Te ao pāpāho
We welcome your suggestions of websites, books, films and any other media of interest to lesbians and queer women.
We appreciate the original cartoons provided by Helen Courtney. This one, Flight of fancy, seems to fit particularly well with Media.
Two lesbians – as far as we know – and both from the US, are included in the overseas guests in this year’s Auckland Writers Festival.
Eileen Myles has the persona of a beat poet, with both poetry, fiction and memoir (of their dog) in their repertoire. This is not their first visit to Aotearoa, but the first in this festival.
They are the judge of the Sarah Broom poetry prize, and there are two events you can attend: a 1-hour “in discussion with” (Saturday May 19, Afterglow) and a free panel event, Thursday May 17, “In the afterlife” with three other international writers, all men.
A. S. King, or Amy Sarig King, is a writer of short adult fiction and of YA fiction. She has two sessions in the schools programme, and a 1-hour “in discussion with” (Saturday May 19, Still Lives) event in the main programme. All her works make a good read for adults.
Look for their books in your library and local independent bookshops. Come to the festival if you can. AK
Two books launched last month, and while very different, give the reader great insights into, in one, a lesbian life well-lived, and in the other, a whole range of rainbow lives.
Heather McPherson’s posthumous poetry collection, This Joyous, Chaotic Place had a launch event with women reading a poem from the book plus another of their choosing.
Most of the poems were written while Heather was living in Aorewa and Fran’s garden flat, and the garden, and Ao and Fran, feature strongly.
The poems have a strong sense of place, as you’d expect with gardens. They are also thoughtful and meditative. They are local to Auckland, in particular: Fowlds Park, Western Springs Park, Parnell Rose Gardens.
But then the poem ‘Sniffing the roses’ moves at a fantastic pace through time and space.
And this title is a poem in itself:
‘A frosty morning with elated sun
and ice crystals prickling the
As with all Heather’s work, these are poems to savour and enjoy.
Spiral Collectives revived to publish this work, currently only available from Marian Evans, via her Facebook page.
The exhibition, also titled This Joyous, Chaotic Place, remains at Mokopōpaki, Ground floor, 454 Karangahape Rd, till 15 April.
Pride & Joy LGBTQ Artists, Icons and Everyday Heroes features over 30 queer lives. It’s a positive work, in some ways an adult version of the “It gets better” message that goes out to queer young people. It has a consistent voice, as US activist Kathleen Archambeau conducted and wrote up all the interviews.
Aotearoa New Zealand is represented by MP Louisa Wall, in relation to the Marriage Amendment Act. The Bill passed its Third Reading five years ago this month.
Other lesbians featured include Emma Donoghue and Laurie Rubin (artists); Kate Kendall, Esq., Bishop Dr Karen Oliveto, Leanne Pitsford and Claudia Brind-Woody (icons); Stacy Barneveld-Taylor & Petra Barneveld-Taylor, Katerina Blinova, Jacqueline Grandchamps, Peggy Moore, Gloria Soliz and Christina Yin (everyday heroes). They include community activists and business women, many ethnicities, ages and life stories.
Want to know more about any of them, or of the others included? Get the book from your favourite independent bookshop, or your library. AK
It is not only because folk music is a great love of mine that I was excited to be lent a copy of Peggy Seeger’s memoir. Whether or not you know her music or have heard of her activism, this book is an engrossing read about an astounding woman who produced more than 20 folk albums.
Peggy is often written about in relationship to her music and her famous family – composer mother Ruth Porter Crawford and folklorist father Charles Seeger, brothers Mike and half-brother Pete Seeger and first life partner Ewan MacColl. Her life was shaped by this, but she is also a fierce individual. Even if folk music had not been an integral part of her life we may have still been reading about this woman.
In the book, she entwines folk music with travelling on her motor scooter, busking in Moscow, having three children, having four abortions, protesting at Greenham Common, going down a coal mine and more recently undergoing back and intestinal surgery and a mastectomy.
She often comments in the first parts of First Time Ever that “I wasn’t a feminist back then”, but well before the story finishes she can claim feminism, activism and being an eco-environmentalist. Many of her songs such as ‘Gonna be an engineer’ and ‘Carry Greenham home’ became anthems for the feminist movement.
Peggy first met Irene Pyper-Scott in 1964 and they sang together at demonstrations. Irene supported Peggy after the death of Peggy’s first partner Ewan MacColl and says “After Ewan’s death she picked me up, dusted me off and we became more than friends”.
Peggy wrote in the memoir: “I’m not bisexual, I just happen to love a woman. I loved a man.” She describes Irene as “my second life partner”. Irene has made her home in New Zealand in the Marlborough Sounds and Peggy in England.
Peggy has spent her life telling stories of injustice, love, politics and humanity through folk music. She tells the story of her life with soul and beautiful prose. First Time Ever shows that her life has been and is still lived with intensity.
Who are you reading? Here’s our blog roll; send us links for other lesbian blogs.
Blogs and sites from Aotearoa
The Charlotte Museum “The Charlotte Museum Trust is part of a network of archives preserving lesbian culture for the benefit and understanding of future generations in New Zealand. This is where the Charlotte Museum blogs about her exhibitions, events, archives and lesbian history.”
Making a Peanut, chronicles Grace & Em’s baby making adventures, and a collection of information that may help fellow kiwi lesbians navigate the road to motherhood.
We don’t have to be the building, a blog about Sian Torrington’s project of the same name, about lesbian, bi-sexual, queer female bodied, trans* and female identified activists both 30 years ago during Homosexual Law Reform, and now” who are telling our personal stories as a form of activism”. Sian drew and interviewed lesbian, queer and trans* women for an exhibition in Wellington in 2016 and Auckland in 2017.
Renée’s Wednesday Busk
He Hōaka Kim Mcbreen’s queer Māori political blog.
Out There Pat Rosier’s perceptive comments on her reading and the writing process, the last posts very poignant after her death in 2014.
The Hand Mirror Lesbian, queer and other feminist writing by a variety of bloggers.
Egg Venturous Claire Gummer’s whimsical writing about her backyard chooks and beyond.
Butch on Butch A Facebook page of photographs and comments.
I’m local Info and resources for queer & gender diverse youth around Aotearoa.
Blogs from elsewhere
Carolyn Gage A playwright, also a writer of lengthy and thoughtful blog posts.
Diverse Voices and Action for Equality (DIVA) Fiji An active group of young lesbians linking their human rights with gender, social, ecological and constitutional justice; also on Twitter (@diva4equality).
Feminine Moments – Queer Feminist Art Worldwide An art blog that “presents fine art made by lesbian, bisexual and queer women artists worldwide”.
Isle of Lesbos “A place of art, culture, and learning dedicated to lesbian and bisexual women.”
The Lesbrary “The humble quest to read everything lesbian: a lesbian book blog”. Maintains its own “(Lesbian) Book Blog” roll (16 at last count).
Listening 2 Lesbians A page recording women’s experiences of being abused or silenced as lesbians and of being subjected to misogyny and lesbophobia within and outside the community;news stories on lesbian rights, violence and discrimination against the lesbian community.
Lizzy the Lezzy Lizzy started as an animated stand up comedian. The website hasn’t been updated since 2016, but she also has a Facebook presence.
Not writing but blogging is Stella Duffy, Pākehā Londoner, also on Twitter as @stellduffy.
Robin Morgan is an American poet, author, political theorist and activist, journalist, lecturer and radical feminist.
Sister Outrider is the award winning blog of Claire Heuchan, a Black radical feminist from Scotland, with a website, Facebook and Twitter online presence.
The Total Femme “Your friendly neighborhood femme mom bookworm” has a Meditation for Queer Femmes posted Mondays, links to other blog posts or articles in “Pingy-Dingy Wednesday”, Fridays highlight queer femmes from all walks of life.
Women You Should Know “a digital media property and community all about dynamic women …” with a website and Facebook presence.