Night Heron Press and Lesbian Print Culture in North Carolina, 1976–1983

Catherine Nicholson (left) and Harriet Desmoines. Photo © by Lynda Koolish, used with permission. Sallie Bingham Center for Women’s History and Culture, Duke University.

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Night Heron Press and Lesbian Print Culture in North Carolina, 1976–1983

by Julie R. Enszer
Southern Cultures, Vol. 21, No. 2: Summer 2015

"'Running this old printing press / with a woman on my mind / it jammed up tight eight times today / and I think this might make nine.'"

In the inaugural 1976 issue of the journal Sinister Wisdom, founders Harriet Desmoines and Catherine Nicholson wrote, “We’re lesbians living in the South. We’re white; sometimes unemployed, sometimes working part-time. We’re a generation apart.” Based in Charlotte, North Carolina, the women pledged “political action” to “think . . . keenly and imaginatively” about how to develop lesbian-feminist consciousness and emphasized that they were “using the remnants of our class and race privilege to construct a force that we hope will ultimately destroy privilege.” Many lesbian-feminists around the United States recognized Sinister Wisdom as a vital entry into the landscape of lesbian print culture, particularly after the demise of Amazon Quarterly, a national journal headquartered in Oakland, California, that ceased publication in 1975.

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