SP.237: The Artist in the World

Experimental Study Group, Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Instructor: Graham Ramsay, Bldg 24-604, xt. 8-0481

Spring 2007: Class #7, March 22, 2007

David Eberly, poet


photo by Tom Collins




















David Eberly's poetry leaves an indelible impression upon his readers. Stark, honest, and unapologetic, his work addresses head-on issues that have been a critical parts of his life. His poetry and prose often deal with tough subject matter including abuse, trauma, and addiction. His works are crafted with astounding clarity, displaying a sparse elegance and economy of language that make his work both potent and compelling. His most recent poetry focuses on the minimal, distilling extraordinarily complex and rich ideas into just a few lines or syllables. In addition to his vast output as a poet, he is quickly becoming recognized as one of the major contemporary voices in the field of Virginia Woolf scholarship. He has written and presented many papers on the subject, and he has just completed a edited anthology of essays about Woolf forthcoming from Pace University Press.


Work Samples (for class use only--do not distribute without permission)


With Luck

In Parenthesis


Posthumous (1. pdf) (2. MP3 audio file of Eberly reading his own work)

Trauma and Audience In Between the Acts (pdf)












I don't think we'd like each other much.

It's generational—like chino pants.

The tea room's the only place we'd meet

and then we'd barely talk.

Who gives a fuck about art?   The names

you'd drop would turn me off,

jack up the price.


                             But Frank,

I'll never be able to write like that,

and say exactly what I want.

Being direct is like getting hit.

Who goes looking for it?

You don't have to—just wait.

Somebody's bound to yell faggot

while you are trying to cross the street.






Walking by the granite bench, I remember

the street as it was, lined with linden

and elm.   I would sit in the dark,

while cars circled the block.

(Blow job, twenty bucks.)

It seemed a life that would never end,

as I waited for the next one,

and the next one, and the next one after him.






With a twenty-three year old—

Am I alone?   Am I hard?

He introduces himself—Tom.

Three o'clock in the afternoon.

He says he is stripped down

and hot for sex.   I see him

young, smooth, oiled up,

his cut cock wet as he lies

stretched out on his bed,

calling and calling

until he connects, just like that.

He asks me to describe myself—

height, weight, size, age,

the usual characteristics.

Something clicks—

                                 we start

to talk as we lie side   by side

like the lovers we both lost.

Our hands move across our chests

as we whisper what we want,

urgent to touch.   Do this,

do that—the phone cord wraps

itself tighter around my legs

while we jack off.   Then

he says he is done and hangs up.






I could have been a poet then.

I had all the credentials—

Bournewood, MacLean's, Met State .

A romantic, I could have written

about my frequent attempts

before the electroshock worked.

I would forget a lot, of course,

except the back ward where

they threatened to lock me up.

Every day my father would come

and take me out, and I would nod

at what he said, and promise

to be good.   No more drugs.

At night I would lie awake

and listen to the grunts

that filled the open rooms.

One floor below a woman named

Bea screamed and screamed.

I found that I did not need imagination.

I had learned my lesson.   I agreed.






Something in me wanted it, I thought.

Something in me liked getting hit.

Masochism , my doctors called it.

I was eight.   I had been raped.

No one believed me then.   No one

would stop it from happening

again.   Not my mother or my father

or the family priest who walked up

the front hall steps as ominous

as god himself.   I was trapped.

I knew that I could not get out.

The rest is as blank as a bedsheet

pinned to the living room wall.

How we all tottered and grinned,

waving from some lost vacation,

playing let's pretend.   I'm the one

who can't stand being filmed,

as guilty as sin.   Diagnosed.

Bad.   Wrong.   Liar.   Thief.

Psychotic.   How the labels stuck.

Something in me learned to like

what I was told I was.   Victim.

Something in me sought my punishment.






I come from a generation of unspoken rebellion,

hidden in my father's mother's maiden name.

Told how, hair-streaming, she chased her husband

with a skillet down the streets of Plattsburgh ,

a new bride noted for her wild-eyed temper.

Hidden Gaelic grammars.   Rumor.   Great-uncles

heading back to fight the Black-and-Tans

in the other country, never mentioned

for fear of neighborhood spies.

No Irish need apply .


                                   Old and tamed,

she prayed for the repose of almost all souls.

Hers and mine entwined in secret plots

passed on late nights at kitchen tables,

simple food cooked with elaborate conspiracy.

Hate the privileged, hate the rich.

Never trust the lace-skirted priest.

Drunk or sober, keep your wit.

The knock that wakes may be the last.

With luck I'll grow to be the scapegoat,

the family's unacknowledged, troubled laugh.


Now a queer and truth-telling man, I claim

her name as rightfully mine— Glancy ,

my iron escutcheon, my shield and weapon.

Protected, I will name the hypocrites,

the liars, the treasonous self-deceiving

occupiers who seized my emerald youth,

making me an immigrant in my own house.

I will rise and throw them out.

I will take my certain place among the garrulous.




© David Eberly 2007. All rights reserved.









Now this is very profound, what rhythm is

and goes far deeper than words.

A sight, an emotion, creates

this wave in mind,

                               this distracted gap,

so much longer than breath,

within which is held—

what ?

            how to capture, to show

this fissure, this break, this

insistent gasp inserted

between one word—


false , notation irrelevant—

and the next,


halt to the self's incessant attempt

to reattach itself to something


        ( intimate )

long before it makes the words to fit.



                              Virginia Woolf to Vita Sackville-West

                                    March 16, 1926






© David Eberly, 2007





Curriculum Vitae

Born: November 20, 1947

Education: Brandeis University, 1965-1967





What Has Been Lost . Boston : Good Gay Poets Press, 1982.

With Luck . Unpublished manuscript, 1996, 2003. 


“I Do Not Have Nightmares,” “Dark of the Moon,” “Short Letter,” “From ‘The Delsarte Method.'” Angels of the Lyre . Winston Leyland, ed. San Francisco : Gay Sunshine Press, 1975.

“Myth.” Night Blooming . Salvatore Farinella. Boston : Good Gay Poets Press, 1976.

“Surviving Summer.” Orgasms of Light . Ed. Winston Leyland. San Francisco : Gay Sunshine Press, 1977.

“Ghosts,” “In Duration.” The Peregrine Anthology . Ed. Richard C. Shaner and George C. Murphy, Jr. Green Harbor : Wampeter Press, 1978.

“Dark of the Moon.” Gay Roots: Twenty Years of Gay Sunshine . San Francisco : Gay Sunshine Press, 1991.

“Phone Sex.” The Badboy Book of Erotic Poetry . Ed. David Laurents. New York : Badboy, 1995.

“Last Call.” At the Old Place: A Gay and Lesbian Bar Anthology . Forthcoming, 2007.



“Neal.” Sebastian Quill 2, 1971.

“Dark of the Moon,” When Envy,” “I Do Not Have Nightmares.” Fag Rag 3, 1972, 12-13.

“1 st Political Poem.” Gay Sunshine 16, Jan.-Feb.,1973, 11.

“Short Letter.” Fag Rag 5, 1973, 10.

“Lovely Is a Word,” “Gnome in the Grotto,” “The Visit,” “Jai Poem.” Hanging Loose 20, Summer-Fall, 1973, 8-11.

“ Beacon St. Back,” “Love, B.” Morning Glory Vol. 1, No. 6, October, 1973, 4.

“Herring Cove.” Fag Rag 6, Fall-Winter, 1973, 6.

“Listening to Mark.” Hanging Loose 22, Winter, 1974, 8.

“Surviving Summer.” Fag Rag/ Gay Sunshine , Summer, 1974, 45.

“2 nd Attempt.” Fag Rag 10, Fall, 1974, 5.

“In Griffith Park .” Mouth of the Dragon IV, March, 1975, 257.

“From ‘The Delsarte Method,” “Letter.” Fag Rag 12, Spring, 1975, 5.

“Myth.” Fag Rag 13, Summer, 1975, 18.

“These Men.” Fag Rag , 14, June-July, 1976, 7.

“In March.” Fag Rag 16/17, June-July, 28.

“First Sight,” “Shiva,” Gay Community News , Vol. 15, No. 4, October 8, 1977, 8-9.

“What Has Been Lost,” Gargolye 6, Fall-winter, 1977, 8.

“Ghosts,” Hanging Loose 31, Fall, 1977, 35.

“To My Sister,” Dark Horse 14, Winter, 1978, 11.

“Fragment,” Dark Horse 16, Fall, 17.

“Dawn,” Gay Community News , Vol. 16, No. 23, Jan. 6, 1979, 9.

“Mangaka.” Mouth of the Dragon . Vol. 2, No. 1, Feb. 1979, 6.

“Last Call.” Hanging Loose 38, Fall, 1980, 18.

“Renewal.” Kayak 57, 26.

“To Weldon Kees,” “Carriere's Verlaine.” Hanging Loose 41, Winter 1981- 82, 28-29.

“The Heron.” Bay Windows . Vol. 1, No. 1, March, 1983, 7.

“Obit.” Bay Windows , Vol. 3, No. 40, Dec. 12- Dec. 18, 1985, 19.

“Late Letter to William Carlos Williams.” James White Review , Vol. 3, No. 3, Spring, 1986, 4.

“My Holiness.” The Spirit's Voice , Vol. 2, No. 6, Jan.-Feb. 1987, 5.

“Names.” Bay Windows , Vol. 6, No. 24, June 16-23, 1988.

“How.” Amethyst , 3, 15.

“This Spring.” Bay Windows , Vol. 9, No. 12, March 21-27, 1991.

“Safe Sex.” Bay Windows , Vol. 9, No. 22, May 30-June 5, 1991.

“Phone Sex.” Bay Windows , Vol. 9, No. 51, Dec. 19-25, 1991.

“People, Places and Things.” Art & Understanding Vol. 1, No. 4, July-Aug, 1992, 10.

“My Desk.” Holy Titclamps , No. 12, Summer, 1993.

“Over Again.” Bay Windows , Vol. 14, No. 17, April 18-24, 1996, 35.

“Hades.” Journal of Gay, Lesbian, and Bisexual Identity , Vol. 1, No.3, July, 1996, 261.

“Reading Frank O'Hara.” The Harvard Gay & Lesbian Review , Vol. 5. No. 3, Summer, 1998, 32.

“Diagnosed.” Bay Windows , Vol. 19, No. 23, May 24-30, 2001, 13.

“Two Spirit.” International Journal of Sexuality and Gender Studies , Vol. 6 , No. 3, July, 2001, 221.

“Listening.” Bay Windows Vol. 19, No. 39, September 13-19, 2001, 35.

“At Last.” Bay Windows , Vol. 20, No. 7, January 31-February 6, 2002, 29.

“Hades.” Bay Windows , Vol. 20, No. 44, October 17-23, 2002, 28.

“Reading Chao Jan.” Bay Windows , Vol. 20, No. 48, November 14-20, 2002, 29.

“Markets.” Spare Change . December 12-December 25, 2002. Reprinted Spare Change Annual Poetry Issue , May 1-May 14, 2003.

“In Parenthesis.” Virginia Woolf Miscellany No. 69, Spring-Summer, 2006.




Virginia Woolf and Trauma: Embodied Texts . Co-edited with Suzette Henke. New York : Pace University Press. Forthcoming, March, 2007.


“Homophobia, Censorship, and the Arts.” Homophobia: How We All Pay the Price . Warren J. Blumenfeld, ed. Boston : Beacon Press, 1992. 205-216.

“A Serpent in the Grass: Reading Walt Whitman and Frank O'Hara.” The Continuing Presence of Walt Whitman: The Life After the Life . Robert K. Martin, ed. Iowa City : University of Iowa Press, 1993. 128-134.

Reprinted in enotes.com . “Poetry Criticism: Excerpts from Criticism of the Works of the Most Significant and Widely Studied Poets in World Literature.” David Galens, project ed. Gale, 2003.


“Talking It All Out: Homosexual Disclosure in Virginia Woolf.” Virginia Woolf: Themes and Variations . Selected Papers from the Second Annual Conference on Virginia Woolf. New York : Pace University Press, 1993. 128-143.

“Incest, Erasure, and The Years .” Virginia Woolf: Emerging Perspectives . Mark Hussey and Vara Neverow, eds. Selected Papers from the Third Annual Conference on Virginia Woolf. New York : Pace University Press, 1994. 147-151.

“Housebroken: The Domesticated Relations of Flush .” Virginia Woolf: Texts and Contexts . Selected Papers from the Fifth Annual Conference on Virginia Woolf. Beth Rigel Doherty and Eileen Barret, eds. New York : Pace University Press, 1996. 21-25.

“Semi-colons and Safety Pins.” Virginia Woolf: Turning the Centuries . Selected Papers from the Ninth Annual Conference on Virginia Woolf. Ann Ardis and Bonnie Kime Scott, eds. New York : Pace University Press, 2000. 134-139.


“On Reading Ill , Medical Narrative in Virginia Woolf.” Seventh Annual Conference on Virginia Woolf, Plymouth State College, 1997.

“The Name of the Face: Marital Trauma in the Work of Virginia Woolf.” Fifteenth International Conference on Virginia Woolf, Lewis & Clark College , 2005.

“The Averted Face: The Trauma of Gender in Mrs. Dalloway . Thirty-Fourth Twentieth and Twenty-First Century Literature and Culture Conference, University of Louisville , 2006.

“Behind the Curtain: Virginia Woolf, Walter Sickert, and the Narrative of Trauma.” Seventeenth Annual International Virginia Woolf Conference, University of Miami ( Ohio ). Proposed, 2007.


Chair, “Virginia Woolf and the Narratives of Trauma,” Thirty-Second Twentieth and Twenty-First Century Literature and Culture Conference, University of Louisville , 2004.

Chair, “ Mrs. Dalloway and Trauma: New Directions in Reading .” Thirty-Fourth Annual Twentieth and Twenty-First Literature and Culture Conference, University of Louisville , 2006.

Chair, “Rereading Trauma in Virginia Woolf's Fiction En(Corps).” Modern Language Association Conference, 2006.


“Ron Schreiber's Poetry.” Boston Gay Review 1, Fall 1976, 11.

“Model Torsos of Apollo.” Boston Gay Review 2, Spring, 1977, 6.

“The Houghton Mifflin Poetry Series.” New Boston Review , Vol. III, No. 1, Summer, 1977, 14-15, 18.

“Delta of Venus.” Review of Delta of Venus by Anais Nin. Gay Community News , Vol. 5, No. 5, July 30, 1977.

“Mitzel's Witty But Double-Edged Vengeance.” Review of Some Short Stories About Nasty People I Don't Like by John Mitzel. Gay Community News , Vol. 5, No. 12, September 24, 1977, 12.

“Ploughshares 3/3.” New Boston Review , Vol. III, No. 2, Fall, 1977, 11-12.

“Thieves to Flesh.” Review of Thieves to Flesh by Salvatore Farinella. Dark Horse , No. 4, Winter, 1978.

“Instead of Squirming Out Of.” Review of Wrestling with Angels by Stan Persky. Boston Gay Review , Fall 1978.

“Among the Cauliflowers in the Moonlight.” Dark Horse , No. 16, Fall, 1978, 24.

“A Whole Lifetime.” Review of Carnivorous Saint by Harold Norse. Boston Gay Review , Fall, 1979, 4-5.

“Gay Views: Strum and Drang.” Stony Hills , No. 5, 4.

“The Original America .” Review of Only So Far as Brooklyn by Maurice Kenny. Gay Community News . Vol. 17, No. 43, May 24, 1980, 5-6.

“Some Notes Toward Unmaking ‘The Homosexual Tradition.'” Boston Gay Review , No. 7-8, Spring-Summer, 5.

“Paragraph: A Quarterly of Gay Fiction.” Boston Gay Review , 7-8, Summer, 1980.

“Getting It Right.” Review of Monday, Monday by David Trinidad and Waiting for the Virgin by Gavin Dillard. Bay Windows , Vol. 4, No. 14, April 3-9, 1986, 16.

“Community Losses.” Review of Epitaphs for the Plague Dead by Robert Boucheron. Bay Windows , Vol. 4, No. 14, April 3-9, 1986, 17-18.

“Loves of a Gay Poet.” Interview of Charley Shively. Bay Windows , Vol. 5, No. 19, May 14-20, 1987, 1, 14-15.

“The Poet and Me.” Review of Poems of Hart Crane , ed. Mark Simon. Bay Windows , Vol. 6, No. 8, February 25-March 2, 1988.

“Found Poems.” Review of Not Love Alone by Martin Humphries and Blues & Roots/Rue & Bluets by Jonathan Williams. Bay Windows , Vol. 6, No. 13, March 31-April 6, 1988.

“Oh a Best Friend.” Review of Love Alone: Eighteen Elegies for Rog by Paul Monette. Bay Windows , Vol. 16, No. 30, July 28-August 3, 1988.

“Keys to Bliss.” Review of White Shroud by Allen Ginsberg. Bay Windows , Vol. 6, No. 40, October 6-12, 1988.

“Our Book” and “Life Studies.” Review of Looking at Gay and Lesbian Life by Warren Blumenfeld and Diane Raymond. Interview with Warren Blumenfeld. Bay Windows , Vol. 6, No. 47, November 24-30, 1988, 17, 26.

“Taking Care of John” and “Chaos Control.” Review of John by Ron Schreiber. Interview of Ron Schreiber. Bay Windows , Vol. 17, No. 14, April 6-12, 1989, 16, 23.

“Telling Them How We Think.” Review of the English Institute. Bay Windows , Vol. 7, No. 35, August 31-September 6, 1989, 14, 19.

“Dancefloors.” Review of These Waves of Dying Friends by Michael Lynch. Bay Windows , Vol. 7, No. 37, September 14-20, 1989, 16.

“Dead Friends.” Review of Poets for Life ed. by Michael Klein. Bay Windows , Vol. 8, No. 45, November 9-15, 1989, 16.

“Ruling Passions.” Review of Presences of Mind by Jack Sharpless. Bay Windows , Vol. 8, No. 16, April 19-25, 1990, 23.

“Profile of the Survivor.” Review of selected AIDS books. American Book Review , Vol. 12, No. 2, May-June 1990.

“Sheer Gravy.” Review of Frank O'Hara performance by The Poets' Theatre. Bay Windows , Vol. 8, No. 20, May 17-28, 1990, 19, 27.

“Specimen Daze.” Review of These People by Lloyd Schwartz. Bay Windows , Vol. 8, No. 22, May31-June 6, 1990, 20, 28.

“The Wider Circle.” Review of Quitting Time by Jack Veasey. Bay Windows Vol. 9. No. 22, July 11-17, 1991.

“Cafeteria.” Bay Windows , Vol. 10., No. 14, April 2-8, 1992.

“Kick Starting It.” Review of Decade Dance by Michael Lassell. Bay Windows , Vol. 10, No. 43, October 22-28, 1992.

“Whitman's Bed.” Review of Comrades and Lovers by Jonathan Katz. Bay Windows , Vol. 11, No. 1, December 23-January 6, 1993.

“Love and Fuck in the Same Breath.” Review of Becoming a Man by Paul Monette. Empathy , Vol. 3, No. 2, 1992/1993, 96.

“Mother Courage.” Review of Vox Angelica by Timothy Liu. Bay Windows , Vol. 11, No. 10, March 4-10, 1993.

“Our Nightingale.” Review of The Man with Night Sweats by Thom Gunn. Bay Windows , Vol. 11, No. 18, April 29-May 5, 1993, 21-22.

“Poetry Says We Are Each Our Own Hamlet.” Review of Period Pieces by Rudy Kikel. South End News, Vol. 18, No. 49, January 8, 1998, p. 12, 16.

“Forbidden Longings.” Review of Desire by Frank Bidart. Bay Windows , Vol. 16. No. 29, July 9-15, 1998, 24.

Untitled. Review of The Pleasure Principle by Michael Bronski. Journal of Gay, Lesbian, and Bisexual Identity . Vol. 4, No. 3, July 1999, 271-274.

Untitled. Review of My Madness Saved Me: The Madness and Marriage of Virginia Woolf by Thomas Szasz. The Virginia Woolf Miscellany . Forthcoming, 2007.


The Shadow Dance . Directed by Mary McGowan. Boston , 1980. Winner, Eighth Annual Student Film Award, Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, New England Region, 1981.



Group Gallery, Provinvcetown, March 30, 1973. With Miriam Goodman.

Cambridge Street Artist Co-Op, April, 1973. With Kenneth Pitchford.

Charles Street Meeting House, July 1973.

Book Affair, Boston University , April 25, 1975. Good Gay Poets.

WBUR, “ Gay Ways ,” May 20, 1975. Group.

UMass Boston, March 5, 1976. With Ron Schreiber.

100 Flowers, May 18, 1977. With John Hildenbidle.

First Night, 1977.

“Simple and Sublime: Lorine Niedecker's Poems,” UMass Boston, May, 1978.

Peregrine Bookstore, June 4, 1978. With Thadious Davis.

Boston City Hall , June, 1978. Group.

Newbury Street Bookstore, October 28, 1978. Dark Horse poets.

First Night, 1978.

Small Press Book Fair, Cambridge , April 21, 1979.

First Night, 1979.

Glad Day Bookstore, February 21, 1980. With Darryl Schram,, Jane Barnes, and Linda Reddy.

Boston University , November 24, 1980. Elizabeth Galloway class.

Victor Hugo Bookstore, March 28, 1981. Good Gay Poets.

UMass Boston, April 7, 1981. Group.

Covenant for Racial Harmony, May 13, 1981.

MIT, July 29, 1981. With Kathryn Eberly.

Mills Gallery, Boston Center for the Arts, December 2, 1981. With Miriam Levine.

Glad Day Bookstore, April 2, 1982. With Gerrit Lansing.

First Night, 1986.

Gay Pride, Boston Public Library, June 8, 1988, Group.

Cambridge Adult Education Center , March 8, 1989. Warren Blumenfeld class with Nora Mitchell.

Cambridge Adult Education Center , May, 1989. Warren Blumenfeld class with Nora Mitchell.

Grolier Poetry Series, October 2, 1990. With Robin Becker.

Boston Public Library, October 17, 1990. Group.

Poets Respond to AIDS, Boylston Hall, Harvard, December 12, 1991. With Roy Gonsalves, Miriam Howe, and Michael Klein.

Agape, First Community Church , Boston , July 21, 1992.

Chapter & Verse, October 6, 2000. With Steven Riel and Randi Schalet.

Wordsworth Summer Poetry Festival, July 28, 2002.

Massachusetts College of Art, November 8, 2002. Elizabeth Galloway class.

Chapter & Verse, April 5, 2006, With Elizabeth McKim.



Director, Ellen LaForge Memorial Poetry Foundation, 1988-1992, 1994-1996

Editorial Board, Virginia Woolf Studies Annual , 1995-1998

Founding Editor, Boston Gay Review , 1976-1982

Editorial Board, International Journal of Sexuality and Gender Studies , 1996-2001

Member, International Virginia Woolf Society, 1993-

Member, Virginia Woolf Society of Great Britain , 2001-

 Member, Modern Language Association, 2001-


©2007 Experimental Study Group, Massachusetts Institute of Technology