Jul 262016
 

Throughout July, we celebrate and advocate for LGBTQ Pride and action, as many cities around the world geared up for parades, events, and solid signs of support. It’s a time for solidarity, remembrance, love, and critical forms of radical expression.

We are remembering one individual in the queer community, Samuel Morris Steward, who literally decorated the world with vibrancy of character, but also teased and taunted sexual standards; already challenged in the gay community. Sam Steward was a stud; an artistic charmer, a handsome wordsmith, a beguiling back room Casanova. His sex appeal was so provocative he kept a catalog called the “Stud File” with basically card catalog classification and rubrics for his multiple lovers.  Mostly due to his training as a librarian.

Born in 1909 in Woodsfield, Ohio, Samuel M. Steward had gone to Ohio State University, then became a professor at Loyola, and later DePaul University in Chicago. In 1936, he published a well-received novel Angels on the Bough, about his family’s life back home during the Great Depression. Armed with letters of introduction by well-connected friends, Steward went to Paris and met Gertrude Stein and Alice B. Toklas, with whom he became lifelong friends. He visited with them often at Bilignin, their country house, and wrote a memoir of that friendship and published a collection of their letters, Dear Sammy (1977).

Despite his connections, Steward failed to live up to his early potential. It was not until he penned his explicit Phil Andros stories (basically as a lark) that he achieved any real recognition. Later in life, he published a pair of amusing mystery novels, incorporating Stein and Toklas as sleuths, including the witty Murder is Murder is Murder (1985). These are feather-light entertainments, poorly plotted and implausible, but they provide a rare and invaluable hands-on insight into the private lives of these two titanic figures. (Huffington Press, “Lover Man: The Samuel Steward Story”)

He also published poetry, loving and emotional, in “Love Poems: Homage to Housman,” he emulates the classicist style of A.E. Housman and an unremitting love between two individuals.

Unsurprisingly, Steward had a relationship with overwhelmingly recognizable artist and illustrator Tom of Finland.  Tom illustrated many of Steward’s book covers under his (Steward) pen name Phil Andros.  The narratives were not unlike Finland’s drawings, hunky manifestations of lusty deviations, situational to Steward’s own kinky lifestyle.  In addition to his own inclination to BDSM communities, he also quite fittingly was a successful tattoo artist in San Francisco in the 1960s.   However, despite a generous community of lovers and artistic aptitude, Steward died in the 1980s, most likely due to addiction issues and pulmonary disease. His life is a message, however controversial for some, that your body and mind is your interpretation and your own. The forms and identity you take is yours alone.

Signed letterpress poetry and selection of original photographs

Signed letterpress poetry and selection of original photographs

Jul 082016
 

Many individual people in the book trade have expressed their thoughts and anger about the deaths of people of color (and others) over the last few hours, days, nights, years. Yes, how long? Decades long. While words will almost never substitute actions (which is critical NOW), as a unit, as Lux Mentis, we are expressing our words against neutrality and silence on the issue of obvious oppression and racism against black communities by the police, the justice system, and for that matter, the law makers of the United States. What we do in the trade is important to facilitate knowledge, liberties, and freedom of information, we also have the ability to deconstruct these systems that oppress people that clearly do not have the privilege or the position right now to do so because of their race. We take a position because it is critical and encourage others in the book community to speak out and demand to dismantle this inhuman brutality immediately. Too many guns. Too many deaths. It must stop.

Speaking out is a first step, but here are many tangible ways to start the motion:

From Black Girl Dangerous blog:

We Can Help Each Other Cope: One Simple Way to Be With Each Other Through Pain Right Now

from Ravishly blog, “What You Can Do Right Now About Police Brutality.”
http://www.ravishly.com/2015/04/10/what-you-can-do-right-now-about-police-brutality

Serious and outraged,
Lux Mentis, Booksellers

 Posted by at 8:59 pm