Out of my love for lesbian poetry and art, and wish to know more about it, on Gay Pride Day 2010, I launched Lavender Review. For me, the past four years have been an astounding education, international in scope, as I researched and presented the best lesbian poetry and art that I could find (including some poetry and art by non-lesbians that might appeal to a lesbian readership). Every June and December, I release a new issue of my e-zine, free and open to everyone.
In 2012, I launched a Kickstarter campaign, made a movie, and enlisted an army of friends to make videos saying, in their own creative way, “I Love Lavender Review.” It was loads of fun, and you can watch some of their smart and funny and sexy videos on the Friends page. I interviewed two friends about LR on Ms. Blog and was highly inspired by Eloise Stonborough’s words:
Any art from a marginalized group is first dismissed as necessarily trivial or lesser because it doesn’t value the same ideals as the mainstream. It is only through iteration and resilience that the markers used to keep us out become the elements for which we are prized. That’s why a journal devoted to lesbian poetry and art is vital: it rejects tokenism; it makes visible the common themes between otherwise dissimilar writers and artists; and, most importantly, it shows the range and prowess of those who would otherwise be limited to one feature of their work.
Yes, I can do iteration and resilience, keep trying and bouncing back. LR is my attempt to give lesbian poetry and art its fair share of attention and devotion.
With this June’s release of Issue 9, I decided, for the time being, to drop my practice of assigning themes to issues, and to let “common themes” emerge naturally. To tap into the lesbian collective unconscious of a group of my most-loved poets and artists, I invited them to contribute a poem or artwork of their choice. Would the poetry and art cohere into a unified issue? Would the poems speak to each other? Would the artworks speak to each other? Would the poetry speak to the art, and the art speak to the poetry?
The gorgeous, brilliant work in Issue 9 includes new poems by Colleen McKee, Eleanor Lerman, Janice Gould, Judy Grahn, kathryn l. pringle, Nicole Brossard, Risa Denenberg, Rita Mae Reese, Robin Becker, and Suzanne Gardinier; and art by Anne Bentley, Diane Tanchak, Hannah Barrett, Jane Lewis, Jen P. Harris, Jessica Burke, Mady Marie Bourdages, Maura McGurk, Patricia Cronin, and Laura Gilpin.
I'm deeply honored to include a poem by, and selected by, Naomi Replansky, who was born in 1918 and lives in New York (age 96!!!!!!). Replansky has garnered some well-deserved recognition. Her Collected Poems (Godine/Black Sparrow, 2012) won the William Carlos Williams award of the Poetry Society of America and was a finalist for the Poets’ Prize.
In every issue, I publish a page of historial poems by women who loved women. Issue 9 includes poems by Natalie Clifford Barney, Sara Teasdale, Elinor Wylie, Sophie Jewett, and Christina Rossetti. If you would like some context for these poems, read Lillian Faderman’s books about lesbian history and literature.
For her lifelong attention and devotion to lesbian poetry, and her own wonderful poems, Issue 9 is dedicated with love and thanks to Eloise Klein Healy. Here’s an excerpt from her poem “Working Towards Sappho”:
Whatever emerges, a poem written by a lesbian poet has a heritage of flame, and no matter what Sappho was, any woman who “comes out” springs from a burned life as a poem.
There. You just read some lesbian poetry. Read it again. It was made for you.
Mary Meriam is the author of Conjuring My Leafy Muse and Girlie Calendar, both from Headmistress Press, a company she co-founded.