alee_grrl: White swan silhouette over stylized rainbow heart with Love Justice, Love Equality beneath (pride)
[personal profile] alee_grrl
My first real introduction to QUILTBAG poetry actually came from my college Latin class. Our second semester of Latin II was largely spent translating poetry, and our main focus was on the works of Catullus. Catullus wrote largely about and to those around him. He wrote frequently about sex and intimacy with both women and men. His poems can be romantic in nature, as seen in "Passion: to Iuventius". Some of his poems are more erotic, like "Yesterday: to Licinius Calvus". In other poems, Catullus using his poetry as a weapon full of cutting insults and lewd commentary. One of his more ribald poems is "A Rebuke: to Aurelius and Furius" (warning: contains language that may not be safe for work).

College was also the first time I had regular access to the internet, and shortly after my introduction to Catullus I found the works of Sappho, a well known Greek poet from the Isle of Lesbos. One of my favorites of her poems is "Please". Another is this untitled one.

I don't remember which particular poems we translated in that class, though if I recall correctly some of the more ribald ones were included. Nor do I remember precisely when I found the works of Sappho. What I do remember, what still resonates now, is that startling realization that different sexual orientations had been around for a really long time. This was startling for a girl who went through her teenage years in the rural south, surrounded by the philosophies that would result in DOMA and Don't Ask, Don't Tell.

A set of ancient poems opened my mind and heart to a set of possibilities I had been terrified to even contemplate. I started to accept that my differences were not defects, as I had been taught. Being different wasn't a bad thing, and didn't make me the devil incarnate. Those parts of me that were different weren't broken, and didn't need to be fixed. It is amazing what a little bit of poetry can do.

This has been a fabulous week and I thank all the wonderful people who hosted and all those who have participated in the comments. We've had some truly great posts and some amazing poetry to enjoy.
wordweaverlynn: (Byron)
[personal profile] wordweaverlynn

There are so many fabulous queer poets, from Sappho to Swinburne, Lord Byron to Audre Lorde, that I had a hard time making a choice. But Marilyn Hacker's work reaches right off the page, and she's not nearly so well known as such other favorites of mine as Edna St. Vincent Millay or Adrienne Rich.

Marilyn Hacker is a powerful voice in modern poetry, using traditional forms to speak of both traditional topics (she has written some of the most lyrical, passionate love poems of the age) as well as nontraditional topics (such as her experience with breast cancer in "Scars on Paper"). Born in 1942, she grew up in a working-class Jewish home and started college at 15. She has been openly lesbian since the late 1970s.

From 1961 until the mid-1970s she was married to the gay writer and critic Samuel Delany; they had been close since their days at the Bronx High School of Science. The couple had to drive from New York City to Michigan to marry, because Hacker is white and Delany is African-American, and in 1961 interracial marriages were illegal in 48 states. They have a daughter, Iva. Together they edited the four Quark science fiction anthologies.

Marilyn Hacker won the National Book Award for her first book, Presentation Piece. Since then she has won numerous awards for her work including the PEN/Voelcker Prize for Poetry, has been awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship, and was elected a Chancellor of the Academy of American Poets. She has published many volumes of her own poetry and of translations from the French. She is also highly regarded as a critic, editor, and teacher.

First, I want to make you come in my hand )



Scars on Paper by Marilyn Hacker )

Some more QUILTBAG poets to read and enjoy:
Lesbian Poetry Retrospective I
Lesbian Poetry Retrospective II
10 Lesbian and Bisexual Poets to Fall in Love With
Steal This List (of LGBT poets)

zirconium: Unitarian Universalist chalice with pink triangle as base (rainbow chalice)
[personal profile] zirconium
As a Unitarian Universalist, I encounter Mary Oliver's poetry several times a year -- some of her poems are in the church hymnal and others show up as service readings or meditation texts. Her primary publisher, Beacon Press, is a department of the Unitarian Universalist Association (and known for, among other things, publishing the Pentagon Papers).

Mary Oliver and Molly Malone Cook were partners for forty years. Cook died in 2005. There is an excerpt from Cook's obituary here, which mentions Cook's earlier relationship with Lorraine Hansberry.

There is a photo of Oliver and Cook here. There is an interview of Oliver in the archives of O Magazine that includes this exchange:


Maria Shriver: You've written in your work that you rarely spent any time apart. How did you avoid being crushed by losing her?

Mary Oliver: I had decided I would do one of two things when she died. I would buy a little cabin in the woods, and go inside with all my books and shut the door. Or I would unlock all the doors -- we had always kept them locked; Molly liked that sense of safety -- and see who I could meet in the world. And that's what I did. I haven't locked the door for five years. I have wonderful new friends. And I have more time to be by myself. It was a very steadfast, loving relationship, but often there is a dominant partner, and I was very quiet for 40 years, just happy doing my work. I'm different now.


Oliver's collection Thirst (2005) is sitting on my Kindle for PC as a loan from the Nashville Public Library. The e-book coding doesn't appear to be compatible with my reader, since different lines show up in different font sizes each time I open the file, which imposes odd emphasis on sections that were not intended to be typographically distinct from their neighbors. That said, the convenience can't be beat -- I was able to "borrow" the book without leaving the house, and the program let me highlight and bookmark the sections I wanted to mention in this post. These include poems that appear to be specifically in reference to Cook's death ("After Her Death" and "What I Said at Her Service" -- the latter comprises only three lines, but in my view is one of the most powerful poems in the book) and lines about Oliver's dog, Percy (named after Shelley, but "[m]aybe we should have named him William, since Wordsworth almost never died").

The library copy of the book also records the marks made by its earlier borrowers. So it is telling me that eight people highlighted the poem "Praying," four people highlighted "The Uses of Sorrow," and at least six other people were struck by the same line in the Epilogue that had me reaching for the digital highlighter: "Love for the earth and love for you are having such a long conversation in my heart."
raze: A man and a rooster. (Default)
[personal profile] raze
Today I'll be sharing with you a few poems from queer poet and social activist Andrea Gibson. Gibson was the first winner of the Women’s World Poetry Slam and has five albums and two books of her poems, which touch on subjects of class, race, sexuality, gender, love, and spirituality. Many of her poems could be classified as queer activist poetry as they tackle social injustice towards QUILTBAG individuals.

I've already shared with you the Prop8-inspired poem I Do during activist poetry week. Today I'm sharing three poems by Gibson. The first, Letter to the Playground Bully is an upbeat piece intended to be appropriate for younger children while still tackling the issue of bullying, which has created an epidemic of suicide among gay youth. The second, Swingset, is about the experience of being gender queer in a world that craves those black and white lines of gender identity. The last, Ashes, was written in response to the disturbing phenomenon of gays, both in and out of the military, being burned to death for being homosexual.

As a forewarning: Gibson writes with a sledgehammer rather than a fine quill pen, so these poems do contain some profanity, slurs, and references to anti-queer violence. So, TW for anyone who might have difficulty with hearing as much.


Letter To The Playground Bully


Swingset


Ashes

Feel free to share your reactions and comments below!
ysabetwordsmith: Cartoon of me in Wordsmith persona (Default)
[personal profile] ysabetwordsmith
As a gender studies scholar, I frequently write about characters whose sex/gender identity and/or sexual orientation is something outside the center of the bell curve. Add the speculative fiction elements of my work and there are many races in fantasy, science fiction, and horror who do not have the same divisions in terms of culture and/or biology. I've done this all along. Periodically I discover a new idea, although more often I find a movement relating to something I've already had going. So for instance, I've been doing more with asexual characters in the last year or two since I found that branch of queer culture; but I've had neuter and asexual characters from much earlier.

Worth mentioning is that the series Hart's Farm, which is historical fantasy set in Sweden, features alternative sex and gender dynamics as a prevailing theme. Many different sexual identities and orientations appear in these poems. If you're into QUILTBAG poetry in general, I recommend reading the whole series, which you can find listed on my Serial Poetry page.

If you don't see a representation of your identity and/or orientation in what I've already released, let me know. I may add it to my list of things to write.

Read more... )
ysabetwordsmith: Cartoon of me in Wordsmith persona (Default)
[personal profile] ysabetwordsmith
This poem is from my fantasy setting, the Whispering Sands desert. There's a tribe there, Waterjewel, that recognizes five genders: male, female, both, neither, and I'm-not-telling. Both is hirshn, which can be any combination of physical and psychological traits spanning male and female; and that can be either inborn or acquired. I'm posting this poem here for a canonical example in the intersex category. It's a love poem to a hirshn dancer.


Midnight at the Oasis


When I see you dancing in the sand, beloved,
Your fatal grace makes my heart skip a beat.

Beside you the wind seems clumsy
And even silk less supple.

Your colors are copper and verdigris, plum purple and apricot
Soft brass and coral set with steely blue

All the colors of the desert in bloom
Touched with the perfume of musk.

You are trim as the tassels on a chieftain's tent
And the soft curves of your body echo those of the dunes.

How you enchant me, hirshn,  your hips and hands
As nimble as your feet, your breasts a beauty blinding.

Your every move evokes the patience of woman,
The power of man, partaking of male and female with equal glee.

You are a blend of contradictions and complements
And I find myself captivated by your dance

As surely as wine befuddles the hungry wasp;
Only let me watch, and adore, and I will rest content.

ysabetwordsmith: Cartoon of me in Wordsmith persona (Default)
[personal profile] ysabetwordsmith
I'm pleased to take part in QUILTBAG Pride week here on Poetree. We're celebrating the anniversary of the Stonewall riots and people's right to love whom they love, as they love, free of persecution. There are lots of different stripes in the queer rainbow, so I'm trying to gather examples from as many as possible.

Why does this matter? First, it's good for people to see reflections of themselves in literature; that's validating of their identity, and something that mainstream folks may take for granted. Second, It records and shares the experience of different groups so that their discoveries may be known. These two factors may entice people to read poetry even if they didn't care much about it before, because it can do something for them. Third, those impressions let people of other groups widen their awareness beyond their own personal experiences, which aids tolerance.

Voices of under-represented groups are especially valuable because they share insights that are not widely known or told. It's like the difference between opening a window in a room where there are already 20 windows open, vs. a room where there is only 1 window open. You've just doubled the light in that second room, while the first room might not even show a visible difference.

Below are some resources about QUILTBAG poetry that you might enjoy exploring ...

Read more... )
raze: A man and a rooster. (Default)
[personal profile] raze
In the early-morning hours of June 28th 1969, New York police officers barricaded patrons inside the Stonewall Inn, a popular gay bar, and began the then-common process of identifying and arresting individuals who were in drag. The outcome was unprecedented: patrons fought back, refusing to cooperate and submit to unjust arrests. The scene spilled into the streets, where resistance from bar-goers and bystanders alike snowballed into rioting that forced the police into retreat.

For many, the Stonewall riots heralded the unofficial start of the national Gay Pride movement. Shortly after the events dubbed "The Liberation of Christopher Street," there was a proliferation of pro-gay mobilization in Greenwich Village. One year after the riots, in 1970, the first Gay Pride march was started on Christopher Street, traversing 51 blocks. This historic event symbolized a change in gay activism: it was an end to quiet, apologist strategies and the start of openly celebrating homosexuality.

Today, the Pride movement carries on in the same spirit of creating visibility for the QUILTBAG community while promoting acceptance (both self and societal) and equal rights. This week, at Poetree, we'll be celebrating sexual and gender diversity by highlighting the works of QUILTBAG poets and poetry.

The poem I will be sharing with you today is by activist-poet Buddy Wakefield. Wakefield won the World Poetry Slam Championship for two consecutive years, has several published poetry collections and records, and makes his living touring the United States presenting his art. Known for his lively delivery and bold, hard-hitting use of language, Wakefield is a big name in the world of Slam Poetry and an inspiration to other queer poets.

While homosexuality is not the predominant theme of his works, I thought it appropriate to share the activist poem A Waste. I am not certain of my permission to re-post its full text, and it does contain profanity, so below is a short snip of it; the rest can be found at this link - I highly recommend the full text.

A Waste - selected verses

....

The way she said it still blurs me up like a massacre.
In an attempt to make me feel handsome, Sweet Angel said, "If I was a girl your age and I found out you were gay, I'd just think, ya know, what a waste."

Okay, hey, Perky Cheeks,
if that was supposed to be a compliment
please don't ever send me a care package.

....

"A waste is a nine-year-old boy
Playing catch with the roof of his garage
Who already knows that
His existence makes for the perfect insult –
GAY"


Readers: feel free to share and discuss your reactions below!
alee_grrl: Sculpture made from recycled book pages depicting a tree growing from a book of poetry (poetree)
[personal profile] alee_grrl
June 27th marks the anniversary of the Stonewall Riots, which sparked the already burgeoning Gay Pride movement into a full fledged national phenomenon. Since I am not physically capable of attending a Pride event this year, I have been celebrating by watching documentaries and movies on the QUILTBAG community. It occurred to me that next week (we currently do not have a scheduled host) might be a great time for a multi-hosted themed week, in particular one celebrating poetry from the QUILTBAG (which though odd sounding to me at first is much easier to remember than the all inclusive variants of LGBT) community. Would folks be interested in such a week?

If you are interested and would like to host a day please respond to this post and tell me which day (Monday through Saturday) would work best for you.

Monday: [personal profile] raze
Tuesday: [personal profile] ysabetwordsmith
Wednesday: [personal profile] raze
Thursday: [personal profile] zirconium
Friday: [personal profile] wordweaverlynn
Saturday: [personal profile] alee_grrl (totally willing to reschedule if Saturday works better for someone else)

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poetree: Paper sculpture of bulbuous tree made from strips of book pages (Default)
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