On the eve of BookExpo America, there were two literary events in Los Angeles separate but equally compelling. Wednesday night, May 28, Honor Moore read at Antioch University Los Angeles, the guest of PEN USA West and the undergrad and grad writing programs at Antioch. Honor is a very accomplished poet and biographer, skills she brought to the creation of her latest book, The Bishop's Daughter, an stunningly rich examination of the double life of her renowned father, the Bishop of the Diocese of New York, the Rt. Reverend Paul Moore. Bishop Moore, it turns out, had long been attracted to men and had a 28 year affair with a man who made himself known to Honor after her father died. The book is also an autobiography, a careful scrutiny of Honor's own sexual and emotional history, its intersections with her father's history and their long estrangement heart wrenching. I don't think anyone in the audience went away from the reading without being deeply moved and altered by this forthrightly written book. It will raise some hackles because of the topic, but in an age of memoir, and with all the recent arguments about "truth in telling," this book will go a long way to restoring standards for personal history.
Thursday night, off to the Lambda Literary Awards we went. The program was marked with so many high points, it's hard to know were to begin. First of all, it was the 20th anniversary of the Lambda awards and the first public gala for the Lambda Literary Foundation from its new base is Los Angeles. So, the party was on. Interesting to note that the award presentations were held in the Pacific Design Center in West Hollywood, the former home of the Lannan Foundation's groundbreaking poetry series. So, the Lannan Series being long gone from Los Angeles, it was heartwarming to see another organization stepping in to fill some of that footprint. There was a stellar cast of presenters, among them Lillian Faderman (literary historian and chronicler of LBGT lives), and honorees such as Ann Bannon, probably the most widely read gay author living. What brought many of the house to tears was a silent video memorial to LGBT writers who died between the years 1988 and 2008. But the organization is not spending all it's time looking back. Christopher Rice was honored as the new president of the Board of Trustees of the foundation, a sign that a new generation of LBGT writers is rolling out its talent and commitment to spreading the word that LBGT literature has arrived.
Award winners and all nominees are posted on the Lambda site today. Poets will be interested to know that Henri Cole came away with the award in poetry.
(Editor's/"Factor" Note: Eloise Klein Healy is not just a poet and editor, she's a Los Angeles literary legend. Healy is the founder and editor of Arktoi Books (a new poetry imprint with an amazing list), a co-founder of EcoArts travel, and the author of The Islands Project her latest, remarkable book of poems. -J.F.)