Elana Dykewomon—novelist, poet, essayist, and activist—was born in New York City on October 11, 1949. She and her family moved to Puerto Rico when she was eight. She returned to the United States to attend college, receiving a B.F.A. in creative writing from the California Institute of Arts, and an M.F.A. from San Francisco State University.

Her first novel, Riverfinger Women, was published in 1974 under her birthname, and her second, They Will Know Me By My Teeth, came out just two years later, under the name Elana Dykewoman. In 1981, she published Fragments from Lesbos, a poetry collection as Elana Dykewomon, to further establish her Lesbian separatist identity. In 1987, Dykewomon took over as editor for Sinister Wisdom. She held this position until 1995 and contributed to Sinister Wisdom, including the 1989 Jewish anthology issue, Tribe of Dina.

Dykewomon continued to publish novels, poetry, and short story collections. Her 1998 novel, Beyond the Pale, was awarded the Lambda Literary Award for Lesbian Fiction. In 2004, Riverfinger Women was selected by The Publishing Triangle as #84 on their list of 100 Best Lesbian and Gay Novels. In 2009 the Saints and Sinners Literary Festival awarded her the Jim Duggins Outstanding Mid-Career Novelists’ Prize. In 2018 the novel was awarded the Lee Lynch Classic Award by the Golden Crown Literary Society (GCLS). In 2022 the GCLS bestowed the Trailblazer Award upon Elana Dykewomon for her lifelong contributions to lesbian literature and lesbian identity. Dyekwomon published the novel Risk with Bywater Books in 2009.

Elana passed away on August 7, 2022.

Biography of Elana Dykewomon


Poetry and short story collections



  • “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. 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 FriendsISSN 1046-8358.
  • (Summer 1994). “When to Answer”. Zyzzyva. 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. ISSN 0147-1627.


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