Queer Narratives in Poetry and Prose
Thanks to platforms offered by LGBTQ+-focused and LGBTQ+-friendly literary spaces in Georgia, authors from within the state and without have had the opportunity to share their community’s stories with audiences across the state. A print home for queer narrative and poetry was created by the Southeastern Arts, Media & Education Project’s Amethyst: A Journal for Lesbians and Gay Men (1987-96), helmed by Rebecca Ranson. Marietta native and Emory graduate Jameson Currier later established Chelsea Station Editions as a press devoted to publishing queer literature, and in 2011 Currier launched a new LGBTQ+ literary journal, Chelsea Station. Communal gatherings for queer Georgia writers date back to 1979, when WomonWrites, the Southeast Lesbian Writers Conference, was established as an annual gathering for lesbian authors, often in the woods of central Georgia or Alabama, where participants would stay in cabins and hold creative workshops. Though not explicitly LGBTQ+-focused, the anti-patriarchal Conference on Men & Masculinity, first held at the University of Tennessee in 1975, came to Oglethorpe University in 1990 and featured readings by openly gay poets Essex Hemphill and James Broughton as part of explorations of positive male identity and sexuality. The Atlanta Queer Literary Festival, organized by Franklin Abbott, held its first annual meeting in 2008, at which time it was “one of only two queer-specific literary festivals in the nation.” The conference has featured plenary performances with nationally renowned queer artists like gender non-conforming author and performance artist Kate Bornstein; transgender activist, writer, and professor Jennifer Finney Boylan; and lesbian poet Staceyann Chin; as well as Georgian LGBTQ+ writers like World Poetry Slam champion Theresa Davis; poet and novelist Collin Kelley; Atlanta-born memoirist Alysia Abbott; and many more. The Festival also began arranging a queer track for the Decatur Book Festival in 2009 and has continued to do so every year since.