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: 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: 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/

Poets of SMITTEN Speak: HOKIS

Hokis channels zir mistrust in humanity and love for puzzles into unfolding poems. Ze is Senior Editor of “Headline Poetry” @Line Rider Press, and previously served as teacher, community organizer, and body-centered mindfulness coach. Recent works are found in Truly U, Paragon Press’ Snollygoster: A Conversation About Politics, and For Women Who Roar. {Hokis; n. /hō/kēs/ The Armenian word for “my soul”or “my beloved.”}

Woman Motivational Quote Facebook Post(22).pngHow does poetry and identifying as lesbian/bi come together for you?

In the cracks of direct truth of prose, is poetry. In the mixed meanings of poetry, is an inability for others to argue with your truth. In these ways, poetry and identity are a crucial link for me. In poetry I found my story, not the story others would grammar and spell check, not the story where the he’s and she’s and they’s were “supposed to fit.” There was a delicious freedom in this pause, this exploration of what love looks like. My contribution to SMITTEN, “Preference Over Judgement,” was THE turning point in my writing, which mirrored my self-acceptance. My hope is this piece brings us back to our humanity, and our natural roots of a creature on Earth.

Do you find any stereotypes in lesbian/bi work that you would personally remove?

I find it challenging to feel authenticated as a bisexual female in a 20 year marriage with a male partner. I chose a pen name that reminds me that my scope of existence is beyond even my own boundaries; Hokis, which is Armenian for “my soul.” This pen name keeps me true to my truth. My hope is this provides others space to offer themselves permission to be true to theirs.

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: 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/