Elana Dykewomon

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Elana Dykewomon
Born (1949-10-11) 11 October 1949 (age 70)
OccupationAuthor, professor, activist
EmployerSan Francisco State University
Known forLesbian feminist activism

Elana Dykewomon (born Elana Nachman, October 11, 1949) is a lesbian activist, award-winning author, editor and teacher.


Dykewomon was born in New York City, to middle class Jewish parents. She and her family moved to Puerto Rico when she was eight.[1]


She studied fine art at Reed College in Portland, Oregon, received a B.F.A. in creative writing from the California Institute of Arts, later and her M.F.A. from San Francisco State University.


Dykewomon lives in Oakland, California, and taught at her alma mater San Francisco State.[2]


In 1974, Dykewomon published her first novel,[2] Riverfinger Women, under her name of birth, Elana Nachman.[3]

Her second book, They Will Know Me By My Teeth, released in 1976, was published under the name Elana Dykewoman, "at once an expression of her strong commitment to the lesbian community and a way to keep herself 'honest,' since anyone reading the book would know the author was a lesbian."[3]

Fragments From Lesbos, printed in 1981 "for lesbians only," was published under the author's current last name, "Dykewomon," in order "to avoid etymological connection with men."[3]

In the 1989 anthology of writing by Jewish women, The Tribe of Dina, Dykewomon describes herself as "a Lesbian Separatist, descendant of the Baal Shem Tov, typesetter, ...poet"[4]


From 1987–1995, Dykewomon edited Sinister Wisdom, an international lesbian feminist journal of literature, art and politics, as well as contributing regularly to several other lesbian periodicals, including Common Lives/Lesbian Lives. She has also been a regular contributor to Bridges, a magazine of writing by Jewish women.

Awards and achievements[edit]

In 1998, Beyond the Pale won the Lambda Literary Award for Lesbian Fiction and the Ferro-Grumley Award for lesbian fiction.

In 2004, Riverfinger Women was selected as #87 in The Publishing Triangle's list of 100 Best Lesbian and Gay Novels, by a panel of judges that included Dorothy Allison, Samuel R. Delany, Lillian Faderman, M.E. Kerr, Sarah Schulman, and Barbara Smith.[5] In 2018, the Golden Crown Literary Society awarded Riverfinger Women with the Lee Lynch Classic Award because it is an "essential part of American literary history, LGBT literature, politics, and popular culture."[6]

Dykewomon was awarded the Jim Duggins Outstanding Mid-Career Novelists' Prize by the Saints and Sinners Literary Festival in 2009.




  • Nachman, Elana (1974). Riverfinger Women. Plainfield, VT: Daughters, Inc.
  • Dykewomon, Elana (1997). Beyond the Pale. Vancouver: Press Gang Publishers. ISBN 9780889740747.
  • — (2009). Risk. Ann Arbor: Bywater Books. ISBN 9781932859690.

Poetry and short story collections[edit]

Other writings[edit]



  • "I had a dream..." and "Even My Eyes Became Mouths" in — (1990). McEwen, Christian (ed.). Naming the Waves: Contemporary Lesbian Poetry. Freedom, CA: Crossing Press. ISBN 9780895943712.
  • — (1983). "learning to breathe". In Schoenfielder, Lisa; Wieser, Barb (eds.). Shadow on a Tightrope: Writings by Women on Fat Oppression. Iowa City: Aunt Lute Books. ISBN 9781879960244.
  • "The Census Taker Interviews the 20th Century" and "The Vilde Chaya and Civilization" in — (1992). Bridges: A Journal for Jewish Feminists and Our Friends. Seattle, WA. 3 (1). ISSN 1046-8358
  • "New England Cemetery" and "diving, i kiss" in — (1993). Penelope, Julia; Wolfe, Susan (eds.). Lesbian Culture: An Anthology. Freedom, CA: Crossing Press. ISBN 9780895945921.
  • — (1994). "A Law of Physics". Bridges: A Journal for Jewish Feminists and Our Friends. ISSN 1046-8358.
  • — (Summer 1994). "When to Answer". Zyzzyva. X (2). ISSN 8756-5633.
  • Various in — (1999). Mohin, Lilian (ed.). Not for the Academy: Lesbian Poets. London: Onlywomen Press. ISBN 9780906500606.
  • — (April 2000). "Butch resisting the pressure to change gender". Sojourner. Boston. ISSN 0191-8699.
  • Foreword, "Yahrzeit," "Butch Breasts at Fifty," and "Should I Tell My Gynecologist" in Zeiser, Linda; Machado, Trena, eds. (2006). What I Want From You: Voices of East Bay Lesbian Poets. Pittsburgh, CA: Raw Art Press. ISBN 978-0972918558.
  • — (2011). "An Eastern/Western Country Song". In Enszer, Julie R. (ed.). Milk and Honey: A Celebration of Jewish Lesbian Poetry. A Midsummer Night's Press. ISBN 978-0-9794208-8-7.
  • — (Spring 2016). "Pauline Newman at 92". Calyx. 29 (1). ISSN 0147-1627.



  1. ^ Griffin, Gabriele (2002). Who's Who in Lesbian and Gay and Writing. London: Routledge. ISBN 9781134722099.
  2. ^ a b Leland, Andrew (January 31, 2012). "Elana Dykewomon: An Oral History". The Oakland Standard. Oakland Museum of California. Retrieved 2018-07-04.
  3. ^ a b c Livia, Anna (2002). "Dykewomon, Elana". glbtq: An Encyclopedia of Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer Culture. Archived from the original on 14 August 2007.
  4. ^ Kaye/Kantrowitz, Melanie; Klepfisz, Irena, eds. (1989). The Tribe of Dina: A Jewish Women's Anthology. Beacon Press. ISBN 0-8070-3605-6.
  5. ^ "100 Best Lesbian and Gay Novels". The Publishing Triangle. Retrieved 4 July 2018.
  6. ^ Spry, Carleen (February 3, 2018). "Golden Crown Literary Society Names 2018 Lee Lynch Classic Award Recipient". Golden Crown Literary Society. Retrieved 4 July 2018.

External links[edit]