Erin King lives in southeastern Pennsylvania. Interests include creating fiber art, jewelry making, and the outdoors. She lives with her partner of eight years.
What made you interested in submitting for SMITTEN?
It was a incident of timing, really. Like once a decade I’ll go on a poetry writing binge. There’s this feeling that something is under my skin, that something needs to be expressed. That’s when I write. This coincided nicely with SMITTEN, and it’s such an amazing project. I feel so fortunate to be included.
Since SMITTEN’s launch what’s your response been from others?
Feedback has all been positive. One of my male friends said my work was hot. I’m not one to say hooray about the male gaze on lesbian objects but I didn’t mind; that’s what I was going for in these two poems.
When writing were you thinking about the political implications of your work?
When writing these I wasn’t thinking politically or even socially. I was a woman lusting after another woman. It was definitely a micro level thing. No lofty aspirations here.
Why do you find it important to express yourself through poetry? How does it differ from other mediums?
When I’m working on designing a piece of jewelry or layering an art journal page, things come a lot more naturally. It flows more. Poetry is more deliberate. My ultimate goal is to introduce poetry to visual media like painting and art.
Do you think there are many steroetypes of LGBTQ people and if so, do you think as a writer you can dispel them?
I think there’s a lot of biphobia coming from all sides. We’re fickle, we can’t pick a side, blah blah blah. It’s all bullshit. I’m not sure if I can dispel them, though I am happy to say I’ve been with my Margaret for nine years.
How did you get into writing and what do you get from writing?
I started writing when I was 12. It was pure escapism, a reprieve from an abusive environment. I would come home from school every day and write. When my parents started barging into my room, I’d sit with my back against the door, physically creating a boundary when there were none. It’s not so different when I’m 47. It’s escapism in a different sense. It’s sublimation, a channeling of energy.
Consider purchasing a copy of SMITTEN and supporting this collection of 120 poets who are helping to increase visibility for women who love women. By your support we can do more projects like this and help bring awareness to neglected groups of people who need to be heard.
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Growing up in Europe I didn’t have anything like SMITTEN. My ‘sources’ were hard to find and often took me to oblique and obscure bookstores that had tiny ‘feminism/Lesbian’ (as they were once twinned) sections. Within those sections I found little I could personally relate to. I read Radcliffe Hall’s The Well Of Loneliness, now considered the ‘Bible’ of lesbianism and whether right or wrong, it did set a stage for me, and I loved the style and emotions therein, but over all her book is also very sad, it talks of lesbians as ‘inverts’ who are women trapped inside men’s bodies wishing to live the life men live and love women like men do. That was not my feeling. I was a woman happy to be a woman who wanted to love another woman who was most definitely a woman. (It should be noted many lesbians prefer to identify on the masculine end of the scale and yet identify as masculine women and this is a legit form of love too).
Even now, many years hence, there are divides within the LGBTQ and even lesbian/bi worlds. For some, you are just not considered a lesbian unless you subscribe to some of the dress-code/tough-act code and you are objectified for wanting to take on some of the accoutrement considered ‘heterosexual’ by queers. Likewise, you may be typecast as ‘femme’ (or butch) even in today’s society, as much as anything because since legislation has legalized gay marriage and made it easier in some countries for LGBTQ it has been assumed LGBTQ doesn’t need the same resources and so, there are less lesbian clubs/places to meet than ever before, and more is conducted online which as we all know, can be very hit and miss.
I personally knew of four lesbians who were date-raped when they met their ‘lesbian’ date in real life, after meeting online. In all cases, it was a set-up and there were men involved who took advantage of those women and punished them for being lesbians and not attracted to men. You may think that sounds extreme but having worked at two rape crisis centers I can assure you, it’s as common place now as it was in the seventies. The idea that LGBTQ and lesbians don’t need a ‘safe place’ to meet other like minded people, is too optimistic, it assumes it is now ‘safe’ to be a lesbian, but as any lesbian will tell you, we still fear holding a woman’s hand walking down certain streets. That hasn’t and won’t go away.
Let us not forget, in the vast majority of the world it is still illegal, frowned upon, punished or made impossible to be a lesbian and LGBTQ only pertains to a small percentage of this world in terms of population. If you are an African lesbian, good luck, you risk your life admitting that. So our Western ideas do not apply to the majority of lesbians out there.
Little really good literature is lesbian or LGBTQ, indicative of the stereotyping of LGBTQ literature when it is published and the small minority size of each group. You really have to hunt to find excellent, really well written lesbian literature or poetry. It was my dream to put together a group of authors who embodied love between women and showed the variety and depth of that love. SMITTEN accomplished this with over 120 poets and artists contributing some striking, stirring poems, drawings and thoughts of love and attachment.
SMITTEN was created for those people though I am certain we do not reach nearly enough. But it was my dream that even if we reached a few, even if we reached a girl like myself who went in search of ‘real’ lesbian love in a book store, they could find it. Maybe we haven’t done enough but with every act we hope to raise the consciousness of all people not just LGBTQ. People who may assume because gays have the right to vote and marry and are represented on TV in some countries that they are absolutely free of persecution. This is not the case and while there are many other such minorities who are objectified, ridiculed, stereotyped and minimized, it was my mission to highlight lesbians and women who love women because I am one.
SMITTEN may not have existed when I was really young and had no gay friends, no cohorts who were LGBTQ and no school friends who were even sympathetic or understanding of LGBTQ. I myself didn’t really know enough. I sought refuge in gay bars when old enough but often times found those as judging and uncomfortable as being the only straight. The stereotypes, expectations, reductions and cliches of being a lesbian were as backward among lesbians as among heterosexuals! We had no role-models, nobody to refer to and only a palpable sense of shame emanating from society en mass. Nobody in their right mind wanted their daughter to grow up to be a lesbian, wasn’t that just something that happened like a birth defect or because a mother didn’t do her job right? That was the thinking back then and back then wasn’t ‘that’ long ago!
Consequently I spent more of my youth trying to get by without examining my lesbian identity and enjoying what it could be like to love another woman. I look at photos of very young lesbians now and I envy them their freedom but I am not so naive to assume they are entirely free, as a minute after the photo is taken, they could be beaten up by a mob who didn’t like what they saw. It still happens.
SMITTEN defies the hate, bigotry and misunderstanding of lesbianism. SMITTEN isn’t about women fucking other women for porn. SMITTEN isn’t about stereotypical lesbians created by heterosexual men. SMITTEN isn’t angry and hateful as some feminist backlash can be. SMITTEN is about this: Love IS LOVE.
Please support SMITTEN by gifting it to an LGBTQ person you care about, or buying it for yourself irrespective of your gender and sexual orientation, because love IS love and it transcends everything. If you like poetry, or you support LGBTQ inclusion and visibility then your support of SMITTEN can person by person, change everything. And if you cannot do that, perhaps think of requesting SMITTEN from your local library or purchasing the less expensive Kindle version (although it should be said the print version of SMITTEN is sumptuous!). YOUR support helps little girls growing up today, grow up to have a VERY different outlook in life, one without as much fear and isolation.
All the places I have been
and sat, and wept, and dried my tears
moving on to another destination
leaving you there
in shards, in bottle tops, in crumpled napkins and cigarette box
leaving you there
in unmade sheets, flung wide windows, ageless sea gracing our loss
with her eternity.
I have run from you, I have gathered wood and returned, I have blown us up
and patched us back together
and all this time you have been gone
long and lost like the sea shell necklace made at 17
at the bottom of the ocean, where you pickle white turn into effervescence
in the corner of my vision, crossing my path ever more and never again
for lovers who are lost, for lovers riding trains alone with a ghost
for you who stroked me in ways that left me alive when you were not for you who is no…
Once a book is published it is easy after the first attention-packed week to forget it requires a consistent and steady stream of support. We spend months creating a project and then when it’s for sale, the rally cry can lose steam in the wake of other distractions. But SMITTEN is more than a distraction, it’s a movement, a necessary voice, and we’re asking that all who consider themselves friends of LGBTQ equality, to act in support of SMITTEN by keeping the momentum going.
SMITTEN This Is What Love Looks Like – Poetry by Women for Women is a project of 120 Poets and Artists come together to raise the visibility of women in the LGBTQ movement. Your support of SMITTEN, be it financial or by helping raise awareness, will help ensure projects like this continue.
It may appear LGBTQ has a great deal of publicity but within that larger arena, women are often marginalized and their individual needs as lesbian and bi females, are minimized. The purpose of SMITTEN was to UN co-opt the voices of women who love other women and give them their own arena.
SMITTEN is a project about love, and relationships between women. Sometimes humorous, sometimes quixotic, the connections women form with one another are unique and unforgettable. They deserve their own stage.
Published by Indie Blu(e) Publishing, SMITTEN depends upon the support of pro-LGBTQ equality advocates who want to see projects like this continue. Anthologies like this are not about profit, they seek to educate, illuminate and appreciate fringe subjects that are often over-looked and neglected. SMITTEN seeks committed individuals who want to help it succeed as the ultimate anthology of poetry by women for women (and everyone else!). This is a universal, no borders project, embracing diversity, inclusion and a safe space to be ones authentic self.
Support SMITTEN by purchasing a copy and donating it, gifting it, keeping it or passing it on to your local library. Encourage your libraries and local LGBTQ organizations to obtain copies of SMITTEN. Highlight SMITTEN in your own social media and reach out to those you feel may appreciate SMITTEN. As a small indie micro press, we rely upon our authors and supporters to help spread the word, so that we can continue to publish such collections in the future.
If everyone who said they supported SMITTEN kept reaching out to others, we’d form a chain that would grow in strength and SMITTEN would get the visibility its talented poets who speak on behalf of all marginalized people, so richly deserve.
With a single purchase, you add your support and gratitude to those 120 creative poets who have come together to raise visibility and awareness of a beautiful minority. Equality only comes with awareness. Awareness only comes with your support.