As promised, here is your Study Guide. Should you be part of a book club or other social group that would like to take a bit better look at the lesbian love poems in Sausalito Sunrise, you are welcome to use these questions as a starting point.
If you purchased a Kindle book, the page numbers mean nothing to you. These notes are, however, in order of their appearance in the book, no matter what version you have.
(p. 1) castanets
The collection begins with a fantasy, a stunning flamenco dancer. So who is your fantasy? Do you have mostly one? or many?
(p. 9) a whiff and a fiffle
Whose “voice” is speaking here? Is it a real voice or a fantasy voice? A male voice or a female voice?
(p. 14) banish the thought
What are the literary references in this poem? For example
- off with your head
What makes each appropriate?
(p. 15) “love”
Why is “Love” capitalized in the last line? What in life is so important to you that you would capitalize it, no matter what?
(p.27) “now i lay me down to sleep”
This poem was first written in anger, with horrible wishes piled on the wrong doer. Then I re-wrote it. Good grief, this was a woman I truly cared about, and what would the world think if they saw all those terrible threats? What is it that you pray for your love? Come on, let’s think about the bad days too.
(p.34) “smashed pansies”
Yeesh. We’ve all done dumb things when we want to impress someone. What are some of the dumbest things you’ve done? Did it impress her?
(p. 37) “jazz trio”
Each instrument has a unique feel to it, a unique tone. What instrument(s) would you choose when talking about making love?
(p. 38) “the seventh spirit”
What has this tale of a Native American woman got to do with Love? How do we find Love? Where does Love find us? Incidentally, this poem is essentially true. I was part of a Winter Solstice celebration that introduced me to the Seventh Spirit, and it was led by a Native American woman, an old woman quite wise in her ways. It was one of the most moving ceremonies I have ever been part of. Sadly, although I’ve re-worked the poem many times, I still don’t feel the poem does the experience justice. Odds are there will be a better version at a later date — I hope so anyway.
A fun little tale about one lover pleasing another. So what does your lover do that especially pleases you? What do you do to please her?
(p. 48) “wonder woman magic decoder ring”
Contrary to popular opinion, lesbians don’t have a lavender “L” tattooed on their foreheads, and making one’s sexual preference known isn’t always easy. Tell the story of how you came out the first time, or how you discover if a fascinating woman might be interested in you.
(p. 54) “stee-ven stee-ven stee-ven”
Everything I say about Stephen Colbert is true. And I am madly in love with him, and would tell him so if his wife didn’t mind. (I am also madly in love with Rachel Maddow, but that is another story.) But for the sake of discussion, what celebrity — media person, sports person, politician, writer, etc. — do you wish were a lesbian? Of all the people in the world that you could choose from, who might it be?
(p. 58) “a simple lesson”
When did you first know that you were gay? Did it surprise you?
(p. 60) “scribble bibble”
What would you write about your love? or how would you paint her? And what would she write about you?
(p. 65) “zaftig”
Weight is a common issue among all women. Are you over weight? is your lover? Who or what determines if your weight is too much? In answering this, listen to how critical you are of yourself, and compare that to how critical you are of your lover.
(p. 73) “Sausalito sunrise”
Sausalito is a beautiful town just north of San Francisco, snuggled up against San Francisco Bay. For decades it has been known as the home of art and artists, fine wine and wonderful dining. What makes this poem different from all the others? Tell about your first time. Were you nervous? excited? thrilled? terrified? did your lover know ahead of time that it was your first time?
(p. 77) “slow learner”
Were you ever prejudiced against gays? Why? What happened to change your mind?
(p. 81) “the trump card”
Here “giggle” is the trump card in a relationship, and there is a lot of validity to that. But there are other qualities that might also be the trump card. What are some of them?
(p. 86) “isle of the jeweled dolphin”
If you have ever read the poet Hafiz, you will recognize the themes of dolphin and same sex celebrations. Try to locate the book “The Subject Tonight Is Love”, Hafiz poems translated by Daniel Ladinsky. It is a small volume; mine is in paperback. Read the poems “Where Dolphins Dance” and “It Happens All The Time In Heaven”. The amazing part is that Hafiz was a 14th century Persian. He sounds so modern. Perhaps we are just now catching up with him.
(p. 89) “a secret message”
If indeed there were a magical alabaster hummingbird, what is it that you would like to hear?
(p. 94) “one gorgeous broad”
What do you see when you look in the mirror? Be kind to yourself — you are all you’ve got.
“musings” — scattered throughout the book
There are a number of “musings” that begin “our love is …” Which one is your favorite? How would you finish the sentence “our love is …”? How about “our love is a balloon”. Then why it is like a balloon? How about: “It carries us away to worlds unknown in all the colors of the rainbow”. There, you’ve got yourself a brand new nifty “musing”. Now you try it.
The LGBT, etc. issue
Are these poems appropriate for non-lesbians? Why or why not? How about if some of the pronouns were changed? More to the point, is Love essentially the same between gay couples and straight couples? Our first inclination is to shout “YES!”, but I am not so sure.