Judy Grahn, The Work of a Common Woman (1985)

This week we’ve seen a lot of feminist discussion about issues of speech, silence and oppression, so I decided that now would be a good time to post some thoughts on the poetry of Judy Grahn.

Grahn is a lesbian feminist poet and activist whose work is very much concerned with speaking back to power. Her project is one of radical redefinition rooted in a centering of the lives of ordinary women. The Work of a Common Woman brings together poems published between 1964 and 1977, a period when feminists were fighting to break free of patriarchal modes of representation and wrestle back control of the narratives through which women’s experiences had been mediated by culture. This was a time when one of the top feminist priorities was to get women’s voices out there, which obviously meant finding ways to bypass the gatekeepers of publishing and the media. Grahn was an important figure in this effort, co-founding the Gay Woman’s Liberation Movement and The Women’s Press Collective, as well as making her own work available in an accessible pamphlet form that could be easily circulated by women’s groups.

Continue reading

Judy Grahn, ‘Poem’

I’m not a girl
I’m a hatchet
I’m not a hole
I’m a whole mountain
I’m not a fool
I’m a survivor
I’m not a pearl
I’m the Atlantic Ocean
I’m not a good lay
I’m a straight razor
look at me as if you had never seen a woman before
I have red, red hands and much bitterness

– Judy Grahn from Edward the Dyke and Other Poems

Judy Grahn, ‘Ah, Love, you smell of petroleum’

Ah, Love, you smell of petroleum
and overwork
with grease on your fingernails,
paint in your hair
there is a pained look in your eye
from no appreciation
you speak to me of the lilacs
and appleblossoms we ought to have
the banquets we should be serving,
afterwards rubbing each other for hours
with tenderness and genuine
olive oil
someday.  Meantime here is your cracked plate
with spaghetti. Wash your hands &
touch me, praise
my cooking. I shall praise your calluses.
we shall dance in the kitchen
of our imagination.

Judy Grahn

Little link round-up

My partner posts a poem by Sylvia Townsend Warner’s lover Valentine Ackland. Posted here also because I think poor Valentine deserves more attention.

A couple of good films reviews from Bad Reputation: Source Code, which I saw last week and really liked, and Red Riding Hood which I might end up watching when it comes out on DVD.

From Tor.com, the Hugo Award nominations are announced

I’m not a Star Wars fan, but via twitter, here’s some amazing Star Wars graffitti

From The Angry Black Woman Stephen Moffat explains why he’s so bad at writing women.  Sadly, this does not surprise me.

From Cracked, the 14 most unintentionally terrifying statues in the world. This literally had me in tears of laughter.  Check out the demon horse and the santa with a butt plug.

On a more serious note, from Physicist Feminist Happy Anniversary Hubble

Poem: Marilyn Hacker, ‘Untitled’

First, I want to make you come in my hand
while I watch you and kiss you, and if you cry,
I’ll drink your tears while, with my whole hand, I
hold your drenched loveliness contracting. And
after a breath, I want to make you full
again, and wet. I want to make you come
in my mouth like a storm. No tears now. The sum
of your parts is my whole most beautiful
chart of the constellations — your left breast
in my mouth again. You know you’ll have to be
your age. As I lie beside you, cover me
like a gold cloud, hands everywhere, at last
inside me where I trust you, then your tongue
where I need you. I want you to make me come.

I forgot to post a poem yesterday, so I thought I’d make up for it with this sexy piece from lesbian poet Marilyn Hacker.  Weirdly enough, Marilyn Hacker used to be married to science fiction writer Samuel R Delaney, until they both realised they were gay.