Gottlieb, Daphne

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Gottlieb, Daphne


Born in NY. Education: Bard College, B.F. A.; Mills College, M.F.A.


Home—San Francisco, CA. E-mail—[email protected].


Poet, writer, and scholar. Mills College, Oakland, CA, instructor, then New College of California, faculty member. Co-organizer of ForWord Girls spoken word festival, 2002; appears across the United States, including with the Slam America bus tour and at various festivals. Former poetry editor of Lodestar Quarterly online; poetry editor of Other magazine.


Firecracker Alternative Book Award and Lambda award nomination for best lesbian poetry, both for Why Things Burn: Poems; Audre Lorde Award in Poetry, Publishing Triangle, 2003.


Pelt (poetry collection), Odd Girls Press (Anaheim, CA), 1999.

Why Things Burn: Poems, Soft Skull Press (Brooklyn, NY), 2001.

Final Girl (poetry collection), Soft Skull Press (Brooklyn, NY), 2003.

(Editor) Homewrecker: An Adultery Reader, Soft Skull Press (Brooklyn, NY), 2005.

Jokes and the Unconscious (graphic novel), artwork by Diane DiMassa, Cleis Press (San Francisco, CA), 2006.

Contributor to anthologies, including Short Fuse: A Contemporary Anthology of Global Performance Poetry, Ratapallax, 2003; With a Rough Tongue: Femmes Write Porn, Arsenal Pulp, 2005; Red Light: Saints, Sinners, and Sluts, Arsenal Pulp, 2005; and Don't Forget to Write!, Valencia Books, 2005. Contributor to periodicals, journals, and Web sites, including San Francisco Bay Guardian, Exquisite Corpse, and


Until 1998, Daphne Gottlieb was a slam poet. She told LiP Online interviewer Kari Lydersen that she stopped because "it was not really compatible with what I do any more. In slams, the scoring system rewards work that makes the audience feel good about themselves, that reinscribes their values. You get rewarded for pleasing people, making palatable work. I don't think that's what I want to do as an artist. I want to describe the unfamiliar, the disturbing, to raise uncomfortable questions. You won't get points in slam for that."

Gottlieb grew up in New York State and moved to San Francisco, California, in 1991, where she became involved with performance groups like Sister Spit. In her first collection, Pelt, she writes about childhood abuse. An Off Our Backs contributor wrote that "she then turns the corner as a lesbian who experiences homophobia but can still find humor in the situation." The reviewer noted that when Gottlieb reads her truthful poems in public, men sometimes walk out, while women share their own stories with her.

The subject of Gottlieb's Final Girl is the last victim in a slasher film, viewed in this collection in a series of ten poems. Like the girl of the film, all of Gottlieb's subjects survive but are somehow never the same. Library Journal critic Ellen Kaufman commented that these poems "are made to be performed." Asked by Lyderson if she is a fan of slasher films, Gottlieb said that she admires and likes them, noting: "Like pornos, they're about bodily fluids, in this case blood and guts—things we normally don't get to talk about. At their center, slasher films represent all the things we have to suppress to function as a society—incest, mental illness, deformity, death, vomit, blood, feces. They socially mimic what our collective unconscious is doing. In that way, they're very cathartic. And they're ritualistic—there's a formula to them to the point where we can satirize them. It's the same thing in porn—because we understand the formula, we feel like we have control over what's happening."

In Final Girl Gottlieb offers perspectives on what she terms culturally sanctioned violence against women, including the sex trade, pornography, fetish, homophobia, and gender stereotypes. A Publishers Weekly contributor wrote that "Hollywood horror, postpunk feminism, spoken-word energy, true-crime reportage, vampire lesbians and modernist cut-up techniques collide and explode in this exciting third effort." A Village Voice contributor described Final Girl as a "topsy-turvy de-con of the splatter-flick ethos."

Gottlieb's graphic novel Jokes and the Unconscious, with artwork by Diane DiMassa, follows nineteen-year-old Sasha, who is home from college for the summer and must deal with her dad's imminent death from lymphoma. The story revolves around Sasha's childhod memories of her father, her search for sexual identity as she has an affair with female skateboarder Jet, and her summer job at a hospital caring for the sick. "Lest this sound unrelentingly grim, rest assured that Jokes succeeds as both a page-turning read and a hilariously revelatory memoir," wrote Alonso Duralde in the Advocate. Other reviewers also noted Gottlieb's humor. A Kirkus Reviews contributor, for example, called Jokes and the Unconscious "spirited and often funny." Charlie Anders wrote in Tikkun that the novel "celebrates the notion that we come through loss and horror not just intact, but laughing."



Advocate, October 24, 2006, Alonso Duralde, review of Jokes and the Unconscious, p. 58.

Kirkus Reviews, August 1, 2006, review of Jokes and the Unconscious, p. 754.

Library Journal, November 15, 2003, Ellen Kaufman, review of Final Girl, p. 71.

Off Our Backs, August-September, 1999, review of Pelt, p. 13.

Publishers Weekly, November 17, 2003, review of Final Girl, p. 61.

Tikkun, November-December, 2006, Charlie Anders, review of Jokes and the Unconscious, p. 90.

Village Voice, December 10-16, 2003, review of Final Girl, p. 50.


3am, (November 5, 2004), Kimberly Nichols, interview with Gottlieb.

Daphne Gottlieb Home Page, (May 1, 2007).

Gay People's Chronicle Online, (July 12, 2002), Ragan Fox, "Because It's Hot," interview with Gottlieb.

LiP Online, (December 15, 2003), Kari Lydersen, interview with Gottlieb.