Get Smart: Five Gay Poets

Get the scoop on the most popular gay and lesbian poets online

School may be out for the summer, but Questia, an online research tool, is celebration LGBT history month with a crash course in gay and lesbian poetry. In honor of Pride, the online library has compiled interesting facts about five of the most researched poets on their site. Good news is you don’t have to be a student to enjoy the works – Questia’s opened its lavender library for free for the month of June.

Read all about these top five:

Allen Ginsberg: A self-proclaimed “novelist in the making,” Ginsberg wrote about taboo topics and homosexuality as a leading figure in the Beat Generation. Over the years, he vigorously opposed sexual repression and was an early proponent of freedom for gay people, expressing himself and his beliefs openly within his poetry. We look forward to a new movie about Ginsberg’s early years – Kill Your Darlings – starring Harry Potter himself, Daniel Radcliff (out 2013). James Franco also channeled the Beat poet in Howl.

Check it out:

W.H. Auden: Considered to be one of the greatest writers of the 20th century, Auden penned nearly 400 poems throughout his lifetime. To avoid persecution in Nazi Germany for being gay, Auden married the daughter of a fellow writer, but later met poet Chester Kallman who would become his lifelong companion.

Gertrude Stein: The Pennsylvania native is author of one of the earliest coming out stories – Things as They Are. Stein based the book on a three-person romantic affair she joined while studying at John Hopkins University. As she became more involved in the gay community, she wrote many essays, including “Miss Furr and Miss Skeene,” which is one of the first lesbian revelation stories to be published, however historians believe many of the references were missed by readers at the time due to it being one of the first published works to use the word “gay.” Stein also rubbed elbows with infamous artists and writers in Paris (you can catch a glimpse of this world in Woody Allen’s recent hit Midnight in Paris in which Kathy Bates brings Stein brilliantly to life).

Check it out:

Frank O’Hara: A member of the New York School of Poetry, O’Hara is known for both his groundbreaking works during his lifetime and posthumously published pieces after his untimely death (he was run over by a dune buggy on the beach of Fire Island). Many of O’Hara’s poems were written in first person and evoked emotion and declared a moment, including “Second Avenue,” which is hailed for its brash and avant-garde side at the time. He was influenced significantly by the Abstract Expressionism and Surrealism movements in fine art.

Adrienne Rich: Rich was an American poet, essayist and feminist credited with bringing the oppression of women and lesbians to the forefront of poetic discourse. She became actively involved in the New Left and supported anti-war, civil rights and feminist causes throughout her life. Rich’s style and subject matter earned her a National Medal of Arts, which she declined in protest to the House of Representatives voting to end funding for the National Endowment of Arts.

For more on these poets and others, click here. Or to read more books by famous LGBT artists this summer, stop by Giovanni’s Room, the oldest gay bookstore in the country.