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Reflecting Back / Sinister Wisdom 103 Celebrating the Michigan Womyn's Music Festival & 110 Dump Trump Interview

Reflecting Back on Sinister Wisdom issues 103 Celebrating the Michigan Womyn's Music Festival and 110 Dump Trump with Red Washburn.


Photo credit: Elektra KB

Tell me about the issue of Sinister Wisdom that you edited. What were you most proud of in the issue? What was most challenging?

I co-edited two issues of Sinister Wisdom, “Celebrating the Michigan Womyn’s Music Festival” and “Dump Trump: Legacies of Resistance.” I was most proud of the breadth of the submissions. It was wonderful to have so many diverse voices represented across a range of both genre and identity. It was challenging to reject writers and artists. While I was grateful to Julie Enszer [Sinister Wisdom’s editor and publisher] for her flexibility and generosity, I wish we could have included more voices.

What impact do you think your issue had?

For “Celebrating the Michigan Womyn’s Music Festival,” the impact is significant in continuing conversations about legacy, testimony, and memory of womyn’s spaces that challenge heteropatriarchy, white supremacy, and other systems of power using music and culture. We had stunning pieces about building the land, honoring spirituality and healing, preserving nature and community, and conducting trans allies in understanding workshops, in particular. It also was important for grieving Fest. For “Dump Trump: Legacies of Resistance,” the impact is imminent and incendiary. This is the apex of political rage for me, and I was overjoyed to see so much intersectional work on immigration, exile, fascism, and transphobia by lesbian/ queer writers across racial and ethnic differences. I was delighted that we had a good balance of seasoned and new writers as well as included trans lesbian/queer artists.

What does Sinister Wisdom mean to you?

Sinister Wisdom is one of the longest and finest markers of good lesbian/queer feminist writing, art, and cultural work. I have been reading it since college, and it has greatly shaped my understanding and appreciation of lesbian/ queer art and why we must continue to do work about our lives in our own voices. I tell my own college students about it!

Is there anything about the issue you edited that you would change now?

Besides including more writers and artists, the only change I wish I made was to publish the Michigan issue under my name Red Washburn, but I did not for professional reasons at the time.

What lesbian literature or creative work has impacted you since working with Sinister Wisdom?

I have been reminded of my ancestors, including Adrienne Rich. I was very much affected by the death of Leslie Feinberg and and Michelle Cliff. It was great to do a tribute for them at the Lesbian Herstory Archives, and I was honored to write a piece honoring the life and work of Michelle Cliff for Sinister Wisdom’s “Moon and Cormorant” issue. I have really felt stimulated working with the other Board of Directors, especially editing and other writing work with Julie Enszer, Cheryl Clarke, JP Howard, and Tara Shea Burke. I am indebted to Julie for all her work with Sinister Wisdom, which would not exist without her untiring devotion to sustaining it.

"Empowerment comes from ideas."

Gloria Anzaldúa

"Your silence will not protect you."

Audre Lorde

"Live your lives, honorably and with dignity."

Andrea Dworkin