Author: Nick Comilla

Denunciation Staged as ‘Dialogue’: A Review of Claudia Rankine’s ‘Help’

On March 10th, just days before the lockdown would shut down the theater business in New York City (and most other places), I had the opportunity to see the premier of Claudia Rankine’s new play, Help. Based in part on the acclaimed poet’s 2019 New York Times magazine article, I Wanted to Know What White Men Thought About Their Privilege. So I Asked, the play was presented as an “investigation into whiteness.” Given the events that have unfolded since the death of George Floyd, it’s obviously a timely subject. And it’s unfortunate for Rankine and her venue, The Shed in Hudson Yards, that COVID-19 shut down her production until further notice. I know of no other artistic production that better captures the theoretical underpinnings of progressives’ well-intentioned but flawed approach to tearing down “whiteness.” “Help is a play in which the Narrator inhabits the category of the Black woman in order to be in dialogue with the category of the white man,” Rankine explained in a writer’s note. She is careful to say “category” because …

The Narcissistic Fracturing of LGBT Literature

In late 2016, I was featured prominently in an article that appeared in Quill & Quire, entitled Out in the open: Is it time for Canadian gay literature to leave its comfort zone and respond to the Grindr generation? As a young gay writer, this felt like a big deal. While Quill & Quire is an obscure publication, it serves as a sort of bellwether of popularity within Canada’s tiny, tightly controlled literary community. Plus, I was appearing alongside more famous LGBT writers: veteran gay writer Sky Gilbert (now of Quillette fame) and trans author Vivek Shraya. The professional stakes were high for me because this was my first appearance in the national media following the publication of my debut novel, Candyass. The author of that 2016 article, Elio Iannacci, interviewed each of us about the state of “queer” art and representation, with the premise being that market forces still prevent gay writers from fully expressing themselves. Vivek, who had come out as trans in her mid 30s, stated: “All we hear is ‘love is …