Read or Die, Vol. 1

This is a classic case of “does it count?” I read R.O.D. expecting it to be explicitly lesbian, which wasn’t quite true. But first things first:

Read or Die was first a series of Japanese light novels (not currently published in English, but a fan translation is in the works) which then spawned R.O.D. the manga (a series of four) and an accompanying series of manga set in the same universe: Dream Or Die. The manga inspired an OVA, Original Video Animation, which then inspired a TV series.

I just picked up the four manga, available at my library (because I have an awesome library), not realizing how far-reaching R.O.D. is. I was easily sold on it: lesbrarian manga? Sign me up!

Well, this is the thing. I liked Read Or Die; it features a book-obsessed main character by the name of Yomiko Readman. Yomiko, in fact, is the Paper for The Library of England: she has powers that can control any piece of paper to do anything she wants. She embarks on various heroic actions, collecting pallets of books along the way.

By the end of the first manga, things were going along pretty much as expected, since the romantic interest had been introduced and hinted around. But here’s the thing… it never goes past that. Their relationship never quite becomes text, but it comes very, very close in the first manga. Think Xena and Gabrielle. Which brings me to my main question:

Does lesbian subtext count as a queer women book? Do lesbian subtext books belong on the Lesbrary?

This isn’t anything against Read Or Die; I enjoyed it and I’m looking forward to watching the anime, plus the yuri that is hinted towards is adorable.

I was really excited to read queer women manga and I found some links for yuri published in English and free fan translations of yuri. Have you read any yuri/queer women manga? What did you think of it?

Danika reviews Halfway to Silence by May Sarton

I wanted to update with something new that I’ve read, so I picked something small: Halfway to Silence by May Sarton. It’s a collection of her poetry. This is the first book by her I’ve read, though she’s written many.

I have a funny relationship with poetry. I love it, in some ways: right now I’m in my second college poetry class, and I like going to the spoken word poetry events that happen regularly where I live, but I can get really bored by… I suppose more traditional poetry. I dislike wordiness, flowery language, and above all, describing scenery. Of course, that last one goes for novels, as well.

May Sarton’s poems seemed to lean towards those characteristics. That doesn’t mean that she’s a bad poet, not at all, she’s just not exactly my style. There were a couple I enjoyed, however, like “Love” and “Of Molluscs”. Although Sarton is a lesbian and I’m told she often writes about the lesbian experience, this collection didn’t really reflect that. In fact, I only found one poem that seemed to have any lesbian content, “The Lady of the Lake”, and I thought I’d share the first part of it to show Sarton’s style:

Somewhere at the bottom of the lake she is
Entangled among weeds, her deep self drowned.
I cannot be there with her. I know she is bound
To a dead man. Her wide open eyes are his.
Only a part of her surfaces in my arms
When I can lift her up and float her there

If you are looking for lesbian poetry, my favorite lesbian poet is the spoken word poet Alix Olson. You can read some of her poetry at her website or listen to her on Youtube.

For more lesbian poetry you can look forward to seeing reviewed, I own The Penguin Book of Homosexual Verse by Stephen Coote, Poems Between Women by Emma Donoghue (which I am very much looking forward to), The Fact of a Doorframe by Adrienne Rich, and Songs of Sappho by the original Lesbian.

I also have access to some through the library: The Collected Poem of Audre Lorde and The Complete Poems of Sappho (I like to read different translations, though I recommend If Not, Winter).

Who are some of your favorite lesbian poets?