The Letters of Thom Gunn

Dwight Garner at the NYT:

It was if he’d stepped, steaming, out of a Tom of Finland drawing. “My definition of tit for tat,” he wrote, is: “You lick my tattoo while I handle your nipple.”

In the summer of 1967, the Summer of Love, a friend came across Gunn in Golden Gate Park, this book tells us in a footnote. It was very hot, and Gunn was otherwise shirtless in a chain mail vest. “There was his hairy chest and then hot metal burning into his skin, his flesh,” the friend reported. “He was trying to look very nonchalant but he was obviously being crucified. It was horrible. But he wouldn’t take it off because it would’ve spoiled the whole look of the thing.”

These details, in general, won’t surprise anyone who kept up with Gunn’s poetry, which was metrically sophisticated and dealt sometimes with earthy topics such as LSD, the Hell’s Angels, sex and its itchy discontents, and gay culture writ large.

more here.