April is National Poetry Month! This month marks the 20th anniversary of the celebration led by the American Academy of Poets, and GLSEN takes part by recognizing the remarkable contributions of LGBT poets to our literary culture. Read on about how four LGBT poets have made their mark.
Saeed Jones, who graduated from Rutgers University-Newark with an MFA in Creative Writing, is the author of Prelude to Bruise, his debut poetry collection that explores themes like gender, sexuality, race and power. A queer person of color originally from the South, Jones runs the blog For Southern Boys Who Consider Poetry to inspire other queer poets of color. Click here to listen to him read some of his poetry.
Originally from Jamaica, Staceyann Chin is a lesbian spoken-word poet and LGBT political activist. Co-writer of Tony-nominated Def Poetry Jam on Broadway, Chin has published works such as Stories Surrounding My Coming and The Other Side of Paradise: A Memoir. Last year, Equality Forum named her one of the 31 icons of LGBT History Month.
Trace Peterson is the author of the poetry collection Since I Moved In; editor/publisher of EOAGH, a literary journal focused on queer poetry; and co-editor of Troubling the Line: Trans and Gendequeer Poetry and Poetics. A Lambda Literary Award Nominee, Trace is pushing for more transgender representation in poetry; she taught the first-ever Transgender Poetry course at Hunter College.
In the 1970s, Tim Dlugos participated in the Mass Transit poetry readings in Washington, D.C. and later was active in the Lower East Side literary scene in New York, serving as contributing editor to Christopher Street magazine. His numerous works include High There, Je Suis Ein Americano, and Strong Place. He is particularly known for his depictions of the AIDS epidemic in his work.
Despite the contributions of these poets and countless others, only 8.4 percent of LGBT students reported that they were taught positive representations of LGBT-related topics in their English classes, according to GLSEN’s most recent National School Climate Survey. Did you learn about LGBT poets in school, or do you teach them in your classes? Whether you’re a student or an educator, think about how to include LGBT poets in your next GSA meeting or as part of an LGBT-inclusive curriculum.