Lez Liberty Lit: Write Your Own Escape Routes


Hey there and welcome to this week’s Lez Liberty Lit!

Sometimes you have to write your own escape routes, says queer poet Jenny Johnson in an interview at Lit Hub:

“Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick describes reading literature as a survival skill for queer youth in Tendencies, because literature offered “sites where the meanings didn’t line up tidily with each other.” For me, writing, too, offered many liberating escape routes away from social spaces where ways of being and feeling in my body never felt quite “right.” I’ve heard a number of poets talk about how the poems we write are sometimes ahead of us. I think this sensation of ahead-of-ness through language was critical for me as a child and a teenager. Years before I found the words to say I was a queer person or that I had a girl crush, I had authored pages of poems that had already held and welcomed a mess of impassioned ambivalent feelings and, in that way, helped me to survive my environment.”

More queer love stories please.

GERTIE is the quarterly queer book club box you never knew you needed.

“2017 has been a watershed year for Black women speaking truth to power while reclaiming their time, transforming the conversation and controlling the narrative,” writes Miss Rosen at Dazed, recommending seven black women poets doing just that.

Support your local library.

Elena Ferrante is back.

Who cares about the great American novel?

The Bad Sex in Fiction Award has been announced. Contextualize the victor by checking out excerpts from the shortlist. Overall, it seems like bad writing about sex might be getting better.

Read Joan Didion in a swimming pool.

It’s time for the MillionsYear in Reading, when authors talk about everything they read this year.

“Used properly, categories in literature can illuminate a work instead of mystifying it — if we use them like filters on spotlights, layered colors and hues, combinations of light and shadow, we can examine a book from many different angles, holding various versions of it in our minds, without losing sight of the work itself,” writes Ben Pfeiffer at the Paris Review on the questionable category of “Native American literature.”

Learning how to be alone is crucial, says Stay With Me author Ayobami Adebayo in an interview in on romantic instability, desire versus expectation, and how the only way to connect with other people is to connect with yourself:

“[B]eing alone, having experiences that are sometimes so singular to us, is just part of this state of being human […] as important as connecting with other human beings is—it’s essential and we need it, we reach for it—we also need to make peace with being in our own selves.”

Read speculative fiction recommended by authors of color that isn’t just Octavia Butler. Read the first-ever Aspen Words Literary Prize nominees. Read these five books out this month. Read horror in winter. Read books Lorde is into. Read about badass women in history. Read about the 11 worst brats in literature. Read these small press books.

Before you go! Autostraddle runs on the reader support of our AF+ Members. If this article meant something to you today — if it informed you or made you smile or feel seen, will you consider joining AF and supporting the people who make this queer media site possible?

Join AF+!

Ryan Yates

Ryan Yates was the NSFW Editor (2013–2018) and Literary Editor for Autostraddle.com, with bylines in Nylon, Refinery29, The Toast, Bitch, The Daily Beast, Jezebel, and elsewhere. They live in Los Angeles and also on twitter and instagram.

Ryan has written 1142 articles for us.


  1. Oooo…GERTIE may be just what I need now that Emily Books no longer does a monthly subscription service. I love being surprised with books I wouldn’t otherwise find.

  2. Ah yes the bad sex awards

    There’s the cringe worthy attempts at purple prose then there’s entries like this:

    ‘On the stone porch, in the hot, mountain air, we grapple with our clothing, which, in the darkness, becomes as complicated as mountaineering gear. Her black shirt around her neck, mine unbuttoned, our shorts and underwear slid to our ankles, we seem to be moving at avalanche speed and also, unfortunately, with avalanche precision.’

    that are maybe phrased in a way that feels a bit ridic but is relatable because who hasn’t fucked up trying to get undressed in a hurry in the dark while mashing faces.
    Like you know you’ve got to de-couple in order to get thy clothes off in order to actually couple but you can’t stop making out and groping bits long enough to accomplish it properly without getting tangled. xD

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