Literary Lesbians

Fifteen exceptional wordsmiths we love.

Lenelle Moise

Spoken word artist Lenelle Moise has an interesting take on the written word. “For me, a poem isn’t finished until I’ve read it aloud,” says the pomosexual poet. “It’s like a love letter—you have to give it to someone.”

Moise’s love letter to us all is her new CD, Madivinez, which contains spoken word poetry in addition to some jazz vocalizations and scatting. “Madivinez,” by the way, is the insulting term for “lesbian” in Kreyol (the language of Moise’s birthplace, Haiti). Just as many lesbians have embraced the word “dyke,” Moise has reclaimed “madivinez” as her own. She thinks the word sounds beautiful.

“Kreyol has always been a primarily spoken language. It’s delicious in your mouth. Really musical and expressive. When I hear it, I want to dance. So I aim to speak English that way, in cadences that make you want to dance,” she says.

She’s currently touring with her one-woman semi-autobiographical show, Womb-Words, Thirsting. Her work addresses race, gender, class, and sexuality, but Moise tries to bring humor to her delivery.

“Funny is important. I want folks to feel inspired, em-powered and changed after a show. I can only accomplish this by keeping things down-to-earth,” she says.

In addition to the CD and the tour, Moise, is a Smith College graduate, is writing a play called Expatriate, set to premiere in April ‘08. She’s also cranking out an as-yet-untitled memoir, “one line at a time,” and has been published in numerous anthologies, including Women Warriors, edited by Alix Olson, and We Don’t Need Another Wave, edited by Melody Berger. She is a recipient of The Astraea Loving Lesbians Award in Poetry. –Rebecca DeRosa

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