Windy City Media Group Frontpage News


home search facebook twitter join
Gay News Sponsor Windy City Times 2021-09-01



Out local poet on his first book, awards and Jimmy Carter
by Terri-Lynne Waldron

This article shared 1475 times since Tue Apr 19, 2016
facebook twitter pin it google +1 reddit email

Poet Ralph Hamilton recently released his first book of poems, entitled Teaching a Man to Unstick His Tail. The book addresses the spectrum of love and its coupling with pain, and Hamilton tackles issues of love and loss and opens up about the people that have touched his life.

The Evanston resident talked with Windy City Times about who inspired his work, his break from writing and the Lucian Freud painting that became the book cover.

Windy City Times: Where did your love of poetry come from?

Ralph Hamilton: It started early and I put it aside for many years—then, it recaptured me. I was always a dreamy child and spent more time with animals in trees than with people. [Laughs]

WCT: Were there certain poets whose work you read and who you looked up to?

RH: When I was a boy, I loved [Rudyard] Kipling. Partially I was raised in the Bahamas, which was then still colonial Britain's empire. I went to a British school there so that's what we read. The poem's and stories appealed to a boy's imagination.

WCT: As a young boy, was it easy for you to decipher the meaning behind poems?

RH: Poets often work at many different levels and there's a way in which all poems are songs.

One may not understand it but still be enchanted by a kind of lingering music in the language. And the second reading may draw you in, in a different way. Some poets write in a style that is immediately accessible and some don't.

WCT: When did you write your first poem and what was it about?

RH: I wrote poems as a child all the time but I can't remember what any of them were about. [Laughs] I was a newspaper editor in college, and when we were putting the paper together we had to print the columns out on a sort of teletype printer machine, then cut it out and glue it to a piece of paper. Often we would realize that there was eight inches of blank space we had to fill. I would run in the other room and dash off a poem, type it up and it would go in that slot.

WCT: Did you maintain your interest in poetry writing after college?

RH: For almost 30 years after that, I stopped writing; when I was about 49, I started again.

WCT: Why did you stop?

RH: Life. I got a job working in the Jimmy Carter administration as special assistant to Carter's appointment secretary. I volunteered in his campaign and suddenly I found myself working in the White House at the age of 21. From there I went back and forth between public policy, foundations and academia for 28 years.

WCT: What made you want to get back into it?

RH: I had been reading poetry again and began writing again and I decided that I was ready to commit to it full-time. I went back and got another MFA in poetry from Bennington [his first master's was in religion and literature from Harvard] and got involved in RHINO [an independent poetry journal] and became the editor.

WCT: Your first book of poems, Teaching a Man to Unstick His Tail, was released last year. How many years worth of poems did you draw from to complete this book?

RH: Most of the poems were written in the last five years. Through several years I was writing fairly consistently on issues of loss and the difficulty of love. Looking back, I realized that there were a group of what turned out to be 100 or more poems that seemed in different ways to be linked. It's about the fundamental role of human connection. In a several-year period my mother passed away, my brother died and my relationship of more than 20 years came apart.

WCT: The book cover shows a man and a dog lying down, with the man's arm wrapped around the dog. Why did you choose that Lucian Freud painting as the cover?

RH: I had admired Lucian Freud for years. He [was] Sigmund Freud's grandson. Mostly set in hermetic domestic interiors, the book's portraits of loss strip away protection. The poems probe and expose the messy, stained vitality of mortal flesh/consciousness beneath the shield of personality and persona that often obscures reality. While suggesting no equivalence, Freud's paintings have often been said to approach their subject's similarly.

Further, the nudity, the presence of both human and dog, the classical and sexual resonance of the drapery/sheets, and the pulpy physicality of the paint itself reflect images, tensions and evocative inversions explicit in many of the poems, including the title.

WCT: Is it important to refer to yourself as a "gay poet?"

RH: I am not sure of the distinction that works for me. I am gay and I do write poetry and those are both true and I'm proud of both. But I don't usually make one of them an adjective for the other as in, "I'm a poetic gay." [Laughs] There's no doubt that some of the poems have what someone may call a gay sensibility. particularly the ones using humor. I love it when a poem breaks your heart and then makes you laugh.

WCT: Your book has been nominated for the Lambda Literary Awards—an award ceremony that elevates the profile of LGBT literature—in the category of gay poetry. How does it feel being nominated?

RH: It is delightful. As a writer more than anything, one hopes to be heard. When one is a finalist for an award, it is particularly a profound validation when it's been heard.

Teaching a Man to Unstick His Tail is available at or . Find out more about Hamilton at .

This article shared 1475 times since Tue Apr 19, 2016
facebook twitter pin it google +1 reddit email

Windy City Media Group does not approve or necessarily agree with the views posted below.
Please do not post letters to the editor here. Please also be civil in your dialogue.
If you need to be mean, just know that the longer you stay on this page, the more you help us.


Gay News

Equality Illinois CEO Brian C. Johnson on new book, 'Our Fair Share' 2021-09-22
- In Equality Illinois CEO Brian C. Johnson's new book, Our Fair Share: How One Small Change Can Create a More Equitable American Economy, he posits that receiving a Citizen Dividend will help all U.S. residents achieve ...

Gay News

BOOKS 'Mission Possible' released before 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' anniversary 2021-09-20
- C. Dixon Osburn, co-founder and former CEO of the Servicmembers Legal Defense Network (SLDN), has written Mission Possible: The Story of the Repealing 'Don't Ask Don't Tell. This is the inside story of SLDN, which was ...

Gay News

Women & Children First hosting virtual event with Anita Hill on Sept. 29 2021-09-11
- Anita Hill—the University Professor of Social Policy, Law, and Women's and Gender Studies at Brandeis University who played a major role in the 1991 Senate confirmation hearings for U.S. Supreme Court nominee Clarence Thomas—will be part ...

Gay News

Chicago Literary Hall of Fame announces 2021 class of new inductees 2021-08-18
--From a press release - Chicago, August 17, 2021 — The Chicago Literary Hall of Fame (CLHOF) announced that its 2021 Class of Inductees will include Frank London Brown, Jeanette Howard Foster, Carlos Cortez, and Gene Wolfe. The inductees will be ...

Gay News

Chicago-area author releases book about gay, autistic African-American 2021-08-18
- PenPower Book Marketing Services and Chicago-area author Jaire Sims have released his debut young adult novel, Getting By, which was named a finalist in the African American (Fiction) category in the 2021 Next Generation Indie Book ...

Gay News

Printers Row Lit Fest returns to Chicago Sept. 11-12 2021-08-12
--From a press release - CHICAGO (August 12, 2021) Printers Row Lit Fest, the largest free outdoor literary showcase in the Midwest, returns for its 36th year with 100% free programming for book lovers the weekend after Labor Day, Saturday, Sept. ...

Gay News

THEATER REVIEW Rent 2021-08-10
- Playwright: book, music and lyrics by Jonathan Larson At: Possibilities Theatre Company at NorthCenter Town Square, 4100 N. Damen Ave. Tickets: suggested donation $20; or ...

Gay News

Equality Illinois' new deputy director talks goals, position and books 2021-08-01
- On July 15, Mony Ruiz-Velasco officially started in the new position of Equality Illinois' deputy director. Ruiz-Velasco is an experienced attorney who has worked for immigrants rights for many years, and has even been the legal ...

Gay News

Gerber/Hart comedy benefit Sept. 18 2021-07-31
- Gerber/Hart Library and Archives, 6500 N. Clark St.. will host a comedy benefit, "Stacks of Laughter," on Saturday, Sept. 18. At 6 p.m., there will be a VIP reception with local historian John D'Emilio. Also, a ...

Gay News

NATIONAL Amazon, condo collapse, T-shirt controversy, GLSEN 2021-07-18
- At least two Amazon employees have resigned in recent weeks to protest the company's decision to continue to sell a book they say frames young people who identify as transgender as mentally ill, NBC News reported. ...

Gay News

BOOKS Author, activist Roy Wesley on his new book about his father 2021-07-12
- Gay Chicago author, activist and Fermalogic, Inc. COO Roy Wesley has written a new book about his father—Invisible Vision: The hidden story of Dr. Newton K. Wesley, American contact-lens pioneer. Windy City Times: What made you ...

Gay News

SHOWBIZ 'Pray Away,' film contest, LGBTQ book, musicians, 'Star Trek' 2021-07-11
- The new Netflix Original Documentary Pray Away, from executive producers Ryan Murphy and Jason Blum, will make its global launch on the platform Aug. 3, a press release noted. In the film, former leaders of the ...

Gay News

SHOWBIZ Wanda Sykes on TV, trans jazz musician, book award, 'Red Table Talk' 2021-06-27
- Wanda Sykes has been tapped for a recurring role in the upcoming fifth season of Robert and Michelle King's legal drama The Good Fight, on Paramount+, Deadline noted. She will play Allegra Durado—a brilliant, strategic attorney ...

Gay News

BOOKS Grandma, Grace Jones are heroes in non-binary author's children's book 2021-06-22
- Non-binary author, alternative hip hop artist, mother and activist Ris iRAWniQ Anderson has published the children's book in Charlie's Best Work Yet. Charlie's Best Work Yet tells the semi-autobiographical story of Charlie—a shy, artistic ...

Gay News

New book: Majority Leader Hoyer unsung hero of Don't Ask, Don't Tell repeal 2021-06-22
--From a press release - WASHINGTON, DC — In a new book, LGBTQ Lobbying in the United States, authored by Dr. Christopher Pepin-Neff, LGBTQ researcher and Senior Lecturer in Public Policy at the University of Sydney and first lobbyist for Don't ...


Copyright © 2021 Windy City Media Group. All rights reserved.
Reprint by permission only. PDFs for back issues are downloadable from
our online archives. Single copies of back issues in print form are
available for $4 per issue, older than one month for $6 if available,
by check to the mailing address listed below.

Return postage must accompany all manuscripts, drawings, and
photographs submitted if they are to be returned, and no
responsibility may be assumed for unsolicited materials.
All rights to letters, art and photos sent to Nightspots
(Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago
Gay and Lesbian News and Feature Publication) will be treated
as unconditionally assigned for publication purposes and as such,
subject to editing and comment. The opinions expressed by the
columnists, cartoonists, letter writers, and commentators are
their own and do not necessarily reflect the position of Nightspots
(Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago Gay,
Lesbian, Bisexual and Transegender News and Feature Publication).

The appearance of a name, image or photo of a person or group in
Nightspots (Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times
(a Chicago Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender News and Feature
Publication) does not indicate the sexual orientation of such
individuals or groups. While we encourage readers to support the
advertisers who make this newspaper possible, Nightspots (Chicago
GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago Gay, Lesbian
News and Feature Publication) cannot accept responsibility for
any advertising claims or promotions.








About WCMG      Contact Us      Online Front  Page      Windy City  Times      Nightspots      OUT! Guide     
Identity      BLACKlines      En La Vida      Archives      Advanced Search     
Windy City Queercast      Queercast Archives     
Press  Releases      Join WCMG  Email List      Email Blast      Blogs     
Upcoming Events      Todays Events      Ongoing Events      Bar Guide      Community Groups      In Memoriam      Outguide Categories      Outguide Advertisers      Search Outguide      Travel      Dining Out      Privacy Policy     

Windy City Media Group publishes Windy City Times,
The Bi-Weekly Voice of the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Trans Community.
5315 N. Clark St. #192, Chicago, IL 60640-2113 • PH (773) 871-7610 • FAX (773) 871-7609.