Aviva Lilith is a queer poet who, like a flower, enjoys the sway of fate. She’s been writing since elementary school, working towards earning a BFA in creative writing and photography at the New Hampshire Institute of Art. Along with poetry and flowers, she enjoys knitting, cloud gazing, and dumpster diving for new collage materials.
Do you think there is enough representation of lesbian poetry and writing in general and if no, what do you think is the reason?
No, and I don’t think so because lesbian voices are not out there enough, and when they are it is within a community of other lesbian poetry and other lesbian readers and writers. I think I just wish that LGBTQ voices were more integrated and “normal” within the void of everyone else. It is really really nice to have our own community, and I think it’s also necessary in order to be understood and to understand. But my hope is that one day (in my lifetime) there won’t need to be a separation.
When you found out SMITTEN was about women who loved women, without the emphasis on erotica that is usually the case – could you immediately think of ways to express that love through writing?
Absolutely. I feel so much poetry in my head and body when it comes to my love, and I have an entire file full of pieces and whole poems that I don’t feel like I can submit just anywhere. It’s nice to have a place for them to go!
How do cultural differences influence how lesbian and bi writers communicate or experience life?
This is such a huge part of being lesbian/bi, that most people can’t understand unless they are going through the same thing. In my culture, it isn’t really “normal” to be homosexual. I’m lucky my mom is liberal, because with the Jewish community, it’s really hit or miss with this stuff. My dad’s side of the family (hispanic), it wasn’t so easy to come out and still be part of the family. In fact, I was so scared that I didn’t ever come out. Still to this day. My family knows about me, they know I have a girlfriend, but I never got the opportunity to properly come out and get closure about the issue. I have family members that passively dismiss me or post on Facebook about their views while knowing that I could be hurt by these posts. It’s one of the reasons why I deleted my social media.
SMITTEN is a collection from throughout the world we have writers from India, Africa, Australia, Canada, the UK, France and many other countries. What does a multicultural collection accomplish?
Multiculture is so important! How can we understand our own culture if we don’t know what other cultures bring? Especially for artists and poets, culture is so important to get a diverse opinion on this shared experience called life. I depend on learning and understanding others in order to grow and learn about myself.
How is being a JEWISH lesbian different and what does the jewish lesbian voice bring to the table?
Lesbian voices are already marginalized, we aren’t something that just anyone would pick up and read. Being Jewish is something that has always marginalized my voice. This combination is important to me, because there aren’t enough lesbian Jewish poets out there, and I know that growing up, I struggled a lot to test my limits in what I can write or feel or say about being lesbian and Jewish. I wished I had more role models to look up to that were like me. I feel like there’s a specific voice that is always pushed in school, in the media, in America. That voice wasn’t one I could relate to. I needed someone who understood my culture, as anti-semitism has always been in my life. I also needed someone who was apart of my culture to help me understand the feelings I was going through when I started liking girls.
Please consider supporting this project of over 120+ talented poets and authors by purchasing a copy of SMITTEN for someone who appreciates beautiful poetry. https://www.facebook.com/SMITTENwomen/