Poets of SMITTEN Speak: Charity Muse

Charity M. Muse writes about love between women, social justice, and LGBTQ+ spirituality.  In addition to being a writer, she is a speaker, therapist, and empowerment coach, is married to an amazing woman, and is “Momma C” to two wonderful kids. She is currently working on her first novel, tentatively titled By Heart. Charity’s writing and work as a singer/songwriter can be found at charitymmuse.com.

Woman Motivational Quote Facebook Post(15).pngDo you find any stereotypes in lesbian/bi work that you would personally remove?

I often find that along with under-representation, the stereotypes of erotica and objectification continue to prevail. What disturbs me most is the continuation of the so called “Celluloid Closet” – an underlying message that lesbian relationships cannot last, are not valid, cannot be ultimately fulfilling. We see it in the death of partners, the leaving for a man, and other tragic and unhappy endings that far outweigh the few gems with hopeful resolutions. While even heteronormative stories have tragedies, I think it’s past time for lesbian romances to have happy endings, hope, and redemption that celebrates a winning love between women.Woman Motivational Quote Facebook Post(16).png

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

I am deeply honored to be included in this work. Even before I came out to myself and others, I felt drawn to women who embraced their love of other women. I have been moved by the trailblazers in our community who have dared to love and be without apology. I feel like being part of this is one way I can continue the work they began, and the fact I get to work alongside other women who love women, who are from all over the world makes this experience all the more affirming and delightful.

Woman Motivational Quote Facebook Post(17).pngDid you ever want to be a voice for the lesbian/bi community? If so, why?

Yes, and I still do. When I sit and think about it, I already have been/am in my own circles of influence – in spiritual communities, in the religious college I attended for undergrad and grad school. In my day job, as a psychotherapist in a small southern town, I continue to be a voice for our community. I desire to instill hope and spread a message of belonging and love in whatever I do: as a therapist, a friend, a writer, a singer, and a citizen. I firmly believe that relationship changes the minds of people who would “other” us, and I’ve taken it as my life mission to stand in that gap in the ways that I can. What is more intimate than poetry and writing from the heart?

Your poems in SMITTEN are excellent, why did you choose these particular poems and what did you hope it would convey to readers?

“Merveilleux” and “Words” were written when I was still closeted, falling in love with a friend and terrified of her finding out. The tenderness I felt for her permeated my waking thoughts while the fear of being exposed caused a juxtaposition of thought and feeling I found almost too difficult to bear.  “Your Hair Hangs Down,” on the other hand, celebrates the freedom and beauty of the love I share with my wife. I hope readers see the hopeful nature of the first two and how they bloom into flourishing as love is found and embraced.

Do you feel the lesbian / bi voice was lost or co-opted by the larger LGBTQ movement and if so, do projects like this help change that? \

Unfortunately, I do. I believe in expansion and inclusion, but I also believe that we cannot expand or include if we circumvent the voices and experiences of any of our own. Sometimes, it feels like identifying as “lesbian” has become vanilla. We aren’t seen as forward thinking or inclusive by not identifying as a more recent term or by not rejecting labels altogether. I believe that this project and other writings/music/art will demonstrate the vivacity, richness, and ever progressive nature of love shared between two 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/

 

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Artists of SMITTEN Speak: Grace Desmarais

Grace Desmarais is a queer illustrator and cartoonist currently living in a cozy corner of Eastern Massachusetts. Grace self-publishes auto-bio comics centered around themes of trauma, dis/ability, chronic illness, and art history. Grace’s work has been featured in a variety of anthologies including the Votes for Women Anthology (to be published Fall 2020) and her editorial work has been featured in magazines, including Bright Lite.

How does art and identifying as bi/queer come together for you?

Art making and my identity (as a queer woman) is mostly about community. I find myself going to drawing nights and comics festivals where fellow cartoonists are mostly queer, then cultivating incredible relationships with all of them. Being in an accepting community where I can feel safe (and heard) being myself drives me to create more honest and positive art.

Woman Motivational Quote Facebook Post(18).pngHow does being an artist/cartoonist inform your views on expressing emotions through art-making?

Everywhere I go I always have my sketchbook. I am constantly coming across moments throughout the day where I will think “I have to draw that” or “that’s going to be a comic.” I think viewing life in this way allows me to hold on to child like enchantment with the world around me instead of being a cynic. As I have started to write and illustrate children’s books I have also found myself really trying to harness that magical excitement about the world and transform it into something meaningful. I feel like an alchemist or a witch when I sit down to draw and write– and I think that is really what being an artist is.

Have you ever been SMITTEN and if so, do you feel it’s possible to summarize those feelings in art?

I am absolutely smitten now. I have struggle feeling affirmed in my bi identity, primarily because I had been intimate with cis-straight-men, which was incredibly dysphoric. Now I am absolutely smitten with a partner who is also bi and it is so incredibly affirming. I feel far more seen in this relationship than I ever have. The way that translates into my art I also think is interesting, my art and comics practice is really rolling. Since I am happy and affirmed I make more work– there is nothing more that I want as an artist, particularly a queer artist, but to dispel the notion of the suffering artist makes more or better work.

In this happy relationship, where I feel affirmed and smitten, I make more work than I ever have. I feel comfortable exploring the tender sensitive side of myself because I feel comfortable being tender and sensitive in my intimacy.

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

I think the power of anthologies is to diversify an art medium and movement by getting as many folks as possible to feel seen in their experiences and to create allyship in creative communities.  I have been a victim and survivor of violent crime and I am constantly struggling against my chronic conditions, by bringing my art to the table it allows me to feel heard. However, as a white woman in a hetero-presenting relationship I carry a lot of power and privilege, and I think it is also my responsibility to be a proactive ally in intersectional movements by recognizing the power I hold.

How if at all has the experience of being lesbian/bi changed over the years? And how has this influenced you?

My identity as a bi woman has always felt like something that just existed. I always knew that I was queer– I just didn’t know how to articulate it. My experience at Hampshire College definitely made me feel comfortable in being more loud and proud of my queer identity. As for how it’s changed my art? I think it really hasn’t changed my art as much as it’s changed how I think about art making. I think a lot about ways my art making can help community or help kids feel seen and heard– that is definitely a product of being more involved in queer communities.

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: Amie Campbell

After coming of age in a conservative Christian environment, Amie Campbell didn’t come fully into herself until she found herself turning thirty, getting divorced, and raising two small children. It was then that she accepted that her love was not limited to one gender and she allowed herself to fall head over heels for a beautiful woman, thinking it would last forever.

Have you ever been SMITTEN and if so, do you feel it’s possible to summarize those feelings in poetry?

I think “smitten” is my most common state of being. It’s probably my favorite emotional state. Life just feels good when you’re smitten. It’s such an optimistic and curious state of being. I don’t know that it is possible to summarize those feelings in poetry, but rather a poem can give you a little glimpse into that very special state of being.

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

As a bi woman who “came out” later on in life, I feel like I struggle a lot with that feeling of “am I queer enough?” There’s the bi stigma met with a heaping dose of impostor syndrome that sometimes can make it hard to feel like I fit in with the queer community. Being involved in this epic project, even just a little bit, feels like a huge leap of validation. I am enough. My love is enough.

Woman Motivational Quote Facebook Post(11).pngSMITTEN 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?

It sounds almost cliche to say that love is love, but a collection like this, with writers from all over the globe and all over the age spectrum, shows how universal love truly is. It doesn’t matter what continent you are from, what language you speak, we all want to love and be loved. We may experience love slightly differently or express it in different words and ways, but in the end, the emotion of love is the same.

Do you think there is enough representation of lesbian poetry and writing in general and if no, what do you think is the reason?

Is there enough? Oh goddess, no! The lesbian experience is so rarely seen in the general audience, and even when it does come to light, is often cloaked in euphemisms and hushed tones. I think this is because the lesbian experience holds a certain power that is terrifying to the patriarchy. Women who love women, women who are not dependent upon men for their needs to be met, those women have such dynamic power that is wild and earthly and that’s scary to some.

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: Tan Shivers

Tan Shivers is from Charleston, SC. She started writing poetry at age seven and has been writing ever since. Tan considers poetry to be one of her favorite therapeutic outlets. She recently published her first collection of poetry, Dark Days Lit Nights – Distant Memories… Up Close and Personal. Some of Tan’s previous work has also been featured in Transcendent Zero Press’ Harbinger Asylum and the Rising Phoenix Review.

Do you think there is enough representation of lesbian poetry and writing in general and if no, what do you think is the reason?

There doesn’t seem to be enough representation, but I think that the more people feel comfortable enough to come out of their shells to                    talk more freely about their experiences (i.e. women who are sexually fluid) then that’s when we’ll begin to see more poetry and generally                more writing on those experiences. Majority of my sexual encounters have been with women who identify as “heterosexual” and they             identify as “heterosexual” only because they feel they may be rejected by their families and/or religious communities if they were to live             their truth.  So the more open we are about women loving other women, the more we inspire people to put their experiences and their             feelings to paper.Woman Motivational Quote Facebook Post(12).png

Do you feel projects like this help dispel some of the ignorance surrounding lesbian/bi love?

Yes, projects like this are much needed because they help educate people outside of the LGBTQ community on lesbian/bi love and             allows the reader to see that lesbian/bi love is just… love. Projects like this show how universal love really is; the ups and downs, the joy,             the pain, the bliss, and everything in between. We can all relate to those things no matter what our sexual orientation.

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

Love is a worthier subject simply because love is eternal. While erotica plays an obvious role in love, it’s sort of a by product of love,                        meaning with love comes emotions, sexual feelings, desire etc. So because love is all encompassing of those things, it makes love a more             noble pursuit and a worthier subject to write on.Woman Motivational Quote Facebook Post(13).png

Do you think lesbians/bi’s are more objectified and if so, why? What can we do about it?

This anthology is a great way to help “de-objectify” lesbians/bi’s as it focuses solely on love. Since love is universal, anyone can relate to             the writings in this anthology without being distracted by elements of erotica that sometime lead to that objectification in the first place.             Indie Blu(e) is definitely on the right path to not only “de-objectify”, but also to put emphasis on the universal elements of love that are             shared by all who partake in love’s vast offerings.

Woman Motivational Quote Facebook Post(14).pngSMITTEN 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? 

I applaud Indie Blu(e) for including works from women all around the world. To say that a multicultural collection is important would be             an understatement. Having various perspectives on love gives credence to love’s universal power and shows the reader that a girl walking             down the crowded streets of Mumbai daydreaming about her secret crush is just the same as the girl in Johannesburg who hides love             letters under her bed waiting for the day she musters up the courage to deliver them to the girl of her dreams. Multicultural collections             such as SMITTEN, give the reader a hidden view of the woman in Sydney who cries herself to sleep  every night because her heart aches             for the woman that left because she couldn’t handle the pressure of keeping their love a secret. Anthologies like this one puts on full             display love’s ability to conquer fear like those of the woman in Toronto who finally found the courage to introduce her life partner to her             family for the first time. Yes, this anthology is important because somewhere in England, there’s a woman questioning her sexuality and             she needs to know that the tingly feelings she gets whenever she sees the girl at the local coffee shop every morning are perfectly normal             and that it’s okay to explore those feelings. SMITTEN is a much needed collection because there’s a woman in Paris whose mind             constantly replays the chance encounter she had with a woman while catching a train at the metro and that chance encounter has             reshaped her entire perspective on what love is and what it can be.

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 Series: Carolyn Martin

From associate professor of English to management trainer to retiree, Carolyn Martinis a lover of gardening and snorkeling, feral cats and backyard birds, writing and photography. Her fourth poetry collection, A Penchant for Masquerades, was released by Unsolicited Press in 2019. Find out more about Carolyn at www.carolynmartinpoet.com.

I was a late bloomer both in poetry (Didn’t write what I would call a “real” poem until I was 27) and in my sexual identity (Didn’t settle into the comfort of knowing I am a lesbian until my early 40s.) Perhaps growing up in the 1950s, entering a Roman Catholic convent in 1963, and leaving 20 years later accounted for the latter. Anyway, it thrills me when young women embrace their identity – whatever that may be – early on, and are encouraged to grow into the incredible human beings they are born to be. To have poets from ages 14 to 87 in this anthology is a gift to all ages.

Woman Motivational Quote Facebook Post(8).pngWhen I saw the call for submissions for an anthology about women loving women, I had already published a number of poems about my relationship with my life partner of (now) 27 years. These poems had nothing to do with erotica – that’s not my scene – but with a couple living everyday life with all its quirks and quarrels, endearments and enlightenments. What thrilled me – and this is an important theme in Smitten— is that the details of this woman/woman relationship appealed to a universal audience.

As I say in a poem, we make “love visible to those with eyes to see.” And readers want to see how love can evolve in any kind of relationship.

It is gratifying that so many journals today say they are looking for diverse voices from POC to LGBTQ authors. To have doors open to traditionally underrepresented writers can only enrich art. However, being an iconoclast, I don’t imagine myself a spokesperson for any group. My bio makes no mention of my sexual identity and probably never will. I want my work to be judged on its own merits, not on the fact I am a lesbian – and, indeed, a happy one. Good writing is good writing in spite of the author’s sexual identity. And that good writing can help dispel stereotypes and misconceptions about any minority by being authentically human.Woman Motivational Quote Facebook Post(9).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 Series: Marie Prichard

Marie Prichard is a longtime writer and educator. She lives on an island in the Pacific Northwest with her wife, their two wiener dogs, and a Munchkin cat. She loves reading, writing, walking the beach, and filling her wife’s pockets with heart rocks.

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

I have always considered myself a writer. I love language and find the ability to put my thoughts on paper cathartic. Writing poetry is especially healing. Poetry helps me express the depth of my emotions and allows me to write my truth of pain and healing more expressively than writing the facts.

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

I am proud to be included in a book that represents the way women can love other women: gently, passionately, and completely. I feel that books like Smitten will help lift those who are struggling to accept themselves. I am excited to be a part of this collection of feminine voices sharing their truths to the world.Woman Motivational Quote Facebook Post(10).png

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

I spent many years living in an abusive heterosexual marriage. I did not think of myself as a voice for anyone at that time. However, I do now; My Way Home is representative of how I felt when I met my wife and fell in love with her, but it also extends to how I feel as a part of the lesbian/bi community.

Your poem in SMITTEN was excellent, why did you choose this particular poem and what did you hope it would convey to readers?

I came out as a lesbian much later in life so I believe my story might be different from others. I chose this poem because it shares part of the trauma I experienced while living in an abusive marriage and the restoration of self that came after. I hope to convey to readers a sense of my true healing when I finally found happiness and love after meeting my wife.

What can a ‘tribe’ of women standing together accomplish to make things easier for lesbians and bi women coming up through the ranks?

My coming out story is different from many other lesbians or bi women in the fact that it was much later in life. However, I still had to face many of the same issues; acceptance of myself and sharing my truth with others while overcoming any hurt along the way.

I was lucky in that I found a ‘tribe’ of women who supported me. I want to be a part of that same ‘tribe’ of women for others who are at the point of discovering who they are, whatever age they may be. My wish is for all lesbian and bi women to be able to come to a place of acceptance and find love, and as they do, I stand ready to welcome them with open arms.

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 Series: Andrea Staley

I am a U.S. Army Combat Veteran, a wife, daughter, sister and friend. I care deeply for those around me and try to live my life with no regrets. I have never thought of myself as a writer, but my wife has shown me there is more to who I am than I give myself credit for; that I am stronger, braver, loving, caring and worthy of a soul burning love. Andrea Staley

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?

When I think about what it means to love a woman, what it looks like and feels like, I instantly image butterflies in my stomach, an intense emotional and soulful connection, effective communication, deep understanding, tenderness and an eternal, earth shattering type of love. I feel like most people assume that when women talk about loving another woman, they instantly assume that it is all sexual and that, somehow, we are forcing our sexual nature onto others. This collection of poems will show that there is more to loving another woman than sex and that the love that we feel is intense, beautiful and life changing. I have been able to express my feelings for my wife and the way that she loves me, in my own way and using the different and distinct voice that I have, to spread nothing but love.Woman Motivational Quote Facebook Post(6).png

Do you feel projects like this help dispel some of the ignorance surrounding lesbian/bi love?

I hope that this particular project and collection of writings will show the world that loving someone of the same gender as you is not a disgrace, an abomination, sinful, purely sexual and that our sexual orientation is not because we were abused by a man. Instead, I hope this collection shows people that love is beautiful no matter the gender, that we all deserve to love who we love, that we are not wrong for doing it and that love will always win.

Have you ever been SMITTEN and if so, do you feel it’s possible to summarize those

feelings in poetry?

I have been SMITTEN a few times in my life but the most recent is with my wife. I never considered myself a writer or a poet for that matter, but she showed me that there is more to who I am and that I am able to speak my truth and my feelings through writing. She took a rough around the edges, quiet, athletic, reserved veteran and showed me what true love really is and has been nothing but supportive in my attempts to express my love through words.

How if at all has the experience of being lesbian/bi changed over the years? And how has this influenced you?

Things have changed drastically for those that love someone of the same sex and it has really paved the way for those of us today. When I was in high school, I knew several lesbians and the way they chose to live freely showed me that there is nothing wrong with loving someone of the same sex. I did not come out until I was in college and the change, I felt within myself was instant and truly freeing. I felt like I was finally living authentically and couldn’t wait to continue exploring this new version of myself. After a few years of living this new life, I decided to join the Army and had to revert to not being open about my sexuality.

It wasn’t until President Obama reversed the Federal Marriage Act that I was finally able to live authentically without the fear of punishment. In my lifetime, I have learned how to be open about who I love, have had to hide who I truly am and then given the ability again, to be out, proud and not ashamed to show my true colors. Loving a woman has changed my life in so many ways and I hope this project continues to show adults and future generations that love is love and it is beautiful, honest and freeing.

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

As a woman, loving another woman is completely different than loving a man. I have loved men before and it is nothing like loving a woman. With men, they tend to find women emotional, dramatic, that we talk too much and that our role is to stand by his side and not have things of our own. Loving a woman on the other hand, is full of emotion, its intense, it can be dramatic, but we do stand side by side and tackle the difficulties of life together with nothing but support and understanding.

Being able to put a collection of poems from women who love women, is one path to showing this world that love is love and that the feelings, emotions and connections are deeper and more authentic than anything other kind of love. This collection will shatter the glass ceiling of homophobia and shatter the stereotype that being a lesbian writing is comprised of nothing but sex or erotica.

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/