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Great Gay Poets Friday! Edna St. Vincent Millay

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Editor’s Note:

This is the third post in honor of National Poetry Month, thanks to guest blogger Julia Garbowski, who conceived the idea and has done an excellent job sharing with us some of her favorites, including last week’s Oscar Wilde and Hart Crane, and in her first piece, Emily Dickinson and Walt Whitman. This week, Julia looks at several poems by Edna St. Vincent Millay.

I try to imagine what it might have been like for a lesbian or bisexual woman in 1920 when Edna St. Vincent Millay wrote the poem Witch-Wife. I have the words in front of me to help me imagine, and the memory of my grandmother, who was born when Millay was 14 years old. From my grandmother I have stories she told me, this book of poems, I have a silver letter opener, a fur collar, teacups, a rolling pin, and a tasseled piano cover. Pictures of her and other family women are always in dresses, long coats, hats, carefully posed in a chair or standing in front of a house; –except for one, the one with my grandmother, wanting to be with the boys…in her overalls, with a leafy turnip her hand.

Witch-Wife

She is neither pink nor pale,

And she will never be all mine,

She learned her hands in a fairy-tale,

And her mouth on a valentine.

She has more hair than she needs,

In the sun ‘tis a woe to me!

And her voice is a string of colored beads,

Or steps leading into the sea.

She loves me all that she can,

And her ways to my ways resign;

But she was not made for any man,

And she will never be all mine.

Millay was born in the small Maine coastal town of Rockland. She asked to be called Vincent, and began writing poems in her teens. At 19, her long poem “Renascence” attracted a sponsor who paid for her to attend Vassar College. After college she moved to Greenwich Village to write. She was an active suffragist and was considered bisexual at the time; she married Eugen Jan Boissevain on the condition that they have an open marriage. She and her husband had relationships outside their marriage but remained devoted to each other for 27 years until they died within a year of each other, in 1949 and 1950. Millay’s relationships with women included a love affair with British actress Wynne Matthison.

Sonnet IV

I shall forget you presently, my dear,

So make the most of this, your little day,

Your little month, your little half a year,

Ere I forget, or die, or move away,

And we are done forever; by and by

I shall forget you, as I said, but now,

If you entreat me with your loveliest lie

I will protest you with my favorite vow.

I would indeed that love were longer-lived,

And vows were not so brittle as they are,

But so it is, and nature has contrived

To struggle on without a break thus far,

Whether or not we find what we are seeking

Is idle, biologically speaking.

Fellow writer and Greenwich Village resident Max Eastman wrote that “Vincent” replied to a NY doctor “Oh, you mean I am a homosexual! Of course I am, and heterosexual, too, but what has that got to do with my headache?”

First Fig

My candle burns at both ends;

It will not last the night;

But ah, my foes, and oh, my friends—

It gives a lovely light!

In 1923 she became the first woman to win a Pulitzer in poetry for her poem “The Harp Weaver.” Her career had ups and downs and included somewhat of a decline in later years including a nervous breakdown in 1944. She was interested in politics, social injustices, and women’s rights. For more “Savage Beauty: The Life of Edna St Vincent Millay” by Nancy Milford (Random House NY 2003); “The Poet and Her Book” by Jean Gould (Dodd, Mead 1969); “Restless Spirit: The Life of Edna St Vincent Millay” by Miriam Gurko (Crowell NY 1962).

City Trees

The trees along this city street,

Save for the traffic and the trains,

Would make a sound as thin and sweet

As trees in country lanes.

And people standing in their shade

Out of a shower, undoubtedly

Would hear such music as is made

Upon a country tree.

Oh, little leaves that are so dumb

Against the shrieking city air,

I watch you when the wind has come,

–I know what sound is there.

Julia Garbowski lives in Royal Oak, MI and has returned to writing after 25 years of running a farm and market in Door County WI. She grew up in Sag Harbor, NY. Her B.A. in Communications is from the University of Wisconsin. She belongs to the Michigan Literary Network and her twitter name is @driftnotes.

(Images: top: Emily Dickinson, bottom: Edna St. Vincent Millay)

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DEPRAVED INDIFFERENCE

‘Vice Superspreader’ Pence Slammed for ‘Criminal Disregard’ and ‘Depraved Indifference’ as 5 Advisors Test Positive

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Vice President Mike Pence is under fire for continuing to campaign for re-election despite five of his close advisors, including his Chief of Staff, Marc Short, have tested positive for coronavirus over the past few days.

ABC News reports “at least 5 individuals in the Vice President’s orbit have tested positive as of last night.” The New York Times has reported “up to five” have tested positive. Fox News reports “5 close to Pence test positive for coronavirus.”

The latest COVID-19 outbreak in the White House was exposed once again by Bloomberg News’ Jennifer Jacobs, who first reported Hope Hicks was positive. That report led to President Donald Trump having to admit he and the First lady had also tested positive in an outbreak that infected at least 34 people who had attended the White House Rose Garden celebration of the nomination of Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court.

But unlike Senator Kamala Harris, who was exposed to an individual who tested positive and immediately self-quarantined, Vice President Pence will not. He is back on the campaign trail, with the White House Chief of Staff, Mark Meadows, saying doctors have cleared him to campaign.

On Sunday, Meadows claimed the Vice President is an “essential worker” and therefore must continue to campaign, which is false – campaigning is not part of his job as vice president.

Meadows admitted on Sunday the Trump administration has no intention of even attempting to control the coronavirus pandemic.

“We’re not going to control the pandemic,” he told CNN. “Because it is a contagious virus just like the flu.”

Meadows also tried to hide that Pence’s Chief of Staff had tested positive. The White House claimed he first tested positive on Saturday, but Meadows on Sunday slipped, admitting “he’s been quarantining these last few days.”

Americans are furious that Pence, the head of the White House coronavirus task force, is ignoring CDC
guidelines – and basic common sense – after coming into contact with five of his close advisors who are positive.

Here’s what many are saying:

 

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‘We Are Not Going to Control the Pandemic’: Trump Top Aide Meadows Makes Damning Confession During CNN Interview

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White House chief of staff Mark Meadows waved the white flag on Sunday morning, admitting the administration has all but given up on trying to “contain” the coronavirus pandemic, saying they are directing their efforts to “vaccines and therapeutics.”

With “State of the Union” host Jake Tapper pointing cases of COVID-19 are on the rise, Meadows attempted to attack CNN over their coverage of the pandemic, to which Tapper replied, “It’s coming from all sorts of places because the pandemic is out of control.”

“So here’s what we have to do,” Meadows attempted. “We’re not going to control the pandemic. We are going to control the fact that we get vaccines, therapeutics and other mitigation.”

“Why aren’t we going to get control of the pandemic?” Tapper pressed.

“Because it is a contagious virus just like the flu,” Meadows shot back with Tapper insisting, “But why not make efforts to contain it?”

“We are making efforts to contain it,” said Meadows at which point the CNN host interrupted with, “By running all over the country and not wearing masks? That’s what the vice president is doing.”

Saying the administration needs to focus on “therapies or vaccines or treatments,” Meadows then changed the subject to attacking presidential frontrunner Joe Biden.

Watch below:

 

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'CAN'T WE END THIS ALREADY?'

Court Slaps Down Trump’s Attempt to Intimidate Pennsylvania Voters

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At a Friday night rally, Republican President Donald Trump talked about his attempts to have “poll watchers” in the swing state of Pennsylvania, an attempt that a local court recently ruled as illegal.

“I think we’re leading everywhere,” Trump said at the rally. “We think in Pennsylvania doing great. We got to be very careful Philadelphia. They play games in Philadelphia, and they won’t let us watch the count in Philadelphia… So we’re watching Philadelphia.”

Trump then told his White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows to “please watch Philadelphia … because I don’t like what I’m hearing about Philadelphia…. I don’t like what I see going on in terms of what’s gone on over the past, and probably what’s going on. Think of it. They fought like hell that we can’t watch them. Count the vote, what’s wrong with watching? why can’t we have poll watchers? And so we’re in court right now poll watches in Philadelphia. But we’re doing great in Pennsylvania, gotta watch Philadelphia.”

First off, the so-called poll watchers are needless seeing as there’s zero evidence of voter fraud at polling places, so Trump’s “watchers” are little more than intimidators meant to make Democratic voters nervous.

Second off, it’s not Meadows’ job to handle poll monitoring, election monitors or lawsuits. The White House Chief of staff serves as a “liaison among members of the President’s cabinet and the White House [and is] is responsible for directing, managing and overseeing all policy development, daily operations, and staff activities for the President.”

Third off, on Friday, local Judge Gary Glazer ruled that the Trump campaign’s attempt to have poll-watchers at the state polls isn’t allowed under state law. The Trump campaign had sent unauthorized poll watchers into satellite poll offices where local election officials register voters and help people fill out their mail-in ballots, but the officials kicked the watchers out.

Trump said his watcher should be allowed to monitor such offices, but a bipartisan Philadelphia City Commission said that the satellite locations don’t qualify as official polling stations and therefore don’t qualify as a place allowed by state law to have poll watchers. Judge Glazer agreed.

On September 27, Politico wrote that Trump had hired dozens of lawyers from three major law firms and recruited thousands of volunteer attorneys to contest election results in 17 key states considered vital to his re-election.

In response, Biden campaign spokesperson Michael Gwin told the publication, “The Biden campaign has assembled the biggest voter protection program in history to ensure the election runs smoothly and to combat any attempt by Donald Trump to create fear and confusion with our voting system, or interfere in the democratic process.”

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