An Institute for Artists, Thinkers and Changemakers engaged with the work of

Poet-Philosopher Judy Grahn

Publishing Triangle Awards 2024

The Publishing Triangle, the association of LGBTQ+ people in publishing, announced thirty-seven finalists for the 36th annual Publishing Triangle Awards, honoring the best LGBTQ+ books published in 2023. Finalists for the Judy Grahn Award for Lesbian Nonfiction are:

  • The Famous Lady Lovers: Black Women and Queer Desire Before Stonewall, by Cookie Woolner (University of North Carolina Press)
  • Hijab Butch Blues,  by Lamya H (The Dial Press)
  • Suffering Sappho!: Lesbian Camp in American Popular Culture, by Barbara Jane Brickman (Rutgers University)
  • We the Parasites, by A.V. Marraccini (Sublunary Editions)

Judy, namesake of the award, was at the ceremony to deliver remarks and present the award to Barbara Jane Brickman.  Watch the awards by following the link below, Judy’s remarks begin at 55:40 in the video followed by an introduction from Emanuel Xavier.

Reading from new work Queen of Cups

Judy read from a new long-form poem in the form of a play – Queen of Cups. It is the third and final part that began with The Queen of Wands (Beacon 1982) and The Queen of Swords (Beacon 1987) that tell a descent myth through a queer lens and claim Helen (Inanna, Marilyn Monroe, all the versions of her) as a Queer Icon. After the reading, Judy is in conversation with Jeanne Vaccaro, a scholar and curator of contemporary art and public practice. The event was hosted by Elizabeth Koke at Housing Works Bookstore.

Performance at The Parkside NYC

Stephen Ira, Justin Vivian Bond, Karen Finley and Vinsantos led an intense cohort of performance artists and writers to celebrate the work of legendary queer poet-philosopher Judy Grahn on Friday, April 19, 2024 at The Parkside. I’m Not a Girl, I’m a Hatchett, Artists Respond to the Work of Judy Grahn explored her body of work from pre-Stonewall to today with performance poetry, storytelling and live music. Judy read a selection from her classic Common Woman poems which are in the canon of early feminism as well as recent work. Love the Poet emceed the line-up which included Iowa Poetry Prize winner Alicia Mountain, Ann Stephenson, Elizabeth Koke, Lambda Literary Award winner JP Howard, Nath Ann Carrera, Stanley Roy and Tsarina Hellfire.

Panel at Rainbow Book Fair 2024

Judy discusses memoir, creative non-fiction and being a part of people’s movements with Donna Minkowitz and JP Howard in a conversation guided by Carol Rosenfeld for the opening event of the Rainbow Book Fair, sponsored by The Publishing Triangle and The Bureau of General Services – Queer Division, an independent, all-volunteer queer cultural center, bookstore, and event space located in The Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual & Transgender Community Center in New York City.

The Highest Apple: Sappho and the Lesbian Poetic Tradition now available

Revised and updated edition of Judy Grahn’s groundbreaking book on the lesbian poetic tradition.

In 1985, Judy Grahn boldly declared that lesbians have a poetic tradition and mapped it from Sappho to the present day in the groundbreaking book, THE HIGHEST APPLE. In this new and updated edition of THE HIGHEST APPLE: SAPPHO AND THE LESBIAN POETIC TRADITION, Grahn revisits the original text with her characteristic ferocious intellect, passion for historical research, careful close readings, and dynamic storytelling. Grahn situates poetry by Sappho, Emily Dickinson, Amy Lowell, H.D., Gertrude Stein, Adrienne Rich Paula Gunn Allen, Audre Lorde, Pat Parker, and Olga Broumas as central to lesbian culture—and more radically as central to society as a whole.

This new edition of THE HIGHEST APPLE: SAPPHO AND THE LESBIAN POETIC TRADITION includes Grahn’s in depth analysis of poetic work by her friend and comrade Pat Parker and suggests a transactional approach to poetry as uncovering layers of the self. Grahn assembled this text in conversation with two younger lesbian poets, Alicia Mountain and Alyse Knorr, demonstrating the continued relevance and dynamism of THE HIGHEST APPLE for contemporary readers. A new introduction by Grahn, a foreword by Alyse Knorr, and editor notes by Alicia Mountain along with six responses by contemporary poets Donika Kelly, Kim Shuck, Serena Chopra, Zoe Tuck, Saretta Morgan, and Khadijah Queen highlight the on-going significance of THE HIGHEST APPLE to readers, writers, and thinkers.

“Poetry was important to the women’s movement and especially so to Lesbians. More than one Lesbian has been kept from floundering on the rocks of alienation from her own culture, her own center, by having access, at least, to Lesbian poetry. . . .Through the centuries, our poetry has held that position in the branches of its lines, in fragments, and in the code of imagery. It is time, now, to begin to reveal that tradition.”
—From Judy Grahn’s Introduction to The Highest Apple

Judy Grahn is joined by scholars and poets Julie R. EnszerJP Howard, and Alicia Mountain to discuss the continued relevance and dynamism of Grahn’s seminal work. New York Public Library Live December 2023

First Release from Commonality Press- Descent to the Roses of a Family: A Poet's Journey into Anti-Racism and Personal Social Healing

For those courageous enough to explore how family dynamics create and imprint the structures of white supremacy in each of us, Judy Grahn has used her masterful poem, “Descent to the Roses of a Family,” to expose and closely examine her own family’s roses (and thorns) of toxic racism and white supremacy. Grahn uses rich back-stories and mythology to guide us in the process of understanding and healing the split psyche that white supremacy causes and requires. “Descent to the Roses of a Family” is especially valuable for getting past endless intellectualizing about one of our most serious and tenacious social problems. Grahn demands more of us; she insists that we understand emotionally and poetically, as well as intellectually, the heart of white supremacy in the family and its consequences when taken unexamined into the larger world. She leads us out of the fog of denial. Recommended for teachers of antiracism, using literature, sociology, and mythology; also for group discussions and individuals wanting to heal themselves and future generations by finding a better way.

2022 Sarasvati Award Winner from ASWM

Judy Grahn illuminates eight dramatic stories exploring the Mesopotamian goddess Inanna’s power and relevance for contemporary queer feminist audiences. Psychologically rich, morally and ethically exhilarating, passionate and full of life, these stories reimagine central western myths—including the Book of Job and Gilgamesh—with women and queer people as central actors. In every sentence, Grahn proves how revisiting origin stories is a vital world-making activity. “In Eruptions of Inanna: Justice, Gender, and Erotic Power, Judy Grahn does what she has always done best: illuminate contemporary lives by conjuring myths and making them vividly alive in our contemporary consciousness and everyday lives. Eruptions of Inanna may be her most ambitious, groundbreaking work. At the heart of the work is the retelling of the myths surrounding Inanna and their startling afterlives in both high culture and rebel communities. Drawing from studies of Sumerian culture, religious scholarship, poetry, art, myth, and a wealth of shared imaginations, Grahn—poet, prophet, seer and soothsayer—draws forth Inanna from myth to majesty.”-Michael Bronski

New Release- Touching Creatures, Touching Spirit

Touching Creatures, Touching Spirit illustrates with true stories that we live in an interactive, aware world in which the creatures around us in our neighborhoods know us and sometimes reach across to us, empathically and helpfully. Implications are that all beings live in a possible “common mind” from which our mass culture has disconnected, but which is only a heartbeat and some concentrated attention away. This mind encompasses microbial life and insects as well as creatures and extends to nonmaterial intelligence as well—that is to say, spirit. Creatures as varied as a collaborating dragonfly, ants rescuing each other, a sympathetic lizard, an empathic coyote, gift-giving squirrels, crazed birds, and lots of very mysteriously smart cats inhabit the stories. Precognition, dreams, paranormal experiences with birds, psychic communications with cats, visitations from ghosts with messages, rolling earth spirits—not supernatural, they seem natural enough but not visible to everyone. The intention of this book is to help people catch interactions they themselves experience with nonhuman and even disembodied beings, and who could use some support for recalling since these interactions make clear we live in a sentient world.

The programs of the Commonality Institute are possible through the giving of our members and supporters! Your donation sustains the My Good Judy Residency and Commonality Press!

Meryl Streep narrates about the impact of Judy Grahn's work:

The Poetry Foundation & Judy Grahn (4:14)

Pen honors Judy's Eruptions of Inanna

Sinister Wisdom is proud to announce that @judy.grahn is a recipient of PEN Oakland’s Josephine Miles Award for Excellence, for her work “Eruptions of Inanna.” Published in collaboration with @nightboat_books, Eruptions of Inanna illuminates eight dramatic stories exploring the Mesopotamian goddess Inanna’s power and relevance for contemporary queer feminist audiences. Congratulations to Judy Grahn!

Buy the book here:

View the announcement on Counterpunch here:

Recent Appearance

Judy interviewed on KPFA Berkeley, Fresno, Santa Cruz and at about the release of Eruptions of Inanna, Justice, Gender and Erotic Power. An in-depth discussion on the earliest known poet and Sumerian High Priestess Enheduanna whose stories translated from clay tablets form the basis of the later Judeo-Christian story of Job. Judy discusses why origin stories matter, and how GLBTQ folks can place themselves in the oldest recorded human story.

Recent Appearance

The Broad Stage and Red Hen Press, readings and a conversation on the F word (feminism) with Judy, performance artist Monique Jenkinson (Fauxnique), and performance poet Amber Flame. 

Audre Lorde & Pat Parker Memorial

Featuring Judy Grahn, Jewelle Gomez, and Avotcja, readings in honor of Audre Lorde and Pat Parker, and in support of The Women’s Building. Funded by a grant to the Academy of American Poets from the Mellon Foundation and presented by The Poetry Center at San Francisco State University as part of a nationwide series of Poetry Coalition programs under the shared rubric “I am deliberate / and afraid / of nothing”Poetry and Protest.

Recent Interview

A New York State Writers Institute q&a with Judy, on her new book Touching Creatures Touching Spirit, was conducted by Moriah Hampton, PhD, an instructor in the University at Albany’s Program in Writing and Critical Inquiry (WCI).

Recent Review

An in-depth review of Judy’s recently released addition to her work exploring the impact of the Goddess Inanna in contemporary life, Eruptions of Inanna, by Lisa L. Moore in Women’s Review of Books.

Recent Appearance

Judy interviewed by Corinne Segal for Lit Hub on connecting queer and feminist narratives across generations and the publication of Eruptions of Inanna from Nightboat.

Recent Appearance

A reflective conversation with the SweetBitter podcast. Judy discusses tracing lineage, Sappho and the impact of her classic Highest Apple. Judy reads the short apple love poems most recently published in her Lambda Literary Award winning anthology collection from Red Hen Press, Love Belongs To Those Who Do The Feeling.

Recent Appearance

A celebration of the release of Eruptions of Inanna, from publishing partner Sinister Wisdom.Sinister Wisdom is an American lesbian literary, theory, and art journal. Joining Judy is literary critic and writer Angela Hume.

Recent Appearance

Mission at Tenth presents a two part interview with Judy. Meaning Making is a podcast about art making and the process of creating. 

Recent Appearance

A timely conversation on Women’s Rituals, helping us to re-imagine rituals and cosmologies that break with the patriarchal society we live in, with Judy Grahn and Tarita Maree.

Art work by My Good Judy Residency alum Quin de la Mer, learn more about the artist here.

The Commonality Institute is a tax-exempt 501(c)(3) non-profit charitable foundation.

Kris Brandenburger
Gregory Gajus
Judy Grahn
Dianne Jenett

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