Judy Grahn was born in Chicago, Illinois, on July 28, 1940. When she was eight years old, her family moved to Las Cruces, New Mexico, where her parents struggled to find steady employment. After leaving home at eighteen, she joined the United States Air Force but was soon discharged for her sexual orientation.
Grahn turned to poetry in the mid-1960s and cofounded Gay Women’s Liberation and the Women’s Press Collective, the first all-women’s press, in 1969. She published her first poetry collection, Edward the Dyke and Other Poems (Women’s Press Collective) in 1971 and went on to write several other books, including The Work of a Common Woman (Diana Press, 1978) and love belongs to those who do the feeling (Red Hen Press, 2008), which won the 2009 Lambda Literary Award.
Grahn is known for her explicitly political poetry and her contributions to the lesbian-feminist movement. Of her own work, she says, “I think of myself as a writer who writes out from that particular position of being a lesbian and also being a working-class woman from birth, as writing out into the world at large and about lots of women.”
Adrienne Rich wrote, “Judy Grahn is the direct inheritor of that passion for life in the woman poet, that instinct for true power, not domination, which poets like Barrett Browning, Dickinson, H. D., were asserting in their own very different ways and voices.”
Grahn has received numerous honors, including an American Book Award, an American Library Award, and a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts. She currently teaches in the Women’s Spirituality Master’s Program at Sofia University in Palo Alto, California.