Having attended and enjoyed the 2013 conference, it was a privilege to return and present a paper for this year’s international Lesbian Lives: ‘Lesbian Feminism/s Now’ hosted by University of Brighton’s LGBT and Queer Life Research Hub in conjunction with Women’s Studies Centre, University College Dublin. I was part of a panel titled “‘Didn’t Sappho say her guts clutched up like this?’ – Considering Lesbian Poetry as Feminist Activism” alongside practice-based researchers and academics Prudence Chamberlain and Isabel Waidner, chaired by Dr. Rachel O’Connell; the title of my presentation was ‘cf. CYPRINE (n.): Queer dictionaries as tender activism in Wittig and Zeig’s Lesbian Peoples: Material For A Dictionary (1979)’, and played about with utopian lexicons, French dandelion clocks and kiss-ins. Thanks to the fascinating and kaleidoscopic work of my fellow panel members, and a vocal, engaged audience, we were also able to touch on affective queer feminisms, subversive dictionaries, leaky vessels versus truck-stops, and radical camp poetics as part of the discussion.
Many thanks to the organizers of the conference for a wide-ranging and packed couple of days, with lectures, talks, film screenings, book and local outreach stalls, workshops and performances: the full book of abstracts and timetables can be found here. Personal highlights included a presentation about the role of British lesbians in the history of the Rorschach test from Katherine Hubbard, Val Brown on the figure of tennis-fencer Toupie Lowther and her part in the ‘Hackett-Lowther Unit’ of WW1 ambulance drivers, and the ever-brilliant Prof. Sara Ahmed’s speech, which served as an introduction to her forthcoming book Living a Feminist Life and was exactly the kind of rousing, lyrical, cogent, blistering tonic that one would ever want from a keynote. Arms and wilfulness and walls.