Sapphic Classics

The Complete Works of Pat Parker by Pat Parker

CWPP-Cover-Final copy“Parker stayed woke to black suffering, violence against black bodies—especially those of black women—to the suffering engendered by multiple, egregious oppressions. With The Complete Works of Pat Parker, we are allowed an opportunity to historicize Pat Parker’s significance to black women’s literary traditions, lesbian erotics, to black queer struggles and black feminisms, and to global social justice movements. She was in her time. Now, with this important text, she will be in all time to come.”
—Alexis De Veaux, author of Yabo

During her lifetime, Pat Parker was a renowned African-American, lesbian-feminist poet and performer. She was the author of Jonestown & Other Madness (1985), Movement in Black (1978, 1983, 1989, 1999), Womanslaughter (1978), Pit Stop (1974, 1975), and Child of Myself (1972, 1974). Her poems appeared in numerous journals, newspapers, and anthologies. With Judy Grahn, she recorded the album Where Would I Be Without You (Olivia Records, 1976), and one of her spoken poems appeared on the album Lesbian Concentrate.

She performed live readings at numerous colleges and universities throughout the United States and abroad. Her work is often included in Women’s Studies curricula.

Parker was born in Houston in 1944 and moved to Los Angeles after she graduated high school. She lived in the San Francisco bay area from 1965 until her death. Parker died in 1989 from complications of cancer. Her partner of nine years, Martha Dunham, and their daughter, Anastasia Dunham-Parker-Brady, survived her as well as Cassidy Brown whom she co-parented.

“As the #BlackLivesMatter movement calls attention to the grave risks Black people have always faced and as poets and artists wrestle with the question of how to marry the political and the personal in their work, we have never needed Pat Parker’s work more. It is absolutely immediate, searing, salving, saving, and NECESSARY.”
—Kazim Ali, author of All One’s Blues: New and Selected Poems

“The poetry of Pat Parker reaches out to us anew and shakes our consciousness—fiercely.”
—Cheryl Clarke, author of By My Precise Haircut

by Pat Parker
Sapphic Classics 04
October 2016
488 pages
ISBN: 978-1-938334-22-1

Fundraiser Chapbook: Strong by Pat Parker

Strong - CoverIn 2016, A Midsummer Night’s Press & Sinister Wisdom will publish The Complete Works of Pat Parker as part of our Sapphic Classics series. This project is a major undertaking for us, and will be larger (and more expensive to produce!) than any of our previous titles. We are still unearthing new writing and other material from various archives, and don’t yet know how big the final book will be.

To help raise funds for this project, both the continued research as well as printing and promotion next year, we’re publishing an exclusive 56-page chapbook featuring 3 long poems by Pat Parker and an original introduction about Parker’s work by Cheryl Clarke.

Strong: Three Poems by Pat Parker with an introduction by Cheryl Clarke will be available ONLY as part of the fundraiser, direct from us, as a thank you for all donations of $15 or more ($20 or more to cover postage for non-US destinations).

Donations of any amount (no matter how big or small) to help support this project are gratefully welcome!

One of the exemplary voices of feminist poetry, Pat Parker was beloved in lesbian- feminist communities during the 1960s, 70s and 80s. She was the author of five collections of poetry, including the iconic collections Movement in Black and Jonestown & Other Madness. Based in the San Francisco bay area, she traveled around the country performing her powerful poems and giving voice to the experiences of African-American lesbians.

Writing about Parker’s work in The Journal of Lesbian Studies, David B. Green says:

“Parker’s life and work must be recovered, particularly during a moment in the United States where chants of #blacklivesmatter continue to highlight what many activists before already knew: a corrupt and racist U.S. justice system that continues to violently enact what must be called, echoing Parker, “blackslaughter”—or the State sanctioned murdering of unarmed black men and women simply because they dare to be black in a thoroughly mythical “post-racial” America. Parker, like a number of her ancestors and contemporaries, has long desired to indict the U.S. justice system for its inhumane treatment of African Americans and women.”

It is our hope that The Complete Works of Pat Parker will not just celebrate Parker’s important contribution but help introduce her legacy to a new generation of readers.

We appreciate your support for making this project a reality—and for helping to spread the word about it.

We don’t yet know what the final price will be for The Complete Works of Pat Parker. More information, including a publication date (anticipated for Spring/Summer) will be announced early in 2016.

One way to ensure that you get a copy is to subscribe to Sinister Wisdom, which offers 4 issues per year for just $30 (including the one Sapphic Classic volume co-published each year with A Midsummer Night’s Press). Subscription information can be found here:

Copies of Strong: Three Poems by Pat Parker will start to ship November 23rd, 2015.

What Can I Ask by Elana Dykewomon

Dykewomon_coverElana Dykewomon’s poems are reminders not to take anything for granted: to listen to the messages embedded in others’ silences, to look beneath the rubble of violence, and to value the pleasures of intimate loving. Presenting the poetry written over the past four decades, What Can I Ask is wise, passionate, and inspirational. I so value this work and always keep it close to my heart.”

—Irena Klepfisz, Author of
A Few Words in the Mother Tongue

Elana Dykewomon’s poetry bears witness to the lives of lesbians. She asks and demands that we be responsible and responsive to one another; that we bring care, compassion, accountability, and love in the proper proportions. These are poems that help us understand the contours of sexism, homophobia, racism, and anti-Semitism. And they are poems that illuminate what we can ask from and offer one another.

Drawing on Dykewomon’s impressive body of poetry, What Can I Ask: New and Selected Poems assembles into a single volume poems from Dykewomon’s three published collections, They Will Know Me By My Teeth (Megaera Press, 1976), Fragments from Lesbos (Diaspora Distribution, 1981), and Nothing Will Be As Sweet as the Taste (Onlywomen Press, 1995), as well as a selection of newer, uncollected poems. Dykewomon continues asking questions and reaching for answers, demonstrating the power of poetry to comfort and enrage, inspire and arouse.

Elana Dykewomon is a Jewish lesbian activist, award-winning author, editor, and professor. Her first novel, Riverfinger Woman, published in 1974, was selected for The Publishing Triangle’s list of 100 best lesbian and gay novels. Best known for her Lammy winning historical novel, Beyond the Pale, Dykewomon was also awarded the 2009 James Duggins Outstanding Mid-Career Novelist’s Prize. She was the editor of Sinister Wisdom from 1987 to 1994 and currently lives in Oakland, California.

by Elana Dykewomon
Sapphic Classics 03
April 2015
200 pages
ISBN: 978-1-938334-15-3


Living as a Lesbian by Cheryl Clarke

Clarke_coverCheryl Clarke’s Living as a Lesbian is a groundbreaking paean to lesbian life. Filled with sounds from her childhood in Washington, DC, the riffs of jazz musicians, and bluesy incantations, Living as a Lesbian sings like a marimba, whispering “i am, i am in love with you.” Evoking her years of literary and political activism with anger, passion, and determination, Clarke mourns the death of Kimako Baraka (“sister of famous artist brother”), celebrates the life of Indira Gandhi, and chronicles all kinds of disasters—natural and human-made.

The world is large in Living as a Lesbian but also personal and intimate. These poems are closely observed and finely wrought, with Clarke’s characteristic charm and wit shining throughout. In 1986, Living as a Lesbian captured the vitality and volatility of the lesbian world; today, in a world both changed and unchanged, Clarke’s poems continue to illuminate our lives and make new meanings for Living as a Lesbian.

by Cheryl Clarke
Sapphic Classics 02
January 2014
245 pages
ISBN: 978-1-938334-06-1

Crime Against Nature by Minnie Bruce Pratt

Pratt_coverSimple, like turning a page, to say Write
what happened, but this means a return
to the cold place where I am being punished.
Alone to the stony circle where I am frozen,
the empty space, children, mother, father gone,
lover gone away. There grief still sits
and waits, grim, numb, keeping company with
anger. I can smell my anger like sulfur-
struck matches.

From “Justice, Come Down”

Minnie Bruce Pratt’s Crime Against Nature was the 1989 Lamont Poetry Selection from the Academy of American Poets, which recognizes a poet’s second collection of poetry. Crime Against Nature has been long out of print, until now. This new edition includes an introduction by Julie R. Enszer, a new afterword by Pratt, a reprint of Pratt’s speech at the Lamont award ceremony, photographs of Pratt and her family, and a bibliography.

by Minnie Bruce Pratt
Sapphic Classics 01
April 2013
245 pages
ISBN: 978-1-938334-04-7