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Judy Grahn

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Judy Grahn was born in Chicago, Illinois, on July 28, 1940. When she was eight years old, her family moved to Las Cruces, New Mexico, where her parents struggled to find steady employment. After leaving home at eighteen, she joined the United States Air Force but was soon discharged for her sexual orientation.

Grahn turned to poetry in the mid-1960s and cofounded Gay Women’s Liberation and the Women’s Press Collective, the first all-women’s press, in 1969. She published her first poetry collection, Edward the Dyke and Other Poems (Women’s Press Collective) in 1971 and went on to write several other books, including The Work of a Common Woman (Diana Press, 1978) and love belongs to those who do the feeling (Red Hen Press, 2008), which won the 2009 Lambda Literary Award.

Grahn is known for her explicitly political poetry and her contributions to the lesbian-feminist movement. Of her own work, she says, “I think of myself as a writer who writes out from that particular position of being a lesbian and also being a working-class woman from birth, as writing out into the world at large and about lots of women.”
Adrienne Rich wrote, “Judy Grahn is the direct inheritor of that passion for life in the woman poet, that instinct for true power, not domination, which poets like Barrett Browning, Dickinson, H. D., were asserting in their own very different ways and voices.”

Grahn has received numerous honors, including an American Book Award, an American Library Award, and a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts. She currently teaches in the Women’s Spirituality Master’s Program at Sofia University in Palo Alto, California.

Selected Bibliography

Hanging on Our Own Bones (Red Hen Press, 2017)
love belongs to those who do the feeling (Red Hen Press, 2008)
The Queen of Swords (Beacon Press, 1987)
The Work of a Common Woman (Diana Press, 1978)
She Who (Diane Press, 1977)
Edward the Dyke and Other Poems (Women’s Press Collective, 1971)

A Simple Revolution (Aunt Lute Books, 2012)
Blood, Bread, and Roses: How Menstruation Created the World (Beacon Press, 1993)
Another Mother Tongue: Gay Words, Gay Worlds (Beacon Press, 1984)

by this poet


Testimony in trials that never got heard

my lovers teeth are white geese flying above me
my lovers muscles are rope ladders under my hands

we were driving home slow
my lover and I, across the long Bay Bridge,
one February midnight, when midway
over in the far left