cover image Judy Grahn: Selections from Blood, Bread, and Roses

Judy Grahn: Selections from Blood, Bread, and Roses

Judy Grahn, edited by Iemanjá Brown and Iris Cushing. Lost & Found, $8 trade paper (70p) ISBN 978-0-988-89459-4

This brief yet important volume, which collects out-of-print prose excerpts and a new interview, introduces readers to Grahn (Love Belongs to Those Who Do the Feeling), activist for queer and feminist causes, as well as a poet whose underground influence stretches back to the 1960s. Grahn’s work here is more social anthropology than poetry. Her research focuses on the centrality of menstruation throughout history and culture, and these excerpts investigate many facets of menstruation, including etymology, myth, global rituals, and biological facts. “The family of words that revolves around the English word ‘menstruation’ includes mental, memory, meditation, mensurate, commensurate, meter, mother, mana, magnetic, mead, maniac, man, and menstruation’s twin, moon,” she writes. Grahn also coins the term metaform, “an act or form of instruction that makes a connection between menstruation and a mental principle.” From this perspective, such disparate phenomena as a chair, a hut, or unit of time can be linked back to menstruation’s flow. What, then, is the connection to poetry? According to Grahn, it’s the power of metaphor, which can extend beyond poetic imagery into physical form. “The ultimate metaphor... is blood.” With the critical connections Grahn illuminates, one wonders why her work is not yet established as essential feminist reading alongside such peers as Audre Lorde and Adrienne Rich. (Dec.)