Friday, January 18, 2013

2013 Lesbian Fiction Appreciation Event: Leni King: Coming out with Erotic Lesbian Poetry

Should the straight world have access to our sexual secrets?

When I first started writing erotic lesbian poetry and short stories, they were for my eyes only. I would often write erotic poems and stories as private gifts for my girlfriend. At present many of these remain personal and unpublished. I have published a number of short stories on non-lesbian themes but was somehow reluctant to publish explicit lesbian material.

Yet, in recent years lesbians have published fiction and screen plays that have gained popularity with mixed gay and straight audiences. Our world is far from secret any longer. The success of the  BBC’s serialisation of Sarah Waters’ books such as Tipping the Velvet in 2002, the American TV series ‘The L Word’ from 2004 to 2009 and more recently the appeal of the BBC’s Lip Service are tributes to that fact. And perhaps rightly so. Our literature and our world is no longer in a “ghetto” albeit not ‘mainstream’. Whilst my intended audience is a lesbian one, I am finally happy to embrace a wider readership if it means getting my work ‘out there’.

The world of publishing seems to be flooded with straight Erotica and with a couple of notable exceptions, most Lesbian Erotica is poorly written and often not even written by lesbians.

In the short time since its publication, my collection of erotic lesbian love poetry, ‘Lesbian Juices’ has received great feedback and reviews and this has been really encouraging.

Lesbian Juices’ is self-published and is on Amazon (Kindle). Sales have begun to take off. Readers did not, thankfully, regard it as simply gratuitous sex, but as one reviewer and fellow writer put it:

 “[A] Lovely book - deep and honest, loving and passionate. Short poems that touch your soul, Leni really gets to the heart of the matter.” Of course I wanted the poems to be a turn-on and to include explicitly erotic material, but to also offer complex layers of lesbian life. Hence my delight when another reviewer described the book as:

“Steamy poetry, not to be read alone. The betrayal is painful, the lovemaking evokes vivid mental images”.

Challenges of poetry

In a way, I made my life a little difficult with the genre of poetry. Poetry is often something people do not readily read in the modern era, preferring novels or television. Add to that that it is lesbian poetry and it narrows the field further. Indeed, I do not know of any other erotic lesbian poetry collections out there. But that’s why I hope to both meet a need and ‘break the mould’ with this collection. My goal is to bring the love of poetic imagery back to the fore. Poetry is a medium well suited to sensual and arousing images, more so than fiction in many ways due to its greater freedom of expression and ability to break the rules, juxtaposing many ideas at once and evoking a very personal interpretation for the reader. That’s why some of the greatest poets of all time, such as Shakespeare, chose poetry to express their love. Shakespeare’s best Sonnets were, as most academics believe, written to his male lover the anonymous young man.

Here for example is an extract from the poem, “Lost” (Lesbian Juices volume I), which I believe illustrates the effectiveness of poetry as a medium for the expression of erotic love:

“When you whisper to me,
The cacophony of everyday life is
Like a meadow upon the dawn

And only my own
Gentle moaning of pleasure
And your sweet song
Are playing, loudly

And when you press your
Naked body
Onto mine
Skin on skin
Breast on breast
Lips on lips

Oblivion rules
And I am powerless beneath you
Yet powerful
Feeling we can conquer anything
At this moment

When you suck me
The world spins
And I am floating
In another land

In a recent interview I was asked ‘Who or what inspired you to write this book?’

In terms of short stories, one that deeply influenced me when I read it many years ago is Katherine Forest’s erotic novella O Captain, My Captain. The poetry of John Donne is also among those all-time greats I admire most for their intensely metaphysical romantic imagery. His ability to freeze a  moment in time between lovers and shut out the rest of the world is awesome.

So what’s next for Leni King?

Well, since the publication of Lesbian Juices Volume I have been working avidly on Volume II. As well as several longer poems and a goodly collection of shorter erotic poetic experiences, this volume also includes two short stories which are a mixture of autobiographical and fictional material.

The first is called ‘Turkish Delight’ and is about a woman who is in a relationship that has become full of negativity and unhappiness. When her partner leaves her to own devices in a bazaar in Kusadasi she wanders into a completely unexpected erotic experience that shakes her world. The second short story is called ‘The Dinner Party’ in which Sarah, who is at the party with her fiancĂ©e, meets Buzz, a rather intimidating lesbian who challenges her perspective on life and sexuality.

The inclusion of these two short stories will also provide readers with a different genre enjoyable in their own right and perhaps mean that the erotic love poems will also reach a wider audience.

Lastly, but most importantly, I want to thank KT for inviting me to write this special piece on poetry and to say what an honour it is to do so among such great authors, many of whom who have also reached out to help and support me, which is awesome!

You can find Leni at her blog or on twitter@Leniking1


She said...

Thank you for sharing. I am not a regular reader of poetry but I will have to give Lesbian Juices a try.

leniking1 said...

Many thanks! Do contact me via my blog or Goodreads. I'd love your feedback on my book! Also I am doing an offer between now and the end of Febraury ... Whoever buys Volume I of Lesbian Juices now and writes to me about it will get Volume II free when it's out! Thanks for your support. We also gave a lesbia poetry club on Goodreads. Xxx

Jolie du Pre said...

Thank you for sharing your lesbian poetry with all of us. As a bisexual, I really don't like it when some lesbians consider their world a clique where nobody else is welcome. (I've experienced that.) You do not have to be a lesbian to write excellent lesbian poetry, and you don't have to be a lesbian to read it.