Judy Rae Grahn was born in 1940 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." When she was eighteen, she eloped with a student named Yvonne at a nearby college . Grahn credits Yvonne with opening her eyes to gay culture. Soon thereafter she would join the United States Air Force. At twenty-one she was discharged (in a "less than honorable," manner, she stated) for being a lesbian.
At the age of 25, Grahn suffered from Inoculation lymphoreticulosis, or Cat Scratch Fever, which led to her being in a coma. After overcoming her illness, she realized that she wanted to become a poet. This realization was partially due to the abuse and mistreatment Grahn faced for being openly lesbian. Of the incident, Grahn stated "I realized that if I was going to do what I had set out to do in my life, I would have to go all the way with it and take every single risk you could take.... I decided I would not do anything I didn't want to do that would keep me from my art."
Grahn would move to the west coast where she would become active in the feminist poetry movement of the 1970s. During this period, many rumors surfaced pertaining to Grahn's weight and a possible eating disorder. Grahn attributes her thin frame to poor eating habits, smoking cigarettes, and drinking coffee.
She earned her PhD from the California Institute of Integral Studies. Until 2007, Grahn was the director of the Women's Spirituality (MA) and Creative Inquiry (MFA) programs at the New College of California.
Today, Grahn lives in California and teaches at the California Institute for Integral Studies, the New College of California, and the Institute for Transpersonal Psychology. There she teaches women's mythology and ancient literature, Metaformic Consciousness (a philosophy created by Grahn), and Uncommon Kinship - a course that uses theories from her Metaformic philosophy.
In 1997, Publishing Triangle, an association of lesbians and gay men in publishing, established the Judy Grahn Award for Lesbian Nonfiction to recognize the best nonfiction book of the year affecting lesbian lives.
The earring: Judy Grahn with Chris Brandenberger, 1988, by Robert Giard
American photographer Robert Giard is renowned for his portraits of American poets and writers; his particular focus was on gay and lesbian writers. Some of his photographs of the American gay and lesbian literary community appear in his groundbreaking book Particular Voices: Portraits of Gay and Lesbian Writers, published by MIT Press in 1997. Giard’s stated mission was to define the literary history and cultural identity of gays and lesbians for the mainstream of American society, which perceived them as disparate, marginal individuals possessing neither. In all, he photographed more than 600 writers. (http://beinecke.library.yale.edu/digitallibrary/giard.html)
A Simple Revolution by Judy Grahn
Paperback: 360 pages
Publisher: Aunt Lute Books (November 27, 2012)
Amazon: A Simple Revolution
A Simple Revolution is a unique memoir and a dramatic narrative of Judy Grahn's working class roots, her army career and discharge for being lesbian, her education as one of the first whites to attend Howard University, and her life as a celebrated poet in the Bay Area during the tumultuous beginnings of the lesbian movement in the late '60s.
Judy Grahn is an internationally known poet, writer, and social theorist. She grew up in a working-class home in New Mexico. Seeking options not available in her small-town community of origin, she broke away and joined the Air Force. She was given a “blue discharge” (named for the blue paper on which these letters were printed) from the Air Force because she was a lesbian. This experience galvanized Grahn into public ownership of her lesbianism, into the writing of poetry, into lesbian activism, and into the project of publishing lesbian literature. She co-founded the Women's Press Collective in Oakland, California in 1969; using a barrel mimeograph machine, the WPC published the work of Grahn and other lesbians, including Pat Parker, Willyce Kim, and more. Grahn is the author of several poetry collections, including The Common Woman, A Woman is Talking to Death, and Love Belongs to Those Who Do the Feeling. Aunt Lute Books published a collection of Grahn's work, The Judy Grahn Reader, in 2009. In addition to her poetry, Grahn has written several celebrated nonfiction works exploring woman-centered spirituality, gay history and culture, and lesbian writing.
More Particular Voices at my website: http://www.elisarolle.com/, My Ramblings/Particular Voices
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