Wanting Women: An Anthology of Erotic Lesbian Poetry

The GLBTRT has been reviewing books and movies in its newsletter since the early 1990s. Trace the evolution of queer publishing through these historic reviews. This review was originally published in Vol. 4, No. 1, Spring 1992.

Cover of Wanting Women: An Anthology of Erotic Lesbian PoetryWanting Women: An Anthology of Erotic Lesbian Poetry. Jan Hardy, Editor. Sidewalk Revolution Press, 1990. Paper. $9.95. (ISBN 0-961-74061-2)

Editor, publisher, and poet Jan Hardy states in her introduction to this collection of 70 poems by 43 U.S. and Canadian Poets that she hopes these poems “will expand our access to the power of eroticism.” The book succeeds in this, with poetry ranging from humorous to pleasant to boundary-stretching. The quality of writing, despite the diversity of contributors, is high. “Stars” represented in this collection include Marilyn Hacker, Tee Corrine, Patricia Roth Schwarz, Joan Nestle, and Leslea Newman. Contributors include Black, Jewish, disabled, Latina lesbians, as well as a Wiccan priestess, though a deliberate effort to diversity doesn’t seem apparent from the poems.

Beautiful images abound in these mostly accessible poems. Marie Cartier writes in “Breakfast in Bed”: ”Your eyes, golden brown as toast,/and darling, I am butter.” Or Margaret Tongue’s image of a double bed: “A place good for small talk, the line Down the middle like the one halving/ The blue Pacific; once you have truly / Crossed, it is easy to lose or gain / A day, no matter what the calendar / Or your watch or the turning world? Might say.” The political is given rare attention in this collection; Rachel Behrendt writes: “in one hour between / your succulent thighs / this theoretical lesbian / became / a practicing dyke.”

Leslea Newman could seduce any woman with her poems. Many poems do what poems do best: concisely link disparate images, bringing a flash of recognition to the reader.

The overall tone of the collection is positive (how could anything erotic and lesbian be otherwise?) If there is an omission, it is in the lack of representation of S/M sensibilities, despite a mild reference in “Corne to Me Unbound” by Laura Rose Dancing Fire. Through mostly free verse, other styles are included: haiku, prose poems, smatterings of concrete poetry, and even an old-fashioned rhymer.

Because of the high literary quality, I recommend this book to libraries interested in contemporary poetry. They may want to consider too that “erotic” here guarantees sexually explicit language.

Reviewed by Kathy Ruffle
College of New Caledonia Library
Prince George, B.C.

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2 comments

  1. I need to to thank you for this wonderful read!! I certainly enjoyed every
    little bit of it. I’ve got you book-marked to check out new stuff you post…

  2. Hey there just wanted to give you a quick heads up and let you
    know a few of the images aren’t loading correctly.
    I’m not sure why but I think its a linking issue.

    I’ve tried it in two different browsers and both show the same results.

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