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literature

Alpha Index:  A-B  C-F  G-K  L-Q  R-S  T-Z

Subjects:  A-B  C-E  F-L  M-Z

     
Canadian Literature in English  
 
page: 1  2  3  4  5  6  

Prose Anthologies

Denisoff's collection, Queeries (1993), is the first anthology of Anglo-Canadian gay male prose. Fortunately there have been several collections of lesbian fiction, including Piece of My Heart (fiction by lesbians of color anthologized by Makeda Silvera, 1991) and most recently Getting Wet: Tales of Lesbian Seduction (1992). Edited by two lesbians of color, Carol Allain and Rosamund Elwin, the latter volume continues the tradition that Elwin has encouraged through the Lesbian Writing and Publishing Collective that created another anthology, Dykewords.

Getting Wet and another collection, By Word of Mouth, raise the issue of pornography, an issue that has often divided lesbian communities but in Canada has elicited strong lesbian support for erotic writing by women for women. Alongside some pretty torrid sex, Getting Wet contains the diction of the old pulp romances of preliberation days: "we had feasted to our hearts' fulness on each other."

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In so doing, it raises again the question of just what lesbian "literature" is, a question suggested also by the recent National Film Board production Forbidden Love (directed by Aerlyn Weissman and Lynne Fernie, 1992), where a piece of pulp fiction comes to life.

Periodicals

Periodicals are also a major source of gay and lesbian writing. Candis Graham, whose collection of short stories, Imperfect Moments has recently appeared, for example, has previously published not only in Women and Words but in three other collections of lesbian stories: Dykeversions (1986), By word of mouth (1989), and Tide Lines (1991) as well as in the papers Rites and Common Lives / Lesbian Lives. (One might also add the feminist magazine Fireweed as a place where lesbian fiction frequently appears.)

Graham's stories have the sort of amiable domesticity often associated with lesbian life; indeed, they are usually situated in the redefinition of "family."

This is also a subject of many of the novels of Jane Rule, another American expatriate. As the first major gay or lesbian novelist to publish in Canada, Rule still has the highest profile. Like her first novel, Desert of the Heart (1964), This is Not for You (1970) is centered in the relation of two women. Whereas the women in the first novel break through convention, the couple in the second do not.

Against the Season (1972) introduces the same wide range of characters as recur in what is probably her best-known novel, The Young in One Another's Arms (1977), a novel in which the residents (gay and straight) of a rooming house become a "family" in order to fight a developer.

In all of her work--and she has a large canon of short stories as well as subsequent novels--her concern has been to present lesbians and gays as "not heroic or saintly but real." This unsentimental clarity has also given her critical writing distinction, both in the pieces that appeared in The Body Politic, and have since been collected as A Hot-Eyed Moderate (1986), and in her influential earlier work, Lesbian Images (1975).

The advent of lesbian and gay literature in Canada has not gone unopposed by traditional forces of "morality," with the absurd result that publications supported by arts councils have sometimes been the subject of police action. The battle against Customs officers and police pornography squads eager to seize even the novels of Jane Rule has largely been carried on in Canada by such important bookstores as Glad Day in Toronto and Little Sisters in Vancouver but not without the active support of straight librarians and bookstores.

Conclusion

What is remarkable is the vibrancy of gay culture generally, and gay writing in particular, in a country whose population is less than California's. Both Vancouver and Toronto have strong gay and lesbian publishing houses and theaters that would be the envy of much larger cities in the English-speaking world.

Douglas Chambers

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literature >> Overview:  Poetry: Gay Male

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literature >> Overview:  Poetry: Lesbian

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    Bibliography
   

A Not So Gay World. Marion Foster and Kent Murray, eds. Toronto: McClelland & Stewart, 1972.

By Word of Mouth: Lesbians Writing the Erotic. Lee Fleming, ed. Charlottetown, P.E.I: Gynergy Press, 1989.

Canadian Theatre Review 12 (Fall 1976).

Denisoff, Dennis, ed. Queeries: An Anthology of Gay Male Prose. Vancouver: Arsenal Pulp Press, 1993.

Dykewords: An Anthology of Lesbian Writing. Toronto: Women's Press, 1990.

Flaunting It!. Ed Jackson and Stan Persky, eds. Vancouver: New Star Books, 1982.

Fluid Exchanges: Artists and Critics on the AIDS Crisis. James Miller, ed. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1992.

Getting Wet: Tales of Lesbian Seduction. Carol Allain and Rosamund Elwin, eds. Toronto: Women's Press, 1992.

How Do I Look: Queer Film and Video. Seattle: Bay Press, 1991.

Persky, Stan. Buddy's: Meditations on Desire. Vancouver: New Star Books, 1989.

Piece of My Heart: A Lesbian of Colour Anthology. Makeda Silvera, ed. Toronto: Sister Vision, 1991.

Sight Specific: Lesbians and Representation. Toronto: A Space Gallery, 1988.

SP/ELLES: Poetry by Canadian Women. Judith Fitzgerald, ed. Windsor, Ont.: Black Moss Press, 1986.

Tide Lines: Stories of Change by Lesbians. Lee Fleming, ed. Charlottetown, P.E.I.: Gynergy Press, 1991.

Wallace, Robert, ed. Making, Out: Plays by Gay Men. Toronto: Coach House Press, 1992.

Women and Words: The Anthology. West Coast Collective, ed. Madeira Park, B.C.: Harbour, 1984.

Young, Ian. The Male Homosexual in Literature: A Bibliography. Metuchen, N.J.: Scarecrow, 1975.

_____, ed. The Male Muse: A Gay Anthology. Trumansburg, N.Y.: Crossing Press, 1975.

_____, ed. The Son of the Male Muse: New Gay Poetry. Trumansburg, N.Y.: Crossing Press, 1983.

 

    Citation Information
         
    Author: Chambers, Douglas  
    Entry Title: Canadian Literature in English  
    General Editor: Claude J. Summers  
    Publication Name: glbtq: An Encyclopedia of Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual,
Transgender, and Queer Culture
 
    Publication Date: 2002  
    Date Last Updated November 11, 2005  
    Web Address www.glbtq.com/literature/can_lit_eng.html  
    Publisher glbtq, Inc.
1130 West Adams
Chicago, IL   60607
 
    Today's Date  
    Encyclopedia Copyright: © 2002-2006, glbtq, Inc.  
    Entry Copyright © 1995, 2002 New England Publishing Associates  
 

 

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