Here is an excerpt from an seventy-minute interview/conversation with Samuel. R. Delany. Delany was a Kelly Writers House Fellow in 2016. The discussion took place on February 16 that year. Regina Salmons has done the work of transcription. A video recording of the entire conversation can be viewed here.
Al FILREIS (begins by quoting Delany’s novel Dhalgren)
“As I walked home, I thought about the hospital again” — this is described earlier in the “It was so easy to tell your story and not mention you were homosexual.” I assume he means to tell your story in the clinic. [Continues quoting Delany.] “It was so simple to write about yourself, and just not to say you were black. You could put together a whole book full of anecdotes about yourself without ever revealing you were dyslexic. And how many people whom I’d just met and who’d ask me ‘what do you do?,’ did I answer disingenuously, ‘Oh I type manuscripts for people.’”
In the introduction to Cruising Utopia: The Then and There of Queer Futurity, José Esteban Muñoz addresses the caretaking relationship between Eileen Myles and James Schuyler as one of anti-antirelational queer kinship.
Samuel Delany reviewed the first Star Wars movie in Cosmos Science Fiction and Fantasy (1977). Alex Weheliye has made a copy available here. And here, posted by Delany himself on Facebook, is his review of the new film, episode 7, The Force Awakens.
“The Motion of Light” is named for the Kelly Writers House celebration of Samuel R. Delany’s performative poetics, held on April 11, 2014, and archived at PennSound. This Jacket2 feature collects work by all those who were a part of the Delany celebration, of an event that celebrated the writer who, as Tracie Morris notes in her introduction, “is a constellation that continues to be fixed, yet revolves, for me and for so many lovers of poetry … a maker of many worlds.”
Preface: One day, at Naropa University, I was on a panel that Anne Waldman organized for the MFA summer writing program. I gave my talk about poetry and speech acts. Chip was nice enough to attend as an audience member. Chip knows his poetry.
You came to see human bodies tonight, but she said this is “holy work and it’s dangerous not to know that ’cause you could die like an animal down here.” She was talking about making dances — pacing back and forth across bridges, riding up and down the block, selling loosies on the corner, walking in the middle of the street. The hazard of movement, of moving and being moved, of knowing that we are affected, that we are affective.
Editorial note: The following has been adapted from a Close Listening conversation recorded as part of “The Motion of Light: A Tribute to Samuel R. Delany,” a program hosted at the Kelly Writers House in April 2014. The conversation was transcribed by Tracie Morris. Listen to the audio program here. — Julia Bloch
Trigger warning: this essay includes snippets of cultural theory, so if you’ve had traumatic experiences with it, please be careful.
When I began thinking about how best to honor Samuel Delany today, I felt some sense of obligation to explain what for me has been the transformative effect of reading Delany’s work, especially from the standpoint of queer studies.
When Tracie Morris asked me to say a few words at this celebration, I was reluctant. I had never met Mr. Delany and I wasn’t an expert on his work. And I don’t speak critical theory. But I believe that when you have a chance to thank someone whose work is foundational — who opens a way for others — you have to say thank you.
So I’m here to talk about what Samuel Delany means to me as a reader and writer of speculative fiction. I encountered his work years and years ago and over the years since. It has staying power.