poetry

2017 Goldie Awards’ finalists

The Golden Crown Literary Society announced finalists for its fiction and nonfiction 16 categories. GCLS will announce the winners sometime between July 5-9 at its annual conference. Since it’s still April, National Poetry Month, I’m featuring the poetry collections that have earned nominations. All of these poets and most of the publishers are new to me, so I’m pretty jazzed! They represent a range of experiences, styles, and themes.

Also: I’ve been looking for poetry collections by queer female-identified poets who grew up in and/or reside in rural areas of the Pacific Northwest. If you know of any, please let me know in the comments below.

Acquired Community by Jane Byers

Acquired Community by Jane Byers
Publisher: Dagger Editions, Caitlin Press
2016

“Jane Byers’ Acquired Community is both a collection of narrative poems about seminal moments in North American lesbian and gay history, mostly post-World War II, and a series of first person poems that act as a touchstone to compare the narrator’s coming out experience within the larger context of the gay liberation movement.” (via Jane Byers Poetry)


In and Out of Love

In and Out of Love by Shelley Thrasher
Publisher: Sapphire Books Publishing
2016

“Lammy-nominated novelist, editor, and college professor Shelley Thrasher, who grew up in a small, conservative town in East Texas, was a late bloomer. Her first published poetry collection, In and Out of Love, chronicles personal ups and downs during the 1980s and ’90s, when she came out. Most of these 150 brief, haiku-like poems feature images that speak for themselves, influenced by poets such as Allen Ginsberg and Anne Waldman, with whom she studied writing.

The first poems portray the crushes and lovers the author was involved with during this period of her life. In part two, they express the longing for something she didn’t understand. Section three chronicles the painful rough spots she encountered during her journey of accepting herself as a lesbian. And the final section celebrates being in love with the woman she has now been joined with for twenty-five adventurous years.” (via Sapphire Books)


Night Ringing by Laura Foley

Night Ringing by Laura Foley
Publisher: Headmistress Press
January 2016

“Poet Laura Foley’s strong fifth collection, Night Ringing, ruminates on romance and family via autobiographical free verse.” (via LauraDaviesFoley.com)


Showtime at the Ministry of Lost Causes by Cheryl Dumesnil

Showtime at the Ministry of Lost Causes by Cheryl Dumesnil
Publisher: University of Pittsburgh Press
November 2016

“The poems in Showtime at the Ministry of Lost Causes are survival songs, the tunes you whistle while walking through the Valley of Shadows, to keep your fears at bay and your spirit awake.” (via University of Pittsburgh)


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SPLIT by Denise Benavides
Publisher: Kórima Press
December 2016

“Denise Benavides’ debut collection Split  is a dedication to motherlessness and abandon—to a nightly killing and rebirths. At its worst, it is all teeth masticating through the body in an attempt to interrogate and cut out what no longer serves the Self. It is a collection not meant for the weak, but for those willing to walk through what haunts them the most.” (via Kórima Press)


The Body's Alphabet by Ann Tweedy

The Body’s Alphabet by Ann Tweedy
Publisher: Headmistress Press
2016

Katrina Vandenberg: “… This is a book about finding homes for ourselves—homes for our adult selves, even as complex memories of our childhood homes still live inside us; homes for our bodies; homes in the natural world. …” (via Headmistress Press)


The Off Season Jen Levitt

The Off-Season by Jen Levitt
Publisher: Four Way Books
2016

“The poems in The Off-Season are populated with things—‘90s TV shows, mix-tapes, crosstown buses, winter beaches—signifiers that trace a trajectory from girlhood to adulthood and bring to the surface feelings and desires that ordinarily stay hidden. We witness the strangeness of modern life, relive our own adolescent awkwardness and listen in on conversations with dead poets, TV characters, family members and intimates. With humor, fierceness and generosity, The Off-Season grapples with the question of how to be in the world.” (via Four Way Books)

Torn from the Ear of Night by Jimmie Margaret Gilliam

Torn from the Ear of Night by Jimmie Margaret Gilliam
Publisher: White Pine Press
2016

Joan Murray describes it as a “balance between the child’s immediacy of experience and the adult’s analytical recollection” set in the Appalachian hills. (via Goodreads)

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National Poetry Month 2017

It’s that wonderful time of year when the literary spotlight shines on poetry! Happy National Poetry Month (NPM)! Throughout the month of April, I’ll highlight poetry collections. For most of my life I’ve said that I wasn’t a “poetry person”. I hadn’t felt a strong need for or connection with it. As a kid, though, I loved my grandfather’s well-worn copy of Now We Are Six by A.A. Milne and the humorous verse of Shel Silverstein.

Lately, however, events in my life have created an opening for the particular rhythms and voices reflected in poetry. I’m currently reading “When the Chant Comes” by Kay Ulanday Barrett. What about you?

Poem in Your Pocket Day is on Thursday, April 27!  Check out Poets.org for tons of good stuff, including “30 Ways to Celebrate“!

Poem in Your Pocket Day 2016

Other ways you can spiffy up your life with poetry:

  • Write a poem on a slip of paper & make a poet-tree (I put one up last year at work with a bowl of paper birds & leaves, plus twine, for people to write poems on.)
  • Sprinkle it into cards you give family, friends, coworkers, etc.
  • Get cozy with a volume from your local library or bookstore.
  • Seek it out on Tumblr & Twitter.

Short list of LGBTQ2IA poetry resources online:

Publishers & Associations (incomplete, please let me know who to add in the comments below)

Categories: poetry | Tags: , , | 1 Comment

No Inaugural Flowers

Earlier today, as I was scrolling through my Twitter feed (after watching a bunch of Obama and Biden videos on YouTube this morning), I came across a couple posts mentioning how Trump did not have a poet at his *cough* inauguration. Presidents since JFK have invited poets to speak (although none of them have been of the Republican Presidents) at their inaugurations. I’m far from surprised that someone who revels in being a Philistine would not deviate from his party predecessors. 

Poetry is for everyone. Silly, serious, high, low, it speaks to our lives no matter where or who we are. I say 2017 is a year that deserves a flood of poetry. I sprawled on my living room floor this morning, surrounded by wonderful volumes and I felt a little bit better.

Elizabeth Bishop (1911-1979), a lauded US poet of the 20th century, would have shone brightly on an any President’s inauguration day. She was a consummate perfectionist, so while I would have loved to hear her read, I can’t imagine her completing (and feeling satisfied with) a new poem in a short period of time. A couple of years ago, I stumbled across Reaching for the Moon, a biopic on her relationship with Lota de Macedo Soares (1910-1967), a Brazilian architect. The film is based on Carmen L. Oliveira’s Rare and Commonplace Flowers: The Story of Elizabeth Bishop and Lota de Macedo Soares. An English translation was published by Rutgers University Press in 2002.

Your library may not have it, but ask if they’ll do an ILL (interlibrary loan) for it. You will hopefully be surprised that your library has not only the means, but the badass and coolness to go through with the request. The film is available on Amazon, Netflix, iTunes, and Vudu.

Poems is a collection of Bishop’s previously published poetry. It includes Questions of Travel (1965), dedicated to de Macedo Soares. “Shampoo” (p.82) is one of my favorites because of the transformation (or rather, the revelation) of the ordinary into the extraordinary. Beautiful reminders to slow down.

The shooting stars in your black hair
in bright formation
are flocking where,
so straight, so soon?
—Come, let me wash it in this big tin basin,
battered and shiny like the moon.

You can borrow this book from your local public library, as well as purchase it from Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and your neighborhood bookstore.

Categories: history, lgbt, poetry | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Reading Resolutions for 2017

 Oh, reading challenges. I love them, and yet, I fare better with the types of reading challenges that quantify, rather than qualify, my choices. For example, Goodreads only asks how many books I plan on finishing between January and December. That’s pretty straightforward, simple, and, in some ways, not that much of a challenge. I can set the bar at 5 books, if I wanted (I would wither away if I was only able to read five books in a year).

My excuses/reasons for failing to cross the finish line of the 2016 PopSugar challenge are many. I’m like that dog in the Pixar movie “Up”; I get distracted by every book that crosses my path. There are certainly not enough hours in the day for work, commuting, and my myriad of interests. I am also unable to read less than ten trillion books at a time. There is currently one book in my glove compartment of my car; an audiobook in my car’s disc drive and on my smartphone; Analog magazine on my phone for endless lines at the grocery store; eBooks on my Nook; and on and on.

I don’t give myself a hard time for not living up to my own reading standards. It’s supposed to be so many other things above and beyond a mere assignment. I will, however, craft mini challenges for myself that highlight voices and genres I haven’t spent much (if any) time with. And then there is the news… So long 2016!

How about you?

Categories: anthology, audiobooks, erotica, essay, family relationships, fantasy, fiction, friendship, historical fiction, history, Holiday, horror, lgbt, librarians, literary fiction, Memoirs & Autobiographies, nonfiction, novella, paranormal, poetry, primary sources, retellings, romance, romantic friendships, short stories, Uncategorized, young adult | Tags: , , , | 1 Comment

Solace: Writing, Refuge, & LGBTQ Women of Color

Adobe Photoshop PDF

How do you define solace and where do you give it, find it, take it, share it? Solace: Writing, Refuge, and LGBTQ Women of Color, from BLF Press, anthologizes the voices of thirteen LGBTQ women of color. In the preface, editors S. Andrea Allen and Lauren Cherelle share the impetus for and the importance of assembling this collection, especially in light of anti-LGBT legislation and violence in 2016. 

“As a community, where can we find solace from the microaggression and violence enacted upon us on a daily basis? How do we amass the hope that heals our wounds as we traverse a world that seeks to destroy or repress and suppress us, simply for daring to live our truth? Who dares to shield us from the constant barrage of hatred and disdain that we face in our communities, at our places of employment, in our own families and homes?” (Preface, x-xi)

The authors delve into how, why, and where they find solace and/or make solace for themselves. Broad experiences inform the expressions compiled here. The result is a beautiful, poignant blend of poetry, prose, and photographs. If you’re like me and enjoy the tactile pleasures of a physical copy, the velvety cover and technicolor images will most definitely deliver extra comfort and joy as you read.

In their respective essays, Almah Rice (“Remedios”) and Claudia Moss (“Solace in Words”) reflect on the life-giving sustenance found in the written word. Both writers use wonderful imagery to convey just how integral words are in their lives. Readers who find refuge in and draw inspiration from the world of words will find kindred spirits in Rice and Moss. 

“So I strapped a book’s spine to my own and grew taller, stronger. Yes, words hold me up and still do. Or, I can re-myth the scoliosis I was diagnosed with as a child as an attempt to curve around words, language my trellis.” (Rice, 90)

As we move through life, we are also faced with how we define solace can influence the world around us. Hala Aurangzeb’s piece, “Pummel”, confronts the abusive nature of its subject’s solace. In Eunice Sierra-Gonzalez’s poem “Queer Brown Girl”, solace is offered through shared experience.  

In Kendra N. Bryant’s “A Lesbian Teacher Tries to Teach Compassion”, she encourages her students to engage in critical thinking and discussion regarding race and sexual orientation. Despite the strong backlash against her intentions, she takes solace in the long view. 

“… I’m going to rest in the notion that people will come to understanding when it is time for them to understand.” (Bryant, 32)

Nik Nicholson, librecht baker, M. Shelly Conner, Sheila Tartaglia, Eliana Buenrostro, Mica Standing Soldier, Dr. Nubian Sun, and Imani Sims, contribute nuanced pieces that grow with each reading. They explore layers of solace found within multiple identities; transformation and perseverance; past and present; and beyond.

Solace: Writing, Refuge, & LGBTQ Women of Color encourages all of us to engage in meaningful contemplation and dialogue with ourselves and with each other.

Solace: Writing, Refuge, & LGBTQ Women of Color
Edited by S. Andrea Allen & Lauren Cherelle
Published by BLF Press
Scheduled Release Date: January 31, 2017
Presale: December 1, 2016
ISBN: 978-0-9972439-6-3
ISBN (epub): 978-0-9972439-5-6

Available from BLF PressAmazon, and other retailers. Check with your local public library on how you can recommend titles for addition to the collection.

Join the discussion on Goodreads!

Categories: anthology, essay, lgbt, nonfiction, poetry | Tags: , , , | 2 Comments

Check out my review of “You’re The Most Beautiful Thing That Happened” by Arisa White at The Lesbrary

Arisa White’s newest poetry collection, You’re the Most Beautiful Thing That Happened, plumbs the depths of what it means to exist in the world as queer, female, a person of color, and beyond. She undresses a multitude of topics, including race, family, and relationships. The collection offers tender, tumultuous, and light moments. In the introduction, […]

via Julie Thompson reviews You’re The Most Beautiful Thing That Happened by Arisa White — The Lesbrary

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National Poetry Month

April is National Poetry Month (NPM)!  I found some great books last week on the free books cart outside of the Gay City library.  One of them is a collection of poems, Unstrung Heart by Robbi Sommers.  Fitting that on the first day of NPM I stumbled upon a volume of poetry.  I haven’t had a chance to read through all of the poems yet.  It’s exciting whenever I discover an author new to me!

unstrung heart poetry cover

From the back cover of Unstrung Heart:

With her brilliant palette of poetry and prose, Robbi captures the delicate play of colors and light that illuminate our deepest hopes and fears.  In intimate brushstrokes, she highlights and shades the real-life experiences that tear us apart…and make us whole.

Poem in Your Pocket Day is on Thursday, April 21!  Check out Poets.org for tons of good stuff!

Poem in Your Pocket Day 2016

Empty tissue boxes make great containers for folded poems ^^

Other ways you can spiffy up your life with poetry:

  • Write a poem on a slip of paper & make a poet-tree (I put one up at work with a bowl of paper birds & leaves, plus twine, for people to write poems on.)
  • Sprinkle it into cards you give family, friends, coworkers, etc.
  • Get cozy with a volume from your local library or bookstore.

There’s also a lot of fantastic poetry online.  A simple search, using the phrase “lgbt poetry”, yields a wealth of links.  Here is a short list to get your started:

 

 

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Poem in Your Pocket Day

Happy Poem in Your Pocket Day!

It’s the perfect day to spend with an old friend.  In my case, this would be Now We Are Six by A.A. Milne (or more specifically, Binker, the closest I came to an imaginary friend as a child).  Binker was also the first time I felt drawn to poetry.  Thank you, grandpa, for letting me keep your book!  It’s important to remember that not every poem that is considered noteworthy or amazing will resonate the same way with all people.  For children, you risk turning them off poetry completely if you don’t think of what they might enjoy.

Children’s Poetry (a few sites to peruse):

Binkerb

Hello, Stranger!

Or satisfy your need for a random encounter online, try one of the sites below:

Poem in Your Pocket Day

Random Happy (photo credit: Westport Timberland Library)

Can’t Decide on Just One?

Excellent! Shove a pocket compilation or a few printed single poems into your pocket(s) and share the love!

Max and Emily

Categories: poetry, Uncategorized | Tags: , | Leave a comment

Transforming the Conversation

beyond-magentafreakboyI am JWanting in ArabicThe days of Anna MadrigalTransparentChaz Bono memoir  <— Click on a book cover to learn more.

This is by no means an exhaustive list of books.  I am always looking for titles, both fiction and nonfiction, that give voice to the wide range of experiences people have as they find out who they are and try to live as their truest selves.

Supplemental Articles, Videos, and Websites

This is only a partial listing of materials available online and offline.  Please feel free to add an article, video, website, or other helpful information related to this post in the comments below.

*Note: The following websites were accessed on February 4, 2015

Author Interviews

Book Excerpts

Book Trailers & Other Related Videos

Search YouTube or other video sites and you’ll find a  mixture of official and fan made trailers related to the books in this post.  If you’re feeling inspired, create a book trailer of your own (and post a link to it in the comments) (:

Goodreads

Discussion Guides

Transgender Resources

Categories: fiction, lgbt, nonfiction, poetry, young adult | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

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The Bibliofiles

In the Biblio Files blog, Sno-Isle Libraries staff members engage in conversations about reading. Join in by adding your comments.

Nerdy Book Club

A community of readers

Porkbelly Press

made in Cincinnati, Ohio

Trans Book Reviews

Where trans characters and trans readers meet

Shira Glassman

Queer Jewish feminist author

Bridget Essex, Author

Lesbian Romance Novels & Love Stories

Claudia Moss

writer | renaissance woman

danielledreger

YA Librarian by day, YA Writer by night

Madness & Joy

Dark-eyed daughter of the sun...

A. L. Brooks

Writer of Filth—and more...

WOCreads

Reading & Reviewing Works by Women of Color