The Poetry Project

Minnie Bruce Pratt

Minnie Bruce Pratt is wearing a gray-blue shawl and dangling earrings, looking at the camera with a small smile
© Marilyn Humphries

Born in Selma and raised in Centreville, Alabama, Minnie Bruce Pratt came out as a lesbian in Fayetteville, North Carolina, in 1975. She received her B.A. from the University of Alabama-Tuscaloosa the year after segregationist Gov. George Wallace “stood in the schoolhouse door”–and her Ph.D. from the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill in 1979. Her books and poems have received awards from the Academy of American Poets, the American Library Association, the Poetry Society of America, Lambda Literary and the Publishing Triangle. Her second book, Crime Against Nature, about losing custody of her children as a lesbian mother, was a New York Times Notable Book of the Year. An anti-racist, anti-imperialist women’s liberation activist, Pratt co-authored Yours in Struggle: Three Feminist Perspectives on Anti-Semitism and Racism (1984) with Barbara Smith and Elly Bulkin. Her essay from that volume, “Identity: Skin Blood Heart,” has been adopted in hundreds of college classrooms as a teaching model for diversity issues. Along with lesbian writers Chrystos and Audre Lorde, she received the Lillian Hellman-Dashiell Hammett Award given by the Fund for Free Expression to writers “who have been victimized by political persecution.” She is a managing editor of Workers World/Mundo Obrero newspaper, and lives in her hometown in Alabama and in Central New York. Her most recent book is Magnified (Wesleyan, March 2021), dedicated to her partner and spouse, Leslie Feinberg, trans activist and theoretician.