about the Lesbian Poetry Pages
Welcome to the Lesbian Poetry pages. I created this site
in 1995 and 1996, to honor the works of those poets who, over the ages,
have written eloquently about romantic love between women. While some
of these poets were honored for their work in their time, others wrote
on this topic at the cost of their literary careers, never being appropriately
recognized for their creations simply because the material (or the poet
herself) was lesbian. This page brings their work out into the open, where
it can educate people about intimacy between women and women's writing,
as well as inspire the work of newer poets.
What is lesbian poetry? How can poetry be lesbian?
For the purposes of these pages, lesbian poetry refers to poetry
that was either written by a lesbian, written about lesbians, or that
has distinct appeal to lesbians. That's a pretty broad definition.
Obviously, poetry on its own is not lesbian, or Christian, or African-American,
or anything...but certainly a given poem or body of work can appeal to
a particular group. That's what these pages are about.
What do you mean my favorite poet is a lesbian -- where do you get off
I am not saying that all of these poets were lesbian. While some poets
certainly were openly lesbian, others were bisexual, some had romantic
friendships with women that may or may not have included sexual interaction,
and a few may have been writing "in persona" as a man. The male
poets were definitely not lesbians!
Before jumping to conclusions, read the biographies where I've included
them. Usually these biographies make it clear why I included a given poet.
I admit that putting a poet on these pages is controversial. Even today,
many people are deeply offended that I would suggest that even the work
of their favorite poet could be interpreted as lesbian. And if I suggested
that she in fact loved a woman? Horrors. I ask you to keep in mind that
there are many opinions out there, even among respected scholars. Without
asking the poet herself, we can't know a late poet's orientation.
The important thing to note is that the concerns and appreciations of
lesbians extend beyond the bedroom, and so I believe all of these works
are of interested to women-oriented women (as well as to others). That's
why they appear here.
Why do you include male poets? What do they know about lesbianism?
I included male poets for two reasons. Firstly, the writings of these
men give us some indication of how men perceived intimate relationships
between women at the time of their writing, and that has historical value.
Secondly, the work of several of these men (such as Pierre Louys and Paul
Verlaine) inspired the writings of the female poets on the list (such
as Renée Vivien and "Michael Field").
Why don't you include the poems of contemporary poets?
I'm only including poetry that I believe was published before 1927 in
an effort to avoid violating copyrights. I don't have the time or resources
to request the permission to post copyrighted material from contemporary
authors and their estates. I include brief
biographies of popular poets whose work is under copyright, but that's
the most I can do without their permisison. I also don't want to exclude
offering biographical info based on whether or not I can include selected
I'm a lesbian poet -- will you publish my work? I'll give you permission.
I'm sorry, but I am not publishing any contemporary work. I would not
be able to keep up with the submissions to these pages. My goal is to
provide historical insight, rather than publish a literary journal.
How did you do your research?
I've spent countless hours in libraries, exploring new and used bookstores,
performing web searches, cross-referencing information, and designing
the pages. It has been quite expensive, too; because much of the reference
material is not available in my local libraries, I've purchased about
70 books related to these pages. I've found leads in the most obscure
of places, too, and found some wonderful things in the process of following
those up. It has been an interesting adventure,
especially for something I'm doing in my "spare time." I invested
lots of late night hours when I should have been sleeping. But now I'm
done with it!
Are these biographies in the public domain (can I use them)?
No; the biographies on this site are copyright 1995, 1996, and 1999 (variously)
by Alix North, all rights reserved. I encourage web links to this site,
but don't copy my text and use it elsewhere, whether electronically or
in another form. It doesn't matter whether you are re-using my material
for profit; it's still copyright violation. But, more importantly, if
I find that my material is being used elsewhere without my permission
(even if credited) I'm likely to become disenchanted with this work and
pull it off the web completely, so please don't do that.
Why isn't my favorite poet here?
The reason may be one of several:
- I don't know about her or him
- I don't have enough reference material from which to draw
- The work of the poet in question doesn't fall into the scope of these
- I was planning to include that poet, but I ran out of time
Feel free to send me feedback
and let me know your recommendations. However, I can't make any promises
about finding the time to add more pages. Currently this is an archive
Why isn't there a bio on each poet's page?
I did not have time initially to write bios for every poet (they took
a long time to research). Since originally creating these pages, I've
moved on to other projects, and I don't anticipate finding the opportunity
to return to this material.
Who are you?
My name is Alix North. I started this site (www.sappho.com) in late 1995.
It started with research that I conducted to satisify my own curiosity
about sapphic poetry. I found out it was hard work finding information
on some of these poets. Much of their work has been ignored and supressed,
despite the historical interest and literary value that they contain.
I hated to think of others working as hard for the same information--or,
worse, never knowing what was available--so I decided to offer the results
of my research over the web.
You can find out more about the entire Isle of Lesbos web site on the
About this Site page.