This past Thursday, June 23rd, a bunch of lady-loving ladies and friends piled into Bluestockings, the East Village’s very own feminist bookstore/activist center/fair trade cafe, for the Lesbian & Bisexual Literary Pride Showcase.
The evening opened with Lambda Literary’s own contributing writer Sarah Burghauser reading a selection from her lyrical and uncanny autobiographical novel-in-progress, titled Incarnation: in which the narrator beautifully reflects on ideas ranging from childbirth, sex, and the supernatural.
Next in the lineup was Rachel M. Simon, the winner of the 2005 Transcontinental Poetry Prize and the recipient of a 2011-2012 Purchase College Writers Center Fellowship. Rachel read a handful of poems—including “Boys Who Need Haircuts,” “Game One of the World Series With Your Father,” “Kobe,” and “In Praise of Queer Coaches.” Some of the poems seemed tongue-in-cheek, at least initially, but many if not all spun evocative language to blindside the listeners with profound conclusions.
Author Aoibheann Sweeney, adorable baby in tow, came up to the microphone and confessed a change of heart: she had been planning on reading us the first chapter of her 2007 debut novel, Among Other Things, I’ve Taken Up Smoking (Penguin), but she decided to change it up at the last minute, telling us, “I feel like I should read a sex scene instead, because everyone’s reading these very sexy things…” She treated us to an unrehearsed, but fabulously penned, sex scene from the novel, which deals with a young woman from Maine who comes to New York City and falls in love with a woman.
The wonderful Donna Minkowitz read from her forthcoming memoir, titled The Marvelous Toy; in her selection, she related her fantastical suspicions that she was actually a modern-day clay golem created by her mother. Donna, who won a Lambda Literary Award for her 1998 memoir Ferocious Romance: What My Encounters with the Right Taught Me about Sex, God and Fury, delivered a reading that was wry, witty, and utterly captivating.
The last reader of the evening—Ellis Avery had originally been on the bill as well but was unable to attend—was Alison Smith, who won a Lambda Literary award for her memoir titled Name All the Animals, published by Scribner in 2004. Alison read to us from her novel-in-progress, with the working title Johnny, set in the mid-90s. In her selection, our rather poorly-informed cisgendered gay male narrator comes to a trans pool party and is immediately taken with Johnny, an FTM.
All five authors delivered powerhouse readings, and the audience surely left with scribbled lists of new books to buy (and probably a cup of fair-trade coffee). Be sure to check out our gracious hosts, the wonderful people at Bluestockings,especially their upcoming events!
(Photo from left to right: Rachel M. Simon, Donna Minkowitz, Aoibheann Sweeney, Sarah Burghauser, Alison Smith, and event organizer Karen Schechner)