Lavender Review was mysteriously nominated for EBSCO academic database, and the contract was finalized in July. Thanks to Whomever made the nomination!

Lesbian poetry is largely ignored. Well, you say, what about celebrated living lesbian poets like Judy Grahn, Eileen Myles, Minnie Bruce Pratt, Marilyn Hacker, Olga Broumas, Kay Ryan, Robin Becker, Joan Larkin, Mary Oliver, Ellen Bass? Yes, and more, but there are thousands of poets publishing today, and when I look around, I don’t see lesbian poems. It’s a desert out there. I look in vain for a “she” writing about “she”—fearlessly and fully out of the closet. Perhaps this is because the poetry establishment—major literary journals, male poets, poetry professors—cannot hear, see, recognize, or value lesbian poetry. That’s a fact. Lesbian poets write on a different wavelength.

I hear your arguments in the back of my mind: How can I keep trying when nobody seems to care, when my poems are rejected even from feminist and LGBTQ journals, when lesbian poetry isn’t taught in schools? And so on. In 2016, ARTNET published some very wise words of advice to young female artists. “Try to get past the desire to have everyone like you,” one artist advised. This is also extremely important: “Become the responsible, dedicated custodian of your own work early on, even when you feel like you have no ‘career.’ Some of the most critical work you will do might come at a time when you feel like no one is watching. Don’t focus on the gatekeepers of galleries and institutions for your sense of self-worth. No one will do a better job than you of caring for your own work.” Please do care for your work. When you write a poem, save the first draft. Always save the first draft. Don’t give anyone authority over your poems, so that you feel compelled to cut, revise, or destroy them. You are the author, and you possess sole authority over your poems. Go ahead and do revisions if you wish, but save your first drafts in a file. You may need to let some time pass before you see the value, and hear your own voice, in your first drafts.

That’s the personal picture. For the larger picture, read some of the great feminist books like The Female Eunuch by Germaine Greer, Sisterhood Is Powerful by Robin Morgan, The Dialectics of Sex by Shulamith Firestone, Beyond God the Father by Mary Daly, Odd Girls and Twilight Lovers by Lillian Faderman. It’s empowering to understand the scope of the patriarchal culture we live in, and the revolutionary history of feminism and lesbians. You’ll be less likely to “pander to male values” (Greer) in your poems. Your voice will become more authentic and “ultrasonic” (Daly’s term for “the vibrations of [women’s speech] too high for the patriarchal hearing mechanism”). You’ll be less crushed by the “male game” of trivializing and marginalizing your work, and the power plays of the “male cultural establishment” such as this: “And even where it must be (grudgingly) admitted she is ‘good,’ it is fashionable—a cheap way to indicate one’s own ‘seriousness’ and refinement of taste—to insinuate that she is good but irrelevant.” (Firestone) In case you’re thinking all this is old news from the 1970s, read the second paragraph of this review of Mary Oliver in the current issue of The New Yorker for a nauseating mouthful of male critics bashing a lesbian poet.

The male-dominated poetry establishment feels free to disparage us now, but lesbian poets should not feel discouraged by this and other countless jokes and exclusions. We need to remember the powerful Principles of the New York Radical Women: “We are critical of all past ideology, literature and philosophy, products as they are of male supremacist culture. We regard our feelings as our most important source of political understanding. We see the key to our liberation in our collective wisdom and our collective strength.”

Someday, the underground revolution in lesbian poetry in which I am a fierce fighter will suddenly be heard, seen, and treasured as it should be. My ears are tuned to the ultrasonic. As in life, so in poetry: I prefer lesbian poems above all others. Likewise, my eyes are tuned to the ultraviolet: I prefer lesbian artworks above all others. I’m collecting treasures here in Lavender Review. These are my kind of poems. Each poem moves me, but also I’m moved by the poets who are willing to take the side of an unpopular cause by publishing their poems in Lavender Review.

Mary Meriam, Editor
Lavender Review