Monday, December 15, 2014

Part 3: The Lesbian Activists-Artists of Ljubljana: Thank You, Tatjana, Urska, Natasa, Petra,Nina, Beti and All, September 26--September 28, 2014

Our First Walk along the Ljubljanica River

The letter that make it all possible, March 5, 2014:

Dear Joan Nestle,
I'm writing on behalf of Lesbian section SKUC-LL from Ljubljana, Slovenia. We run a small non-profit publishing house--book edition Vizibilja, dealing with lesbian prose, poetry and theory. So far we have published 33 titles. For 2014 we were planning to publish 3 titles (one book of prose, one book of fiction by Slovenian lesbian authors)-one of which will be your work, "A Restricted Country." Actually we have already started the process of translation as a collective of three translators: Natasa Velikonja, Urska Sterle and Tatjana Grief...and there is something else I'd like to ask. We would like to invite you to visit us in Slovenia and to take part  in literary readings for our cultural project dedicated to LGBT history. Please let us know if you can visit us between September and December. Looking forward to your reply, Tatjana Grief, editor of Vizbilija

Thinking of the generosity, the dedication, the creativity, the determination, the imaginative strength of the women we met in our short but intense visit to Ljubljana gives us visions of what is possible. Tonight, the day after the actions of a violent ill man in a Sydney cafe, in a time of endless wars and no responsibility for the history that creates the rage we call terrorism, I look at the faces of our friends, the lesbian women of Ljubljana, who with little material support, keep demanding, keep producing inclusive lesbian, feminist, queer culture.

Just Published, 25 Years of Lesbian History in Slovenia, 197-2012. Compiled and Written by Natasa Velikonja and Tatjana Grief. A copy is now at the Lesbian Herstory Archives in Brooklyn, NY and one is with us in Melbourne, where turning the pages puts us once again in the presence of this visionary community.

Urska, Tatjana and I in the cafe before the public conversation in the old art gallery

Nina, the poet, in the archives--publishing space of the Lesbian Project--on the site of the old army barracks, Metelkova, now liberated space for activists--artists.

La Professoressa and Urska in the squatted and transformed counter culture precinct of Metelkova

Stacks of Slovenian and translated lesbian works. Audre Lorde lives in this Slovenian lesbian cultural project.

Nina and Petra join us for the morning with Nora, the dog, who is part of everything.

Urska and Di looking over book covers and journals

Urska asking me hard important questions during our public conversation. I still feel the honor, the wonder of looking out at the gathered, some of the women making the journey from Belgrade, of being asked to be part of such a moment. On the arm of La Professoressa, I have come to the city of Three Bridges, to the home of another history with the Alps looming over the narrow alleys, to sit in the night with our new friends, before the cafe that welcomes us. I remember that other late night cafe gathering, on our last night in Belgrade. The young not wanting us to go, we so moved by those faces, those yearnings for a chance at a fuller life, new friends become so deeply old. Never will we forget the moments we have shared in these streets, the faces that embraced us.

An early issue of the Slovenian lesbian journal, Lesbo

Nina, Urska, Petra--in their territory. On such bodies such courage.

I have written of the habitats of farewell that so marked this journey, but at times, new moments of welcome gave endless hope and deep pleasure.

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