Monday, June 20, 2011

S as in Sam, Z as in Zebra

Dear Friends,

It's been a while since I've sent an update about my activities. Right now I am wrapping up a thirty-day Bikram Yoga challenge. For those of you who know me well, you know I am no fan of heat and humidity, but the thirty-day Bikram Yoga challenge has been great; I recommend it!

Part of why I've been able to take the time to do this thirty-day Bikram challenge is that I have a fellowship to write my dissertation next year. The University of Maryland's College of Arts and Humanities awarded me a year-long Snouffer fellowship, so I'll be blissfully writing away all day, everyday next year and hopefully graduating in the spring. The yoga practice is kicking off my year of focus and discipline for writing and thinking about lesbian print culture.

New Book: Milk and Honey: A Celebration of Jewish Lesbian Poetry

I had the great pleasure of working with Lawrence Schimel, the publisher of A Midsummer Night's Press, on the anthology Milk and Honey. With contributions from a range of Jewish lesbian poets, Milk and Honey is a beautiful and, I hope, meaningful book. In his pre-publication review, Amos Lassen wrote about Milk and Honey, "The poems are sensual, political, religious and what have you as each poet probes her inner self and allows us to have a peek at who she is. Some of the poetry is sensitive and tender while others are strong and angry so it is safe to say there is something for everyone (even for me as a gay Jewish male)."

Milk and Honey
will officially publish in September 2011, but I have a few advance copies available for sale for $14.95, and you can order them directly from the publisher's website here:
When ordering, let me know if you would like a signed copy.

And if for some reason, you don't have my first collection of poems, Handmade Love, feel free to order the two books together!

New Poems in Beltway

The incomparable Kim Roberts invited poems from me for the spring issue of Beltway. There are two new poems, "A New Refrigerator" and "My Name is Ethyl," in the issue and two poems from my previous collections. You can read my poems in Beltway here:
and be sure to browse the full issue and sign up for the Beltway newsletter. Kim publishes great stuff in Beltway.

Review of Sisterhood

I was thrilled to have my chapbook, Sisterhood, reviewed on Lambda Literary. V. Jo Hsu reviewed three recent chapbooks including Sisterhood in a thoughtful and careful review. She says Sisterhood "riffs expertly on a single, heartfelt note" and "captures the strange and protean forms of memory and mourning." Is there any greater pleasure than having one's work read closely and attentively?
You can read the review here:

If you don't have a copy of Sisterhood, there are still a (very) few left from Ron Mohring's Seven Kitchens Press. Click here to order it:

I have one one hand that I can inscribe for you if you wish; email me if you'd like to purchase it.

Sinister Wisdom

You may know that I am now the co-editor of Sinister Wisdom with my dear friend and comrade, Merry Gangemi. We just published our second issue of Sinister Wisdom and are working on sending the third one to print now. In case you don't know, Sinister Wisdom is one of the oldest lesbian-feminist journals still publishing in the U.S. Begun in 1976 by Harriet Desmoines and Catherine Nicholson, there have been a variety of editors of the magazine over the last thirty-five years; Sinister Wisdom has published a wide range of lesbian writers. Merry and I are proud to be stewarding this important lesbian literary tradition.

Please support us! If you are a lesbian writer, submit work to the journal. Encourage your local bookseller to carry Sinister Wisdom. Most importantly, subscribe to Sinister Wisdom. You can subscribe online with paypal using the links here:
Or send in an old fashioned check to the Berkeley address on that same web page. Merry and I both appreciate the community support for Sinister Wisdom and our work as editors


That's my early summer wrap up. More will be coming in the fall. I am planning a series of readings for Milk and Honey and working on other projects. Drop me a line and let me know how you are. Thanks for all of your support for my work! I look forward to seeing you soon.

All best,


P.S. If you would like to be added to my email list, drop me a line to Julie R Enszer (no spaces) at gmail dot com and let me know! Happy Summer!

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Happy Birthday Djuna Barnes!

(From The Writer's Almanac)

It's the birthday of writer Djuna Barnes (books by this author), born near Cornwall-on-Hudson, New York (1892). For many years she lived in the Bohemian world of Greenwich Village and then as an expatriate in Paris, drinking and smoking and having love affairs with men and women alike. She interviewed celebrities, from Florenz Ziegfield to Coco Chanel, and she was friends with James Joyce, Emily Coleman, and Gertrude Stein.

She had a long affair with the sculptor Thelma Wood, who was constantly unfaithful. Barnes' most famous novel, Nightwood (1936), was a modernist novel about the destructive relationship of lovers named Robin and Nora, and she based Robin heavily on Thelma. Nightwood didn't sell well—her first royalty check was for £43. But it got rave reviews from other writers. T.S. Eliot convinced Faber and Faber to publish it, and he said, "It is so good a novel that only sensibilities trained on poetry can wholly appreciate it." Dylan Thomas called it "one of the three great prose books ever written by a woman." William S. Burroughs wrote: "I read Nightwood back in the 1930s and was very taken with it. I consider it one of the great books of the twentieth century. At that time I even tried a few writing experiments, consciously imitating her style. It is an entirely unique style: one sentence, and you know it is Djuna."

Whatever its critical reception, Nightwood didn't make money, and Barnes lived off the support of Peggy Guggenheim, the patron of many writers and artists. She went through a bottle of whiskey a day. As early as 1930 she wrote: "I've gotten cranky and old-maid like — I don't even like to have an animal looking at me, and when I lay a thing down I want to find it exactly where I put it — it's as bad as that!"

So she moved back to New York City and into an apartment in Greenwich Village, 5 Patchin Place , where she lived as a recluse for the last 42 years of her life. In 1971, she agreed to be interviewed by The New York Times. She said, "Years ago I used to see people, I had to, I was a newspaperwoman, among other things. And I used to be rather the life of the party. I was rather gay and silly and bright and all that sort of stuff and wasted a lot of time. I used to be invited by people who said 'Get Djuna for dinner, she's amusing.' So I stopped it." Writers came to pay homage to her, including Bertha Harris and Carson McCullers, but she sent them away. Her neighbor E.E. Cummings used to check on her by yelling out his window. She rarely left her house, and she spent her last 30 years working on a long poem that was found in her apartment when she died in 1982. In 1973, she told her editor Douglas Messerli: "It's terrible to outlive your own generation."

Friday, June 10, 2011

May Swenson: The Writer's Almanac

by May Swenson

Body my house
my horse my hound
what will I do
when you are fallen

Where will I sleep
How will I ride
What will I hunt

Where can I go
without my mount
all eager and quick
How will I know
in thicket ahead
is danger or treasure
when Body my good
bright dog is dead

How ill it be
to lie in the sky
without roof or door
and wind for an eye

With cloud for shift
how will I hide?

"Question" by May Swenson, from Nature: Poems Old and New. © Houghton Mifflin Company, 1994.

Monday, June 06, 2011

May Sarton Poem: The Writer's Almanac

May Sarton is a favorite poet of mine for a series of long and complex reasons which I am not going to innumerate here. Still read this poem from The Writer's Almanac.

Now I Become Myself

by May Sarton

Now I become myself. It's taken
Time, many years and places;
I have been dissolved and shaken,
Worn other people's faces,
Run madly, as if Time were there,
Terribly old, crying a warning,
"Hurry, you will be dead before--"
(What? Before you reach the morning?
Or the end of the poem is clear?
Or love safe in the walled city?)
Now to stand still, to be here,
Feel my own weight and density!
The black shadow on the paper
Is my hand; the shadow of a word
As thought shapes the shaper
Falls heavy on the page, is heard.
All fuses now, falls into place
From wish to action, word to silence,
My work, my love, my time, my face
Gathered into one intense
Gesture of growing like a plant.
As slowly as the ripening fruit
Fertile, detached, and always spent,
Falls but does not exhaust the root,
So all the poem is, can give,
Grows in me to become the song,
Made so and rooted by love.
Now there is time and Time is young.
O, in this single hour I live
All of myself and do not move.
I, the pursued, who madly ran,
Stand still, stand still, and stop the sun!

"Now I Become Myself" by May Sarton, from Collected Poems 1930-1993. © W.W. Norton, 1993.