Behind the Issue: Sinister Wisdom 93

Someday, I hope to meet Rose Norman and Merril Mushroom in person. I have talked with both of them on the telephone. We have exchanged innumerable emails. Together we all produced the new issue of Sinister Wisdom on the theme of Southern Lesbian-Feminist Herstories 1968-1994. I feel like I know Rose and Merril, but we have not met face to face.

I love this about the world: the trust that people with a shared mission and vision develop together, the intimacy that arises through shared work. It helps, of course, that while Sinister Wisdom 93 was at the printer, I read James Sears's book, Rebels, Rubyfruit, and Rhinestones: Queering Space in the Stonewall South (Rutgers University Press, 2001). Rebels, Rubyfruit, and Rhinestones includes a few chapters about Merril Mushroom and the radical, back to the land, lesbian life she lives in Tennessee. Reading about someone fosters intimacy; I delighted in learning more about Merril's history.

My affection for Merril and Rose is strongest, of course, based on the strength of the extraordinary issue of Sinister Wisdom they edited. Southern Lesbian-Feminist Herstory is a phenomenal issue of the journal. Merril and Rose as editors made vital contributions to the issue, but they worked with a collection of excellent writers, thinkers, and activists. Sinister Wisdom 93 is a project of Womonwrites.

Cover of Sinister Wisdom 93 featuring art by Robin Toler.

Womonwrites is a southern lesbian gathering of writers. Womonwrites has been meeting for an awfully long time now. The full herstory of the group is in Sinister Wisdom 93. I first read about Womonwrites when I was doing research for my dissertation and studied the papers of Minnie Bruce Pratt. Women gather twice a year for the Womonwrites writing retreats. In addition to meeting Rose and Merril in person, I would like to drive down to attend a spring or fall gathering of Womonwrites. It is a bucket list item for me. I do not have it in my calendar now, but I feel like it is bound to happen at some point. Recently, Womonwrites has been gathering oral herstories of southern lesbian-feminists to document their activism. One expression of that project is Sinister Wisdom 93.

This issue of Sinister Wisdom will not be the only one edited by Rose, Merril, and the Womonwrites gang. We have another one scheduled and one more that is a glimmer in our eye. These types of collaborations are a gratifying aspects of Sinister Wisdom. It is an honor to be part of the living traditions and practices of the magazine--and of lesbian-feminism, which continues to live and be an active, vibrant, and meaningful philosophy for life today.