Hey there and welcome to this week’s Lez Liberty Lit!
“When I read her books, I underlined and annotated avidly. I whispered her intimately crafted turns of phrase, enjoying the sound and feel of them in my mouth, on my tongue. Lorde was the first person who actively demonstrated for me that a writer could be intensely concerned with the inner and outer lives of Black queer women, that our experiences could be the center instead of relegated to the periphery. She wrote beyond the white gaze and imagined a Black reality that did not subvert itself to the cultural norms dictated by whiteness. She valorized the body as much as she valorized the mind. She valorized nurturing as much as she valorized holding people accountable for their actions, calling out people and practices that decentered the Black queer woman’s experience and knowledge. Most important, she prioritized the collective because “without community there is no liberation, only the most vulnerable and temporary armistice between an individual and her oppression.” As a reader, it is gratifying to see the legacy Lorde has created and to see the genealogy of her work in the writing of the women who have followed in her footsteps. Without Lorde’s essay “The Uses of Anger,” we might never have known Claudia Rankine’s manifesto of poetic prose, Citizen.”
Claudia Rankine discussed her book Just Us: An American Conversation with Catherine Barnett, in a must-read interview at Lit Hub.
At Catapult, Emily Hashimoto, author of the recent (and great) A World Between, writes about writing sex with women, by women, for women.
The US Education Department is getting rid of all anti-racist literature, including any materials that mention critical race theory or white privilege.
Translation relies on intuition.
Who I Was With Her, Nita Tyndall’s debut queer YA novel, explores grief, loneliness, and coming out. In a review at Bitch, Rachel Charlene Lewis writes, “I had to take breaks while reading it, as it caused memories of my own coming-out experience, and the spiral it caused, to swell to the surface.”
At Tor, genderqueer author Tessa Gratton wrote about reclaiming genderqueer monstrousness, and says (in a piece I recommend reading all of for context):
“Like Lestat, like Raistlin, like Jareth, embracing the villain seemed the only way to take power and retain myself. The conversation about queer and queer-coded villains in literature is a long one, and I’ve always fallen on the side—if there are sides—of liking it. It isn’t a matter of “better to have queer villains than no queers at all” either: it’s a matter of power. When I was young literature showed me that to be queer you either had to be tragic or monstrous, and villains are not just monsters, they’re active monsters. Villains are the ones who do something, who drive the entire story. They matter so much you can’t unravel their threads from the story without ruining everything. And I’m pretty sure queer-coded villainy inherently has a lot to do with challenging binaries. Gender binaries for sure, but also binaries of good and evil and right and wrong. Queerness exists outside of Western ideals of heroism—pure, just, masculine, violent—which automatically pits queerness against protagonists, and aligns us, and our coding, with villainy.”
At Book Soup, Shani Mootoo discusses Polar Vortex, “a seductive and tension-filled novel about Priya and Alex, a lesbian couple who left the big city to relocate to a bucolic countryside community,” in conversation with Julie Enszer.
In a review of Raven Leilani’s Luster at the Los Angeles Review of Books, Lee Thomas writes, “In Luster, Leilani does what Edie cannot. She captures the force of desire in a portrait from which you cannot look away.”
“Crappiness is not just a material condition but a cultural one as well: an often exuberant and wholly unapologetic expression of American excess and waste,” writes Wendy Woloson in an excerpt of her book Crap at Lit Hub.
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