Subverting the “Girlie” Calendar: November

Ms. November

November steels herself for this eclipse.
She twirls her silver ring, light wheels to dark.
Shuffle around the closed amusement park.
Take flight before the skygray canvas rips.


A “girlie calendar” makes one think of men’s lockers, walls of auto repair shops or a military barracks: They’re typically collections of nude or scantily dressed women in provocative poses, designed for the male heterosexual gaze.

But what if a girlie calendar is designed with a lesbian gaze in mind? That sort of subversion is what lesbian poet Mary Meriam has in mind with the title of her new poetry collection, Girlie Calendar, and for the Ms. Blog she is excerpting from the book a poem-of-the-month (she began in October). Meriam is also selecting accompanying artwork for each month from both historical and contemporary lesbian-related images.

November’s artist, Mady Marie Bourdages, was born in Bonaventure, a seaside village in the Gaspé region of Quebec, Canada. Now a Montreal-based artist, Bourdages “creates expressionist-inspired works in chalk, pastels, charcoal, and oil paint. Her work expresses highly personal emotions and sensibilities, and often dwells on life, death, lesbian and autoerotic sexuality, spirituality and memory and its distortions. Mady’s work was first shown in 1985 at the Université du Québec à Montréal and has since been exhibited in dozens of shows and galleries in Montreal, New York and Germany.”

The work in dry pastels seen here, “Autoportrait de Ma Mort” (Self-portrait of My Death) is one of a series called “Invitation sur des lieux oubliées” (Invitation to Forgotten Places), created in Vienna in 1994-1995. Says Bourdages,

My self-portraits and portraits of women are my attempt to express my deep sense of difference, my anxiety about being truly seen and my distress about exposing who I really am in a world I so often do not understand.

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“Autoportrait de Ma Mort” courtesy of Mady Marie Bourdages. Translation of Bourdages’ bio and quotes from the French by Carolyn Boll


Poet Mary Meriam is the founder of Lavender Review, cofounder of Headmistress Press and author of The Countess of Flatbroke, The Poet’s Zodiac, Word Hot, Conjuring My Leafy Muse and Girlie Calendar.



Mary Meriam advocates for the right of women to love each other in their poetry and art, and strives to give their work a place at the table. She writes about and publishes such work in the journal she founded, Lavender Review, at the press she cofounded, Headmistress Press, and at Ms. magazine, The Critical Flame, and The Gay & Lesbian Review. Her poetry collections, The Countess of Flatbroke, The Poet's Zodiac, The Lillian Trilogy, and Lady of the Moon, honor a cosmos of strong, creative women. Her latest collection, My Girl's Green Jacket, was published in 2018, and her poems have appeared recently in Poetry, Prelude, Subtropics, and The Poetry Review.