Alison Palmer is the author of the poetry chapbook, The Need for Hiding (Dancing Girl Press, 2018). To read an in-depth interview by The Poet’s Billow about the collection visit http://www.thepoetsbillow.org. Alison’s work appears in FIELD, Bear Review, River Styx, Glass, Cream City Review, Salt Hill, Los Angeles Review and elsewhere. Nominated for a Pushcart Prize, Best New Poets 2017, and a finalist for Eyewear Publishing’s Sexton Prize, Alison lives and writes outside Washington, D.C.
- Generally, I’ve not engaged with much lesbian literature, perhaps due to lack of mainstream availability or due to suspicion that lesbian/bi work is more erotic than literary. However, my expectations were shattered after reading Jeanette Winterson’s Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit. Winterson challenges heterosexual traditions through her descriptions of women loving women as they strive to gain independence from the confines of religion and male power roles. This type of work creates an avenue for sensual lesbian literature to thrive without the need for erotica.
- SMITTEN’s refreshing and defiant tones contribute to strengthening and legitimizing the lesbian literature genre. Even though some of my poetry may focus on my interpersonal relationships with women, I intend my work to be universal. Is lesbian love really any different than any other kind of love? I don’t think I write about it that way—when I’m writing, I’m not thinking, “Oh, how do I describe this kiss like a lesbian would do it…” Kisses, feelings of love, “I never want to leave you” notions, these are all human experiences. This anthology humanizes lesbian/bi literature by removing it from being strictly erotic, and hopefully, it will reach more people this way.
- Frightened, Exhilarated, Humbled, Anxious—these words describe what I’m feeling about being part of SMITTEN. I am all of these because this anthology is really my first, big, “public coming out” experience. My writing has always been sort of a veil, a place where, yes, I can write about my love for a woman, but I can also choose to muddle gender and make it non-existent. Often, in my work the “you” is ambiguous, and I feel safe in this space. So, being published among other women who love women is pretty overwhelming! I’m trying to embrace this “unveiling” because it means so much to live honestly and to inspire others to live honestly, as well.
- I chose these poems because they convey the cognitive dissonance so often experienced concerning sexuality—the desire for secrecy and boundaries, but also for discovery and voice. The titles alone direct and inform the reader: “Impressions” implies how a person may leave a secret, a lingering mark, but only after she has gone, and “Silhouettes” expresses the idea of being nothing more than an easily forgotten outline. In “Impressions,” the speaker claims, “… and how lovely/it would be to sign my name where no one else can see,” which expresses the speaker’s deep sensuality, and also her shame for such thinking. In “Silhouettes,” the speaker describes, “Yesterday was simple; we walked unnoticed/through a park. This, you told me,/is where the sides of things come to die. Hand in hand…” It’s the expected scene of two people strolling through a park, except it’s a doomed place.However, I like to think of these as hopeful poems by their final lines. The speaker WILL “sign her name” on her lover wherever she likes. And, even though the other speaker may be surrounded by the death of things she WILL build a relationship alongside her female lover. Afterall, we women are still
…something to marvel at,
lying like fallen branches:
Everyday a woman’s love for a woman is challenged, and
…It takes courage to bother with
the entirety of beauty—
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