SMITTEN Poets READ: Summer 2018 by Teresa Chappell

 

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/

SMITTEN Poets READ: Voce di strega/the witches voice by Vanessa Rowan Whitfield

 

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: Ruth Bowley

Ruth Bowley is just a simple observer of all things unknown.  Of all things worth fighting for.  Being a woman, being a survivor, being.

Poetry/writing has spared me from the scars of growing up gay in a catholic and abusive household. First, I found my voice, in regards to religion. Second, I had been witness to those who were gay in the 80’s and felt a change was needed. Most importantly, I wanted my words to be that change.

Rita Mae Brown wrote books about her affection for cats and her affection for women: A

Short Note for Liberals

I’ve seen your kind before
Forty plus and secure
Settling for a kiss from feeble winds
And calling it a storm.
I have always been political. Why we allow the moral majority contain us…still leaves me in awe. It is far better to go down fighting than to have done nothing at all.

Women are the greatest asset we have. Gay/straight/bi/trans…we have yet to capitalize on that.

I have always loved, endured, enjoyed, Robert Frost. Granted he was not gay…he should have been. He struggled with loss, abuse and mental health issues. He touched on issues that were not bias’d by gender.

After 17 years of loving my wife…erotica tends to play less of a influence than intimacy. Sex is sex. Love making is love making. Making love is far different.

Smitten is needed. A sisterhood needs promotion. If for no other reason than to let the younger generation know…they are not alone.

I work many political campaigns from the grassroots up. I have run for state representative. I have captain’d the Sander’s campaign and Obama campaign. Currently, I am a vocal advocate and volunteer for the Warren campaign.

Women love women. Many have’ this pornographic. That is not what loving a woman is about. We want equal rights in every corner of the heterosexual life…without being over sexual-ized.

My wife has struggled for over 30 years with schizophrenia. Love is what brought us together. Sure, erotica/sensuality is wonderful for us but I know her heart. Her heart means far more to me than whatever happens in the bedroom.

I never, ever thought of my writing as important. However, if I can change one bias opinion…my work is done.

Of course, lesbians/bi are more of a poignant part in media and movies. Men love to see two women together. What sickens me is that after all these years…two women together (pushing aside their love) is used for sexual purposes.

I am getting older. That’s right…an old lesbian. We do not get our due. We have paved the way for projects such as, Smitten, without fanfare.

Of course, my voice is heard. I would not be quiet if it were not. I am loud and proud!

Ruth Bowley is an incredible talent and her work is among other talented poets in SMITTEN coming out at the end of this month. SMITTEN will be available via all good book stores. For up to date information on SMITTEN please follow the FB SMITTEN page.

Poets of SMITTEN Speak: Nayana Nair

I am Nayana Nair, an engineer and a technical writer who moonlights as an amateur poet on my personal blog (itrainsinmyheart.wordpress.com). Writing for me is a process of self-realization and an effort to understand what is ever elusive.

Q. How does being a poet inform your views on expressing emotions through writing?
I have been drawn to literature from a very young age, mainly because of it’s ability to show the depth of human experience. Poetry has always been my preferred medium to express myself, as almost everything that I feel strongly about is so gentle and effervescent that it cannot live more than a few lines. My objective when I write is to highlight the commonness of our feelings irrespective of the difference in the reasons and circumstances that surrounds us. I write each and every word with the belief that we are capable of understanding and accepting each other in spite of our differences.

Q. Your poems in SMITTEN were excellent, why did you choose this particular poems and what did you hope they would convey to readers?
“Meet me on a sunless day” and “I keep looking for you”. These two poems to a lot of extent reflects the way I think of love. That love, even though we want it to be simple, it rarely is. Because along with our love comes our fear, our past. Often the struggle is not “us against the world”, but “us against our own love” or “us against our fate”. This struggle I believe is a common human experience, irrespective of the gender or orientation of the person involved.

Q. Why is love a worthier subject than erotica to write on?
Q. Do you think lesbians/bi’s are more objectified and if so, why? What can we do about it?

This could be my own personal view, but I think media portrays hetero love and lesbians/bi love in very different light. They portray lesbians/bi relationships to be based on lust/sex and somewhat shallow. While hetero relationships are made up to be something based on understanding and affection (which eventually lead to sex). This is so often misleading and very inaccurate as well. The popular media often fails to deliver the depth and sincerity of lesbians/bi love (which is also true for every kind of love that is not hetero). But the reality that I have seen is that almost every kind of romantic love is affected by the same factors, we are all humans after all.
Though erotica may be a really bold way to declare our sexuality to the world. But often we forget about talking love in the process.

PS. As a child who was drunk on the concept on soulmates, the movies and the songs always left me puzzled. I always wondered how was it possible that we must necessarily find our soulmate in opposite gender. As I grew up, I realized that it was just a portrayal, a propaganda that was convenient for the society. Not the way love actually works.

Q. What does it mean to you to be part of something like SMITTEN and have your work along side other women who love women?
Frankly, I was a bit afraid. Due to the fact that I am not lesbian/bi, I felt that I am not eligible to contribute to this anthology. I am still not sure if this is fine. But nevertheless, I wanted to give voice to the feelings that some of my friends who identify as lesbian/bi had. I felt they needed to be represented for who they are. These poems are my sincere efforts to lift the stigma that my friends suffered from.
But keeping my own fears apart, I feel honored that my work has been put alongside the poems written by such strong women. Women who accept who they are, who do not give up, who fight for their love and their voice. Through their words I have felt such a strong sense of solidarity, which is comforting and inspiring.

Q. Do you feel your voice is heard? Do you believe anthologies like this can help you be heard?
In my personal life, I find it really difficult to speak my own thoughts for the fear of disrupting harmony. Probably that’s the reason that I write. But since I have started writing, I have got understanding, kindness and appreciation from many people. Though it might not mean much on grander scale of things. But to find a community that encourages you to keep on writing and keep on speaking your own mind is something precious.

Through anthologies like this a similar like-minded community is created where one doesn’t have to edit their thoughts or pretend to be someone else. Here we can speak your mind and talk of our life and experiences as they are. Here we do not have to doubt ourselves. So many women coming forward to give their misrepresented love a voice it deserves and to be part of something like that. To be part of their voice, does make me feel heard.

The wonderful Nayana’s work can be found in SMITTEN coming out by the end of this month. SMITTEN will be available via all good book stores. Please follow the FB SMITTEN page for updates and latest information.

Poets of SMITTEN Speak: Jamie Smith

Jamie L. Smith is an MFA candidate in poetry at Hunter College, where she has been the recipient of the Colie Hoffman Poetry Prize and the 2019 Guggenheimer Award, and was runner up for the Academy of American Poets Prize and the Richter Award. She lives in Yonkers, NY.

When you found our 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?

I feel like poetry is inherently erotic, not necessarily in terms of sex but through its enactment of some type of longing and seeking. The poems selected for this anthology have existed in various poems for years, and I’m grateful they found a home here. I think focusing on love rather than erotica helps demystify the image of same-sex relationships. I’ve loved my partner—there have been passionate moments—but more often than not love is grocery shopping for items you would never buy for yourself or arguing over which Netflix show to binge.

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

The acceptance notice from Indie Blu(e) arrived the day after World Pride NYC ended—I felt very honored to be included in something like this. I don’t think of my sexuality as something that defines me necessarily, it’s an aspect of my life and identity, but it’s far from the full story. That being said, I have the privilege of being able to be who I am and love who I love openly and with minimal fear because of the brave people who came before me and struggled for their rights and for acceptance. I had the privilege and blessing of an accepting family and social circle—I faced much more internal than external adversity in my coming-out process—which is an incredibly privileged an not necessarily common position. My attraction to women comes as naturally to me as having brown eyes, so I’m not necessarily proud of my sexuality per se—but I’m very proud of the people who came before me and those still working to lessen the struggle
of others within the community every day. Publications like this are important because they maintain increase visibility and create a safe space for voices that haven’t always had a platform.

The tag-line This Is What Love Looks Like was important to me—my love isn’t abnormal, I’m not a singular or anomalous phenomenon—we’re here—we’re women who love other women and that’s simple and real.

How does poetry and identifying as lesbian/bi come together for you?
Even my poems that aren’t factually accurate hold truth, and my truth is that I’m a woman who loves women. I loved a man in college (hi, Michael) and I wouldn’t exclude the possibility of that happening again in the future. I’ve fallen for nonbinary people too. I tend to write into emotionally loaded moments, so my relationships and sexuality were always going to be a part of my work.

I’ve known I’m attracted to women for most of my life. The labels I use to identify myself have changed as I’ve gotten to know myself better and as the terminology has evolved. I realized at a certain point that my sexuality is confusing to other people, but it isn’t confusing to me. I know when I get the glimmers—and it isn’t necessarily affixed to gender for me. That attraction is attached to something else, some sort of frequency that comes across in certain individuals. I’m not straight. I’m not entirely gay. I struggle with the term bisexual to some extent because I don’t feel any sense of bifurcation or being in-between in any way—it’s not an either/or—I don’t have a sense of incompleteness or partiality around it.

Maybe I’m more accurately ambisexual—I don’t know—I’m comfortable with my sexuality existing in the space just outside of language. I think labels and words in general strive to capture reality but fail—poetry grapple with this
shortcoming and tries to enact experience through syntax, form, diction—all the tools in our arsenal. It’s the failing that creates Eros—I think we all live in the hope that someone will articulate the one unsayable truth about our lives that makes the whole thing make sense, at least for a moment, in some new way.

How if at all has the experience of being lesbian/bi changed over the years? And how has this influenced you?
I’m more secure in myself than I was when I was younger. I don’t have to be loud to be proud anymore, it’s more quiet. I am astoundingly privileged in that my family never rejected me, very few of my close friends have struggled with my sexuality, and I live in a liberal metropolitan area where protections are in place—most people do not have these advantages. As I’ve gotten older I’ve become increasingly aware of this and have come to feel a greater sense of responsibility. There are still 13 states which do not limit or prohibit employment discrimination against LGBTQ persons—there are foundations unable to meet the needs of the runaway teens and LGBTQ senior citizens they support—there is vast inequality, injustice, and need. Fundraising and letter writing don’t seem like enough, but I try to at least maintain my awareness of and gratitude for the privileges I have, and to help where I can.

I’ve also become more aware of discrimination within certain facets of the community. I’ve been told by publishers and publicists that I don’t “look gay” enough to read at particular events. I haven’t slept with a man in over 10 years, most of my significant relationships have been with women, but I’m femme and apparently give off a very limited “vibe” so my experience gets discounted a lot of times within particular circles.

It’s an experience I’ve heard echoed by a lot of bi women who become involved in hetero-romantic relationships. I’ve probably faced more rejection from within the community than I have from outside of it in recent years. That’s the other reason this anthology was important to me—I felt heard—it gave me a space to share my experience without being questioned or discounted.

Jamie Smith is one of the talented SMITTEN poets whose work is coming out this month. For more up to date information on SMITTEN please go to the FB SMITTEN page. SMITTEN will be available via all good book stores.

SMITTEN poets READ their poems. Lindz McLeod.

SMITTEN is coming out before the end of the month and will be available via all good book stores. Consider supporting a worthy and meaningful project by purchasing a copy. LGBTQ publications struggle to reach equality in the publishing world. If we all lift each other up. inequality can be a thing of the past. https://www.facebook.com/SMITTENwomen/

Poets of SMITTEN Speak: Millie Saint James

Millie Saint-James is a queer writer based in Czechia, though they have lived all over the world, from the velds of Namibia to the metropolis of Osaka. They currently live with their fur son in a one room apartment, performing magic, and writing about queer futures.

 

I only started writing poetry recently. I’ve known I was queer since I was sixteen, but it took until I moved away from the US for me to actually begin to come out and accept who I was.

A year and a half ago, I moved to Prague, Czech Republic, where I vowed to be Out. Out as bi, Out as nonbinary, just Out.
I started writing poetry then, because even being Out, I couldn’t always express myself and my feelings.
About a year ago I started my first serious relationship with someone who wasn’t a cis man, so it meant a lot to me. Despite all of it’s ups and downs, despite it’s disastrous ending, it helped me come into myself more.
The poem I submitted is from a series I was working on during our relationship, as winter gave way to spring. Things were already pretty bad then, but we kept trying. I tried to make that futility come through. I wanted to express the good and the bad of queer relationships. The joy and the pain. 
I’m not only a poet. I actually spend most of my time writing queer SFF. When I write a story, I have a message, a feeling I want to leave in the hearts and minds of readers. It’s usually something about hope and kindness; that even when the world is ending, the least we can do is offer these things to each other. Unfortunately, real life doesn’t work that way. Real people don’t have the time and luxury to plan out their actions the way I do for my characters.
Poetry is where I feel like I can stretch and express the emotions that come from that disconnect. My relationship ended badly and I probably won’t talk to my ex again, and I would never write that in a novel. But I can write it in my poems. I can get that catharsis. Express the real ups and downs of being a queer person who loved another queer person, and lost.
Millie Saint James and other poets work can be found in SMITTEN coming out very shortly (this month). SMITTEN will be available via Amazon and all good book stores. Please follow the FB SMITTEN page for updates and more information.

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: Sarah Bigham

Sarah Bigham lives in Maryland with her kind chemist wife, three independent cats, an unwieldy herb garden, several chronic pain conditions, and near-constant outrage at the general state of the world tempered with love for those doing their best to make a difference. A Pushcart and Best of the Net nominee, Sarah’s poetry, fiction and nonfiction have appeared in a variety of great places for readers, writers and listeners. Find her at www.sgbigham.com.

*I am a community college professor. Over the years, students have shared a range of comments with me, from “You are the first gay person I have ever met” (which I know can’t really be  true, but I try to meet my students where they are) to “You are an example to me of living your true life” and “I admire how you unapologetically tell us who you are.” I take these comments as a sign that living my truth makes an impact. We all have the power to change our society for the better, in small (or large) steps at a time.

*I have a soft spot for all sorts of creatures who present as “different” in some way. My wife and I live with three cats, all of whom qualify as “harder to adopt” due to disabilities. I have developed a series of chronic health conditions and realize that, if I were a cat, I would be much harder to place in an adoptive home. I like to think that someone would still adopt me. My wife has stuck with me through all of the medical drama, and remains my largest source of support.  Her love for me has never wavered, despite our life changing quite a bit due to my health.
*”The ologies” my poem in SMITTEN, is a love letter, in the form of a poem, to my wife.
*A perfect day for me would be reading a novel in our garden, in the shade, on a not-too-hot day, while eating the occasional frozen peanut butter cup and waiting for my wife to come home for dinner and one of our favorite shows.
*I write nonfiction, fiction, and poetry, plus I paint. Each one provides a way to express myself, but poetry is the genre I turn to most often for intense feelings that defy easy categorization (or full sentences).

SMITTEN is coming out THIS MONTH 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: Jennifer Mathews

Jennifer Mathews is a self-proclaimed spiritual cheerleader who lives in Mount Shasta, California (or wherever her camper van takes her). Her lifework has included economic justice, laughter yoga, and facilitating conversations on living and dying.

In her 2019 TEDx Talk, “Death is Inevitable – Grief is Not,” Jen shares how she responded to the death of her life-partner Kate with connection, gratitude, and joy rather than heartache. For more of Jen’s writing, go to JenniferMathews.com.

I’ve been writing poetry since I was thirteen or fourteen years old in the 1980s. As a teenager, I often wrote until the wee hours of the night while lying in bed. I’d write drafts of poems on a pad of yellow lined paper, using a pencil so that I didn’t have to worry about the ink not flowing properly. It was the magical time before sleep came, and I’d often close my eyes and drift off, eventually placing my pad of paper on the floor when I couldn’t stay awake any longer. In the morning, I would reread my words and sometimes be surprised by what I had written because I had little or no memory of the late night creative process. All I knew was the beauty of the buzz I’d feel, that it was sacred time in which I could tap into something greater than myself.

Most of my poems are in a fireproof box in my closet, or in digital folders on my computer. Most of them have never seen the light of day. Why? Honestly, I’m not exactly sure. My perfectionist-self certainly has a lot to say about that, but the rest of me – MOST of me – has wondered if my personal experiences and perspectives would be universal enough for others? Will anyone else relate to my yearnings, my philosophical musings, my fascination with how ordinary moments
magnify deep truths?

For the past few years, I have finally begun to call myself a “writer.” But more accurately, I am a witness, a synthesizer, and a communicator. I am compelled to use words to articulate that which is challenging to put into words, to point toward all that language cannot express. Poetry is my favorite form of writing because I can spend hours or days (or yes, years!) waiting for the right phrase or
title to show itself. I can get frustrated with a poem for its stubbornness (see how I deflected that?), but it is all worth that moment of arrival.

How does poetry and identifying as lesbian come together for you?
Poetry allows me to touch into the subtleties of being attracted to women in a culture that is very heterosexual. While women-loving-women relationships are more accepted than they were in the early 1990s when I was coming out, it’s not as simple as saying “I think of your relationship as the same as if you were straight.” When we are surrounded by constant messages that normalize heterosexual existence, with lesbianism being an exception, it has an impact on our inner experiences that is at times beyond words.

And so, writing poems about being a lesbian is like spooning a new lover. I can feel the buzz as I press up against the poem. My heartbeat quickens while I simultaneously relax into finding ways to put my experiences, and all their nuances, onto the page. Perhaps poetry is the only true way to express my lesbian heart because of these subtleties? I’m grateful for all the ways I’ve become more self-aware and in touch with myself because of poetry, mostly by reading other poets’ work! There are so many brilliant lesbian poets!

Did you ever want to be a voice for the lesbian/bi community? If so, why?
As a woman with long hair, who physically presents on the more feminine end of the spectrum, I have often wanted others to know that I am lesbian-identified. I find that I often “pass” as straight, but it is merely because of my looks, even though my intention is to be out. I want to be a voice for going beyond
assumptions about someone’s sexual orientation. The “we are everywhere” slogan of decades ago is true! I love having the freedom to look the way I do, and I also yearn to be seen and acknowledged as a lesbian because I believe in the power of breaking stereotypes. In terms of being “a voice for” the community, I really just want to have a presence and be myself.

And that self is very much, and very happily, a lesbian!

Why is love a worthier subject than erotica to write on?
Writing about love rather than erotica demonstrates how sexual orientation is so much more than physical attraction. Love expresses so much more of who we are as women. Lesbian hearts connect deeply, and I believe expressing this spiritual and emotional affinity is what makes the sexual desire come alive between women. Romantic love and intimacy between women is worth articulating because the sacredness of love itself can be orgasmic, whereas sex itself cannot necessarily achieve sacredness.

Have you ever been SMITTEN and if so, do you feel it’s possible to
summarize those feelings in poetry?
I love the word SMITTEN and yes, I’ve been smitten many times in my life.
Because it’s an experience beyond the reasoning mind, creative expression may be the only way to point toward what it feels like to be intoxicated by a woman’s presence. Visual arts, movement, sound, and poetry can at least attempt to capture the rapture of being smitten! But words alone cannot convey what it’s like to be a woman falling in love with herself as she looks into another woman’s
eyes.

Just writing those words makes me smile! It is so mysterious to be smitten, whether that’s infatuation or love or lust or a friend crush. The sensation of being enamored naturally gives itself to poetry, to the lyrical nature of the unknown and
the risk of allowing oneself to feel those feelings (even if they aren’t
reciprocated). My poems “The Passenger’s Seat” and “go figure” both touch upon the tenderness of being smitten as a teenager. So much swirls in one’s body and mind and heart all at once. Poetry has the potential to say hello to the inner experiences we rarely speak about, and being smitten is often one of them.

Your poem “What He Gave Away” in SMITTEN is excellent. Why did you
choose this particular poem and what do you hope it would convey to readers?
I noticed that the poems I submitted are all about what is acceptable and how to honor my inner attraction toward women, and anything else that is not mainstream culture, about staying true to myself and at the same time navigating the external pressures from friends or family or society to stay silent or to do things their way.

“What He Gave Away” is about giving and receiving and courage and
forgiveness and love despite prejudice. And I’m referring to mine and my grandfather’s and my grandmother’s too. It is hard to describe what I hoped to convey, aside from how complicated family dynamics can be, and how there is often love under the surface, regardless of our resistance to it at times. It also expresses how love is displaced, and how love is withheld, and how sometimes the lines are blurry. Sometimes we need to see between those blurry lines in order to find connection.

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/