A new publishing model for our times: AIDS Project Los Angeles will send Tisa Bryant and Ernest Hardy's inspired anthology War Diaries free to anyone who wants it. In their introduction, Bryant and Hardy write, the collection of poems, prose, memoir, and photos "is threaded with insights and ruminations on many dark, painful issues. But because we -- Black folk who are in the life -- are so much more than a cataloguing of our wounds and despair, the conversation is also full of joy and resistance. We play with language and concepts. We console, challenge and confirm."
The most moving prose pieces are MR Daniel's girlhood memories of buying clothes to dress like family friend Max Robinson, the bi/gay newscaster who died of AIDS; "Cheese and Crackers," Ernest Hardy's brief shot of pure love triumphing over chipped plates, mismatched glasses, cheap wine, and lifetime of renting rather than owning; Ronaldo V. Wilson's postmodern "Diary in a Dissertation;" and Keith Harris's long, critical look at the "cowardice" of the Down Low, which morphs from poem to prose and culminates with his own bashing. A stranger intervened to defend him until he heard Keith was gay, then he sat back down; the next week Keith saw the man cruising Times Square video booths and asked him why he stopped rescuing him. His answer will stay with you.
Among the dynamic poets are Kevin Simmonds, Reginald Harris, avery r. young, Deborah Richards, Jericho Brown, Rosamund S. King, Samiya Bashir, G. Winston James (whom you know for his story collection Shaming the Devil), and Anton Nimblett whose long "To the Mother of My Openly Gay High School Student" is a particular standout.
War Diaries is the fourth in APLA's series of about black gay men. The debut was 2003's Think Again, followed by If We Have To Take Tomorrow, edited by Frank León Roberts and Marvin K. White. The third was To Be Left with the Body, edited by Cheryl Clarke and Steven G. Fullwood. All three anthologies are available for free download on APLA's site.
APLA also offers bilingual books in Spanish and English as well as a bilingual graphic novel about HIV prevention. Their book Pho'latio offers msm sex information, poems, and art in Vietnamese and English.
To order your copy of War Diaries, email the APLA contact after the jump.