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Wolverton, Terry (b. 1954)  
page: 1  2  3  

That vision, stated Wolverton, was "to capture the best of [gay and lesbian writing that] was being published at the turn of the new century." Critics recognized the success of these efforts. Sarah Van Arsdale noted in a review of the lesbian volume of Circa 2000 that "[Wolverton] and Drake just may have found several stories that will last beyond our lifetimes."

The healing process was long and slow for Drake, who did eventually recover his speech, a certain degree of motor function, and his sense of humor. Because of his limited ability to walk, he has made use of a wheelchair. Since the summer of 2002 he has written a column entitled "Handicapable Like Me" for the Philadelphia Gay News.

His assailants were sentenced to eight years in prison in February 2000.

In addition to editing, Wolverton has authored a number of books. Her memoir, Insurgent Muse, not only traces her own development as an artist and a feminist but also paints a vivid and frank picture of the triumphs and conflicts of the early years of the modern lesbian and feminist movements and the ensuing challenges that have arisen. It is a valuable documentation of a pivotal time in women's history.

Wolverton's first major book of poetry, Black Slip (1992), was an impressive debut in the genre, earning her a place as a finalist for a Lambda Literary Award. Reviewer Mary Ann Daly described the writer's voice as "an amalgam of down-to-earth and bravado," further noting that "Wolverton's work is highly personal, even confessional, without seeming self-indulgent."

Wolverton has produced two additional books of poetry, Mystery Bruise (1999) and Embers: A Novel in Poetry (2003). The latter is based upon the experiences of her often dysfunctional family. Central to the tale is Wolverton's grandmother Marie Girard, who lived a hard-scrabble life in gritty Detroit, enduring through the Great Depression, wartime, and race riots.

Girard's long struggle with mental illness kept her moving in and out of institutions, and her failed marriages created a complex--"blended" is hardly the word--family whose members had to deal with issues including betrayal, rejection, sexual orientation, and AIDS. Reviewer Jane Van Ingen commented, "Wolverton has transformed the memoir into a beautiful package. Each poem is about one person or written from one person's perspective, giving us a clear-eyed view of a large, diverse family."

Wolverton is also the author of a more traditionally structured novel, Bailey's Beads (1996). Throughout most of the story, the central figure, novelist Bryn, has no voice of her own because she is in a coma after a car crash. The reader must get to know her through the images of her held by the two women who love her most, her lesbian partner, Djuna, and her mother, Vera.

While united in their desire for Bryn's recovery, Djuna and Vera are otherwise at odds, vying to be the most important person in Bryn's life and presenting differing images of Bryn's identity. Although the comatose writer cannot participate in the debate over her own future, Wolverton inserts Bryn's novel Splinters into the major narrative to allow readers a glimpse into who she actually is. She also intersperses poems reflecting the apparently not completely unconscious Bryn's befogged attempts to understand what is happening to her and around her.

When Bryn finally emerges from the coma, she has no short-term memory and cannot recognize Djuna, a devastating blow for her lover. The novel ends with their future course unresolved but leaves space for hope.

In a 1996 interview with Owen Keehnen, Wolverton said of Bailey's Beads, "I wanted to talk about the post-modern notion of how identity is constructed. I think that as gays and lesbians, and this is a big generality, we're somewhat more conscious of these constructions." She hoped that readers would share her curiosity about the subject, adding, "I would like them to come away asking some questions about identity, about fiction, about how well . . . they know the people they think they know."

Wolverton works at guiding writers as well as readers to explore new ideas. She has taught creative writing for more than two decades. In 1997 she founded Writers at Work "to provide a space for writers to stretch the imagination, strengthen their craft, produce new work, fulfill their goals and build a community for their work." The program is open to all serious writers, but its statement of philosophy notes, "we have a particular interest in those individuals whose stories have not been as widely recorded in this culture: women, lesbians and gay men, and people of color."

Writers at Work is headquartered in Los Angeles, where Wolverton resides.

Linda Rapp

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Banner, Keith. "3x as Hot." Lambda Book Report 8.4 (November 1999): 22.

Daly, Mary Ann. "Black Slip." Lambda Book Report 3.9 (March 1993): 29.

"His: Brilliant New Fiction by Gay Writers." Publishers Weekly 242.33 (August 14, 1995): 77.

Keehnen, Owen. "Talking with Terry Wolverton." (1996).

PorchGal. "Terry Wolverton Interview." (2000).

Scott, Whitney. "Hers." Booklist 91.22 (August 1995): 1929.

Van Arsdale, Sarah. "Circa 2000: Lesbian Fiction at the Millennium." Lambda Book Report 9.2 (September 2000): 26.

Van Ingen, Jane. "A Life in Prose." Lambda Book Report 12.8 (March-April 2004): 15-16.

Wolverton, Terry. Insurgent Muse: Life and Art at the Woman's Building. San Francisco: City Lights, 2002.

_____. "Prayers for Robert--Gay Editor and Activist Who Struggles to Recover from Brutal Attack in Ireland." The Advocate (August 17, 1999).


    Citation Information
    Author: Rapp, Linda  
    Entry Title: Wolverton, Terry  
    General Editor: Claude J. Summers  
    Publication Name: glbtq: An Encyclopedia of Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual,
Transgender, and Queer Culture
    Publication Date: 2006  
    Date Last Updated December 12, 2011  
    Web Address  
    Publisher glbtq, Inc.
1130 West Adams
Chicago, IL   60607
    Today's Date  
    Encyclopedia Copyright: © 2002-2006, glbtq, Inc.  
    Entry Copyright © 2006 glbtq, Inc.  


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