Poets of SMITTEN Speak: Crystal Kinistino

Crystal Kinistino is a poet and lover of the written word. She has been previously published in Decanto Poetry Magazine and Indie Blue’s “We Will Not Be Silenced” Anthology. She maintains a feminist blog @ https://medium.com/the-velvet-fist. She is inspired by the works of Virginia Woolf, Sylvia Plath, and Anne Sexton. She is a proud lesbian, radical feminist and half-blood Cree woman residing in the treaty #1 territory of Canada.

How does being an Indigenous lesbian affect your writing?

My personal perspective as it pertains to my writing is female-centric, by that I mean it is intrinsic to being born and raised female in a colonial and patriarchal society. Being a half-breed Cree woman and a lesbian, I don’t fit into the narrative of a conventional or hetero-normative story-line. I have always felt as though I walk a path where these disparate worlds converge. A lot of the themes I explore represent this dichotomy. I explore traditional Indigenous teachings as symbolic in nature and spirituality. I also speak of inter-generational trauma concerning Canada’s genocidal history as it relates to my own resilience and survival.
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?
Many of my poems contain an element of the erotic. The confusion comes when people equate what is erotic with what is sexual as the two are not necessarily the same. I am a lover of women and that experience is not contingent merely on sex. The unfortunate thing is that many people equate lesbian content with either erotica or sex when often this view is very shallow and reductive. It seems for some, it is difficult to conceive of a genuine love between women. Smitten is unique in that it allows for the depth and courage of this experience to be conveyed, which in turn permits such stereotypes to be challenged.
Do you feel the lesbian voice was lost or co-opted by the larger LGBTQ movement and if so, do projects like this help change that?
 

It is important as words matter and they have meaning. Who we are as females has often been co-opted and colonized by the patriarchy, and this remains true. People are free to express themselves along any spectrum of perceived gender and that experience is valid in itself, but we mustn’t conflate gender and sex, as the two, though closely related are not the same. Being a lesbian concerns an inherent female reality which is unique in and of itself. I was grateful to see Smitten as a project put emphasis on that, as it does matter since the lesbian voice has often been excluded from many sectors of society.

What does it mean to you to be part of something like SMITTEN and have your work alongside other women who love women?​

It means I get to be a part of a collective of women who are courageous and creative in their candor. This proves we are not just a fantasy in some unimaginative man’s head. We have variegated and complex experiences which are individual and unique. By gathering our voices from across the oceans and the ages, SMITTEN has allowed us to reclaim the narrative of women loving women in a way that is authentic and empowering.

Crystal Kinistino maintains a stunning blog on WordPress and her unparalleled poetry will be among other talented poets in the anthology SMITTEN coming out at the end of this month. SMITTEN will be available via all good book stores. For latest information on SMITTEN please follow the SMITTEN page on FB

Poets of SMITTEN Speak: Katharine Love

Katharine Love is a psychotherapist and poet. Katharine has just finished her first book, a memoir called The Lesbian Chronicles. Katharine currently resides in the resort town of Collingwood, Ontario with her circus puppy Lucille Pearl.

I love writing both prose and poetry. Poetry gives me licence to access more of my creativity as I can be both truthful and blur the truth in a way I would not with prose. I love writing poems for women loving women, as we are not often represented in poetry. I am writing for women like me that want to read poems with a queer bent.
Woman Motivational Quote Facebook Post(41).pngI was thrilled to find out that Smitten was going to be about lesbian love and not erotica. Erotica has never been something I’m comfortable reading nor writing. I think it’s much sexier to let my imagination run rampant rather than reading something explicit and graphic. For me, a one piece tank swimsuit is  much sexier than a bikini.
I have been Smitten and long to be Smitten again. I wrote the poem Nantucket as an aspirational poem, hoping that my words call Her into my life.
My voice is heard by some, my wish is that my voice to be heard by many more. Smitten is the perfect vehicle to take my particular lesbian voice out into the world.
Woman Motivational Quote Facebook Post(42).pngI was so excited to hear that our lesbian voices are being represented by women aged fourteen all the way to eighty-seven. Different ages bring different perspectives and different experiences. At 62 my experience of love has been coloured by loss in a way that my fourteen year old self couldn’t articulate and that my eighty- seven year old self will  have hopefully forgotten.

SMITTEN is coming out late October, 2019 via all good book stores. Published by Indie Blu(e) www.indieblu.net 

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/

What I learned from my father’s girlfriends #2 Leslie

Canadian Leslie

sensible tweed and corduroy

dressed like 50 at 25

white turtleneck and tanned legs in Winter

a talented skier who told me; don’t slouch kid, you will stunt your growth

she disapproved of children who stayed up later than 6pm

from next door I could hear her twangy voice

then the creek of stairs as they climbed to my father’s room

women from any part of the world make the same sounds

hmm / yes / hmm

Canada, I thought when very young

must be a strange land if it’s covered in snow

and still the girls can be tan and have golden streaks in their hair

she didn’t like European humor or sleeping in on weekends

it makes you fat to be idle, she scolded and ate her sugarless oatmeal

after a while she didn’t like public transport or pub culture

so Leslie applied for a PhD program in animal husbandry and moved to Alberta

where I hear she raised eyes

adopting Vietnamese pigs and falling in love with a man from Beirut

her WASP parents wished she’d stuck with my dad

they weren’t ever going to work

she hadn’t liked my baby photos and wouldn’t watch

film noir detective shows on Friday nights with Indian take-out

she left behind some maple syrup and we poured it

on white toast

because after all, this was before we’d learned

how to make Canadian pancakes and Canadian waffles

from French cooking shows

Full circle

Princess

My neighbors and I played down by the two deep ponds, circled by hedges

warnings unheeded, crashing through nettles into leach infested waters

our Gallic faces screaming in delight at frog spawn and plump lily pads

one sister, a redhead with gap-tooth grin, the other darker, like late season honey

who knew then? Among the crags of the Pyrénées-Orientales, with their Catalan tongues

we’d split and divide like wheat, losing touch, floundering each, to find our way

as kids, our favorite game was building tepees, wearing feathered headdresses

many years later, sitting in a park in Ontario, I met an Ojibwe mistreated by the state

we sat beneath banners and he told me his Algonquian speaking father was full blood

how his people killed their Inuit neighbors and lost their totem in broken alliances

from this he said, they learned, honesty is the only worth a man possesses

his mother was a French migrant, from Perpignan, on the Spanish border

the very same town I first learned to dance, to make it rain, or so I pretended

I wondered, if somehow fate had flung herself in strange arrowed pathways

all leading back to tepees and kind men, who felt mercy without recompense

since I left and became an immigrant, the gentlest souls I have met, carried

Native American blood in their full cheeks and mercy in their hearts

reminding me of daubing my own face with white stripes and how

we never had cowboys or guns in our games, just long striped feathers

and the goodness of children.

 

(For B, Mark, Jean, Crystal, Lane & Jack, who carry the blood and make it count).