Martha Courtot (1941 – 2000) was a lesbian, an activist, the mother of three, the grandmother of one, and a prolific poet. In her lifetime she published books and chapbooks. Some of her poems took on lives of their own, passed lesbian to lesbian on handwritten, typed, dittoed, or xeroxed pages. My favorite has always been “Lesbian Bears,” which I first found on a dusty broadside at Amazon Books in Minneapolis in the late 1980’s. Other women love “Tribes,” and have used it over the years in bonding and croning ceremonies.
After Martha’s death, her family and friends put together a collection of her poems called The Bird Escapes. You can still find a few copies from good used book sources like Powells.
As I can, I’ll post more of Martha’s poems here, since women looking for her poems keep finding me. Like so many of the lesbian poets who wrote and published in lesbian communities in the 70’s and 80’s, Martha touched many lives without ever being “famous” and without operating in the mainstream (malestream) poetry world. I’m honored to carry on part of her legacy, for she and other dyke poets have shaped my life and my writing profoundly.
Martha’s poem i am a woman in ice
Martha’s poem “Lesbian Bears” with comments from her sister, daughter, friends, and fans
Blogger Cherie W Rolfe’s podcast of “i am a woman in ice” is here.
Activist Adrienne Lauby’s reading of a Martha poem on KPFA: “When the Bear Comes to My Garden”