Judy Grahn: Hanging On Our Own Bones
I am the wall at the lip of the water
I am the rock that refused to be battered
I am the dyke in the matter, the other
I am the wall with the womanly swagger
I am the dragon, the dangerous dagger
I am the bulldyke, the bulldagger
and I have been many a wicked grandmother
and I shall be many a wicked daughter.
Join Red Hen Press in publishing Judy Grahn’s Hanging On Our Own Bones, the newest collection of poetry by one of the most acclaimed LGBTQ and feminist writers of the last half century. With your help, we will reintroduce a defining voice in queer and women’s movements to a new generation of activists and readers.
Hanging On Our Own Bones collects over forty years of Judy Grahn’s signature nine-part poems, including “A Woman is talking to Death,” often referred to as one of the most important poems of the twentieth century. These poems address issues crucial to our contemporary and often difficult world. Here Grahn’s steadfast and rhythmic verse directs our eyes to crucial yet often buried tribulations of our times by critiquing white supremacy, honoring battered women, exalting the powers of menstruation, and revealing lateral hostilities among potential allies—all to arouse a meaningful social critique.
As a backer, you will receive not only a copy of this incredible book, but also the knowledge that your support is introducing today’s activists to the champion they never knew they had—a fighter whose work has paved the way for all who followed.
Who is Judy Grahn?
“Anyone who reads Grahn will be changed for life. Repeat: for life.”
Poet, writer, and cultural theorist, Judy Grahn has been at the forefront of gay and lesbian activism and women’s spirituality movements since the 1960s. Grahn’s works have been a rallying cry for women’s movements since before she was ever published, going viral before the Internet even existed.
Judy Grahn set out to be a poet at the age of nine, studying the poetic forms while asking the crucial question, What is poetry for? How does a poem connect with people and add meaning or strength to lives? Along the way she developed a distinct perspective—a fierce song—that is evident in the countless collections, poetic plays, dance dramas, and collaborations with musicians and songwriters she has produced.
In 1999, Judy Grahn’s book Another Mother Tongue served as the major theme of the Seattle Gay Pride Parade. In 1996, the Publishing Triangle, an association of lesbians and gay men in publishing, established an award in her name: The Judy Grahn Award, recognizing the best nonfiction book of the year. In June 2017, she will receive the Fred Cody Award for Lifetime Achievement in Literature and Community Service.
Grahn’s work has won numerous other awards and honors, including an American Book Review Award, two American Book Awards, a Stonewall (American Library) Award, the Bill Whitehead Lifetime Achievement in Lesbian Letters Award, and two Lambda book awards. She is currently an Associated Distinguished Professor in Integral and Transpersonal Psychology at the California Institute of Integral Studies in San Francisco, where in the 1990s she earned her PhD in Integral Studies. She served as co-director for an MA program in Women’s Spirituality for thirteen years, and for an MFA in Creative Inquiry for five years.
Advance Praise for Hanging On Our Own Bones
“Skin, jail, butterfly, hospital, street, mother, father, blood, war: such words come alive as survivor, witness, and guide. Judy Grahn uses the tried and true heart of the ballad to explore the socially unsaid and unsayable. Animated by the heroism and mythology of the everyday, and armed with attention and wisdom, she is a fierce warrior for the clarity of the human story.”
—Ammiel Alcalay, author of neither wit nor gold
“All the poets I know look upon Judy Grahn with admiration and awe, convinced that she’s leagues ahead of us, superhuman in her power and insight. But the poet of these chants of grief and frustration—and hope—is human for sure, torn by the same powerlessness and disgust at prevalent social conditions as the rest of us—it’s only that she has lightning at her command—a magic of writing that illuminates shreds darkness like confetti, and lets us see past the end of each page, past all our histories, a magic that lets us glimpse a previously unimagined future.”
—Kevin Killian, author of Impossible Princess
About Arktoi Books
Named after the girls impersonating she-bears in service of the goddess Artemis, Arktoi Books is an imprint of Red Hen Press publishing high-quality literary fiction and poetry by lesbian writers. It was established in 2006 to give lesbian writers more access to “the conversation” that having a book in print affords. Eloise Klein Healy, Arktoi’s founder and editor, is the 2016 recipient of the Publishing Triangle’s Bill Whitehead Award for Lifetime Achievement.
Following the release of Hanging On Our Own Bones, Arktoi will go into hibernation indefinitely. It’s especially fitting that Judy Grahn’s collection of lamentations in nine parts wraps up the series, as it will be the imprint’s ninth book. While not a direct replacement, Red Hen’s new award series for queer writers, Quill, edited by Tobi Harper, will help carry the torch. The first book in the series, Scissors, Paper, Stone by lesbian writer Martha K. Davis, will be released in spring 2018. We aren’t ruling out the possibility that Arktoi could return down the road, but for the foreseeable future, it will no longer acquire any new titles. All Arktoi books will remain in print and the imprint will otherwise remain active.
About the Publisher
Red Hen Press has served both local and national communities as Southern California’s largest nonprofit literary publisher for 23 years. Our mission is to discover and publish works of literary excellence, support diversity, and promote literacy in our local schools. Dr. Kate Gale and Mark E. Cull co-founded the press in 1994 from their San Fernando Valley home when they sold nearly all they owned to begin publishing talented writers whose works had been overlooked by large-scale publishers. Over the past 23 years, Red Hen Press has published over 400 books and transformed into a thriving organization that supports the Greater Los Angeles Area and international communities with arts-based events and literary advocacy.
Red Hen is proud to have partnered with Judy Grahn again and again throughout her illustrious career. Her book love belongs to those who do the feeling was published by Red Hen Press in 2008. Most recently, Grahn was a featured reader at a joint Red Hen Press and Women’s Center of Los Angeles event in celebration of feminist poets spanning a generation. It is an honor to have the opportunity to work with Judy Grahn on her fourteenth book, and a greater honor still to consider her a friend of Red Hen.
About love belongs to those who do the feeling
love belongs to those who do the feeling contains selections from Judy’s entire body of poetic work, from classics such as “The Work of a Common Woman” and “The Queen of Wands and The Queen of Swords,” to new poems written between 1997 and 2006. The collection was the 2009 winner of the Lambda Literary Award for Lesbian Poetry.
“[Judy Grahn] is a phenomenon—a fierce poet of witness and action, a visionary, with a tough and compassionate heart and a piercing intelligence, rooted in a spirituality that locates the sacred in the belly of the profane.”
—Alicia Ostriker, winner of the Jewish National Book Award
The 2017 special edition reprint of love belongs to those who do the feeling will be bound and designed to be distributed as a set with Hanging On Our Own Bones.
About the Benefit and Cocktail Party
Red Hen Press’s annual Benefit, held each year in November in Pasadena, features an afternoon Champagne Luncheon with festivities highlighting Red Hen’s vibrant tradition in the literary community, including performances from local school children, a silent auction, and readings by acclaimed authors.
This year’s Benefit will take place on November 12, 2017, and will feature esteemed writers and poets Camille Dungy, winner of the American Book Award for Suck on the Marrow; Viet Thanh Nguyen, Pulitzer Prize–winning author of The Sympathizer; and A. E. Stallings, 2011 Macarthur Fellow and author of Archaic Smile.
In addition to the Sunday Benefit Champagne Luncheon, Red Hen holds an exclusive Cocktail Party the evening preceding the Benefit, featuring an additional private, short reading from the Benefit's featured readers, catered food and drinks, and plenty of mingling time. This invite-only event offers guests a chance to interact with the readers in an intimate and relaxed setting, as well as meet many of Red Hen’s authors and staff.
Proceeds raised through the Benefit Luncheon and Cocktail Party help Red Hen Press continue its tradition of literary excellence by supporting its publications, community reading series, and programs, including the press’s work in local schools.
Risks and challenges
Red Hen Press’s commitment to literary excellence, unique status as a Southern California–based press with national reach, and long partnership and friendship with Judy Grahn are what make Hanging On Our Own Bones a project that is close to our hearts.
We see no obstacles to the successful execution of this project, but as a nonprofit press, our greatest challenge is acquiring funding to produce books like Hanging On Our Own Bones that don’t just entertain—they edify. Our mission is to provide you with literature that seeks to answer life’s most evasive questions, but we can’t do it without your help. Join us in bringing this astounding collection to life!Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
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