Queers in Common Meter
June 25, 2020 6:45 AM   Subscribe

Wanted: queer poets of any era who wrote English verse in Common Meter or in another frequently used hymn meter. (If you can sing it to the tune of something commonly sung in American churches, or to the tune of something you learned in summer camp — or, yes, to the Gilligan's Island theme — it probably counts. Emily Dickinson and Blake are famous examples of this. If it's in iambic pentameter, like most of Shakespeare or Milton, it doesn't count.)

Yes, I know, it's very complicated to claim historical figures as queer. For purposes of this question, I don't care — go nuts. If there's reason to believe someone's behavior or attraction wasn't straight by the modern standard, they count, even if they lived before the modern standard came into being, and even if there isn't solid proof. If there's reason to believe they'd be ace by the modern standard, or trans or nonbinary by the modern standard, they count. I'm not writing a dissertation, I'm just looking for artistic inspiration.
posted by nebulawindphone to Media & Arts (7 answers total)
The first example in the Wikipedia Common Meter article is Wilde's "Ballad of Reading Gaol" in case you hadn't clocked that!
posted by Balthamos at 6:48 AM on June 25, 2020

Oh, good, yeah — folks who are on my radar already: Wilde, Housman, Auden, Byron, Dickinson (not certain but definitely claimed by a bunch of people), Blake (even more of a stretch but not totally out of the question), and mayyyybe Stevie Smith (quite possibly ace).
posted by nebulawindphone at 6:57 AM on June 25, 2020

Well, here's an amusingly apt example: Queer People by Charlote Perkins Gilman. She was in at least one homoromantic relationship.

And here's an example by Ginsburg.

You may want to browse this list and see if you find more.
posted by toastedcheese at 8:14 AM on June 25, 2020

just thinking about queer formalists without specific poems in mind, I'd look at

Elizabeth Bishop
Thom Gunn
James Merrill
Muriel Rukeyser
posted by dizziest at 8:16 AM on June 25, 2020 [1 favorite]

and Edna St. Vincent Millay, too!
posted by dizziest at 8:19 AM on June 25, 2020

Oh god, Edna! You're right — I think of her for sonnets, but she definitely did other meters. Keep them coming, thanks everyone!
posted by nebulawindphone at 8:56 AM on June 25, 2020 [2 favorites]

Maybe Judy Grahn, though in an hours reading there aren’t any that seem stable enough to be sure. She definitely plays off four-beat lines.
posted by clew at 3:43 PM on June 25, 2020

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