Hey there and welcome to this week’s Lez Liberty Lit!
At the Los Angeles Review of Books, Antoniette Nwandu writes about reading Audre Lorde’s Sister Outsider after Charlottesville:
“A self-described ‘black lesbian feminist warrior poet,’ Lorde had an exceptional ability to transform her ‘hopes and dreams toward survival and change’ into beautifully actionable language. Arguing for intersectionality early on, she writes that our demographic differences must be seen as “‘a fund of necessary polarities between which our creativity can spark like a dialectic.’ As white supremacy becomes increasingly visible in the United States — on the streets of Charlottesville, in threats against undocumented children and attacks on NFL players (to scratch the surface) — Lorde’s seminal collection of essays and speeches, Sister Outsider, proves as necessary and powerful a tool in the canon of contemporary progressive theory as it was when first published in 1984.”
Gendered terms in language can be complex for non-binary folks, writes Mariana Podesta-Diverio at Archer: “When you’re at the intersection of identities and borders, and forging a way to exist in the world that seems true and right, it can feel a little like you’re being split.” Mariana continues:
“There are elements of the tension between my queerness, and the deeply gendered language in which I think about love, that I may never reconcile. Will I continue to love and fight in binary terms? It feels like I’m only expressing myself in a limited capacity in English, but sometimes its gender neutrality makes it more versatile for self-identification.
English is far from perfect, and the binary has a vice grip on the language, but it still doesn’t compare to Spanish in this way.”
Fashion has power in literature, writes Rachel Wagner at the Millions.
Women were badass codebreakers.
Why do people write off historical romance novels? Probably in part because they’re still dismissed as bodice rippers, which has a specific linguistic connotation, writes Michela Marini Higgs at Racked: “The word ‘bodice’ is suggestive enough to inspire pearl-clutching and awkward titters, but it still dances around frank terminology and clear conversations about female sexuality. Saying ‘bodice’ is preferable to naming what the covers are really showcasing: boobs.”
Queer horror stories have a transgressive power. Samantha Hunt and Rivera Garza talk at the Millions about producing and reproducing language, the relationship between language and sanity, how writing is tied to bodies, the border, and more:
“Books, real books, produce and reproduce language. Or better yet: they constitute themselves in the territory in which the emergence—the constant emergences—of languages both private and social is thoroughly recreated, registered, and documented. Many have said it before me, but I´d like to repeat it: language is the place of our sociality. We are never lonely in language. We inscribe ourselves in traditions we might agree with or not, so it is always better to be aware of this and position ourselves accordingly. We become social, too, in and through language.”
“My mother was a full-blooded Navajo woman, raised on the reservation, but she was never taught to speak her mother’s language. There was a time when most words were better left unspoken. I am still drawn to the nasal vowels and slushy consonants, though I feel no hope of ever learning the language. It is one thing to play dress-up, to imitate pronunciations and understanding; it is another thing to think or dream or live in a language not your own,” writes Danielle Geller at the New Yorker on the first Navajo-English Dictionary.
Read these eight books this month or these or these or these poetry books this month. Read these queer Canadian short story collections. Read these recent essay collections. Read these novels by Iraqi authors. Listen to these five queer Canadian audiobooks.
In New York on November 13? Myriam Gurba, author of Mean, will talk identity, trauma, and humor with Emily Gould and Ruth Curry at the Mid-Manhattan Library on November 13 at 6:30 p.m. You can also read an excerpt of Mean or check out Aisha’s review on Autostraddle.