Having done a “before” post, I now feel obliged to do an “after”.
As it turned out we were all white, middle-aged, heterosexual and in long-term relationships. No one had much interest in discussing Anaïs Nin – most hadn’t been interested enough in Delta of Venus to read the whole thing, though one chap had read a second, similar collection of her dollar-a-page pieces, and another had read some of her diaries. Someone went to the trouble of saying he found some of it offensive. We decided she belonged to another era, and moved on. (Is there something of hers that you, dear reader, would recommend?)
It turned out that if I am timidly vanilla in my taste for erotica I was in a room of similarly minded souls. I did read the Kathryn Lomer poem, and people liked it. One of our number had assiduously ransacked his memory, the web (by googling “erotic poetry”) and the bookshelves at an auction down the road, and shared some gems he’s found. He read us a steamy encounter between Elizabeth Bennett and Darcy in Pride and Promiscuity : The Lost Sex Scenes of Jane Austen – we agreed that that’s probably a perfect read-aloud book for consenting adults. He played recordings of two marvellous poems, one from ancient Egypt and another incorporating a Native American story about a winged penis. He read, with some apologies, Charles Bukowski’s “Like a Flower in the Rain” (warning, that link includes anatomically correct four-letter words), in which one can only marvel at how one word can transform a poem. Someone mentioned the bath scene in The Reader. We talked a little about the early scenes in Silk.
We kept asking each other what makes something erotic rather than pornographic. Clearly our collective taste veered to the non-pornographic end of erotica. We agreed we like our erotica with a bit of wit, a lack of emphasis on the plumbing (though no aversion to it being named), a context, and a sense of minds being engaged.
Next meeting, Anna Karenina.