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32 Famous Lesbian Poets Who Heavily Influenced Modern Poetry

Updated June 14, 2019 27.9k views32 items

List RulesA comprehensive list of notable lesbian poets.

"If you forget me, think / of our gifts to Aphrodite / and all the loveliness that we shared." Sappho seemingly penned these lines to a female lover in the seventh century BC, becoming one of the first notable lesbian poets in the process. In fact, the word "lesbian" derives from the name of her home: the island of Lesbos. Since Sappho's time, many famous lesbian poets have followed in her spiritual footsteps. Some prolific gay female poets are also spoken word performers while other successful lesbian poets are novelists as well. Many of the most popular lesbian poets are activists in the LGBTQ community.

Who will you find on this list of the best lesbian poets? Emily Dickinson appears near the top. Though she was largely seen as a loner with no romantic relationships, some believe that she may have had a relationship with her sister-in-law, Susan, due to letters written by the famous poet. The iconic Gertrude Stein wrote poetry along with her other remarkable works, and was famously in a relationship with Alice B. Toklas. Other talented artists featured on this top lesbian poets list include Audre Lorde, Kay Ryan, and Adrienne Rich.

Which lesbian poet do you like the best? Take a look at this list and share some of your favorite works in the comments section.
 

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  • Gertrude Stein
    Photo: Metaweb (FB) / Public domain

    Gertrude Stein is a true icon in the world of feminist literature and poetry. She was famously in a relationship with Alice B. Toklas.

    • Age: Dec. at 72 (1874-1946)
    • Birthplace: Allegheny, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, United States of America

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  • Sappho's sensual poetic style and themes of female friendship and love have led many to believe that she was a lesbian. The name of her island home – Lesbos – is the root of the term "lesbian."

    • Age: Dec. at 55 (624 BC-569 BC)
    • Birthplace: Lesbos, Greece

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  • Emily Dickinson
    Photo: Metaweb (FB) / Public domain

    Not much is known about Emily Dickinson's private life. However, some believe that she may have had a relationship with her sister-in-law, Susan, due to letters written by the famous poet.

    • Age: Dec. at 56 (1830-1886)
    • Birthplace: Amherst, Massachusetts

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  • Mary Oliver
    Photo: SSJE / flickr / CC-BY-NC-ND 2.0

    Mary Oliver was in a 40-year relationship with her partner, Molly Malone Cook, who died of cancer in 2005.

    • Age: 85
    • Birthplace: Maple Heights, Ohio