poem index

LGBTQ Poetry

Celebrate pride and explore the rich tradition of gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, and queer poets and poetry through a showcase of audio, video, poetry, and prose—resources as exciting and diverse as the communities they represent.


Featured Poems

Dear J.” by Kazim Ali
It should be a letter …

Honestly,” by John Ashbery
we could send you out there …

Lullaby” by W. H. Auden
Lay your sleeping head, my love …

Wedding” by Ari Banias
People, far too many people here—

In Particular” by Djuna Barnes
What loin-cloth, what rag of wrong …

Worst Things First” by Mark Bibbins
A bag of thank-you notes fell …

Queer” by Frank Bidart
Lie to yourself about this and you will …

elegy for kari edwards” by Julian Talamantez Brolaski
damesirs of fishairs …

A Queerification” by Regie Cabico
queer me …

Love Poem” by Sophie Cabot Black
Which cannot be written tries anyway—

Rocket Fantastic [excerpt]” by Gabrielle Calvocoressi
It’s ridiculous what fame …

The Distant Moon” by Rafael Campo
Admitted to the hospital again …

The Next Table” by C. P. Cavafy
He can’t be more than twenty-two …

Batter My Heart, Transgender’d God” by Meg Day
Batter my heart, trangender’d god, for yours …

These Hands, If Not Gods” by Natalie Diaz
Haven’t they moved like rivers …

Heartbeats” by Melvin Dixon
Work out. Ten laps …

Exhibition” by jayy dodd
when i show you the illicit …

The Embrace” by Mark Doty
You weren’t well or really ill yet either …

from Bharat jiva [I can not begin to know]” by kari edwards
I can not begin to know …

It Is Important To Be Something” by Joshua Jennifer Espinoza
This is like a life. This is lifelike …

Settling In” by Jenny Factor
How I loved …

Prayer for Appetite” by Luiza Flynn-Goodlett
What whispers suckle, tugs …

Ekphrasis on My Rapist’s Wedding Dress” by torrin a. greathouse
still as a scar through the screen’s glow …

The Hug” by Thom Gunn
It was your birthday, we had drunk and dined …

For K. J., Leaving and Coming Back” by Marilyn Hacker
August First: it was a year ago …

He would not stay for me, and who can wonder” by A. E. Housman
He would not stay for me, and who can wonder …

Aria” by Jenny Johnson
Tonight at a party we will say farewell …

Boy in a Stolen Evening Gown” by Saeed Jones
In this field of thistle, I am the improbable …

The Talking Back of Miss Valentine Jones: Poem # one” by June Jordan
well I wanted to braid my hair …

Survival Guide” by Joy Ladin
No matter how old you are …

Vows (for a gay wedding)” by Joseph O. Legaspi
What was unforeseen is now a bird orbiting this field …

Lullaby” by Lyubomir Levchev
The boy was standing at the exit …

Grotesque” by Amy Lowell
Why do the lilies goggle their tongues at me …

Dressing Down” by Kamilah Aisha Moon
When you’re gay in Dixie …

Type II” by Hieu Minh Nguyen
Ignoring the doctor’s red call …

My Lover Is a Woman” by Pat Parker
my lover is a woman …

Exclusively on Venus” by Trace Peterson
Roses are red / violets are transsexual …

Abandonment Under the Walnut Tree” by D. A. Powell
Something seems to have gnawed that walnut leaf …

Twenty-One Love Poems [The Floating Poem, Unnumbered]” by Adrienne Rich
Whatever happens with us, your body …

Antique” by Arthur Rimbaud
Graceful son of Pan …

Sharks’ Teeth” by Kay Ryan
Everything contains some …

Poem in Which the Writer Sees Himself in an Old Textbook, 1943” by sam sax
They cut off our hair …

Poem” by James Schuyler
The wind tears up the sun …

Syntax” by Reginald Shepherd
Occasionally a god speaks to you …

Orfeo” by Jack Spicer
Sharp as an arrow Orpheus …

Tender Buttons [Eggs]” by Gertrude Stein
Kind height, kind in the right stomach with a little sudden mill …

Self-Portrait as Exit Wounds” by Ocean Vuong
Instead, let it be the echo to every footstep …

Calamus [In Paths Untrodden]” by Walt Whitman
In paths untrodden …

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Featured Audio

The Armadillo” by Elizabeth Bishop
This is the time of year …

At the End of Hell” by Jericho Brown
So what if I love him …

Leave Something Quiet in Shell of My Ear” by CAConrad
unfastened …

from feeld by Jos Charles
bieng tran is a unique kinde off organe …

I Invite My Parents to a Dinner Party” by Chen Chen
In the invitation, I tell them for the seventeenth time …

Ceremonial” by Eduardo C. Corral
Delirious …

A Supermarket in California” by Allen Ginsberg
What thoughts I have of you tonight, Walt Whitman …

Book of Statues” by Richie Hofmann
Because I am a boy, the untouchability of beauty …

The moon rose over the bay. I had a lot of feelings.” by Donika Kelly
I am taken with the hot animal …

Senior Discount” by Ali Liebegott
I want to grow old with you …

A Song for Many Movements” by Audre Lorde
Nobody wanted to die on the way …

I Do” by Sjohnna McCray
Driving the highway from Atlanta to Phoenix …

To a Butterfly” by James Merrill
Already in midsummer …

Joan” by Eileen Myles
Today, May 30th, Joan …

The Anactoria Poem” by Sappho
Some say thronging cavalry, some say foot soldiers …

C.R.E.A.M.” by Danez Smith
in the morning I think about money …

And Now Upon My Head the Crown” by Phillip B. Williams
In the first place—I wanted him and said so …

The Son I’ll Never Have” by Mark Wunderlich
The son I’ll never have is crossing the lawn …

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Featured Essays

Queer Poets on the Poems That Changed Their Lives
In celebration of LGBTQ Pride Month, we asked several poets to tell us about the poems that influenced their lives as LGBTQ writers and individuals. Read about the powerful and long-lasting impact poetry had on their identity.

The Letter Q
The poets in this collection—Ching-in Chen, Timothy Liu, Dawn Lundy Martin, Eileen Myles, Ely Shipley, and Stacy Szymaszek—present letters they’ve written to their younger selves about their queer identities and experiences.

Eros and the Lyric Imagination, by Marilyn Hacker
Marilyn Hacker discusses eros as the “fuel of the lyric imagination” and discusses a selection of lyric poems featuring and fueled by eros.

Notes Toward Beauty, by Reginald Shepherd
“Without a notion of beauty, an embodiment of the possible beyond the abjections of the mundane, I would not have become a poet,” Shepherd writes in this essay on beauty.

Human Seraphim: “Howl,” Sex, and Holiness, by Mark Doty
Mark Doty recounts his first times hearing Allen Ginsberg read, and discusses the bold sexuality and obscenities of Ginsberg’s “Howl.”

Another and Another Before That: Some Thoughts on Reading, by Carl Phillips
In this essay, Carl Phillips discusses the private act of reading, how reading may inform aesthetics, and how a trip to a library affected his perspective on his own sexuality.

Okay I’ll Call You / Yes Call Me: Frank O’Hara’s “Personism,” by Stephen Burt
Poet and critic Stephen Burt takes on Frank O’Hara’s notable style of casual, personable poetics in this examination of what he calls the poet’s “Personism.”

Why I Write, by Reginald Shepherd
In this essay, Reginald Shepherd reveals his reasons for writing and the nature of his intentions in his poetry.

Repeating Allen, by Eileen Myles
In this essay, Eileen Myles looks at the long lines, repetition, and context of Allen Ginsberg’s seminal work, “Howl.”

"Oh!! kangaroos, sequins, chocolate sodas!": Frank O’Hara’s Excitement, by Wayne Koestenbaum
Wayne Koestenbaum discusses the excitement that characterizes Frank O’Hara’s work, and how it is achieved.

Our Sly Progintor: Revisiting Walt Whitman, by Mark Doty
In this essay, Mark Doty examines Walt Whitman’s relationship with the reader, his slyness, and his humor.

Featured Books

Gay and Lesbian Poetry in Our Time

Gay and Lesbian Poetry in Our Time edited by Carl Morse and Joan Larkin

Published in 1988, Gay and Lesbian Poetry In Our Time: An Anthology collects nearly one hundred varied and distinct gay and lesbian voices of American culture.
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Troubling the Line

Troubling the Line: Trans and Genderqueer Poetry and Poetics edited by TC Tolbert and Trace Peterson

Troubling the Line: Trans and Genderqueer Poetry and Poetics gathers together a diverse range of fifty-five poets with varying aesthetics and backgrounds.
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Breezeway by John Ashbery
"Punctuated by unsettling questions that keep pace with the cultural moment, Ashbery’s latest offers a collage of marginalia brought to center stage and eerily lit by a submerged psychic disturbance."
read more


Half-Light: Collected Poems 1965-2016 by Frank Bidart
"This massive volume compiles Bidart’s 1990 collected, In the Western Night: 1965–1990 (Farrar, Straus and Giroux), the four books he has published since, and sixty-odd pages of startling new verse."
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Anybody by Ari Banias
"Ari Banias’s first book is the portrait of an inner life that asks itself steadily how anybody or any body can be said to be anybody—girl, boy, fox, or cop."
read more

Tiger Heron

Tiger Heron by Robin Becker
"In her eighth book, poet and feminist scholar Robin Becker reconciles with the reality of middle age—caring for ailing parents (and wishing, futilely, for “dying to be Mediterranean, / curated, a villa, like the Greek sanatoria”) as well as a slowly unraveling relationship of seven years."
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They Don't Kill You Because They're Hungry They Kill You Because They're Full

They Don't Kill You Because They're Hungry They Kill You Because They're Full
by Mark Bibbins

"These associative poems have a frenetic energy and wide range—both in form and subject, dexterously combining the levity of pop culture with deadly serious political commentary about the War on Terror, rape culture, and capitalism."
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gowanus atropolis

gowanus atropolis by Julian Talamantez Brolaski
"Julian T. Brolaski’s debut is a linguistic adventure, a series of narratives that blend high and low diction."
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The New Testament

The New Testament by Jericho Brown

“Jericho Brown’s second book fulfills the promise of its audacious title, offering updated gospel dealing with race and sexuality in contemporary America, where ‘[e]very last word is contagious.’”
read more

Apocalyptic Swing

Apocalyptic Swing
by Gabrielle Calvocoressi

“Gabrielle Calvocoressi moves from life to life in poems that are at once personal and draw from a communal sense of history and popular culture. These poems are often set in the past but speak to the ever-present concerns of sexuality, faith, and violence.”
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Collected Poems

Collected Poems by C. P. Cavafy
"James Merrill called the first edition of this collection 'The best [English version] we are likely to see for some time.'”
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When I Grow Up I Want to Be a List of Further Possibilities

When I Grow Up I Want to Be a List of Further Possibilities by Chen Chen
"The jubilantly titled debut from Chen Chen weaves together his complex narrative as an immigrant and a queer man."
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When My Brother Was an Aztec

When My Brother Was an Aztec by Natalie Diaz
"In this poignant debut, Natalie Diaz writes as a sister who is struggling with her brother’s drug addiction, within a family dynamic steeped in the mythology and cultural history of reservation life."
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Paragon Park

Paragon Park by Mark Doty
"The collection offers readers the intriguing experience of engaging with a well-known poet’s first works, some previously published only in small magazines."
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Howl and Other Poems
by Allen Ginsberg
Howl features Ginsberg’s characteristic use of gritty vernacular and long lines, explicit sexuality, along with descriptions of abject people and places, and the stupor and ecstasy of drugs.”
read more

Unpeopled Eden

Unpeopled Eden
by Rigoberto González

“As the title suggests, Gonzalez’s fourth collection is one in which beauty and the allure of utopia are undermined at every turn by death, absence, and exile.”
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Play Dead

Play Dead by francine j. harris
"Scary and purposeful, almost but not quite chaotic, harris’s second volume sets out to shred taboos, defend the vulnerable, remember the dead, and craft a full account of a traumatic, complicated sexual life."
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In Full Velvet

In Full Velvet by Jenny Johnson
"Johnson’s first book of poems takes on subject matter such as growing up queer in America and how politicized the queer female body is."
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We're On: A June Jordan Reader

We're On: A June Jordan Reader by June Jordan
"This first posthumous volume to hold both her verse and her prose puts her back near the center of conversations where—with Audre Lorde and Adrienne Rich—she clearly belongs."
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I Want to Make You Safe

I Want to Make You Safe by Amy King
"A defiant yet often vulnerable voice rings out in poems that are, as Rae Armantrout writes, 'exuberant, strange, and a bit grotesque.'"
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by Timothy Liu
“In these poems, Liu explores the starkness of sexuality. His poems bluntly re-create a sensual loneliness and violence and the sharp edges of strained dynamics between lovers.”
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Collected Poems of Audre Lorde

The Collected Poems of Audre Lorde
by Audre Lorde
The Complete Poems of Audre Lorde brings together this influential poet’s nine books of poetry, including her early, previously unavailable work.”
read more

Life in a Box is a Pretty Life

Life in a Box Is a Pretty Life
by Dawn Lundy Martin

“‘Make an outline around my form. Use your chisel,’ writes Dawn Lundy Martin in her third collection, a critique of common signifiers of gender, race, and sexual identity.”
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Rapture by Sjohnna McCray
"These poems are so beautifully crafted, so courageous in their truth-telling, and so full of what I like to think of as lyrical wisdom—the visceral revelations that only music, gesture and image, working together, can impart."
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Selected Poems

Selected Poems by James Merrill
"This volume collects a wide selection of James Merrill’s work over nearly half a century—from First Poems to the Pulitzer Prize–winning Divine Comedies (composed with the help of a Ouija board) to the epic work The Changing Light at Sandover."
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I Must Be Living Twice

I Must Be Living Twice: New and Selected Poems
by Eileen Myles
“A proud and tough lesbian role model for decades, and a defender of ungentrified, Bohemian downtown New York City, Myles can seem to update the improvisational composition techniques of the Beats, at once offhand and in your face.”
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Not Here

Not Here by Hieu Minh Nguyen
"Any reader who encounters Hieu Minh Nguyen’s second collection, Not Here, will likely be struck by the intense sense of longing and hunger that pulses at the center of his poems—the search for human companionship and raw, physical encounters as a means to self-love and social acceptance."
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Lunch Poems

Lunch Poems by Frank O'Hara
"Along with his earlier volume, Meditations in an Emergency, his 1964 book Lunch Poems is considered to be his freshest and most accomplished collection."
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Collected Poems of Adrienne Rich

Collected Poems: 1950
–2012 by Adrienne Rich
“One of the most influential poets of her generation, Rich led poetic discussions of gender, race, and class and pushed formal and societal boundaries with her writing.”
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Stranger in Town

Stranger in Town by Cedar Sigo
"Queer identity, love, and city landscapes serve as themes of the collection, and Sigo—with wit and energy—pays homage to heroes Jack Spicer, John Wieners, and Arthur Rimbaud."
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Other Flowers

Other Flowers: Uncollected Poems by James Schuyler
"The book spans the early 1950s to his death and makes references to weather and nature, his New York School peers (Kenneth Koch and Frank O’Hara are subjects of several poems), and the everyday."
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Don't Call Us Dead

Don't Call Us Dead by Danez Smith
"At once a stunning performer and a tersely effective arranger of words on the page, Smith can address the Black Lives Matter movement, the erasure of black humanity by malign police, and then pivot to vivid, sexy, or scary records from a complex queer sexuality."
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Dear Prudence: New and Selected Poems

Dear Prudence: New and Selected Poems
by David Trinidad
“This volume of selected poems, David Trinidad’s twelfth collection, spans three decades of work in a volume that D. A. Powell notes is ‘celebratory in tone, panoramic in scope.’”
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The Salt Ecstasies

The Salt Ecstasies by James L. White
"Part of the Graywolf Re/View Series, edited by Mark Doty, which aims to bring essential books of contemporary poetry back into print, James White’s The Salt Ecstasies presents a collection of poems expressing desire and longing."
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Leaves of Grass

Leaves of Grass
by Walt Whitman

"Unusually prescient, even now, Leaves of Grass has become an unavoidable influence on American poetry."
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