Poetry and Lesbian Country Songs

In the spring of this year, I had the pleasure of interviewing my first poet as part of the Audio Team for Poet in the City, a London-based charity focused on creating new audiences for poetry through eclectic programming. Lucky me, that poet was Andrew McMillan! Andrew’s collection, Physical, had just won the Guardian First Book Award, the first poetry collection ever to do so. Being in conversation with Andrew about his poetry, masculinity, sexuality, and his inspirations was a true delight! You can find the interview in the Poet in the City archive, and I encourage you to listen through to Andrew’s reading of ‘The Men Are Weeping In The Gym’. (I also interviewed Dr. Lynne Segal, host of the event, about the themes in Andrew’s work.)

Next, I got the chance to meet and chat with Dr. Shahidha Bari ahead of her Casanova – Lyric and Lust event, where she read poetry that ranged from the sweet and romantic to the raunchy and bawdry! At the end of the interview, Shahidha agreed to read ‘Sea Poppies’ by H.D. as a sample of the evening’s delicacies.

screams-and-silencesAs both poetry interviews dealt and delighted in sexuality and playfulness, I figured now would be an opportune moment to mention the publication of my poem, ‘This Poem Wants to be a Lesbian Country Song So Bad’. The poem was published by Fincham Press in the student anthology Screams and Silences (2015), edited by Leone Ross (available at the University of Roehampton online store). I’m including the poem here as well, for your reading pleasure.

This Poem Wants to be a Lesbian Country Song So Bad
after Kim Addonizio

Erica Gillingham

This poem wants to croon
from the tape deck in your pick-up truck
down that red dirt road
as you make your way to the honky-tonk
on a Saturday night,
your girl straddling the stick-shift.

It wants to be kicked and stomped
into the hardwood floor of the bar
drip with your sweat, your tequila, your beer,
and find you in the bathroom stall:
hands against the wall,
belt-buckle clanging against concrete,
your girl do-se-do-ing you between rounds
cause you’re here for the party.

This poem wants to sneak
onto the juke-box like the river run dry
as you slip out the back door,
drive up to the mountain clearing,
and play loud and long
while you make love
under the stripes of the white moonlight
and the blanket made of stars.

—-

As of autumn 2016, I have been able to participate in the Poet in the City Audio Team once more for the first Poetry and Lyrics Festival at Kings Place. Dub Poet Roger Robinson was *fantastic* to interview and I can’t recommend his work enough. I also spoke with Richard Stokes who was part of the panel for the ‘Blurred Lines’ event with Cerys Matthews.

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