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/

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Authors of SMITTEN Speak: Tremaine Loadholt

Tre L. Loadholt is a Writer/Editor located in Southeast US. She has been published in several literary journals, anthologies, and print magazines. She has also published three poetry books; Pinwheels and Hula Hoops, Dusting for Fingerprints, and A New Kind of Down. Her work can be found at https://acorneredgurl.com and https://medium.com/a-cornered-gurl.

How does poetry and identifying as lesbian/bi come together for you?  

Poetry and being a bisexual woman come together for me just as a melody would to poignant lyrics for the soul. One does not exist without the other. Poetry is my love language–in most cases, it’s how I express myself. Thus, being poetical while being bisexual is a constant in-sync process, it is a truth that will more than likely be a lifelong fact.

How does being a poet inform your views on expressing emotions through writing?

I do not like to use the term “poet,” as I do not write only poetry. I much rather like using the term “writer.” But, when focusing on poetry, and how it informs my views on expressing emotions, as I stated above, poetry is my love language. It is what I turn to regarding matters of the heart, political rants, calls for peace, and religious expressions. Poetry keeps me mindful and centered. It opens up new ways for me to fully be who I am through the use of words and to share that aspect of myself openly with others.

Why is love a worthier subject than erotica to write on?

Love is beauty in many phases and stages and oftentimes indescribable. To speak about the purity of love between two people and what it brings to both of them without being sexually altered or enhanced is a welcome reprieve–it is a break from the norm that many pieces of poetry written regarding lesbians or bisexual women rarely see. Pure, unadulterated love in writing is a thing in which I would like to see much more.Woman Motivational Quote Facebook Post(44).png

Do you feel your voice is heard? Do you believe anthologies like this can help you be heard?

I do. I was ecstatic to hear about the project and instantly thought, “this is going to be such an uplifting piece of art for many women!” So far, I see that I am not the only one who thought so. I think anthologies like this not only inform people but it further connects those of us within the LGBTQ community with our tribe. More should exist.


How does loving a woman differ from loving a man or being completely heterosexual and how is this conveyed in the form of poetry?

During my “in the closet years” to almost everyone who knew me, living the heterosexual lie was draining. I can openly say that loving a woman versus loving a man are two totally different acts of love. I have always felt that I can be as affectionate, outgoing, expressive, bold, and strong with the women that I have loved. Nothing ever truly needed to be altered or died down for me to love them and for them to love me. Woman Motivational Quote Facebook Post(43).png

However, in loving a man, I have often felt that I have had to step back, give him the spotlight, try not to be as independent, and show that I rely on him in areas where the ego can be stroked. One thing, “love,” however, split to properly gift each gender what I have come to learn each needs. I have written about this in many of my poems or other long-form writings that I have shared and I am sure I will continue to do so. Not only is it a mind-boggling happenstance, but it is also one that keeps me on my toes.

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/

Poets of SMITTEN Speak: Sarah Karowski

Sarah Karowskiis a 26-year-old writer and poet. She has a bachelor’s degree in Creative Writing from the University of North Texas in Denton, Texas, and she currently resides with her fiancé and dogs in Tallahassee, Florida. Her work has been featured on Mad Swirl, the Same, Sheepshead Review, Thimble Literary Magazine, and she was a runner-up in The Blue Nib chapbook contest. You can find her on most social media as @ladysarahwrites

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

This collection is something different entirely. Not pandering to, but in celebration of queer women. As a bisexual women in a committed relationship with a man, I feel especially honored to be apart of this. As if my identity is being validated. I feel even more apart of the lgbtq community than I ever have before, because my feelings and experiences are valid, even if I’m with a man now. I’ve loved women, I’ve loved them so much, the ache of them can still be felt in my bones, if I move the right way. Just because I’m with a man doesn’t erase that experience, and it means so much to be included among all of these talented women.Woman Motivational Quote Facebook Post(30).png

Did you ever want to be a voice for the lesbian/bi community? If so, why?

To be honest, I never thought I’d be. I’ve always loved this community, held on for dear life in some of the darkest moments of my life, but I never thought I’d be standing at the front for a time. I’ve always felt so strongly, and when I feel, I write. If those feelings can reach other young lgbtq women, and make them feel valid & less alone, then it’s an honor. I just never thought my feelings would be the ones chosen to do so.Woman Motivational Quote Facebook Post(31).png

Why is love a worthier subject than erotica to write on?

I’m a fan of intimacy. Sex is a form of intimacy, yes, and boy it’s sure fun, but it’s not the most intoxicating form for me. I live for the small moments, the camera lens zoomed & focused. How their hands rest on my hip, how their eyes glance & linger, the warmth of their smile when excitement bursts from them: these are all things much more intimate than sex. While sex is beautiful, and fun, and exciting, I think love makes us want to be alive. Love makes us pay attention to what makes life beautiful. And I think that’s much more interesting of a subject.

How does being a poet inform your views on expressing emotions through writing?

I’ve always felt things so deeply. Is that a cliche? My emotions are a physical sensation for me: bones breaking, veins throbbing, skin withering. Poetry is the best vehicle for which to explore and make sense of this. Metaphor is the best gift I’ve been given. I can tell people when I’m sad, it feels like my bones are roots weaving themselves into my mattress, trapping me in sheets. And they can awkwardly laugh, confused by an overexaggerated joke, but if I put that in a poem people can finally understand. Poetry becomes a way for me to actually be heard, and understood.

Whom are your favorite lesbian writers and why?

Can I be really cliche here? I’m going to expand that to bisexual writers as well and say Emily Dickinson. I’m a queer poet, of course I love Emily Dickinson. She changed the game for me. She threw out convention and wasn’t afraid to write how she felt. Love, beauty, wonder—she wrote in a way that made you really understand her. That’s what I want to do.Woman Motivational Quote Facebook Post(32).png

Contemporarily speaking, I’m quite a fan of Trista Mateer. Her poetry collection Honeybee is an ode to queer women, and women loving women. I read that poetry collection to inspire the poems I wrote for SMITTEN. So perfectly does it snapshot the confusion of your first love, especially when that first love is a women.

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/

Poets of SMITTEN Speak: Susie Fought

Susie Fought’s words have been published in various small collections including three volumes of BREW, available on Lulu Press. Born and raised in the San Francisco Bay Area, she now lives with too many dogs in Berkeley, California. www.susiefought.com

Favorite lesbian writer? I think it’s a toss-up between June Jordan and Dorothy Allison. If you’ve ever heard Dorothy read, you’ll know what I’m talking about when I say she makes me squirm in my seat.Woman Motivational Quote Facebook Post(33).png I once saw a film clip of June Jordan reading Poem About My Rights and it made me jump up and stomp my feet and yell out HELL YES! Other lesbian writers I’ve enjoyed include Jane Rule, Gertrude Stein, Alice Walker, Joan Nestle, Sarah Schulman, Jeanette Winterson, Audre Lorde, Jewelle Gomez, and Leslie Feinberg.

I write prose poetry because it’s all I know how to write! I dabble in fiction but it’s not what naturally flows out of me and there are others who do it so much better. Longing (being smitten) is a common theme for me.

I’ve never been a fan of erotica and so I was thrilled to hear about SMITTEN and even more so to be included in the anthology!

I think it’s fantastic that SMITTEN includes poems by women from all over the world and I am humbled to be included.

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/

 

Poets of SMITTEN Speak: Melissa Fadul

Melissa Fadul lives in New York with her wife, dog and two rabbits. She teaches English Literature and Advanced Placement Psychology.  She loves animals, poetry, and film and photography and baseball and screenwriting. Melissa is currently writing her second poetry manuscript and a screenplay.  Melissa hopes that someday she can work with her favorite actresses: Naomi Watts, Rachel Weisz, Cate Blanchett and Mariska Hargitay.

Is the Die Really Cast?

I was a sophomore and part of GLU (the gay and lesbian union as it was called then) getting my undergraduate degree in New York and two years younger than twenty-one-year-old Matthew Shepard, when barbed wire pierced his wrists as he was pinned to a fence on a chilly October evening. After his assailants, Aaron McKinney and Russell Henderson thumped his skull, dented it, they stole his shoes and wallet before running him over in a pick-up truck— leaving him for dead in Wyoming dark.

He was found by a young boy riding his bicycle the next morning, eighteen hours later. From a distance, he thought Matthew was a scarecrow. As the boy rode closer, he saw a man—a man whose face was marred and sopped in blood—except where tears skidded down his cheeks.

Twenty-one years later, I still repeat to myself, that could have been me. I could have been murdered for being a lesbian. In Unclaimed Experience: Trauma, Narrative and History, Cathy Caruth states, “Freud describes a pattern of suffering that is inexplicably persistent in the lives of certain individuals. Perplexed by the terrifyingly literal nightmares of battlefield survivors and the repetitive reenactments of people who have experienced painful events, Freud wonders at the peculiar and sometimes uncanny way in which catastrophic events seem to repeat themselves for those who have passed through them” (1).Woman Motivational Quote Facebook Post(23).png

Bearing this in mind, it’s high time that America give credence to the power of vulnerability. However, how and why should we do this when Webster, Random House and any other dictionary defines vulnerable as weakness? The only way to look and accept ourselves as civil beings is to admit without metaphor or interpretation what it means to be human—which means we must muster the courage to reconcile our exiled musings of private vulnerabilities. It means redefining the fast food, bizarre definition of the word, vulnerable.

Thus, my reason for contributing to Smitten. I’m not naïve enough to think that by writing this essay (which seems more like a manifesto) that most will be influenced to come-of-age and pass through some rite-of-passage. One must experience to comprehends the acute power kindness and empathy possess when one
is courageous enough to be vulnerable. Momentarily, there was a bit of ambivalence to submit to Smitten—a reluctance born of unfounded anxiety—coupled with my semi-introverted nature that drew up useless excuses: I’m too intense, no one will like these pieces, they’re too graphic, etc.

However, I remembered my purpose—my students who I write for—the ones who can’t speak for themselves because of their own political hinderances—youth who can’t conjure the duende within—nor know how to use the ordinary world as a catalyst and objective correlative that stands at a distance in order to bear witness.

Woman Motivational Quote Facebook Post(24).pngI recalled my vulnerability-my greatest strength which includes the courage to believe that people do desire to listen to strangers’ stories—to really feel something especially when tragedy is on the frontlines of the tongue. This evergreen notion is a pattern I’ve noticed made most explicably apparent through the vehicle of trauma and disaster. According to Nicole Cooley, “to think about how disaster produces speech, writing, and testimony and disaster is reproduced through language. I’m not talking about disaster as metaphor in poetry but about a poetry that arises in direct response to a disaster, a poetry of disaster” Cooley, Nicole. “Poetry and Disaster” American Poet, Volume 39 Fall Nov. 2010, pp. 3-5.

My submission to Smitten has tried serve as witnesses for the LGBTQ community and its allies. These pieces are designed to be umbilicals which help guide those who need it through the uprising of Stonewall and the shooting in Orlando’s gay club, Pulse. There’s almost half a century of time between these two events with Matthew Shepard’s murder in between—not to mention countless other hate crimes that are recognized by law enforcement and the LGBTQ community.Woman Motivational Quote Facebook Post(25).png

Ideally, in a utopia these tragedies should antagonize peace. They haven’t—nor will the next one. Nevertheless, the autonomy and my hope lie with the idea that it will create nonviolent conversation. My primary point was to create a Socratic discussion in which all voices are heard and inquiry based on all beliefs are supported.

According to her breakthrough non-fiction work, Catalysis, Dr. Alice Maher states, human understanding needs a language all its own, an Emotional Literacy that synthesizes insights from multiple disciplines. It must be codified and taught, using theory literature, thought experiments and daily exercises, until it exists on a par with other major subjects in a K-12- PHD curriculum. Emotional Literacy needs to be taught and practiced until our species becomes fluent, until the best are recognized and supported in their rise to leadership. (Maher 15).

One way to understand how Emotional Literacy works is by understanding how to ask someone a question even if one party is fuming because their subjective isn’t synonymous with the other party’s. It seems obvious—still I don’t know if as a species we know how to speak to one another in a way where there’s room for empathy, which always deems itself essential in order to reach the duende state of vulnerability.Woman Motivational Quote Facebook Post(26).png

For example, if a discussion between two people begins on a calm and a bit of trust is created between those two individuals, when one person feels like he, she or they can be vulnerable that step will be taken. However, if the other person’s approach and angle into the discussion is volatile and branded apathetic, the option of sympathy or empathy dissipates quickly. If that occurs, the true meaning of that dialogue could be lost—Thus, truth and vulnerability aren’t reached. Maher goes on to add, “be curious, invite the person to talk about his/her childhood and share your own similar-but-different experiences.

Remember that your beliefs come from a personal center too and are probably equally distorted as a result. Be curious about your own distortions and try not to be too triggered by theirs. In order to succeed with Maher’s recipe for serenity, we must be willing to view our own distortions—that means being vulnerable. Can you bear it?Woman Motivational Quote Facebook Post(27).png

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/

Poets of SMITTEN Speak: Kay Shamblin

Kay Shamblin is a lesbian poet, student, and avid D&D player based in Louisville, Kentucky. Her poetry has been published in theWhiteSquirreland OROBORO, and her most recent work is centered around body horror, eroticism and intimacy.

I started writing poetry before I realized I was a lesbian, but I started getting serious about my writing at around the same time that I started to really question my sexuality. One of the moments where my sexuality became clear to me was when I realized that I wanted to write poetry for this girl so badly, but I that had never wanted to write poems for the men that I dated. I write on my sexuality a lot now, in less of a political way and more of a confessional or introspective way. Before I knew I was a lesbian, my poetry felt artificial. Now it feels raw.

I don’t really see any tropes in work by women who love women that get on my nerves, but I get really heated at some of the portrayals of gay women by straight writers. If I see one more oversexualized, male gaze-y, predatory depiction of gay women I’m going to scream.Woman Motivational Quote Facebook Post(28).png

I don’t think that love is a worthier subject to write on than erotica. The two intertwine so often that I feel like it’s a disservice to both subjects to act as though they’re completely divorced from one another or working against each other. I’ve found that one of the more important parts of my journey as a poet has been finding ways to combine themes of romance and eroticism in poetry, especially since women who love women are so often objectified.

It’s a reclamation to be able to talk about sex and love concurrently and on my own terms, all the while having the power to frame this conversation in the ways that I want. Poetry, especially love poetry, is as much for myself as it is for the girl I’m writing about. It’s a way to shed all the stigma surrounding the ways that gay women express sex and love. To express a shameless outpouring of yearning and say “Look! I’m not predatory! I’m in love!” is reclamation in itself.

I’m so, so smitten with my girlfriend. As much as I want to get cocky and say that I can put that feeling into words, I know that there are some things that are bigger than poetry. My love poems go through more drafts than any other of the pieces I write because of that desire to get things across exactly as I mean them. I come back to the same images/situations a lot in love poetry just because there are certain things that really hit me in the heartstrings. I have insomnia, so I end up spending a lot of time awake, holding my girlfriend as she sleeps. There’s so much intimacy and tenderness wrapped up in those moments, and I come back to them a lot when I’m writing for her. For me, writing on that feeling is as close as I can get to transcribing love.Woman Motivational Quote Facebook Post(29).png
I love my chosen poem! It’s a labor of love that has become really dear to my heart. Over this past summer, my girlfriend and I were living in different cities and didn’t see each other that often. We were texting and sending each other love letters to fill that space that distance left, and that’s where this poem began. This started as a few lines in the notes app on my phone that I wrote and texted her during my lunch break, but I ended up coming back to it. There were a few months where almost the only writing I worked on was this poem, and that’s why I submitted it here. I put a lot of love into this piece, and there’s a lot of love to get out of it.

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/

Poets of SMITTEN Speak: Aviva Lilith

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.Woman Motivational Quote Facebook Post(19).png

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. Woman Motivational Quote Facebook Post(20).pngMy 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.Woman Motivational Quote Facebook Post(21).png

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/