graham greene. i liked it, always planned to read more.
bodhichitta0
Jun. 20th, 2004 10:14 am (UTC)
Loved your story. One specific thing I really liked was when Sam was talking on the phone to the asst boss and you only "heard" Sam's side of the conversation. I thought that was very unique and showed how drunk he was without you having to say much. Also--was the Asian saint based on anyone "real?"

I'll try and drop by the columns sometime soon.
benpeek
Jun. 21st, 2004 05:14 am (UTC)
thanks for the niceness.

the asian saint wasn't based off anyone i knew. i just thought making him asian was more interesting. i've got a big thing about working in non-white races into my work, and that's where it came from. however, the stuff about the saint smelling of roses and only being able to be picked up if asked, that's apparently part of the saint myth.

best of luck with the columns. i think if you do a google search they'll come up easy.
ceret
Jun. 18th, 2004 06:33 pm (UTC)
Cheers for that, Ben. As always, you do fantastic review.
benpeek
Jun. 19th, 2004 12:03 am (UTC)
it's a pleasure.

i dunno if they're fantastic (i could spend more time on them, rather than just writing straight into my livejournal device thing) but i really dig the idea of people taking in the joy i get out of good literature, sharing in it, and maybe learning about a new author or book. if anyone finds something new through this journal, through me, through my tastes, then i'm totally pleased about it and i'm happy.

it's kinda disgusting when you think about it :)
switchknitter
Jun. 19th, 2004 06:30 pm (UTC)
God, that's powerful.

I want it. Now.
benpeek
Jun. 19th, 2004 10:01 pm (UTC)
it's total coolness.

i'm tired and want sleep.
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