Judy Grahn

Judy Grahn. Courtesy Green Woman Store.

Judy Rae Grahn
Born July 28, 1940 (1940-07-28) (age 78)
Chicago, Illinois, United States
Occupation poet
Nationality United States American
Genres Lesbian Feminism/Poetry

Judy Rae Grahn (born July 28, 1940) is an American poet. whose work focuses on the feminist and lesbian experiences.


Judy Rae Grahn was born in Chicago, Illinois. Her father was a cook and her mother was a photographer's assistant. Grahn described her childhood as taking place in "an economically poor and spiritually depressed late 1950s New Mexico desert town near the hellish border of West Texas."

At 18 she eloped with a student at a nearby college named Yvonne. Grahan credits Yvonne with opening her eyes to gay culture. Soon thereafter she would join the United States Air Force. At 21 she was discharged (in a "less than honorable," manner, she stated) for being a lesbian.[1]

Grahn would move to the west coast where she would become active in the feminist poetry movement of the 1970s. She earned a Ph.D. from the California Institute of Integral Studies.[2]

Grahn lives in California and teaches at the California Institute for Integral Studies, the New College of California, and the Institute for Transpersonal Psychology.[2]


In 1969, Grahn co-founded the Women's Press Collective the San Francisco Bay Area. She also was a founding member of the West Coast New Lesbian Feminist Movement.[2]

With this poem, the whole political enterprise of feminism was subsumed by poetic means into an understanding of the complexity of the stark power relations that involve gender, race, and sexuality.
Honor Moore, on hearing Judy Grahn read her poem "A Woman is Talking to Death," in the early 1970s.[2]

Grahn's poetry is at times free verse, covering mainly feminist and lesbian subjects and themes. She uses plain language and what the Poetry Foundation describes as an "etymological curiosity that often eschews metaphor in favor of incantation."[2] Grahn does not limit her work to just written poetry, but also collaborates with other artists such as singer-songwriter Anne Carol Mitchell and dancer and choreographer Anne Blethenthal.[2]

Grahn co-edits the online journal Metaformia, a journal about menstruation and women's culture.[2]

Her debut poetry collection, Edward the Dyke, and other poems was released in 1971, and was combined with She Who (1972) and A Woman is Talking to Death (1974) in a collected edition titled The Words of a Common Woman in 1978.


A collection of selected and newer poems, love belongs to those who do the feeling (2008) won the 2009 Lambda Literary Award for lesbian poetry.[2] Grahn has been the recipient of other awards for her work. She has received a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts, an American Book Review award, an American Book Award, an American Library Award, and a Founding Foremothers of Women’s Spirituality Award.[2]

In 1997, Triangle Publishers awarded Grahn a Lifetime Achievement Award, and also established an annual Judy Grahn Award in Lesbian Nonfiction.[3]



  • Edward the Dyke, and other poems. Oakland, CA: Women's Press Collective, 1971.
  • The Common Woman. Oakland, CA: Women's Press Collective, 1973
    • (illustrated by Wendy Cadden). Oakland, CA: Women's Press Collective, 1979.
  • A Woman is Talking to Death: Poem. Oakland, CA: Women's Press Collective, 1974.
  • She Who: A graphic book of poems with 54 images of women. Oakland, CA: Diana Press, 1977.
  • The Queens of Wands: Poetry. Trumansburg, NY: Crossing Press, 1982.
  • The Work of a Common Woman: Collected poetry, 1964-1977. Oakland, Ca: Diana Press, 1978; New York: St. Martin's Press, 1978; London: Only Women, 1985.
  • Descent to the Roses of the Family. Iowa City, IA: Common Lives / Lesbian Lives, 1986.
  • The Queen of Swords. Boston: Beacon Press, 1987.
  • love belongs to those who do the feeling: new and selected poems, 1966-2006. Los Angeles, CA: Red Hen Press, 2008.


  • Mundane's World: A novel. Freedom, CA: Crossing Press, 1988.


  • Another Mother Tongue: Gay words, gay worlds. Boston: Beacon Press, 1984.
  • The Highest Apple: Sappho and the lesbian poetic tradition. San Francisco: Spinsters Ink, 1985.
  • Blood, Bread, and Roses: How menstruation created the world. Boston: Beacon Press, 1993.
  • with Betty De Shong Meador. Inanna, Lady of Largest Heart : Poems of the Sumerian High Priestess. Austin: University of Texas Press (2001). ISBN 0292752423
  • A Simple Revolution: The making of an activist poet.

Collected editionsEdit

  • The Judy Grahn Reader (with introduction by Lisa Maria Hogeland). San Francisco: Aunt Lute Books, 2009.


  • True to Life Adventure Stories. Oakland, CA: Diana Press, 1978; Trumansburg, NY: Crossing Press, 1978.
  • Really Reading Gertrude Stein: A selected anthology, with essays by Judy Grahn. Freedom, CA: Crossing Press, 1989.

Except where noted, bibliographical information courtesy WorldCat.[4]

Audio / videoEdit

Ani DiFranco "Detroit Annie" poem by Judy Grahn

Ani DiFranco "Detroit Annie" poem by Judy Grahn

Sheep performed by Annie Bacterial, music by Vinsantos, Poem by Judy Grahn, featuring Fauxnique

Sheep performed by Annie Bacterial, music by Vinsantos, Poem by Judy Grahn, featuring Fauxnique

  • A Woman is Talking to Death, and other poems (audiocassette). Washington, DC: Watershed Foundation, 1990.
  • History of Lavender (audiocassette). Los Angeles, CA: Pacifica Radio Archive, 1983.

Except where noted, discoographical information courtesy WorldCat.[4]

See alsoEdit


  • Dehler, Johanna. Fragments of Desire: Sapphic Fictions in Works by H.D., Judy Grahn, and Monique Wittig. New York: Peter Lang Publishing (1999). ISBN 0820436178


  1. Paul Russell (2002). The Gay 100: A Ranking of the Most Influential Gay Men and Lesbians, Past and Present. Kensington Books. pp. 341–343. ISBN 978-0-7582-0100-3. Retrieved 29 December 2011. 
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 2.5 2.6 2.7 2.8 Judy Grahn, Poetry Foundation. Web, Dec. 29, 2011.
  3. Lisa L. Moore, It Is an Apple: An interview with Judy Grahn, Los Angeles Review of Books, August 23, 2013. Web, Aug. 29, 2014.
  4. 4.0 4.1 Search results = au:Judy Grahn, WorldCat, OCLC Online Computer Library Center Inc. Web, Aug. 29, 2014.

External linksEdit

  • Serpentina website founded by Dianne Jenett and Judy Grahn to support research, projects, and social activism in women's spirituality.
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