Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Schools out!

I’m thrilled to be done with my second semester of graduate school. I finished my last paper last night. It’s titled, Reading to Transform: From Family to Kinship, From Hybridity to Sex/Love, From Migratory Travels to Queer, Post-colonial Arrivals.

I’m not going to post it as it still has some problems, but I’ll keep revising it and if you want to read it, backchannel me and I’ll send it on to you. And a shout out to my dearest Steffan who proofread the full thing and provided great feedback.

I’m now drinking a delicious Maker’s Mark Manhattan with fresh raspberries, and I have this question of the day.

Here's my question of the day, though, does anyone fail as a writer or does everyone fail as a writer?

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

CIVILesbianIZATION: Lesbian Sex Culture

Installment #3, the first in a two-part series on Lesbian Sex Culture is up at Out In Perth.

Lesbian Sex Culture
Written by Julie R. Enszer

Wednesday, 23 May 2007

Recently, I read an article that said that gay men had a more developed sex culture than lesbians. I took umbrage. In fact, there are highly developed lesbian sex cultures. They may not be found prominently at the Folsom Street Fair nor in back rooms in bars, but to suggest that the sex cultures among lesbians are less developed than among gay men is specious, but more importantly, such a suggestion is harmful.

Read the full article.

CIVILesbianIZATION: The Real American Idols


By Julie R. Enszer

While America is watching and voting on the next American Idol, I’m thinking about lesbians. Specifically, I’m thinking about Lesbian American Idols. The cult of American Idol is built on discovering new talent among young people, transforming it into commercial talent, and ultimately into pop stardom. Some of these new, up-and-coming singers may even become icons, a few may even become divas.

Ultimately, though, I don’t think that the real American Idols are under the age of thirty, and I don’t think that the real American Idols are singers. I think that the real American Idols are people who have pursued their passions for many years and whose passions have enhanced all of our lives. In the lesbian community, we have our own share of real American Idols. This is about what and whom I idolize.

Idolize means to hold someone in blind devotion or adoration. My Lesbian American Idols are in three areas: literature, activism, and history. I don’t want to exclude singers. After all, there are lesbian singers that are Lesbian American Idols – and now many of them have become idols to the rest of America, not just to the lesbian community. Melissa, k.d., they go by first name only. Yes, these are Lesbian American Idols. There are also Lesbian American Idols among the women who build womyn’s music. I think of Meg Christian, Cris Williamson, and Ferron. I idolize them.

Lesbian American Idols aren’t just music-makers, however. Lesbian American Idols build our culture, not only in music, but also in literature, activism, and history. Lesbian American Idols have committed themselves to building lesbian culture and lesbian identity over a lifetime. Here are four of my Lesbian American Idols: Barbara Grier, Del Martin, Phyllis Lyon, and Lillian Faderman.

Barbara Grier loves books. She’s always loved books. First, as a young adult she collected books by and about lesbians. Then, through The Ladder, the publication of the Daughters of Bilitis, she wrote about books by and about lesbians. Then, she published lesbian books through Naiad Press. Recently, Barbara Grier has retired – and, with her partner Donna McBride, made the largest contribution of lesbian books ever to the Hormel Center of the San Francisco Public Library. Grier’s life and lifelong commitment to literature is something to idolize. I idolize Barbara Grier.

Like Grier and McBride, Del Martin and Phyllis Lyon have built a life and a legacy together. They organized the Daughters of Bilitis in 1955 as a way to build a social life as lesbians. In 1972, they published the book Lesbian/Woman. A year later they followed it up with Lesbian Life and Liberation. The lives have been filled with activism to benefit lesbians everywhere. Most recently, Martin and Lyon were among the couples married in San Francisco in February 2004. Their marriage came after over fifty years of their intimate partnership and life together. The activism of Martin and Lyon is something to idolize. I idolize Del Martin and Phyllis Lyon.

Lillian Faderman knows how to tell a story and how to bring together the stories of our past into a lesbian herstory. Her first contribution to lesbian herstory was the book Surpassing the Love of Men which looked at the romantic love between women in since the Renaissance. She followed it with Odd Girls and Twilight Lovers as well as an autobiography about her life as a lesbian. Most recently she’s collaborated on another history of gay and lesbian life called Gay LA. As a result of Faderman’s work, we know more about our history. I idolize Lillian Faderman.

These are just three of my Lesbian American Idols. Yes, I’ll be watching American Idol and yes, I’ll be voting for the next American Idol, but I’m aware that these pop stars may or may not last. My Lesbian American Idols are all tried and true. Their stardom has lasted, but, more importantly, their impact on all of us is everlasting.

Julie R. Enszer is a writer and poet who lives in University Park, MD. You can read more of her work at

This is column #2 in the series, CIVILesbianIZATION.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Rachel Carson's Silent Spring

I haven’t looked at Silent Spring since I was an adolescent when I read part of my Dad’s copy of it. I need to look at it again because reading her biography and seeing this recent op-ed piece I realize that she was extremely concerned about radiation and is important for my book on Nuclear Pandoras. If you are one of the three or four dozen people who read or visit this blog on a monthly basis and you have a copy of Silent Spring cluttering up your shelf, please feel free to mail it to me. I’ll be eternally grateful. My mailing address is here. I love to get books in the mail.

Monday, May 21, 2007



We are pleased to release Galatea Resurrects #6 (A Poetry Engagement). The issue may be accessed at 

Information on sending review copies and submitting reviews is available in Galatea's Purse at Review submission deadline for the next issue is Aug. 5, 2007.  (Please note, too, our special section "From Offline to Online" which reprints poetry reviews first published by print magazines or now-defunct websites so that they are not yet online.)

Galatea is an all-volunteer operation, so THANK YOU so much to the volunteer reviewers!

For convenience, this issue's Table of Contents is replicated below. 

Happy Reading,
Eileen Tabios



By Eileen Tabios

Brenda Iijima reviews CONCORDANCE by Mei-mei Berssenbruge with art by Kiki Smith

J.O. LeClerc reviews LUNCH POEMS by Frank O'Hara

John Bloomberg-Rissman reviews INSTAN by Cecilia Vicuna

Monica Fawn reviews CHANCE by Daniel Becker

James Owens reviews BORN IN UTOPIA: AN ANTHOLOGY OF MODERN AND CONTEMPORARY ROMANIAN POETRY, Edited by Carmen Firan and Paul Doru Mugur with Edward Foster

Tim Peterson reviews NO APPOINTMENT NECESSARY by Thomas Fink

Andrea Baker reviews NECESSARY STRANGER by Graham Foust


Tyrone Williams reviews NEGATIVITY by Jocelyn Saidenberg

Ivy Alvarez reviews UNBOUND & BRANDED by Christine Stewart-Nuñez


Chris Pusateri reviews PICTURE OF THE BASKET by Sarah Mangold and NEW COURIERS by Dana Ward

Eileen Tabios-and Denise Levertov-review IN A DYBBUK'S RAINCOAT: COLLECTED POEMS BY BERT MEYERS Edited by Morton Marcus and Daniel Meyers

Patrick James Dunagan reviews ABSURD GOOD NEWS by Julien Poirier

William Allegrezza reviews EMPTIED OF ALL SHIPS by Stacy Szymaszek

Alexander Dickow reviews THE BIRD HOVERER by Aaron Belz

Thomas Fink reviews I'M THE MAN WHO LOVES YOU by Amy King

Lisa Factora-Borders reviews A SLICE OF CHERRY PIE Edited by Ivy Alvarez


Eileen Tabios reviews WALKING THEORY by Stephen Vincent

Celia Homesley reviews ORIGINAL GREEN by Patricia Carlin

Eileen Tabios reviews THE IMMACULATE AUTOPSY by Todd Melicker

John Bloomberg-Rissman reviews BRAIDED RIVER: NEW AND SELECTED POEMS 1965-2005 and GUESTS OF SPACE by Anselm Hollo

Willilam Allegrezza reviews WATCHWORD by William Fuller

Monica Fawn reviews BETWEEN THE ROOM AND THE CITY by Erica Bernheim

Eileen Tabios reviews FORTY-FIVE by Frieda Hughes

Laurel Johnson reviews SKIRT FULL OF BLACK by Sun Yung Shin

Pamela Hart reviews CASE SENSITIVE by Kate Greenstreet

Eileen Tabios reviews THE JUROR by George Dawes Green

John Bloomberg-Rissman reviews A STRANGE ARRANGEMENT: NEW AND SELECTED POEMS by C.J. Allen


Derek Motion reviews PEEL ME A ZIBIBBO by Pam Brown

Ernesto Priego reviews MORTAL by Ivy Alvarez

Jeannine Hall Gailey reviews MORTAL by Ivy Alvarez

Eileen Tabios reviews WHAT'S THE MATTER by Jordan Stempleman


Eileen Tabios reviews LITTLE WAR MACHINE by M Sarki

Kristin Berkey-Abbott reviews BECOMING THE VILLAINESS by Jeannine Hall Gailey

Ivy Alvarez reviews from A BANNER YEAR by Kate Colby

Eileen Tabios reviews PARTS OF THE JOURNAL: NIGHT by Richard Lopez

Julie R. Enszer reviews FALLING INTO VELAZQUEZ by Mary Kaiser

William A. Sylvester reviews SOMEHOW by Burt Kimmelman

Eileen Tabios reviews POETRY DAILY ESSENTIALS 2007 Edited by Diane Boller and Don Selby

Julie R. Enszer reviews THE GREAT CANOPY by Paula Goldman

Fionna Donney Simmonds reviews THE TAR PIT DIATOMS by Sandra Simonds, OTAGES by John Bloomberg-Rissman, and ISHMAEL AMONG THE BUSHES by William Allegrezza

Rebecca Mabanglo-Mayor reviews KOOL LOGIC: LA LOGICA KOOL by Urayoan Noel

Laurel Johnson reviews WHITHER NONSTOPPING by Harriet Zinnes

Mark Young reviews THE BEAUTIFUL DAYS by A.B. Spellman

Sandy McIntosh reviews SAINTS OF HYSTERIA, A HALF-CENTURY OF COLLABORATIVE AMERICAN POETRY, Edited by Denise Duhamel, Maureen Seaton, and David Trinidad

Appendix Article to Review of SAINTS OF HYSTERIA: "Filmmaking with Norman Mailer and Ilya Bolotowsky" by Sandy McIntosh

Nicholas Manning on "A Worldly Country by Young Up-And-Comer John Ashbery "

"'The Hairy Caterpillar': An Exploration of Image" by Addie Tsai

Joyelle McSweeney reviews LILYFOIL + 3 and CHANTRY by Elizabeth Treadwell

Craig Perez reviews COMPOSITE. DIPLOMACY. by Padcha Tuntha-Obas

Thomas Fink reviews THE AFTER-DEATH HISTORY OF MY MOTHER by Sandy McIntosh

Eileen Tabios reviews CORNUCOPIA by Jukka-Pekka Kervinen


Saturday, May 19, 2007

Rachel Carson Centennial

This year marks the 100th anniversary of Rachel Carson’s birth. The Washington Post did a great story about the activities in the metropolitan Washington, DC region celebrating this centennial of Carson’s birth. The Rachel Carson Council is an organization that works to continue the legacy of Rachel Carson. The best overview of Carson and her life and work is available at

I’ve been reading Linda Lear’s biography of Carson over the past two weeks. First, her book is an extraordinary achievement. Meticulously researched it puts together a thorough history of Carson’s life. Lear includes extensive accounts of Carson’s life from individual interviews and personal correspondence. As always in reading a biography such as this, I feel nostalgic for letter writing. I have a few people with whom I regularly correspond by letter, but always want more after reading books such as this. Though I suppose if I’m being honest, I want a correspondent who will also save all of the letters in some organized way and I then want a life that will necessitate a biography. This is probably a tall order, especially since I no longer meticulously save all of the written correspondence that comes to me! (Though I do save at least 80% of it. As a child though, I was much more organized and devoted to this task. As an adult the sheer volume of paper has begun to overwhelm me.) The biography is lovely though and a great read. It is easily on par with Cook’s biography of Eleanor Roosevelt. I am, of course, wishing for more analysis about Carson’s sexual orientation. She was clearly affectionally oriented to women. In fairness, however, I’ve just been dipping into the biography at night when tired and have not been reading sequentially. I hope to do that over the summer and maybe there is a more full explication of Carson’s sexuality orientation. Either way, however, I recommend not only this fine biography but also the opportunity to commune with Carson who truly was an extraordinary and visionary woman.

Friday, May 18, 2007

It's Time to Rethink Pride

In this week’s Washington Blade:

It’s time to rethink PrideOur annual celebration should provide a vision of liberation for all queer people.
By JULIE R. ENSZERFriday, May 18, 2007

SOME SUNDAY MORNING this June, my wife and I will wake up and say, “Well, we really should go to Pride today, eh?” It will be a beautiful, sunny Sunday or maybe an oppressively hot and humid one. We’ll feel obligated to join in the Pride activities of the day, but we won’t want to.
Those conflicting feelings are not a consequence of our individual malaise. Rather, they are a result of a challenge facing our movement right now.

Monday, May 14, 2007

World Premiere of 1919 Work for Viola and Orchestra

This makes me nostalgic for when I played the viola. . . . .

WORCESTER, MA --The Rebecca Clarke Society is proud to announce the premiere of the orchestrated version of the Viola Sonata by composer Rebecca Clarke (1886-1979). The performance will be Friday, June 8, at 7 p.m. in St. Paul's Cathedral, Worcester, and Massachusetts, as part of the St. Paul's Music Festival.

Peter Sulski, internationally acclaimed violist, will perform as soloist, with the Worcester Collegium lead by Ian Watson, the festival's artistic director.

The Rebecca Clarke Society commissioned Ruth Lomon, resident composer and scholar at the Women's Studies Research Center at Brandeis University, to orchestrate the sonata. Lomon is also composer-in-residence for the Boston Secession, a professional choral ensemble. She has received commissions from numerous organizations including the Massachusetts Council for the Arts, the National Endowment for the Arts, and New England Arts.

Rebecca Clarke, British by birth but living for many years in the U.S., composed a wide range of chamber works, songs and choral pieces, mostly in the 1910s and '20s. A violist herself, she composed the sonata in 1919 to enter a contest hosted by Elizabeth Sprague Coolidge, chamber music patron and founder of the Berkshire Music Festival. In later years Clarke referred to the piece as her "one little whiff of success" and it was her most performed composition during her lifetime. Submitted anonymously with 72 other works, Clarke's piece tied for first place with Ernest Bloch's submission – an unheard of achievement in 1919 for a "woman composer."

The orchestration of Clarke's sonata leaves the original viola solo part intact; the lush and passionate piano part has been trnasformed to exploit the range of orchestral colors. Patricia McCarty, one of the first violists to record the original version of the sonata, is enthusiastic about this new arrangement. "Complementing but not overwhelming the viola line, the impressionistic colors and textures of Ruth Lomon's orchestration of the Rebecca Clarke Sonata offer listeners an opportunity to hear this work on a grand scale," says McCarty, "making new friends for this work long beloved by viola players."

After eventually going out of print and disappearing from the concert stage, the sonata was rediscovered in 1976 through a radio broadcast (by WQXR in New York City) in honor of Clarke's 90th birthday. It has since become one of the most widely performed works to feature the viola, with more than 15 CD recordings.

The premiere performance will be held June 8 at 7 p.m. in St. Paul's Cathedral, 38 High St., Worcester, MA. Tickets are available by calling 508-754-9822, or can be purchased at the door. Adults $20, Seniors $15, Children $10. See for more information. Also on the program of the June 8 concert are Benjamin Britten's Simple Symphony, Ralph Vaughan Williams' Fantasia on Greensleeves; and W.A. Mozart's Divertimento in F.

Any questions may be directed to Liane Curtis, president of the Rebecca Clarke Society at or via voice mail at 617-776-1809 (leave message).

The Rebecca Clarke Society ( was founded in 2000 as a non-profit organization ( federally recognized 501 (C) 3 status) to promote and honor the music and legacy of the British-American composer Rebecca Clarke (1886-1979).

Sunday, May 13, 2007


One of my projects this term has been researching canzones. The work culminated in a paper and 20 minute class presentation. It was great fun, in part because the canzone is one of my favorite poetic forms and also because of the great work by contemporary poets that I was able to read in doing the research.

As has become my practice with this blog, I’ll post a link to the paper and the handout here for anyone interested.

In addition, there is a fourteen page supplemental handout of poems that are not available in electronic form. If you are interested in that, email me with your address and I’ll pop one in the mail.

Saturday, May 12, 2007

Summer Iris, Photographed by Declue

Photo by DeClue, Washington, D.C.

Letters between Betty Hester and Flannery O'Connor

I love reading letters between writers and friends. It’s one of the thing about the age of email that I fear we will lose these sorts of sustained correspondences and what they leave behind. I write a lot of letters myself from resistance to the computer and because I fetishize paper and cards. Betty Hester and Flannery O’Connor corresponded for over a decade and the letters are now open at the archive at Emory University. Hester was a lesbian and at the beginning of their relationship taken with O’Connor. The two had a close and intimate relationship until O’Connor died. I hope that someone will edit and publish a portion of the letters. They sound fascinating.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

I still like Mike

The beloved gave me a few verbal jabs for saying I like Presidential candidate Mike Gravel. I do like him, though. He was great in the debates. He’s an independent thinker and an iconoclast--things I admire. Now he’s speaking plainly on the importance of marriage for queer people. Yeah, I still like Mike.

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

The Debut of CIVILesbianIZATION

I’ve been working on a column about contemporary lesbian life that addresses both political issues and cultural issues. I’m pitching it to various gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender publications. There are already three commitments to run it and the first column was published today on the website for OUT In Perth, the queer magazine in Perth, Australia. I’ll be reporting in with other places that it CIVILesbianIZATION is being carried - and I hope that if you have a favorite queer “read” you’ll recommend the column to them! Meanwhile, you can read the first installation here and read more about it at my website.

The 2007 Publishing Triangle Award Finalists

The 2007 Publishing Triangle Award Finalists
Honoring books published in 2006, the Publishing Triangle awards were presented the evening of Monday, May 7, 2007, in the Tishman Auditorium, The New School, New York. The Robert Chesley Foundation also honored two artists that evening, and the Publishing Triangle bestowed its Bill Whitehead Award for Lifetime Achievement.
The winners and finalists in the nonfiction, fiction, and poetry categories are:
        •        The Judy Grahn Award for Lesbian NonfictionWINNER! Alison Bechdel, Fun Home (Houghton Mifflin) 
Catherine Friend, Hit by a Farm (Marlowe & Company) 
Marcia Gallo, Different Daughters (Carroll & Graf)
        •        The Randy Shilts Award for Gay Nonfiction 
Bernard Cooper, The Bill from My Father (Simon & Schuster) 
Rigaberto Gonzalez, Butterfly Boy (University of Wisconsin Press) 
WINNER! Kenji Yoshino, Covering (Random House)
        •        The Ferro-Grumley Award for Fiction: Women 
Rebecca Brown, The Last Time I Saw You (City Lights) 
WINNER! Lisa Carey, Every Visible Thing (William Morrow) 
Ivan E. Coyote, Bow Grip (Arsenal Pulp Press)
        •        The Ferro-Grumley Awards for Fiction: MenWINNER! Christopher Bram, Exiles in America (William Morrow) 
Martin Hyatt, A Scarecrow’s Bible (Suspect Thoughts Press) 
Stephen McCauley, Alternatives to Sex (Simon & Schuster)
        •        The Audre Lorde Award for Lesbian Poetry 
Robin Becker, The Domain of Perfect Affection (University of Pittsburgh Press) 
Kate Lynn Hibbard, Sleeping Upside Down (Silverfish Review Press) 
WINNER! Jennifer Rose, Hometown for an Hour (Ohio University Press)
        •        The Thom Gunn Award for Gay Male PoetryWINNER! Justin Chin, Gutted (Manic D Press) 
Jim Elledge, A History of My Tattoo (Stonewall) 
Greg Hewett, The Eros Conspiracy (Coffee House Press)
        •        The Edmund White Award for Debut FictionWINNER! Martin Hyatt, A Scarecrow’s Bible (Suspect Thoughts Press) 
Alex McLennan, The Zookeeper (Alyson Books) 
Eduardo Santiago, Tomorrow They Will Kiss (Little Brown)
The recipient of the 2007 Bill Whitehead Award for Lifetime Achievement is Andrew Holleran. The award is named in honor of a legendary editor of the 1970s and 1980s. A Harvard graduate, Holleran burst onto the literary scene in 1978 with his first novel, Dancer from the Dance. His latest novel, Grief, a haunting reflection on life and loss in the nation’s capital, has also won the 2007 Stonewall Award for Literature. His other works are the novels Nights in Aruba and The Beauty of Men; Ground Zero, a collection of essays; and In September, the Light Changes, a volume of stories. Holleran lives in Florida and in Washington, D.C., where he teaches creative writing at American University. The Bill Whitehead Award is given to a man in odd-numbered years and a woman in even years.
In addition, the Publishing Triangle presented a special Leadership Award to Nancy Bereano, in recognition of her long and distinguished service to GLBT literature, especially while the head of Firebrand, the groundbreaking lesbian press.
The Robert Chesley Foundation, named for the late playwright whose play Night Sweats was the first play about AIDS to be staged in the United States, presented its 2006 awards for playwriting. This year’s co-winners are Eric Bentley (Lifetime Achievement Award) and Chris Weikel (Emerging Artist). Past Chesley recipients include Rebecca Ranson, Jane Shepard, Maria Irene Fornes, Christopher Shinn, Doric Wilson, Lisa Kron, Susan Miller, Robert Patrick, Victor Lodato, Chey Yu, Madeline Olnek, Jeff Weiss, Rev. Al Carmines, H. M. Koutoukas, and Michael Kearns.
To view a complete list of past Triangle Award winners, visit our awards page. There you will also find information about special privileges that Publishing Triangle members have in nominating books and authors for these literary awards.

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

gURL.comI took the "If You Were a Poet..." quiz on
I am...
Gertrude Stein

Do you have a thing for words? You're in good company. Gertrude Stein did too. Who else could write a line like, "A rose is a rose is a rose," and call it poetry? Read more...

Which poet are you?


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Stress versus Anxiety

So walking the dogs this morning, when I do some of my best thinking, I realized the difference between stress and anxiety in my writing life. Stress is what I feel now. I have multiple writing deadlines that are crushing down on me. This morning I’m proofreading my final paper for my poetic forms class on the canzone. I’m really quite pleased with it and think that I have everything well in hand for the presentation. Still the past four days of working on it have been stressful. In addition, I have a book review due and an encyclopedia entry due. I committed to both of those smaller projects long ago and am of course kicking myself that I didn’t complete them earlier. I should have, but I was engulfed then in anxiety, which is what I feel when the deadlines are crushing or even immediate, but rather are at some far off point in the future. The anxiety is the belief that I’ll never write again. The belief or the fear. The sense that words will not be forthcoming; the sense that ideas will never been new and exciting again. That’s writing anxiety. I don’t know what’s worse for me, the stress or the anxiety. The stress puts me into a mode of survival and just slogging through getting things done. I think that’s fine and particularly for school work necessary. The anxiety triggers existential crises. Why do I want to write? Does it matter if I write? Does it matter if I never write again. Neither stress nor anxiety are the best places to hang out in the world. There is the productive phase, though it seems to be the briefest of all phases between the anxiety and the stress. I just wish the productive phase of the program could be a wee bit longer and the stress and anxiety phases a whole lot shorter. If I had time, I’d ask myself why I signed up for this. I don’t have time, though, so I’ll just end there.

Thursday, May 03, 2007

Merry Gangemi of Woman-Stirred Radio

WGDR, the fabulous community radio station housed at Goddard College in Vermont, has a new website and it features a page on my dear buddy and woman-stirred compatriot, Merry Gangemi.

Merry is a fabulous person. She has a fierce political analysis and a compassionate heart (is it possible to have one without the other?). She lives her life with the greatest of ethical and political commitments. Moreover, she’s an awesome poet and writer and the incomparable host of Woman-Stirred Radio every Thursday from 4-6 p.m. EST. You can listen to a stream of WSR from the WGDR website here.

Merry also just secured another grant from the Samara Foundation to support her awesome work on Woman-Stirred Radio. Congratulations to Merry and to all of us who have the opportunity to listen to hear live every Thursday or whenever we want to hear her at the WGDR archives.