This is a discussion that should be had, and it extends beyond queer writing and the bodycult/fashioncult that roils up from it: the self-consciousness of external performance is something that many poets (I would toss myself into that category) feel strongly about.
Anne Sexton was physically beautiful. But it is generally not our bodily beauty that propels us write. Beauty is a tool of power, but reducing a poet to that tool of power — by leaving out any mention of her poems, however unintentionally — is like saying that a poem is the pen that wrote it. Quoting Jones’ essay:
”[…] I have a sneaking suspicion that a discussion about the poetics of beauty isn’t really about poetics at all. Once we face that, what are we left with? An article about a beautiful dead woman, a Latino man who makes people ‘bristle,’ and a young ‘pretty’ New York-based poet. And, besides, what good did Anne Sexton’s beauty do her?”
This is how the literary world works now: I went with noted poet Niina Pollari to the launch of Tumblr’s Storyboard and there, she came across noted poet Saeed Jones and then the three of us just decided to take trips around the photo booths forever, detouring only for Stoli cocktails that tasted like black pepper or honey. The end.
Normally I’m not this into myself but this was a great moment — seeing the lovely Mr. Jones before he dashes off onto his long jaunt — and I love small expressions, anyway.