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Top Ten Essay Collections by Lesbians

Originally compiled for and published by Flashlight Worthy Books in April 2006. The original entry is here:

I believe that essays are an important literary tool to talk about our lives and reflect on what is happening in the world. One of the things I think that we are missing more in our lesbian culture right now are journals and magazines that publish longer essays about our lives and our analysis of what is happening in our communities. We need that dialogue, written and recorded, to share with one another and build greater understandings between and among us. I thought about this today, in part, because of the article on the front page of the New York Times Style section and the lesbian communities' response to female-to-male transgender people. Where do we go to talk about the issues that it raises? I'm going to post it separately on my blog for that purpose, but I also want to take this opportunity to put together the list of the top ten essay collections by lesbians. It was more difficult than the list of contemporary lesbian poetry. The essay is an underutilized tool for our community. Hopefully, we can change that.

1. The Uses of the Erotic: the Erotic as Power by Audre Lorde
2. On Lies, Secrets, and Silence: Selected Prose by Adrienne Rich
3. Rebellion, Essays 1980-1991 by Minnie Bruce Pratt
4. My Mama's Dead Squirrel by Mab Segrest
5. My Lesbian Husband by Barrie Jean Borich
6. Skin: Talking about Sex, Class, and Literature by Dorothy Allison
7. A Restricted Country by Joan Nestle
8. Forty-three Septembers: Essays by Jewelle Gomez
9. Sister Outsider: Essays and Speeches by Audre Lorde
10. My American History by Sarah Schulman

A few notes:

1. I included two by Audre Lorde, there are others, particularly the essays of A Burst of Light, after her cancer diagnosis, but I think these two listed are most significant from a lesbian perspective.
2. I only included one by Adrienne Rich, but there are three or four others that could be included.
3. The most recent one on the list is Barrie Jean Borich's My Lesbian Husband--where are the current books of essays by lesbian feminists?
4. The Crossing Press and Firebrand Press are the most represented publishers on the list. Crossing Press is now out of business and Firebrand struggles and is only publishing a few books a year, I believe.
5. I think that all of these writers are not at least over forty, with Sarah Schulman and Barrie Jean Borich being the youngest--who are our new lesbian essayists?