Title Page, Copyright, Acknowledgments

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pp. 1-6

Contents

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pp. 7-8

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Introduction: Contemporary Lamentations in Nine Parts

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pp. 9-14

V was sitting in my office wiping tears from her cheeks and eyes; she was one of my older students, very dedicated to women’s rights, and I knew she worked as a volunteer in a battered women’s shelter. “I just keep thinking about this friend of mine who also works at the shelter,” she said.
“Her son was killed...

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A Woman Is Talking to Death (1973)

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pp. 15-34

“A Woman Is Talking to Death,” written in 1973, addressed issues raised by all the social change and civil rights movements that impacted my young life, and especially the question of personal responsibility. Even when we do our best to be helpful, it isn’t always enough. The poem is a template for the six other nine-part...

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Helen you always were / the factory (1981)

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pp. 35-50

Wanting to engage actively with mythology, I chose to write of Helen of Troy in a book-length poem, The Queen of Wands, of which this is the final offering. I noticed that Helen spent the ten-year war her husband waged against her lover’s people making a tapestry. During this tumultuous era, Greek armies captured...

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Descent to the Roses of a Family (1985)

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pp. 51-70

The false category of “white” people in the U.S. created the concept and social structures of white supremacy, as well as the n-word that helps keep it a terrifying reality. As a Euro-American from a racist family, it’s my lifelong moral obligation to do what I can to undo this murderous, oppressive system. Deconstructing...

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Amazon Rising from the Dust (1986)

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pp. 71-90

“Amazon Rising from the Dust” is the fourth act of a book-length poem, The Queen of Swords (Beacon Press, 1987). The plot is of Helen of Troy, “most beautiful woman” in ancient Greece, who chose to leave her husband for a lover, triggering a war that devastated the lover’s homeland, Troy. In The Queen of...

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women are tired of the ways men bleed (2003)

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pp. 91-110

A lamentation can critique, and also offer positive solutions to a social problem. This poem was written especially for some of my students, and also inspired by research I have done on the creative powers of menstruation. Various sections address “blood rituals,” defined as domestic violence, militarism, and destructive...

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Mental (2005)

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pp. 111-128

The explosion of homelessness, especially homeless vets, and runaway police violence in the U.S. in the decades following the 1970s, coupled with my own willingness to address mental illness in my family, led to this poem, written in 2005. However, the most pressing impetus driving it is the ongoing ill treatment and...

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Crossing (2016)

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pp. 129-149

“Crossing” will be part of The Queen of Cups, my third book-length poem tracing Helen of Troy back in time to goddess Inanna of Sumer, and forward in time to Helena of the Gnostic writings. Helena’s mythological journey includes status as both a creation goddess, and an embodied human, who during the...

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Biographical Note

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pp. 150-152

Judy Grahn is an internationally known poet, writer, and social theorist. Her poetry collections include Edward the Dyke and Other Poems (1971), She Who (1977), The Work of a Common Woman (1978), The Queen of Swords (1987), and love belongs to those who do the feeling (2008), among others. In addition to poetry, Grahn’s nonfiction...