Local Gay Poet Reads Live

Jim Cory at Giovanni's Room

Jim Cory

Jim Cory has spent many years working as a poet in Philadelphia and has published several important works, including Son of the Male Muse and A Day for a Lay. He reads from new and recent works on Friday, November 12, at Giovanni’s Room (5:30 p.m.) with Janet Mason, author of Hitching to Nirvana.

Audiences will be treated to a preview of one of Cory’s newest poems “777.” “It has 777 lines and consists of 111 verses,” explains the author. The lengthy verse was inspired by eclectic images ranging from the Civil War to birds, architecture, music, mortality, vanity and Stalinism. Cory says the poem is also about love:

the erotic attraction to some men
to other men
is a phenomenon certain people lack the
honesty or imagination to understand or
even try to
remind me again why
that should be my problem

Born in Oklahoma, Cory says he comes from a big family that moved around a lot before landing in Philadelphia, where he’s made his home since the mid-1970s. “I went off to Penn State and came back and moved to Center City,” he says. “The city was completely unknown to me. Philadelphia is one of those places where you never feel totally at home unless you grew up here.”

Cory admits that even after living in Philly for almost three decades, he still regularly gets lost when he’s behind the wheel of a car. But his adventures, however wayward, also tend to inspire his writing. “I went to Fishtown to read about a year ago,” he says, “and it was the first time I was ever there.” It was in route that he came across the famous Frank Furness bank on Girard Avenue.

Philadelphia imagery weaves into his work pretty freely. At the event, he will be reading new poems written in the last year and a half. “I always like to give new things a road test,” says the bard. He describes his poetry style as a cross between “a woodchuck with a toothache or an abandoned car baying at the moon.”

Cory, who’s openly gay, admits that his sexuality has also informed much of his work over the years, especially when he was younger. “It’s never far from what I’m thinking or feeling,” says Cory. “Right now, I would say being old informs my work more than anything else.”

During his long career, Cory says he’s been inspired by plenty of famous poets, both gay and straight, like Walt Whitman and William Carlos Williams, as well as modern Italian poets like Pasolini and Montale, and even ancient Chinese poetry.

“And a lot of Philadelphia poets I know,” says Cory. “At the moment, there are quite a few excellent poets in the City of Brotherly Love. They’ve got me jazzed. I can never remember a time when there was so much good writing going on as there is now. Now if we could just get some readers. They seem to be in short supply.”