Womanly Reads: Recommended Poetry for Pride Month
Words - Sarah Cuddie
Photo of Audre lorde
Summer is the perfect time for poetry. Poetry collections are small enough to toss in just about any bag, the pieces are short enough that if you get interrupted you’re not going to lose the plot, and they still give you lots to think about as you spend time relaxing and enjoying the good weather.
June is also a great time to celebrate some of the remarkable poetry by LGBTQ2SIAP folks, and there are lots of collections out there! I’ve highlighted some books that you can probably find at a local bookstore or library, but keep an eye out for zines or chapbooks being sold at festivals or events this summer and discover some of the up-and-coming poets in your community!
This collection will challenge your perspectives on gender, race, and identity. Thom questions the assumptions that we all make on a daily basis with raw, unflinching poems that create vivid images of both familiar and fantastical things. Thom is a spoken word artist, and the pieces reflect that tradition, almost demanding to be read aloud.
Perfect for: Reading aloud with friends as you cloud-watch and talk about big ideas.
Yes, you can read each of these books as a freestanding work, but they really are best if you read them all. The series starts with the princess saves herself in this one, followed by my favorite of the collection, the witch doesn’t burn in this one, and ends with the mermaid’s voice returns in this one. Lovelace’s writing always makes me feel strongly, whether it’s sadness, anger, or peace, and I’m always left turning her words over in my mind.
Perfect for: Taking with you on a trip and reading a few pages whenever you have a moment.
The queer poets of today are continuing the legacy of some remarkable writers who came before them. Audre Lorde is often best known for her book Sister Outsider, but she was a prolific poet, using her work to explore the deeply personal, the political, and all of the places where they meet. She doesn’t shy away from difficult topics, and her poetry remains relevant and timely, even 40 years later.
Perfect for: Quiet evenings sitting outside, or at least by a window.
This barely scratches the surface of remarkable queer poets to look out for, so don’t stop here! Check out James Baldwin, Danez Smith, Staceyann Chin, Natalie Diaz, Edna St. Vincent Millay, Zoe Whittall, Denice Frohman, Pauli Murray, or ask your local librarian or bookseller for even more suggestions!