Top Ten Books of Contemporary Lesbian Poetry

shelved under Gay & Lesbian

Since Sappho, lesbians have been writing poetry to express the truths of our lives. Here are my top ten books of contemporary lesbian poetry to fill your days with sweet, succulent verse.

Love, Death, and the Changing of the Seasons

Love, Death, and the Changing of the Seasons

by Marilyn Hacker

This is a book-length sonnet collection that tells the story of meeting, falling in love with, and then losing a lover. It is gorgeous, perfectly crafted, and perhaps one of the best sonnet sequences in the English language.

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The Dream of a Common Language: Poems 1974 to 1977

The Dream of a Common Language: Poems 1974 to 1977

by Adrienne Rich

There are many excellent books by Adrienne Rich. The collected poems in The Fact of a Door Frame, Poems 1950-2001 is an excellent choice if you are just discovering her work. As the others on the list are single volumes, I selected The Dream of a Common Language which contains the extraordinary "Twenty-One Love Poems" by Rich.

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The Black Unicorn: Poems

The Black Unicorn: Poems

by Audre Lorde

Lorde's poems sing in this collection with their sharp observations, spare lines, and emotional resonance.

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Crime Against Nature

by Minnie Bruce Pratt

Pratt's award-winning book documents her relationship with her sons who she loses custody of because of the "crimes against nature" laws in the United States prior to the Lawrence v. Texas decision.

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All-American Girl

All-American Girl

by Robin Becker

Becker's collection All-American Girl sings with her clear lyricism, trenchant language, and formal inclinations. These poems document lesbian life with the clarity and beauty of poetry.

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Unraveling at the Name

Unraveling at the Name

by Jenny Factor

Jenny Factor's Unraveling at the Name is a brilliant collection of poems that explore coming out and being a young mother. The heroic crown of sonnets in the book is not to be missed.

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Fear of Subways

Fear of Subways

by Maureen Seaton

An early collection of Maureen Seaton, Fear of Subways is spare and gorgeous. "White Balloons" is to me one of the greatest poems about AIDS ever written.

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Beginning with O

Beginning with O

by Olga Broumas

Perhaps the most erotic collection of this sequence, Broumas' award-winning Beginning with O is an extraordinary collection of grace and elegance that is also provocative and erotic in all of the best ways.

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Trying to Be an Honest Woman

Trying to Be an Honest Woman

by Judith Barrington

Like Hacker, Becker, and Factor, Barrington works with form to great affect. These poems are well-crafted and beautiful as Barrington gives further voice to contemporary lesbian life.

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Work of a Common Woman: The Collected Poetry of Judy Grahn 1964 to 1977

Work of a Common Woman: The Collected Poetry of Judy Grahn 1964 to 1977

by Judy Grahn

Judy Grahn's poetry defined poetry and feminist experience for generations. Perhaps the most widely quote verse from the feminist movement, Grahn's work is not to be missed. While the newer collection, "love belongs to those who do the feeling," is superb, if you are new to Grahn, pick up this classic.

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