10 Lesbian and Bi Poets to Love

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10 Lesbian and Bi Poets to Love

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
is desire
not a form
of it

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
one hand
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 Mealthat you should buy and eat with your ears. Also, she interviewed Rachel Maddow for VelvetPark.

Comments [12]

dykemic's picture

another good poet

is this chick out of the midwest. i found her video on youtube and she is really fucking good.




mickey06's picture

This is awesome!

Just two days ago I was thinking "man...I dont really know any contemporary queer poets other than Staceyann Chin"...then you gave me Alix Olsen and Kirya Traber. Thanks!

periodshyphensandunderscores's picture

makes me giddy to see all of

makes me giddy to see all of them together

littlemiracles's picture

Missing: Olga Broumas

Not2Taem's picture


Thank you for the discovery of Andrea Gibbons. Like a drug, she moves your soul to edge, but don't inhale too much to fast, or you will shatter with the power of all that truth.


rovermom's picture

Thank you...I am enjoying the

Thank you...I am enjoying the exploration of their being Smile

There's a certain someone I reaaaaaaallllyyyy like and who I think likes me back. She's let me in on her photo albums of her family and recently pulled out her book of her poetry that she has written over the years. Some of her writings  she sat and read to me.

She's never had a lesbian relationship, but admits to thinking of women all the time and has been with several while drunk. People know that. But she is definitely processing her sexuality.



Grace Moon's picture


came across The Importance of Being Iceland in the art crit section of B & N -- i'm not sure if its really art crit, its deff not poetry, but its very poetic, I began flipping through it and couldn't put it down.

tweet tweet @gracemoon

Diana Cage's picture

I can't believe I havent read

I can't believe I havent read that yet. I'm also excited to read Eileen's newest book, Inferno.

Tex's picture

love Adrienne Rich.....

For all the Parker educators......

In a Classroom

Talking of poetry, hauling the books
arm-full to the table where the heads
bend or gaze upward, listening, reading aloud,
talking of consonants, elision,
caught in the how, oblivious of why:
I look in your face, Jude,
neither frowning nor nodding,
opaque in the slant of dust-motes over the table:
a presence like a stone, if a stone were thinking
What I cannot say, is me. For that I came.


For all the Parker lovers......

My Mouth Hovers Across Your Breasts

My mouth hovers across your breasts
in the short grey winter afternoon
in this bed we are delicate
and touch so hot with joy we amaze ourselves
tough and delicate we play rings
around each other our daytime candle burns
with its peculiar light and if the snow
begins to fall outside filling the branches
and if the night falls without announcement
there are the pleasures of winter
sudden, wild and delicate your fingers
exact my tongue exact at the same moment
stopping to laugh at a joke
my love hot on your scent on the cusp of winter

Thanks, Diana, for the lovely poetry.....I needed this beauty before the storm....


Twitter Time @kdhales

minniesota's picture

Love poetry

If I were more talented / I'd write a poem / about how happy I am / for this poetry blog / But I'm not.

~Da Mins

Still searching for the right brainy quote.

vwetlaufer's picture

Some other suggestions

As a poet and PhD student, it is so great to see poetry being discussed in places other than academia! Nothing is sexier than a love poem read in bed.

I actually like this list, though I was surprised by the diversity of the choices--including spoken word alongside more traditional verse. But that's great! (Though I have problems with Staceyann Chin, as much as I love her work, because of the fatphobic comments she's made on Facebook and Twitter).

Here are some other queer poets to check out:

Gabrielle Calvocoressi

Elizabeth Bradfield

Stacie Cassarino (her book won the Lambda Literary awary this year for lesbian poetry--the Lammy winners are great places to find new poetry books to read!)

Sina Queyras

and many others...including me! I don't have a book out yet, but my chapbook was published this year by Grey Book Press and you can read many sexy poems in lit journals in print and online. Emerging poets (those w/some pubs but not a book) are great to find. I love discovering a young poet and following their career.


(I've written reviews and posts on recommending poets to check out at my blog valeriewetlaufer.blogspot.com)

Diana Cage's picture

Great post, thanks!! I think

Great post, thanks!!

I think Daphne Gottlieb also belongs on this list.

Here's a piece of hers we published recently. http://www.velvetparkmedia.com/blogs/sexy-balaclava

I think a round 2 is called for. Anyone with suggestions should leave them here.