Carol H. Jewell is a musician, teacher, librarian, and poet living in Upstate New York with her wife, Becky, and their seven cats. She reads constantly, being insatiably curious.
How does poetry and identifying as lesbian/bi come together for you?
I think my age may have a part in this. I didn’t come out until I was 39, having had relationships with straight men before that, even marrying one of them and having a daughter with him. I just turned 60, and I am at a point in my life where I really don’t care that much about what people think of me or my work. People will think what they think, and it’s really none of my business. However, if they speak or write publically, in a negative way, about my sexuality or my writing, then we’re probably going to have a conversation. Whether it remains private or public depends on how negative their feelings are. After all, shouldn’t I share their shitty opinions with others?
Whom are your favorite lesbian writers and why?
Well, you know, we can never be absolutely certain about “who” is “what.” And people aren’t out in different areas of their lives. AND, a person can be “out” in many ways. I can share that I am a lesbian with a grown daughter who gifted me with a fabulous grandson. I can let you know that I have both visible and invisible disabilities. I can tell you how I vote. Things like that. So, I can tell you which lesbian writers I like, but not necessarily why. Also, the list can change on a daily basis. This list is not inclusive: Alice Walker, Wanda Sykes, Ellen DeGeneres, Alison Bechdel, Lillian Hellman, Mary Renault, Jeanette Winterson, Mary Oliver, Elizabeth Bishop, Frances Power Cobbe, Edna St. Vincent Millay, Melissa Etheridge, Louise Fitzhugh, Janis Ian, Cheryl Wheeler, Geri Jewell (no relation, that I know of), Rachael Z. Ikins, Judy Kamilhor, Nancy Klepsch, Shannon Shoemaker, Adrienne Rich, May Sarton, Marilyn Hacker, Emily Dickinson, Sean Heather McGraw, Allison Paster-Torres, and Jessie Serfilippi.
Do you think there is enough representation of lesbian poetry and writing in general and if no, what do you think is the reason?
Should we, as lesbians who are also poets (and vice versa) be required to give that information to editors, say, somewhere in our cover letters? Is it necessary? I don’t think it’s necessarily necessary. If the work that I am submitting has any lesbian tropes, then it might behoove me to announce that.
How does being a poet inform your views on expressing emotions through writing?
If writing poetry does not reflect someone’s emotions, why bother?
What does it mean to you to be part of something like SMITTEN and have your work along side other women who love women?
Well, first, I’m glad to have my work out there, so to speak. Having my work along side other women who love women allows me to get ideas from those women, and also network with them.
Did you ever want to be a voice for the lesbian/bi community? If so, why?
I didn’t set out to be a “voice,” but, as I work on at a University, I’ve found it helpful to be out to faculty, staff, and students.
Why is love a worthier subject than erotica to write on?
Because love is bigger than erotica. I used to say that gay or lesbian relationships are not about sex, but about love. Of course, sex—in whatever form that takes—can be a big part of relationships, but not THE most important part. Being a lesbian is more than whom I share my BED with…it’s whom I share my LIFE with. People who are disabled may not have sex the way another person does, but if what they do IS sex for them, that’s great! I just think that there are many layers to love, and not so many to sex. To me, love is more interesting.
Have you ever been SMITTEN and if so, do you feel it’s possible to summarize those feelings in poetry?
My wife and I have been a couple since 1999. Later, we had a commitment ceremony and then got married, after it became legal in New York. I was smitten with her from our first contact, and love her more every day. I know it sounds like a cliché, but it’s true.
SMITTEN is coming out late October, 2019 via all good book stores. Published by Indie Blu(e) www.indieblu.net
Please consider supporting this project of over 120+ talented poets and authors by purchasing a copy of SMITTEN for someone who appreciates beautiful poetry. https://www.facebook.com/SMITTENwomen/