29 September 2008

Wedding Song

Poet and lesbian, Ellen Bass, has written a new poem about love and marriage. She also has a few things to say about same-sex marriage.

For more, click here.

25 September 2008

For the May Queen by Kate Evans is launched!

It's the official launch day of Kate's novel For the May Queen, and reviews like this mean that readers are in for a treat. I just wanted to say "Congratulations" from the rest of us at Woman-Stirred.

It's a big day indeed. I can only imagine how exhausting and exciting it has been to reach this point. Hope it continues to be a wonderful journey for you, Kate!

Read the first chapter here, then go to your local bookstore to buy For the May Queen by Kate Evans. Or purchase through Vanilla Heart Publishing, or from Amazon.

Suzanne Gardinier Visits Woman-Stirred Radio

Please welcome Suzanne Gardinier to Woman-Stirred Radio. The author of several acclaimed books of poetry, Gardinier has taught at Sarah Lawrence College since 1994, having completed her B.A. at U Mass and her MFA at Columbia. Gardinier's books include World that will Hold All the People (Michigan, 1996); The New World (Pittsburgh,1994); Usahan: Ten Poems and a Story (Grand Street Books, 1990). Her newest book, Today:101 Ghazals (Sheep Meadow Press, 2008) has recently been rereleased in paperback.

Gardinier is the recipient of the Kenyon Review Award for Excellence in the Essay, and awards from the New York Foundation for the Arts, the Lannan Foundation, and the Associated Writer's Program Award Series in Poetry. Her work appears in The Kenyon Review, The Paris Review, Under 35, The New Generations of American Poets, Best American Poems 1989, and Ploughshares.

Woman-Stirred Radio is a queer cultural journal that celebrates and preserves the lives and work of gay, lesbian, bi-sexual and transgendered artists, musicians, writers, academics, and policy makers.

We broadcast live on WGDR every Thursday afternoon from 4pm to 6pm (Eastern), with interviews and music; plus weekly commentaries from British writer Nicki Hastie and guest commentary from Julie R. Enszer. Our assistant producer is Sassafras Lowery a genderqueer high femme author, artist, and activist. Sassafras works as a freelance writer for various LGBTQ publications, and hir visual art has been showcased in conferences and galleries across the United States, including the “Fresh Meat” Gallery in San Francisco, and the legendary “Southern Comfort” Conference in Atlanta., Our intern is Mikhael Yowe, an IBA student at Goddard College. Want to join the conversation? Call the air studio at 802 454-7762

17 September 2008

Reading sex

Hi everyone! This is my first Woman-Stirred post. I'm so happy to be here, to be part of this amazing group of wimmin.

My novel's release date is 4 days from now, and I'm been feeling angsty over the forthcoming readings facing me. The first chapter, which is usually the best place to start when reading from a novel, has a straight sex scene in it which involves an oversized phallus. Personally, I think the chapter is funny and edgy--but is this really something I want to read, for example, to a group of colleagues and students at my faculty reading? Maybe it is. I grin when I think about it. Then I cringe. It was a blast to write it in the privacy of my own office, the cave of my own brain. But to make it public is another story.

I'm also thinking about the reading I'll be giving at the Atlanta Queer Literary Festival. Because it's a queer festival, do I need to read scenes that position my book/me as a lesbian? What's a bi girl to do? Will people in the audience be bored with or offended by straight sex scenes? Will they be thinking, hey, you can read that shit anywhere else ... give us some bumping pussies (to quote Dorothy Allison, who used that exact phrase when speaking to a group of students at my campus last year).

Hey. Dorothy Allison. Now there's a fearless woman. Just evoking her gives me strength to let 'er rip and be myself--and to let my book speak for itself. Whoever said writing, even blog writing, isn't cathartic?

If anyone's interested in talking to me about any of this, I'm going to be on blogtalk radio this Saturday at 3:30 p.m. west-coast time. Click here to listen in. And there's a number on the site where you can call in to chat. Or if you can't listen in real-time, you can listen to a podcast later.

In the meantime, I have to pick the three short sections of the novel to read on the radio. With my face hidden. That will be good practice for the times I'll be showing my face.

9 September 2008

Volunteer Job Announcement: Assistant Producer for Woman-Stirred Radio

Assistant Producer for Woman-Stirred Radio

Woman-Stirred Radio is a queer cultural journal that celebrates and preserves the lives and work of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgendered artists, musicians, writers, academics and policy makers.

We broadcast live on WGDR every Thursday afternoon from 4 to 6 p.m. (eastern), with interviews and music; plus weekly commentaries from British writer Nicki Hastie and guest commentaries from Julie R. Enszer, and Jan Steckel. Our intern is Mikhael Yowe, an IBA student at Goddard College.

We are looking for an assistant producer to work with on-air radio personality and producer Merry Gangemi. We are looking for someone who is mature and responsible as well as creative, positive in outlook, even-tempered, hard-working and committed to promoting and developing queer culture. Responsibilities will include:

1. Scheduling guests for the radio show.
2. Advance work with guests to ensure information, advance materials, etc. are in the hands of the producer.
3. Writing a weekly blog entry on the radio show and the featured guests.
4. Promoting the radio show through the Woman-Stirred blog, facebook, myspace and other online tools.
5. Other tasks as assigned and interested.

We expect this to be a 3-4 hour a week volunteer job.

Work will be done remotely from any location. We are looking for someone who is email-responsive (particularly people who respond to email within 24 hours on a regular basis) and web-savvy. Some telephone work will be involved as well.

Woman-Stirred Radio is funded in part by the Samara Foundation of Vermont, a non-profit, Burlington-based foundation that seeks to improve the quality of life for Vermont's lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgendered citizens. 

To apply, please email a statement of interest and resume or appropriate online links to Merry Gangemi, MGangemi@vtlink.net, and Julie R. Enszer, JulieREnszer@gmail.com.

8 September 2008

Patricia Harrelson on Self-Publishing

We thank Patricia Harrelson for permission to reproduce this essay which explores her thoughts on the history of her publishing journey. She raises serious questions about the value of lesbian manuscripts to the commercial publishing world, and how lesbian writers and readers can be better served. We invite discussion on this theme in the build up to our interview with Patricia Harrelson on Woman-Stirred Radio, scheduled for October 9th.

Electing to self-publish my book Between Two Women was not an easy decision. I wanted my book to be selected by a publisher for I believed that was the ultimate acknowledgment that the work was worthy — both in terms of content and skillful writing.

I spent three years sending my manuscript to agents and publishers. I followed guidelines in books like

  • Into Print by Poets & Writers,

  • How To Get Happily Published by Judith Applebaum,

  • Putting Your Passion into Print by Arielle Eckstut & David Henry Sterry.

I carefully crafted query letters and developed a one-minute elevator pitch which I gave to multiple agents at the East of Eden Writers' Conference. I sent my queries out and participated in the Maui Manuscript Marketplace. I created a book proposal and sent it upon request to agents. Here is a sample of the responses I got:

  • You are a talented writer [but] memoir has become a difficult genre to place.

  • We’ve just done a rash of lesbian memoirs so have to work on other things.

  • We found your memoir to be quite well done . . . but feel it would be a very tough sell to commercial publishers.

I consistently got the message that since my book's appeal was to a niche market, I should query small presses directly, particularly those who published books in my so called niche. That's when I learned that narrative non-fiction does not bode well as a calling card because fiction sells and therefore keeps small presses afloat. I got rejection letters for Alyson Press, Spinsters Ink, Cleis Press, and Firebrand. As Nicki Hastie says: "How can we buy the books they decide not to publish/promote?"

After considerable rejection, I was thrilled when a friend helped me through the door of University of Wisconsin Press, introducing me and my manuscript to editor, Raphael Kadushin of the Living Out Series: Gay & Lesbian Autobiography. I got an email request from Kadushin to send the manuscript which I submitted immediately and then waited hopefully with only a tiny niggle of doubt.

I had studied the list of books published in the series. They had only published two books each in the previous two years and all four were about/by famous gay men, and the year my friend's book was published, it was one of six books published and was the only lesbian book. Read what you will into these facts but note that after waiting for six weeks, I received a form letter (that was not signed) saying, "We have decided that your work does not coincide with our current publishing plans."

A couple months later I read an article in Writers' Digest, Dec. 07 about gay and lesbian writing. Kadushin was interviewed and had this to say: "Coming out stories are no longer published unless they are wildly new or have a universal angle." He followed this remark with: "Writers [LGBT] have little aptitude to be truly dangerous or daring."

That's when I had a change of attitude. I knew my book contained essential stories about women in general and lesbians in particular therefore needed to find its way into print as a concrete historical record. It appeared that the only way to accomplish this was to self-publish.

~ Patricia Harrelson

Read more about Patricia at Editeyes.com, and here at Woman-Stirred.

7 September 2008

At the Quarry Lake

This is a moment shared on my recent trip from Nottingham, England to Vermont, USA to visit Merry Gangemi. Lesbians, water, feet -- there's no better drama. It's also truer than The L Word.

At the quarry lake
At the Quarry Lake


When we find our toes are cold
we compare the steel caps of our boots.
Thirty dollars, you say, for the most
comfortable pair of work-boots.

My boots are multi-lingual;
they tell their size in American.
Democratic, too: not just one US size.
It seems I take a 7M or 6L.

Do I want to be larger or smaller?
I didn't know the super-size me
debate extended to feet.

What's the M or L for? I ask.
Men's and Ladies'? you offer.
I puzzle why men and women
should need a different foot measure.

Size matters to the M, of course.
But these are no boots for ladies.
Then we see it:

I have size 6 Lesbian feet.
Leather, steel, and bouncing sole.
Our toes dry on the granite.
I'm glad my feet know who they are.

Lesbian feet

Opportunity for GLBTA Artists

Here is an opportunity for Woman-Stirred readers who are visual artists to participate in what looks like will be an amazing show about GLBTA families. Read more on Julie R. Enszer’s Blog.

6 September 2008

Welcome Kate Evans

Kate EvansKate Evans is bisexual-lesbian novelist, poet, and memoirist. Her novel, For the May Queen, was published by Vanilla Heart. Complementary Colors--her second novel, which is about a straight woman falling in love with a lesbian--is forthcoming in summer 2009. She is also the author of a poetry collection (Like All We Love) and a book about lesbian and gay teachers (Negotiating the Self). Her stories, poems, essays and book reviews have appeared in more than 50 publications.

In July 2008, Kate and her partner of 14 years--the poet, artist and teacher Annie Tobin--took advantage of California's new law and legally married on a boat off the coast of Santa Cruz. Over the years, they have both worked politically and personally to make public schools better places for queer teachers and students. A former high school teacher and teacher of English in Japan, Kate now teaches in the Department of English and Comparative Literature at San Jose State University. She received a Ph.D. in Education from the University of Washington, and an M.F.A. in Creative Writing from San Jose State.

Kate is currently working on a historical novel that focuses on the lives of three bisexual women in the first half of the 20th century. She is also working on a memoir about caregiving, which focuses on the long illness and death of her father, followed almost immediately by her mother's Alzheimer's diagnosis. She blogs at beingandwriting.blogspot.com.

The seminal book in Kate's life is Harriet the Spy by Louise Fitzhugh, which she read at ages 10, 11 and 12. When she revisited Harriet as an adult, she discovered that Louise Fitzhugh--who died in 1974--was a lesbian who had written a book about two girls falling in love that she was unable to publish in her day. The manuscript is now lost.

Some of Kate's other favorite writers include Marilyn Hacker, May Sarton, Ellen Bass, Toni Morrison, Isabelle Allende, Virginia Woolf, Walt Whitman and Oscar Wilde.

Read some of Kate's work here:




5 September 2008

Patricia Harrelson's new book, Between Two Women

Patricia Harrelson, a member of the lesbian writers listserv and a writer who all of us at Woman-Stirred admire a lot, has a new book out called Between Two Women. It's about a married woman, presumed heterosexual, who falls in love with a woman.


"When they came together, everything changed!

Married for 33 years and the mother of three grown children, Patricia leads a comfortable life. But one day, she crosses a line into the arms of a woman. Once there, she can't ignore the emotional intensity she's discovered. Within three months, she leaves her husband to live with her lover.

Facing family and friends who are bewildered and disturbed, Patricia begins to question much of what she has always believed. Confusion permeates her sleep, and night after night, she awakens trembling with uncertainty. Trying to regain balance, she turns to gay and feminist books and publications. But the ideas she finds there further disrupt her sense of self.

Then she meets Carol, a sixty-nine-year-old woman who knew from the time she was a child that she was lesbian. A friendship blossoms as Carol tells Patricia the story of her closeted life during the 50s and 60s living with and loving woman. Their conversations are lively with the wit of the elder woman and thoughtfully reflective as Patricia grapples with the consequences of her impulsiveness.

Spirited and sensitive, Between Two Women illuminates fundamental questions about the changing nature of love and relationships."

Patricia has a blog at http://editeyes.com/, where she writes:

My book, Between Two Women, is a creative endeavor that explores why I turned away from a long-held heterosexual identity. The book takes a unique approach to memoir using a style that was cultivated at Antioch University where I earned my MFA in Creative Writing with concentrations in Non-fiction & Poetry. I have taught creative writing workshops through Columbia College, the Central Sierra Arts Council, and the Sierra Waldorf School. I also write theater reviews and feature articles for the Sonora Union Democrat and have published essays and poems in literary magazines, including Manzanita, Tiny Lights, and Penumbra."

We congratulate Patricia on her new book and look forward to hearing from her on Woman-Stirred Radio!