7 Queer Poets You Should Know

Poems from LGBT writers Richard Blanco, Frank Bidart, Eileen Myles, Mark Doty, Judy Grahn, CAConrad, and Tim Trace Peterson explore what it means to be queer in America.

BY Daniel Reynolds

November 18 2013 6:00 AM ET

“A History of Lesbianism” by Judy Grahn

How they came into the world,
the women-loving-women
came in three by three
and four by four
the women-loving-women
came in ten by ten
and ten by ten again
until there were more
than you could count

              they took care of each other
              the best they knew how
              and of each other's children
              if they had any.

How they lived in the world,
the women-loving-women
learned as much as they were allowed
and walked and wore their clothes
the way they liked
whenever they could. They did whatever
they knew to be happy or free
and worked and worked and worked.
The women-loved-women
in America were called dykes
and some liked it
and some did not.

             they made love to each other
             the best they knew how
             and for the best reasons

How they went out of the world,
the women-loving-women
went out one by one
having withstood greater and lesser
trials, and much hatred
from other people, they went out
one by one, each having tried
in her own way to overthrow
the rule of men over women,
they tried it one by one
and hundred by hundred,
until each came in her own way
to the end of her life
and died.

             The subject of lesbianism
             is very ordinary; it's the question
             of male domination that makes everybody
             angry.

Excerpted from love belongs to those who do the feeling by Judy Grahn. Copyright 2008. Excerpted with permission by Red Hen Press.

Judy Grahn is a poet, writer, and social theorist. She is currently a professor in the Women’s Spirituality Master’s Program at Sofia University in Palo Alto, Calif. She is former director of Women's Spirituality MA and Creative Inquiry MFA programs at New College of California. Her books include love belongs to those who do the feeling (Red Hen Press, 2008), Blood, Bread, and Roses (Beacon Press, 1994), and Edward the Dyke and Other Poems (The Women's Press Collective, 1971).

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