first book of poetry, The Sound of One Fork, came out of the womens
liberation and lesbian/gay liberation movements of the 1970s. I had written poetry in
college, and had stoppedwhen I had married a poet. Like so many other women of my
generation, I married the person I wanted to be. But in graduate school at the University
of North Carolina in Chapel Hill, I got to know feminists and lesbians involved in early
womens liberation organizing. I started to do short book reviews for a local
movement publication, the Female Liberation Newsletter. And then I began to write
poetry again when I fell in love with another woman, in 1975. I returned to poetry not
because I had "become a lesbian"but because I had returned to my own body
after years of alienation. To be a poet, whose raw material is the sensual details of
life, I had to be fully alive in my own flesh. In 1979 I became part of the Feminary
collective in Durham, North Carolina; we were a group of anti-racist, anti-imperialist
Southern lesbians. Others in the editorial collective, during the time I was a member,
were Susan Ballinger, Eleanor Holland, Helen Langa, Deborah Giddens, Raymina Y. Mays, Mab
Segrest, Cris South, and Aida Wakil.
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 include North Carolinians Minnie
Bruce Pratt, Mab Segrest, and Cris South. In 1985 the journal was passed
on to a feminist collective on the West Coast.
Inspired by the national Women-in-Print Movement, members of our
collective learned all aspects of book production, from editing to page design and layout
to burning text into the metal plates required by our old printing press, from the actual
printing to hand-collating, stapling, and trimming the magazines with huge clumsy
equipment that we borrowed from Lollipop Power, a feminist childrens press in nearby
(For more on the Women-in-Print Movement, see Kate Adams article,
"Built Out of Books: Lesbian Energy and Feminist Ideology in Alternative
Publishing," in Gay and Lesbian Literature Since World War II: History and Memory,
ed. Sonya L. Jones (The Haworth Press).
And some of us, because we had those skills, and were also writers, began to make our
own books. In 1981 I published The Sound of One Fork. I did all the production on
the book except for the illustrations by local artist Sue Sneddon, the printing by Feminary
collective member Cris South, and the typography conversion of my typed manuscript. I did
have wonderful help, of course. My favorite memory from making that book is how my two
sons, then about eleven and twelve, stood with me in line at a counter, collating and
stapling pages; then we took turns swinging the giant arm of the guillotine-like trimmer.
As I traveled around the country doing readings, I took The Sound of One Fork
me and sold thousands of copies. It is now out-of-print. If you have a copy, hang onto
itits a collectors item!
from The Sound of One Fork.
More Selections from The Sound of One Fork
are in The Dirt She Ate.
online in audio at: