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Eye On Valentine Ackland

It is the centenary of a poet I had never heard of: Valentine Ackland (pictured above).

Thankfully, an article in Saturday's Guardian Review section (see link below) has introduced me to this extraordinarily-intriguing-sounding poet - a lesbian, communist, Catholic, environmentalist (at various stages of her complicated journey through self-exploration) - whose poetry will be re-published by Carcanet, that necessary press (for those who want to reclaim the past we should not have missed, and read the present others would rather keep from us).,,1778230,00.html


jpbenney said…
If you are shocked how a Communist lesbian could have been so attracted to Catholicism, reading her letters to Sylvia makes me realise Valentine was in many ways remarkably similar to famous Catholic convert and pacifist Dorothy Day (I have heard Valentine Ackland met with Lawrence Ferlinghetti in the 1950s, so it is remotely possible she could have met Dorothy then since Day was closely associated with the Beats).

Like Day, Ackland was a fervent pacifist and very devoted to the rights of workers. She also shared with Dorothy Day a powerful physique and - judging as I said by her letters to Sylvia - a very strong will.

What she may have lacked that Dorothy Day had was the ability to surrender - it was said of Dorothy that the "Church was everything to her" but this was never true of Ackland even in her most devoted Catholic moments. Her lesbianism and the Chrch's view of its sinfulness of course complicated manners, but if you read ellis Hanson's Decadence and Catholicism you will have that aspect to some extent solved (though actually you will have to look at Julian of Norwich's Revelations of Divine Love to see how, via a theology in which sins like homosexual activity can lead to grace and even redemption, many homosexuals actually found a place in the Catholic Church.

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