An Institute for Artists, Thinkers and Changemakers engaged with the work of
Poet-Philosopher Judy Grahn
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
Pub Day Event at New York Public Library Dec 6th, 2023
Judy Grahn is joined by scholar and poet Julie R. Enszer and others to discuss the continued relevance and dynamism of Grahn’s seminal work.
To join the event in person | Doors will open 30 minutes before the program begins. For LIVE from NYPL events, we generally overbook to ensure a full house. Please arrive early to avoid disappointment; we will do our best to accommodate everyone. Booked seats that have not been claimed will be released shortly before start time, and seats may become available then. A standby line will form 30 minutes before the program.Register Here
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.
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
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:
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: https://www.sinisterwisdom.org/SW121
View the announcement on Counterpunch here: https://www.counterpunch.org/2022/09/21/pen-oakland-announces-the-winners-of-the-33rd-annual-josephine-miles-awards-for-excellence/
Judy interviewed on KPFA Berkeley, Fresno, Santa Cruz and at kpfa.org 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.
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.
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).
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.
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