Lambda has announced its finalists for all manner of writing awards. And Love is in the air for poets, especially lesbian poets.
For a list of the winners in all categories, see the announcement as published in the Washington Post.
The poets represented are not your normal every day poets. These poets hold awards and honors from all over the world, the straight world as well as the gay world. They are first and foremost poets. Then they are gay.
While there is tremendous variety in the style of writing, there are two themes that keep coming: Love and being gay. Sometimes both at the same time. And it is all kinds of Love. Advocate was good enough to give us a sampling of the poetry this year, and it is quite spectacular.
Consider, for example:
From Rise in the Fall by Ana Božičević
Paris Pride Parade (excerpt)
I don’t know what else to say. Really it’s the middle of the night,
and I’m sobering up from too much almond
liqueur, trying to persuade my body it’s
not dying. But it is.
At planet velocity, velocity of falling in love.
She’s right next to me. And I have landscapes inside me.
From Alternative Medicine by Rafael Campo
Band of Gold (excerpt)
She had a film career that not many
people know about because of that
goddamn song, that whenever you hear it
you understand, whatever love might be,
it abandons us all us, mercilessly.
Some poems just cannot be summarized easily, and “to Clay” by David Groff is one of them. It is poignant, and electrifying at the same time. Here is just a snippet:
From Clay by David Groff
After the mutual cruise in the surf,
after I ignored the fact your towel was pink,
after the hellos, the wind tousle, the shifting
to face each other now sitting on the pink towel,
after I swallowed that you attended seminary—
damn, you’re my goddamn father, damn—
after I decided that was interesting,
after I said, testing but not expecting,
(you were younger, you were Texan,
exiled from the early scourge of HIV),
AIDS was such a bummer &
you looked at me deadeyed & said you had it, …
Not surprisingly, the issue of AIDS was mentioned several time. After all, this is poetry, a reflection of our souls, and AIDS has been far too prominent in the lives of many in the gay community for far too long.
Randall Mann in “September Elegies” wrote sparsely, and beautifully of the wasted young lives of young gay men who killed themselves. Teenagers, children who had whole lives before them. He offered it in memory of Seth Walsh, Justin Aaberg, Billy Luycas, and Tyler Clementi, whose brief stories he told.
Veronica Reyes has such a magnificent grasp of rhythm and language. I love her work, like this brief bit from “The Queer Retablo Series: Butch-Femme Dialogue”:
VII. The Dialogue
The lovers whisper words swimming in the cool air.
They float over the barrio, over the glistening lake.
In Silver Lake before the kiss, she says, “Te quiero.”
These poets are all quite remarkable. Not surprisingly, the depth of love they speak of reaches beyond expectations. Do look for them in your local bookstore, or ask your bookstore to order copies for you. If you have no local bookstore, go to Amazon. But read them. Anyone who loves will find herself greatly enriched.