youthful face and the grace with which you accept love
how natural and easy it feels
I recall how I began
hiding in dark bars, trying to fit in, failing
never one to play endless games of poker face
I didn’t fit in with my own kind then
but if I’d been you
born in the sun with your turquoise eyes like the Donovan song
I might have had on my arm
a whole host of dreams and not
dabbled in boys for a few futile and unhappy years or
felt I couldn’t have had children and let
my fear and my constraint decide for me
you are the age my daughter might be
and I would like to think I’d have
done all you have done had I been born
in a time of greater acceptance where
women who love women can grow their hair
and not have to cling to stereotypes or subterfuge
carrying knots of shame and confusion
like blankets never stretched out and slept on
I would have gotten a tattoo and maybe
been less shy and apologetic
I remember at 18 that’s all I seemed to do
sorry to my family for not having turned out straight
sorry to my friends for being the odd one out
sorry to the gays on the march who thought
with my dresses and my long tresses I was a weekend
if they only knew
what it took and what I sacrificed
maybe they understand now
but we’re all a little older and
you don’t recapture what you felt at 18
you remember it like a language
I spoke the language of trial and error
I suspect you speak the language of love
just a little freer
so forgive me if I envy you as you walk past me
hand in hand, laughing, the edges of your hair
hitting your waist
like a Summer tidal wave.
SMITTEN – This is What Love Looks Like – Poetry by women for women – an anthology of poetry published by Indie Blu(e) will be out OCTOBER 2019 and available through all good book sellers. Please consider following SMITTEN’s FB page at https://www.facebook.com/SMITTENwomen/
If you are interested in supporting this project in any way please contact me @ email@example.com. All LGBTQ projects are a little more challenging to succeed and we want the 120_+ poets who have work in SMITTEN to be read by many! Indie Blu(e) and their submissions rules can be found at www.indieblu.net
Thank you to the incredible Kristiana Reed for this advance review of SMITTEN, Indie Blu(e)’s latest poetry anthology which will be published this Fall.
Candice Daquin and the editors at Indie Blu(e) Publishing have worked their magic once more in raising a powerful chorus of voices.
Daquin is a woman who has always sought to empower others from the first moment I became acquainted with her work and her nature. I also cannot think of a better person and writer to spearhead a body of work which celebrates love between two women.
The writers and styles within this collection, which Daquin has woven seamlessly together, are varied – eclectic and powerful yet with the same, strong undercurrent coursing through every piece that this is what love looks like.
It is possible people will read the sub-heading of SMITTEN and assume this is an exclusive collection; only accessible if you are woman who loves or has loved a woman. But, what is truly wonderful is this isn’t true at all. Instead, SMITTEN holds and nurtures love poems to be read and enjoyed by anyone. After all, for centuries, we have consumed and enjoyed love poems written about women, by men. Why should the fact that the poet is a woman cause the response to be any different?
‘Testimony’ by Carolyn Martin is one of the best examples of this. The nature of love and relationships does not suddenly change if it is not heterosexual; the essence of loving someone beyond belief even on the days they annoy you to distraction, remains.
However, even though SMITTEN is not exclusive, it must be recognised as an anthology paving a new way for literature. All of the writers are female and all of the subject matter is female, lesbian, bisexual and more. Pieces such as ‘Lesbian’ by Avital Abraham and ‘Pulse’ by Melissa Fadul drive home why Daquin’s decision to create a collection like this is needed and welcomed.
Too often we sideline LGBTQ+ work as a genre of its own, when it should be mainstream; literary works which are written by people to be enjoyed by people, no matter what their race, sexuality, gender and/or religion.
Yet, until this happens, I applaud Daquin and Indie Blu(e) Publishing for brazenly making a stand. Until labels are but words and not identifiers, it is important that writers like those in this collection share their voices and stories, ever-lasting love and heartbreak, and their hopes and fears, to remind the literary world they will be heard, no matter what the response may be.