I’ve written before about how I actively seek out art that directly addresses, depicts, and/or was inspired by the AIDS epidemic. The lack of mainstream recognition for this rich well of artists is shocking, but sadly not surprising. And I will never stop being amazed at how something so devastating could have produced such incredible art. Art like the poetry of Thom Gunn, for example.
Thom Gunn was a British poet who first made a name for himself in the 60s and 70s with his poetry that openly explored queer culture and sex, as well as the counterculture of San Francisco and the drug taking that went along with it. However, it was his poetry about the AIDS epidemic of the 80s and 90s that brought him the most recognition. The Man with Night Sweats is his most famous collection, and it deals with his grief over the impact of AIDS on his community and the countless friends that he lost. The poems are all visceral and profoundly human. And they serve as beautiful elegies to a lost generation of young men.
Thom Gunn passed away in 2004, but I can only hope that his renown continues to grow for many, many more years.
Suggestions for artists I should check out? Please contact me with your ideas. I hope you enjoyed your daily helping of art!