Lesbian Poetry Retrospective Part 1

Kay Ryan (b. 1945)

Though Kay Ryan
is not the first lesbian Poet Laureate — Elizabeth Bishop served from 1949 to
1950 — she is the first to be out and open about her sexuality. Ryan is the
author of six collections of poetry, including her most recent, The Niagara River, which won the Ruth
Lilly Poetry Prize, and Flamingo Watching,
which was a finalist for the Lamont Book Award.

A teacher known
for living a quiet life with her partner of 30 years, Carol Adair, Ryan’s work
is filled with humor, insight and surprise.
The chairman of the National
Endowment for the Arts, Dana Gioia, called Ryan this generation’s Elizabeth
Bishop.

The following poem is from her collection Elephant Rocks.

“If the Moon Happened Once”

If the moon
happened once
it wouldn’t
matter much,
would it?

One evening’s
ticket
punched with a
round or a
crescent.

You could like it
or not like it,
as you chose.

It couldn’t alter
every time it
rose;

it couldn’t do
those

things with scarves
it does.

Let us know about your favorite queer poets in the comments!

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