Illinois State Library

Illinois Center for the Book

Individual Author Record

General Information

Name:  Judy Grahn  

Pen Name: None

Genre: Non-Fiction Poetry

Audience: Adult;

Born: 1940 in Chicago, Illinois

-- Judy Grahn on WorldCat --

Illinois Connection

Grahn was born in Chicago.

Biographical and Professional Information

Judy Grahn is an internationally known poet, writer, and social theorist. Her work is associated with several movements, including Gay, Lesbian, and Queer; Feminist/Woman-Centered; and Women's Spirituality. Born in Chicago, Grahn grew up 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. In 1969, Grahn co-founded the ''Women’s Press Collective'' in Oakland, California. The WPC published the work of Grahn and other lesbians. The WPC edition of Grahn’s book ''Edward the Dyke and Other Poems'' appeared in 1971. Other poetry collections include ''The Common Woman'' (1969), ''A Woman is Talking to Death'' (1974), ''The Queen of Swords'' (1987), and ''Love Belongs to Those Who Do the Feeling'' (2009). Aunt Lute published a collection of Grahn's work in 2009, ''The Judy Grahn Reader''. In addition to her poetry, Grahn has written extensively of what it means to be a lesbian and a lesbian writer in books including ''Another Mother Tongue: Gay Words, Gay Worlds'', and ''Blood, Bread and Roses: How Menstruation Created the World''. In 1989, she edited ''Really Reading Gertrude Stein.''

Published Works Expand for more information

Titles At Your Library

Work of a Common Woman: The Collected Poetry of Judy Grahn 1964-1977
ISBN: 0895941554

The Crossing Press. 1984

Book by Grahn, Judy Rich, Adrienne (introduction)

Another Mother Tongue: Gay Words, Gay Worlds
ISBN: 0807079111

Beacon Pr. 1990

Examines the life styles of gay men and women and discusses the role of gay culture in mainstream society

love belongs to those who do the feeling
ISBN: 1597091219

Red Hen Press. 2008

love belongs to those who do the feeling―an exciting collection of new and selected poetry by Judy Grahn. The book contains selections from Judy's entire body of poetic work from The Work of a Common Woman, The Queen of Wands and The Queen of Swords, to new poems written between 1997 and 2008. Judy's poetry is rangy and provocative. It has been written at the heart of so many of the important social movements of the last forty years that the proper word is foundational―Judy Grahn's poetry is foundational to the spirit of movement. People consistently report that Judy's poetry is also uplifting―an unexpected side effect of work that is aimed at the mind as well as the heart. Judy continues to insist that love goes beyond romance, to community, and that community goes beyond the everyday world, to the connective worlds of earth and spirit.

The Judy Grahn Reader
ISBN: 187996080X

Aunt Lute Books. 2009

Rare book

A Simple Revolution: The Making of an Activist Poet
ISBN: 1879960877

Aunt Lute Books. 2012

Literary Nonfiction. Memoir. LGBT Studies. Growing up in Las Cruces, New Mexico, the lean child of working-class Chicago transplants, Judy Grahn hungered to connect with the larger world, to create a place for herself beyond the deprivations and repressions of small town, 1950s life. Refusing the imperative to silence that was her inheritance as a woman and as a lesbian, Grahn found her way to poetry, to activism, and to the intoxicating beauty and power of openly loving other women. In the process, she emerged not only as one of the most inspirational and influential figures of the gay women's liberation movement, but as a poet whose vision and craft has helped to give voice to long-unexplored dimensions of women's political and spiritual existence.

In telling her life story, Grahn reflects on the profound cultural shifts brought about by the women's and gay rights movements of the 1960s and 1970s. The "simple" revolution she recounts involved not just the formation of new institutions (the Women's Press Collective, Oakland Feminist Women's Health Center, A Woman's Place Bookstore), but the creation of whole new ways of living, including collective feminist households that cut through the political and social isolation of women.

Throughout, Grahn describes her involvement with iconic scenes and figures from the history of these years—the Altamont Music Festival, the Black Panthers, the imprisoned Manson women, the Weather Underground, Inez García—sometimes as witness, sometimes as participant, sometimes as instigator. Looking at these events and people within the context of the women's movement, and through the prism of Judy Grahn's luminous poetic sensibility, we see them anew.

"In A SIMPLE REVOLUTION, Grahn refuses dramatic, psychological narratives that readers have come to expect in memoirs. What emerges is a new, deeply compelling story, grounded in honesty, humility, and compassion—compassion for herself and for the wonderful, if wounded, people who surround her...striking an artful balance between remembering her past, the past of others, and intervening politically in how we think about history."—Julie Enzer


Queen of Wands

  • American Book Award
  • The Publishing Triangle

  • Bill Whitehead Lifetime Achievement Award
  • Really Reading Gertrude Stein

  • Lambda Literary Award for Best Book of Lesbian Memoir/Biography, 2013

    Speaking Engagements

    Speaking Engagement Availability (No)