10 Lesbian and Bi Poets to Love

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10 Lesbian and Bi Poets to Love

 

6. June Jordan

 

Harlem born bisexual June Jordan was a Carribbean-American poet, novelist, journalist, biographer, dramatist, teacher and activist with lots of important super-passionate felings about the construction of race, gender, sexuality, politics, war, violence and human rights. She’s one of the most prolific African-American writers of all time with 28 books of varying genres like essays, memoirs, novels, poetry and children’s books. You know how Barack Obama was always saying “we are the ones we’ve been waiting for”? He got it from June Jordan. Or from Alice Walker who got it from June Jordan. You know.

HAY HOLLER BISXEXUALS, she’s got some words about y’all: “If you are free, you are not predictable and you are not controllable. To my mind, that is the keenly positive, politicizing significance of bisexual affirmation… to insist upon the equal validity of all the components of social/sexual complexity.”

Read this interview with June Jordan at BOMB Magazine about “I Was Looking at the Ceiling and Then I Saw the Sky,” an experimental contemporary opera made in collaboration with composer John Adams and director Peter Sellars, that tells the stories of “men and women in Los Angeles struggling to find and articulate love in the midst of moral and physical devastation, tragedy, and upheaval . . . Like all of her work, the opera strives to bear witness to the human ability to survive nightmares of injustice and embrace visions of a more hopeful future.”

“One Minus One Minus One”

This is a first map of territory
I will have to explore as poems,
again and again

My mother murdering me
to have a life of her own

What would I say
(if I could speak about it?)

My father raising me
to be a life that he
owns

What can I say
(in this loneliness)

7. Staceyann Chin

Staceyann Chin's memoir, The Other Side of Paradise, deals with her mother’s rejection of Chin and her brother, and her subsequent struggle to grow up in the face of poverty and a splintered family.

From Publisher’s Weekly:
“[Chin’s mother] quickly foisted them onto other relatives for good, leaving Chin, at age nine, to fend for herself in the shack of her harsh great-aunt whose boys routinely attempted to rape her.”

Chin moved to New York several years ago and is an out lesbian political activist poet womanchild. She writes things like this, which I think you will like:

Faggot Haiku
Faggots reach into
their own asses we are not
afraid of our shit

 

8. Andrea Gibson

 

 

Andrea Gibson is another spoken word American poet and activist. Her latest album, Yellowbird, features a version of one of her most ridiculously moving pieces, “Ashes,” with music from Chris Pureka. Here just watch this

9. Marilyn Hacker

Jan Heller Levi, who sounds pretty important, said this about Marilyn Hacker which is better than what I might say: “I think of her magnificent virtuosity in the face of all the strictures to be silent, to name her fears and her desires, and in the process, to name ours. Let’s face it, no one writes about lust and lunch like Marilyn Hacker. No one can jump around in two, sometimes even three, languages and come up with poems that speak for those of us who sometimes barely think we can even communicate in one.”

“Untitled”:

You did say, need me less and I’ll want you more.
I’m still shellshocked at needing anyone,
used to being used to it on my own.
It won’t be me out on the tiles till four-
thirty, while you’re in bed, willing the door
open with your need. You wanted her then,
more. Because you need to, I woke alone
in what’s not yet our room, strewn, though, with your
guitar, shoes, notebook, socks, trousers enjambed
with mine. Half the world was sleeping it off
in every other bed under my roof.
I wish I had a roof over my bed
to pull down on my head when I feel damned
by wanting you so much it looks like need.

10. Mary Oliver

Mary Oliver spent a few of her teenage years living in Edna St. Vincent Millay’s old house, helping Millay’s family sort through her old papers, so you know she’s gangsta. Since the early 1960s, Oliver has published heaps of poetry and prose, including American Primitive, which won the Pulitzer prize for poetry in 1984.  Her work is heavily informed by her reflections on her natural surroundings, conjuring up images of her native Ohio and New England; the Harvard Review described her work as an “excellent antidote for the excesses of civilization.”

From “Wild Geese”:

You do not have to be good.
You do not have to walk on your knees
for a hundred miles through the desert, repenting.
You only have to let the soft animal of your body
love what it loves.
Tell me about despair, yours, and I will tell you mine.
Meanwhile the world goes on.

Buy Mary Oliver’s books



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.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qd-zmB84YaI

 

 

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

HFS

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.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2cEc3aQOP-o&NR=1&feature=fvwp

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

I

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.