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.
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.
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.
by Audre Lorde
Lorde's poems sing in this collection with their sharp observations, spare lines, and emotional resonance.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Recommending books so good, they'll keep you up past your bedtime. more...
About Julie R. Enszer
Julie R. Enszer is a poet, writer, and activist living in University Park, MD. You can read more of her work at her personal website, www.JulieREnszer.com
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