Living as a Lesbian, originally published by Firebrand Books in 1986, has been jointly reprinted by A Midsummer Night and Sinister Wisdom Presses (Feb. 2014) as the second in the “Sapphic Classic” series. Minnie Bruce Pratt’s award-winning book of poetry, Crime Against Nature was the first “Sapphic Classic.” This reprint of Clarke’s paean to lesbian life includes intergenerational introductions by scholar-activist, Alexis Pauline Gumbs, curator of the Eternal Summer of the Black Feminist Mind (http://blackfeministmind.wordpress.com/ ), and feminist activist and former Firebrand publisher, Nancy K. Bereano, an Afterword by the author,” and a “Notes” section on the poems for new readers and old fans. According to poet and publisher Julie R. Enszer, “In 1986, Living as a Lesbian captured the vitality and volatility of the lesbian world; today, in a world both changed and unchanged, Clarke’s poems continue to illuminate our lives and make new meanings for Living as a Lesbian.” ISBN-13:978-1-938334-06-1. Write JulieREnsze@gmail.com for copies.
Published by Firebrand Books in 1989, Clarke’s third book of poetry, Humid Pitch: Narrative Poetry plumbs the depths black women’s blues souls through narrative poems in order, as Audre Lorde said of her work, to reveal “the difficult, juicy moment, the questions of difference . . . [and the] acute highlights along a journey traveled with resolve, pain, and joy.” Women of color, triumphant lesbians, ambivalent men, slave women, and the children who survive childhood are given expression.
Experimental Love is Clarke’s fourth book of poems, published by Firebrand Books in 1993. Characterized by lyric and narrative interventions as well as critical responses to quotidian and extraordinary events, Experimental Love proves Clarke true to the late Gwendolyn Brooks’ assessment: “Ms. Clarke treats language with care and concern. her musics are various: strong or sharp, or quick, or lulling. Rich and requiring.” Each poem experiments with the love we give over to poetry. ISBN 1-56341-035-4. Order from 800-343-4499.
Published originally by Carroll and Graf, The Days of Good Looks: the Prose and Poetry of Cheryl Clarke, 1980-2005 is a luminous compendium of the poet’s important writing. She has spoken on behalf of the black, lesbian, feminist, and gay movements since 1980. This book collects Clarke’s most popular poems and essays with an array of unpublished writing. “Clarke’s work is unfailingly witty, perceptive, sexy, and sensual, taking us on her freedom train of thought and into her inner musings as she skewers social, racial, gender, and sexual orientation inequities”–Booklist. ISBN 0-7867-1675-4. Available from the Perseus Group at 1-800-343-4499.
In ‘After Mecca’: Women Poets and the Black Arts Movement, Cheryl Clarke explores the relationship between the Black arts Movement and black women writers of the period. Poems by Gwendolyn Brooks, Ntozake Shange, Audre Lorde, Nikki Giovanni, Sonia Sanchez, Jayne Cortez, and Alice Walker . . . chart the emergence of a new and distinct black poetics and its relationship to the black community’s struggle for rights and liberation. “This is the only book-length treatment of Black women poets of the Black Arts Movement . . . and their impact on the poets who succeeded them”–Beverly Guy-Sheftall. Published in 2005 by Rutgers University Press, ISBN 0-8135-3406-2. Order online
Narratives: poems in the tradition of black women, Clarke’s first book of poetry, is now out of print. First self-published in 1982, then published and distributed by Kitchen Table: Women of Color Press in 1983. Copies are still in circulation. The legendary poem, “Of Flaxie and Althea,” first appearing in Narratives, is still a black lesbian feminist staple of lesbian feminist communities everywhere. The poems were performed from 1983 to 1985 by the Narratives Performing Company, whose members included Breena Clarke, director, Linda Powell (d. 2013),and Gwendolen Hardwick. It was performed at the Festival of Women’s Theater in Santa Cruz, Ca. in 1985. Narratives is available online at the Lesbian Poetry Archive http://www.lesbianpoetryarchive.org/Narratives.
As one reader/reviewer proclaimed, “[This Bridge] is one of the most precious books in women’s history.” Edited by Cherríe Moraga and the late Gloria Anzaldua, with a “Foreword” by the iconic Toni Cade Bambara , This Bridge Called My Back: Writings by Radical Women of Color, includes writings by many of the stalwarts of women of color feminism, including Moraga and Anzaldua, who made their writing debuts here. Barbara Smith whose co-editorship with Lorraine Bethel of Conditions Five: The Black Women’s Issue in 1979, paved the way for This Bridge. Originally published by Persephone Press in 1981 and then reprinted by Kitchen Table: Women of Color Press in 1983, This Bridge still remains crucial to progressive and radical feminist politics for women of all colors. Third Women Press reprinted it in 2002, and kept it going until 2008. SUNY Press in 2014 will reprint it once again. Cheryl Clarke’s popular essay “Lesbianism: An Act of Resistance” appears here with the work of Barbara Smith, Chrystos, Nellie Wong, Mitsuye Yamada, Jo Carillo, Pat Parker, Audre Lorde, Kate Rushin, and so many others. The Third Women Press edition (right) contains artwork and retrospective articles by Cecilia Herrera Rodriguez and Mattie U. Richardson as well as new forewords by Anzaldua and Moraga.
The pioneering anthology Home Girls: A Black Feminist Anthology features writings by Black feminist and lesbian activists on topics both provocative and profound. Since its initial publication in 1983 (left), it has become an essential text on Black women’s lives and writings. The reprinted edition (right) features an updated list of contributor biographies and an all-new preface that provides a fresh assessment of how Black women’s lives have changed–or not–since the book was first published. Cheryl Clarke’s essay, “The Failure to Transform: Homophobia in the Black Community.” Other ontributors include Tania Abdulahad, Donna Allegra, Barbara A. Banks, Becky Birtha, Julie Carter, Michelle Cliff, Michelle T. Clinton, Willie M. Coleman, Toi Derricotte, Alexis De Veaux, Jewelle L. Gomez, Akasha (Gloria) Hull, Patricia Jones, June Jordan, Audre Lorde, Raymina Y. Mays, Deidre McCalla, Chirlane McCray, Pat Parker, Linda C. Powell, Bernice Johnson Reagon, Gwendolyn Rogers, Kate Rushin, Ann Allen Shockley, Barbara Smith, Beverly Smith, Shirley O. Steele, Luisah Teish Alice Walker, and Renita Weems. Originally published by Kitchen Table: Women of Color Press in 1983 and reprinted by Rutgers University Press in 2000.