Lesbian Poetic Traditions: Judy Grahn, Julie R. Enszer, JP Howard, and Alicia Mountain

Wed. Dec 6, 2023 7:00pm - 8:00pm EST
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Event Description

The iconic feminist poet Judy Grahn re-explores the traditions of lesbian poetry from Sappho to Pat Parker and beyond.

Book Cover of The Highest AppleIn 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 2023 the book is being reprinted as part of the Sapphic Classics series, which is dedicated to reprints of iconic works of lesbian poetry. Grahn revisits the original text, which situates poetry by Sappho, Emily Dickinson, Gertrude Stein, Adrienne Rich, Audre Lorde, and more as central to lesbian culture—and more radically as central to society as a whole.

Judy Grahn is joined by scholars and poets Julie R. Enszer, JP Howard, and Alicia Mountain 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.

To join the livestream | A livestream of this event will be available on the NYPL event page. To receive an email reminder shortly in advance of the event, please be sure to register! If you encounter any issues, please join us on NYPL's YouTube channel.


Judy Grahn headshotJudy Grahn is a renowned poet, activist, mythographer cultural theorist, and the author of works that fueled the GLBTQ, Feminist, and Women’s Spirituality movements internationally. A “before Stonewall” Gay activist who walked the first picket of the White House for Gay rights in 1965, she later founded Gay Women’s Liberation and the Women’s Press Collective. Her intention with writing is to replace obsolete philosophies with better ones. Her subjects range from LGBT history and mythology to feminist critiques of current crises, new origin theories of inclusion, what makes us human, taking racism personally in dismantling white supremacy, and stories of how to engage with creature-minds and spirit.

Julie R. Enszer headshotJulie R. Enszer, PhD, is the author of four poetry collections, including Avowed, and the editor of OutWrite: The Speeches that Shaped LGBTQ Literary Culture, Fire-Rimmed Eden: Selected Poems by Lynn Lonidier, The Complete Works of Pat Parker, and Sister Love: The Letters of Audre Lorde and Pat Parker 1974-1989. Enszer edits and publishes Sinister Wisdom, a multicultural lesbian literary and art journal. You can read more of her work at www.JulieREnszer.com.

JP Howard headshotJP Howard is a poet, educator, literary activist, curator, and community builder. JP was the Spring 2023 Brooklyn College Tow Mentor-in-Residence. Her debut poetry collection, SAY/MIRROR (The Operating System), was a Lambda Literary finalist. She is also the author of bury your love poems here (Belladonna*), Praise This Complicated Herstory: Legacy, Healing & Revolutionary Poems (Harlequin Creature) and co-editor of Sinister Wisdom Journal Black Lesbians--We Are the Revolution! JP has received fellowships and grants from Cave Canem, VONA, Lambda Literary Foundation, and Brooklyn Arts Council (BAC). She curates Women Writers in Bloom Poetry Salon and her poetry is widely anthologized. JP is a general Poetry Editor for Women's Studies Quarterly and Editor-At-Large of Mom Egg Review VOX online. http://www.jp-howard.com

Alicia Mountain headshotAlicia Mountain is the author of Four in Hand (BOA 2023). Her debut collection, High Ground Coward (Iowa 2018), won the Iowa Poetry Prize. Her work has appeared in The Nation, Guernica, Pleiades, Poetry Northwest, and American Poetry Review. Mountain was a Clemens Doctoral Fellow at the University of Denver and the 2020-2021 Artist in Residence at the University of Central Oklahoma. She serves on the board of Foglifter, a LGBTQIA+ journal based in the Bay Area. Mountain lives in New York City, where she is an Assistant Teaching Professor in the Writer’s Foundry MFA program at St. Joseph’s University in Brooklyn.


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In-Person | Assistive listening devices and/or hearing loops are available at the venue. You can request a free ASL (American Sign Language) interpretation or CART (Communication Access Real-Time Translation) captioning service by emailing your request at least two weeks in advance of the event: email accessibility@nypl.org or use this Gmail template. This venue is fully accessible to wheelchairs. 

Livestream | Captions and a transcript will be provided. Media used over the course of the conversation will be accompanied by alt text and/or audio description. You can request a free ASL (American Sign Language) interpretation by emailing your request at least two weeks in advance of the event: email accessibility@nypl.org or use this Gmail template.



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LIVE from NYPL is made possible by the continuing generosity of Celeste Bartos, Mahnaz Ispahani Bartos and Adam Bartos, the Margaret and Herman Sokol Public Education Endowment Fund, and the support of Library patrons and friends.

Courtesy Judy Grahn
Julie R. Enszer © Kim Sherrill
JP Howard © Nívea Castro
Alicia Mountain © Emma Quaytman

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Venue Details
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Celeste Auditorium (Lower Level) The New York Public Library, Stephen A. Schwarzman Building, 42nd Street & 5th Avenue
New York, NY 10018