Biography

 

Other Bio information

Major archives

Critical Studies of Minnie Bruce Pratt’s work

 Feminary

Queer South

Links

 

Minnie Bruce Pratt was born September 12, 1946, in Selma, Alabama, in the hospital closest to her hometown of Centreville. She graduated from Bibb County High School when it was under segregation, and entered the University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa a year after George Wallace “stood in the schoolhouse door.” She received her B.A there, where she was also Phi Beta Kappa. She took her Ph.D. in English Literature at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.  In addition to this academic education, she received her education into the great liberation struggles of the 20th century through grass-roots organizing with women in the army-base town of Fayetteville, North Carolina, and through teaching at historically Black universities.

For five years she was a member of the editorial collective of Feminary: A Feminist Journal for the South, Emphasizing Lesbian Visions.  Together with Elly Bulkin and Barbara Smith, she co-authored Yours In Struggle: Three Feminist Perspectives On Anti-Semitism and Racism, which has been adopted for classroom use in hundreds of college courses and community groups. In 2004 this book was chosen as one of the 100 Best Lesbian and Gay Nonfiction Books of all time by the Publishing Triangle.

She has published six books of poetry, The Sound of One Fork, We Say We Love Each Other, Crime Against Nature, Walking Back Up Depot Street, The Money Machine, and The Dirt She Ate: Selected and New Poems. Pratt has also received a Creative Writing Fellowship in Poetry from the National Endowment for the Arts, and a Fellowship in Poetry from the New Jersey State Council on the Arts.

In 1989, Crime Against Nature, on Pratt's relationship to her two sons as a lesbian mother, was chosen as the Lamont Poetry Selection by the Academy of American Poets, an annual award given for the best second full-length book of poetry by a U.S. author. The judges said of the book, "Pratt tells a moving story of loss and recuperation, discovering linkages between her own disenfranchisement and the condition of other minorities.  She makes it plain, in this masterful sequence of poems, that the real crime against nature is violence and oppression."  In 1991 Crime Against Nature was chosen as a New York Times Notable Book of the Year, and given the American Library Association Gay and Lesbian Book Award for Literature. That year Pratt was chosen, along with lesbian writers Chrystos and Audre Lorde, received a Lillian Hellman-Dashiell Hammett award given by the Fund for Free Expression to writers "who have been victimized by political persecution." These three writers were selected because of their experience "as a target of right-wing and fundamentalist forces during the recent attacks on the National Endowment for the Arts." 

In 1992 her book of autobiographical and political essays, Rebellion: Essays 1980-1991, was a Finalist in Non-Fiction for the Lambda Literary Awards. This volume includes her feminist classic, the essay “Identity:  Skin  Blood  Heart.”

Her book of prose stories about gender-boundary-crossing, S/HE, was one of the five finalists in Non-Fiction for the 1995 American Library Association Gay, Lesbian, and Bisexual Book Award, as well as one of the three finalists for the Firecracker Award in Non-Fiction. In these lyrical vignettes, Pratt writes about the many ways to be girl, boy, man, woman, and those of us in-between. S/HE explores the inconsistencies, the infinities, the fluidity of sex and gender.

Pratt’s fourth volume of poems, Walking Back Up Depot Street (University of Pittsburgh Press) is a dramatically multi-vocal story of the segregated rural South and a white woman named Beatrice who is leaving that home for the postindustrial North. ForeWord Magazine said of these poems, “This is an exceptional collection in every way: broad in subject, skilled in craft, diverse in its population and conscious of the tragic world….Pratt has created a Beatrice as momentous as Dante’s.”  Poems from the collection were nominated for the Pushcart Prize and received the 1999 Larry Levis Poetry Prize from Prairie Schooner. Walking Back Up Depot Street was chosen by ForeWord: the Magazine of Independent Bookstores and Booksellers as Best Lesbian/Gay Book of the Year.

Pratt’s selected poems, The Dirt She Ate (University of Pittsburgh Poetry Series) received the 2003 Lambda Literary Award for Poetry. This volume contains poems described by the New York Times Book Review as “original, startling,” and by Publishers Weekly as “hard-edged and provocative” dealing, “directly and explicitly with issues of anger, shame, sexuality, and injustice.” Reviewer Joy Parks in Gay Content Link says, “If you read only one book of poetry this year, The Dirt She Ate should be it.” Work from this book received the Lucille Medwick Memorial Award from the Poetry Society of America.

Pratt continues her narrative chronicles of the defiant poet in her newest book of poetry, Inside the Money Machine with Nothing to Lose. These poems of her journey through and beyond capitalism in the 21st century is forthcoming in January 2010 from Carolina Wren Press, which specializes in poetry that is “aesthetically eclectic but politically cohesive, grounded in feminist, antiracist ideals." http://www.carolinawrenpress.org/

Since coming into Women’s Liberation, and coming out as a lesbian in 1975 in Fayetteville, North Carolina, Pratt has been active in organizing that intersects women’s and gender issues, LGBT issues, anti-racist work, and anti-imperialist initiatives. Feminism and War: Confronting U.S. Imperialism, an anthology she co-edited with Chandra Talpade Mohanty and Robin Riley, was published by Zed Press in fall 2008. She is a member of the National Writers Union-UAW Local 1981, and works with the International Action Center and its Women's Fightback Network.

After 30 years of adjunct teaching and several stints of standing on the unemployment line, she is at present Professor of Women’s & Gender Studies and Writing & Rhetoric at Syracuse University, where she also serves as faculty for a developing Lesbian/Gay/Bisexual/ Transgender Studies Program.

She divides her residence between her childhood home in Centreville, Alabama, and her current home in Syracuse, NY, with her partner, transgender lesbian activist and writer, Leslie Feinberg. She can be reached at www.mbpratt.org

[updated 6.25.10]



Major archives of Minnie Bruce Pratt's work

The Sallie Bingham Center for Women's History and Culture in the Rare Book, Manuscript and Special Collections Library at Duke University has acquired the following:

Minnie Bruce Papers, 1951-2005
Noted writer, poet, and activist. Collection includes manuscript material, as well as correspondence, files relating to speaking engagements, and photographic, audio, and visual material documenting Pratt's life and work. 120,000 items.

"Inventory of the Minnie Bruce Pratt Papers. 1970s-2005. Bulk 1975-2005"
http://library.duke.edu/digitalcollections/rbmscl/prattminniebruce/inv/

See also:

Minnie Bruce Pratt: Interview at the 20th Anniversary of Bingham Center at Duke
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qE1yFNHeDzQ

"Minnie Bruce Pratt: "the life s/he wrote"
http://library.duke.edu/news/newsletters/womenathecenter/wc-11.pdf

Critical studies of Minnie Bruce Pratt's work: Biographies

GLBTQ: An Encyclopedia of Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender & Queer Culture. www.glbtq.com 2007.

Contemporary Authors. Gale Reference, 2007.

Southern Writers: A New Biographical Dictionary. Eds. Joseph M. Flora and Amber Vogel. Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 2006.

Encyclopedia of American Poets and Poetry, ed. Jeffrey Grady. Greenwood, 2005.

The Dictionary of North Carolina Writers, compiled by Lorraine Hale Robinson. North Carolina Literary Review, 2003.

Contemporary Women Poets. Detroit: St. James Press, 1997.

Gay and Lesbian Literature. Detroit: St. James Press, 1994.

Contemporary Lesbian Writers of the United States. Eds. Sandra Pollack and Denise Knight. Greenwood, 1994.


Critical studies of Minnie Bruce Pratt's work: Articles and Books  

Katherine Adams. "At the Table with Arendt: Toward a Self-Interested Practice of Coalition

Discourse.” Hypatia: A Journal of Feminist Philosophy. 17.1 (2002 Winter). 1-33. (Pratt, Ardent)

 

Nancie E. Caraway. “The Challenge and Theory of Feminist Identity Politics—

Working on Racism.” Frontiers12. 2 (1991). 109-29. (Pratt, Sandra Harding, Toni Morrison, Bernice Johnson Reagon)

 

Wynn Cherry. “Hearing Me into Speech: Lesbian Feminist Publishing in North Carolina.”

North Carolina Literary Review 9 (2000). 82-102.

 

Susan Driver. “I had to make a future, willful, voluble, lascivious”: Minnie Bruce

Pratt's Disruptive Lesbian Maternal Narratives.” Textual Mothers / Maternal Texts: Motherhood in Contemporary Women's Literatures. Eds. Elizabeth Podnieks  and Andrea Dr. O'Reilly. Waterloo, Ontario: Wilfrid Laurier University Press, 2010.

 

Mary Eagleton. “Working Across Difference: Examples from Minnie Bruce Pratt

and June Jordan.” Caught Between Cultures: Women, Writing & Subjectivities. Ed. Elizabeth Russell. Rodofi: Amsterdam/New York, NY, 2002.

 

Michaela Fay. “'Between a Rock and a Hard Place'—On the Ontology of 'Home'

and 'Belonging'” CorpoRealities: In(ter)ventions in an Omnipresent Subject. Eds. Body Project. Königstein: Ulrike Helmer Verlag, 2004. 171-90. (Pratt, Leslie Feinberg)

 

Catherine Fox. “The Race to Truth: Disarticulating Critical Thinking from Whiteliness.”

Critical Approaches to Teaching Literature, Language, Composition, and Culture 2.2 (2002 Spring). 197-212. (Pratt, Marilyn Frye)

 

Leigh Gilmore and Marcia Aldrich. “Writing Home: 'Home' and Lesbian

Representation in Minnie Bruce Pratt.” Genre 25:1 (1992). 25-46.

 

Stacy Holman Jones. “Crimes Against Experience.” Cultural Studies <=> Critical

            Methodologies  9: 5(2009). 608-618.

 

Caren Jane Kaplan. “Deterritorializations: the Rewriting of Home and Exile in Western Feminist Discourse.”

Defining Travel. Oxford: University Press of   Mississippi, 2002. 190-99.

 

Laura Levitt. “Becoming an American Jewish Feminist.” Horizons in Feminist Theology.

Eds. Rebecca S. Chopp and Sheila Greeve Davaney. Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 1997. 154-164.

Biddy Martin and Chandra Talpade Mohanty. “Feminist Politics: What’s Home Got to Do With It?”

Feminist Studies, Critical Studies. Ed. Teresa de Lauretis. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1986. 191-212.

 

Biddy Martin. “Lesbian Identity and Autobiographical Difference(s).” Women,

Autobiography, Theory: A Reader. Eds. Sidonie Smith and Julia Watson. Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 1998.

 

Tara McPherson. Reconstructing Dixie: Race, Place and Gender in the South.

Autobiography, Theory: A Reader. Eds. Sidonie Smith and Julia Watson. Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 1998.

 

Mary Pernal. Explorations in Contemporary Feminist Literature: The Battle Against Oppression for Writers

            of Color, Lesbian, and Transgender Communities. Peter Lang: Washington, DC/Baltimore, 2002.

 

Yaakov Perry. “The Homecoming Queen: The Reconstruction of Home in Queer Life-Narratives.”

A/B: Auto/Biography Studies 15. 2 (2000 Winter). 193-222. (Pratt, Mark Doty, Gloria Anzaldúa)

 

Tamara M. Powell, “Look What Happened Here: North Carolina’s Feminary Collective.”

North Carolina Literary Review 9 (2000).

 

Adrienne Rich. "Sliding Stone from the Cave's Mouth." The American Poetry Review 19.5 (Sept-Oct 1990).

__________. “The Transgressor Mother.” What Is Found There: Notebooks on Poetry and Politics. New York: W. W. Norton, 1993. 145-163.

 

Helen Taylor. "Women and Dixie: The Feminization of Southern Women’s History and Culture.

American Literary History 18 (2006): 847-860.

 

Janette Y. Taylor, PhD, RN; Mackin, Melissa A. Lehan BSN, RN; Oldenburg, Angela BSN, BA. “Engaging Racial

Autoethnography as a Teaching Tool for Womanist Inquiry.”Advances in Nursing Science  31: 4 (Oct/Dec 2008). 342-355.

 

Rebecca Walsh. “Where Metaphor Meets Materiality: The Spatialized Subject

and the Limits of Locational Feminism.” Exclusions in Feminist Thought: Challenging the Boundaries of Womanhood. Ed. Mary Brewer. Brighton, England: Sussex Academic Press, 2002. 182-202.

 

Allison Weir. “Home and Identity: In Memory of Iris Marion Young.” Hypatia, 23: 3

 (July/September 2008). 4-21.

 

Kim Marie Whitehead. The Feminist Poetry Movement. Jackson: University

            Press of Mississippi, 1996.

___________. “Minnie Bruce Pratt,” A Biographical Guide to Alabama

Literature. Eds. Bert Hitchcock and Elaine Hughes. Tuscaloosa: University of Alabama Press, 1996.

___________. “Walking from the Tombigbee: An Introduction to the Poetry of Minnie Bruce Pratt.” Southern Changes, Autumn 1994.

 

Whitlock, Reta Ugena. “Season of Lilacs: Nostalgia of Place and Homeplace(s)

            of Difference.” Taboo 9: 2 (Fall/Winter 2005). 7-26.

 

Jacqueline N. Zita. “Lesbian Body Journeys: Desire Making Difference.” Lesbian

Philosophies and Cultures. Ed. Jeffner Allen. Albany: State University of New York Press, 1990. 327-345. (Pratt, Audre Lorde, Joan Nestle)


Critical studies of Minnie Bruce Pratt's work: Unpublished Dissertations and Theses

Tonita Susan Branan. “Issues of Where: The Activity of Place in Contemporary

Southern Writing by Women.” Michigan State University: 2000. (Pratt, Elizabeth Spencer, Gloria Naylor)

 

Cayo Gamber. “The Translator and the Translated: Bakhtin's Intra-linguistic

Dialogue and Minnie Bruce Pratt's ‘Crime Against Nature.’” Paper presented at the Annual Meeting of the Conference on College Composition and Communication (Cincinnati, OH, March 19-21, 1992).

 

Win Cherry. “’Outlaws with Charm’: the Evolution of the Southern Lesbian Voice.”
            University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, 1999.

 

Jaime Grant. “Authenticity, Creativity and Activism in the Work and Lives of

Contemporary Lesbian Writer/Activists.” The Union Institute, 1999.

 

Connie D. Griffin. “Ex-Centricities: a Geo/Graphics of Self-Re/Presentation in the

Autobiographics of Dorothy Allison, Minnie Bruce Pratt and Kim Chernin.” University of Massachusetts, 1998.

 

Ann Kaloski-Naylor. "Elements of a Bisexual Reading." University of York (United Kingdom), 1998.

 

Caren Jane Kaplan. “The Poetics of Displacement: Exile, Immigration, and Travel

in  Contemporary Autobiographical Writing.” University of California at Santa Cruz, 1987.

 

Adrienne L. McCormick. “Practicing Poetry, Producing Theory: Op/positional

Poetics in Contemporary Multi-ethnic American Poetries.” University of Maryland at College Park, 1998.

 

Angela Marinos. "The Dialogical Autobiography." McGill University (Canada), 1993.

 M.A. thesis.

 

Tamara Michele Powell. “Killing Scarlett O'Hara.” Bowling Green State

            University, 1999.

 

Tabitha Parks. “Coming Out: The Emergence of Lesbian Identity in the Poetics

 of Pratt, Lorde and Rich.” University of Mississippi, 2001. B.A. thesis.

 

Carlos Daniel Schroder. “The Garden of Forking Tongues: The Politics of (Sexual

Orientation in the) Translation of Poetry by Minnie Bruce Pratt and Maria Elena Walsh.” University of Maryland at College Park, 1999.

 

Leah Michelle Thomas. “Queering Scarlett: Complicating the White Southern

            Woman.” University of Kentucky, 2001.  M.A. thesis,

 

Kim Marie Whitehead. “Voicing Difference: Self-Representation and

Conversation in the Women’s Poetry Movement, 1970-1999.” (June Jordan, Minnie Bruce Pratt, Joy Harjo, Gloria Anzaldúa, Irena Klepfisz.) Emory University, 1994.



Feminary

A direct product of the 1970s women's liberation movement, Feminary was published by a women's collective in Durham and Chapel Hill. Started as a local newsletter (Female Liberation Newsletter) in 1969, by the late 1970s the publication had evolved into a quarterly "feminist journal for the South emphasizing lesbian visions." Its content was largely literary and the journal enjoyed regional and national readership. Members of the editorial collective included Eleanor Holland, Helen Langa, Raymina Y. Mays, Minnie Bruce Pratt, Mab Segrest, Cris South, and Aida Wakil. In 1985 the journal was passed on to a feminist collective on the West Coast.

http://www.lib.duke.edu/women/

See:

 

Wynn Cherry. “Hearing Me into Speech: Lesbian Feminist Publishing in North Carolina,” and Tamara M. Powell, “Look What Happened Here: North Carolina’s Feminary Collective,” both in North Carolina Literary Review, Number 9 (2000),  82-102.


What Does It Mean to be Queer in the South?
(from "Queering The South," June 1997 Gathering in Atlanta, Georgia)


Queers and the civil rights movement * Is the south queer? * queer rednecks, trailer trash, queer debutantes, queer mall rats * WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO BE QUEER IN THE SOUTH? * carson mccullers * donald wyndam * Flannery o'conner * tennessee williams * lillian smith * WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO BE QUEER IN THE SOUTH? * blanche mccrary boyd * joey manley * jim grimsley * shay youngblood * dorothy allison * minnie bruce pratt * mab segrest * james baldwin * bayard rustin * WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO BE QUEER IN THE SOUTH? * rita mae brown * bertha harris * june arnold * becky bertha * luisah teish * bessie smith * ma rainey * michael stipe * anita bryant * newt gingrich * bowers vs. hardwick * jethro * miss jane * elvis * jim nabors * suzanne pharr * mandy carter * (in)visibility * alternative spiritualities * radical fairies * southern drag * the military and southern queers * institutional heterosexism * idgie and ruth * gospel girls * lady chablee * ru paul * queer journalism * fighting the right * religious right / religious wrongs * christian queers * queers and the neo-confederacy * rural organizing * WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO BE QUEER IN THE SOUTH? * outness / closets * butch / femme * southern style * s&m * the south and AIDS

Links

The Academy of American Poets

University of Pittsburgh Press Poetry Series


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