In the News: Jacqueline Woodson, Allen Ginsberg, and Great Couples in LGBT Literature

When I was in elementary school, I was very picky about the kinds of books I wanted to read. Nerdy wizards with lightning bolts on their faces? No thank you. I spent an unbelievable amount of time quickly flipping through pages of books and then shoving them back on the shelves in frustrated disinterest. The books I did settle on were those that had managed to speak to me in just a few pages—books like If You Come Softly, by Jacqueline Woodson. At the age of 11, I had no way of knowing, of course, that Woodson identified as a black queer feminist—I find it funny that I identify the exact same way almost 10 years later.  Perhaps it was this unknown connection that drew me to her writing. Woodson, who had produced over 30 acclaimed and award-winning children’s and young adult novels, discusses her identity as an author, today’s publishing industry, and the lack of black and queer literary authors in children’s literature in this article by Ms. Magazine.

Do the writers who charmed us while they were brilliantly unhinged young adults eventually disappoint us by conforming to more typical conventions as they grow older? Or does their growth and aging allow us to better navigate life’s disappointments as we realize that we are not “entitled to a more excellent universe than the one we find ourselves in”? In a Longshot article by writer Steve Silberman explores these questions and more in his reflection of Allen Ginsberg’s change from the untouchable youth and ‘original hipster’ of the Beat generation to an older, wiser man consciously afflicted by ordinary, as opposed to cosmic, problems in everyday life.

Nightwood by Djuna Barnes is a fictional recount of her passionate and tortuous relationship with Thelma Wood, who is written as Robin Vote. Though Wood resolved to cease contact with Barnes after the publication of the novel, the portrayal of their affair is still considered to be one of the best depictions of LGBTQ relationships in literature. In honor of New York’s recognition of marriage equality, the Huffington Post compiled a list of what they think are 7 Great Couples in Literature, including Nightwoods’ Nora Flood and Robin Vote. The list includes relationships that are hinted at, such as that of Clarissa Dalloway and Sally Seton in Virginia Woolf’s Mrs. Dalloway, as well as explicitly romantic relationships, such as that of Jack Twist and Ennis del Mar of Brokeback Mountain. Who are some of your most favorite LGBTQ couples in literature?