Our pals over at Autostraddle compiled this rad and lovely list of 10 lesbian and bi poets to fall in love with. It was such a great piece we decided it should live over here in the Park as well. So here you go! Also, I want to make sure you know that reading poetry immediately makes you 100% sexier. It makes you 200% sexier if you read it to someone, especially in bed.
1. Adrienne Rich
Adrienne Rich is more or less super-famous. She’s a major feminist and queer theorist (“Compulsory Heterosexuality” anyone?) who’s written heaps of non-fiction and poetry books. W.S Merwin said this about Adrienne Rich: “All her life she has been in love with the hope of telling utter truth, and her command of language from the first has been startlingly powerful.”
From “Transcendental Etude”:
There come times — perhaps this is one of them —
when we have to take ourselves more seriously or die
when we have to pull back from the incantations,
rhythms we’ve moved to thoughtlessly,
and disenthrall ourselves, bestow
ourselves to silence, or a severer listening, cleansed
of oratory, formulas, choruses, laments, static
crowding the wires.
Get Adrienne Rich’s books, like
The Dream of a Common Language: Poems 1974-1977
2. Eileen Myles
Eileen Myles is “the rock star of modern poetry” (BUST Magazine) and “a cult figure to a generation of post-punk female writer-perfomers” (The New York Times) and we think that means that she’s super-honest and unafraid to get ugly or dirty or otherwise f*cked up. An East Village fixture with a working-class Boston background, she’s worked as Artistic Diretor of the St.Mark’s Poetry project, toured with Sister Spit and performed all around the world including at the Poetry Project, P.S. 122 and the WOW Café. Also she’s published like 15 books and has a “poet’s novel,” INFERNO, coming out this fall. Her memoir Chelsea Girls is one of Emily Gould’s favorites.
Some bits and pieces:
From “For Jordana”:
I think writing
not a form
From “Dear Andrea”:
I love you too
don’t fuck up my hair
I can’t believe
you almost fisted me
That was great.
From “Him and Others”:
Thoughts. Silly. I’d rather
sink my teeth in your neck,
seriously, knock you down
on the floor — all for love.
You’ll forget my lousy
poems but if I could just
mar you or something. Nothing
nice ever sticks but boy
a scar — If I could ever
really bruise you with
my feelings, them, so infinitely
forgettable & gone.
[note from Diana: Get one of my favorite novels of all time Eileen Myles Cool For You]
3. Audre Lorde
In addition to being a poet, Audre Lorde is a mega-important feminist and activist who was at the forefront of a new group of politically active women of all colors challenging the white middle-class hegemony and subsequent ethnocentric goals of 1960s feminism. Lorde pioneered the concept that racism, sexism and homophobia were linked in that they stemmed from people’s inability to recognize or tolerate difference.
“I am a black feminist lesbian poet,” Lorde said of her work, “and I identify myself as such because if there is one other black feminist lesbian poet in isolation somewhere within the reach of my voice, I want her to know she is not alone.”
On the topic of art as protest:
“… the question of social protest and art is inseparable for me. I can’t say it is an either-or proposition. Art for art’s sake doesn’t really exist for me. What I saw was wrong, and I had to speak up. I loved poetry, and I loved words. But what was beautiful had to serve the purpose of changing my life, or I would have died. If I cannot air this pain and alter it, I will surely die of it. That’s the beginning of social protest.”
From “Who Said It Was Simple”:
But I who am bound by my mirror
as well as my bed
see causes in color
as well as sex
and sit here wondering
which me will survive
all these liberations.
Get Audre Lorde's classic Zami: A New Spelling of My Name
4. Kirya Traber
Aside from being a killer slam poet with years of festivals under her belt, Kirya Traber is also working as the Residency Program Manager for YouthSpeaks. Her poems deal with feminism, hair, race and Nina Simone, among other things.
From “Roll Call”:
thick and road worn,
dirt stained, jacked up 4 wheeler
truck behind us
on my mother’s shoulder
“You better watch your little black bitch”
I could smell his breath
tobacco plaque tangy
from across the front seat
and even then, I didn’t know
he was talking about me
5. Alix Olsen
Alix Olson is a spoken word poet / “red-hot, fire-bellied, feminismo-spewin’ volcano.” She tours the world, has been featured in practically every relevant magazine or newspaper and has put out a couple of albums - Built Like That and Independence Meal – that you should buy and eat with your ears. Also, she interviewed Rachel Maddow for VelvetPark.