Curve, 1993, woodcut, from private art collection of student work, artist unknown, photo alteration © 2007 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.
While perusing the health and vigor of our categories last night, I had a realization: writers rarely write about sex. Our Sex category has a measly 5 posts, which leads me to wonder, why bother to have a sex category at all?
I thought about my favorite literature writers and tried to remember what they had written about sex. I did come up with a chapter in Stoner, a book assigned to us in a Natalie Goldberg Taos Intensive last year. It’s a favorite on my bookshelf now, and contains one of the most subtly erotic accounts I’ve ever read about making love.
(If you don’t know about Stoner or John Williams, read the dynamic interview, John Williams: Plain Writer by Dan Wakefield in the 10th Anniversary issue of Ploughshares.)
Some see making love and sex as two different things. And now that I think about it, so do I. But different how? I’m not sure I can answer that in an on-the-fly blog post.
I remembered last night, that about 4 years ago, I wrote a tasteful erotic piece called Lean Into The Curves, about the virtues of making love as compared to learning to ride my Honda Rebel. There is something sensual about motorcycle riding; and the instructor who wore scarlet Harley boots with flames shooting off the sides, only added fuel to the fire.
I stood up at a microphone (dressed in a crisp, white, open-collared blouse, dangling silver earrings, black Levi’s, cherry lipstick, and a black, short-cut blazer) and read the piece at a venue in Minneapolis (no longer in existence) called hotBed. The audience was full of 150 women who all laughed at the right places and cheered at the end, wildly clapping when Ella Fitzgerald’s At Last echoed through the room as I read the final lines.
The sound woman was right on cue.
It’s hard to imagine standing up and reading that same piece today. Have I lost my edge? Or are there too few places to submit that kind of work.
Most people have sex at least once in their lifetime. And it’s alive and well on family TV and in G-rated films. So why don’t writers write about sex? Or the erotic? Or making love?
I don’t have any answers. Only to say that, thank goodness, some do.
Here is a poem from Galway Kinnell called, simply – Sex. Exquisite. I heard him read it at the Fitzgerald Theater earlier this year. I’m heading to the writing table right now. Maybe I’ll get inspired.
by Galway Kinnell
On my hands are the odors
of the knockout ether
either of above the sky
where the bluebirds get blued
on their upper surfaces
or of down under the earth
where the immaculate nightcrawlers
take in tubes of red earth
and polish their insides.
-from Strong Is Your Hold, Poems, Houghton Mifflin, 2006
posted on red Ravine Tuesday, June 26th, 2007
-related to post, Forget Vonnegut – Jane Kenyon Lives On