This Is How We Love: An Interview with Aischa Daughtery
By Rebecca Kane
Editor Aischa Daughtery’s new collection This Is How We Love complies love letters, poetry and artwork in an anthological celebration of lesbian love and connection. I spoke with Aischa on how this idea came about, her writing process and motivation, as well as how This Is How We Love tackles issues of lesbian representation.
What inspired you to create This Is How We Love?
I think, subconsciously, This Is How We Love had been materialising in my mind for years before the fully formulated idea hit me. I have always been obsessed with archiving as a practice essential to understanding the history of marginalised groups whose existence has been misrepresented and tactfully erased from mainstream media. In November 2020, in the midst of lockdown, I launched Lesbian Love Notes, an Instagram-based collective categorised by an ever-expanding, archival gallery of love notes shared between lesbians across the world. The success of the account made it clear that during this time of frozen mobility and social limitation, this celebratory gallery of love provided members of the global lesbian community with comfort, validation and optimism.
Can you expand more on the contents of This Is How We Love?
This Is How We Love is made up of over 140 pages of love letters, notes, poetry, photographs and artwork shared in spontaneous exchanges of love between lesbians across the globe, aged fifteen between seventy-four. Each page features a scanned piece of visual correspondence accompanied by a backstory and a small profile detailing the contributor’s name, age, pronouns and whereabouts in the world. It features lesbians of a variety of identities (butch, femme, trans, non-binary, gender-nonconforming, agender, “out,” “closeted,” married, widowed, etc.), and from a variety of classes, races and religious backgrounds. I’m really proud of it and feel so lucky that my amazing community pulled through to help me bring it into existence!
What was the process like? Did you find anything particularly difficult when producing the book?
Affirming, tiring, exciting, frustrating, slow, totally surreal. The hardest part (but also the best, most fulfilling part!) was doing it all on my own. I had to quickly master being my own social media manager, copywriter, admin assistant, website designer, editor, PR agent and literary agent, which is just nuts. Brilliant, but nuts. Juggling these roles with a full-time Master's degree and full-time work hasn’t been easy, but it has completely affirmed my career goals and totally boosted my confidence in my own potential, which is always nice!
What do you hope people will take from your book?
My lack of exposure to the realities of an authentic lesbian existence that de-centres men, undoubtedly stunted my journey of self-acceptance and growing up, and unfortunately, I don’t know a single lesbian who doesn’t share that experience. As an adult, this has fuelled my passion to create art that nurtures and affirms young lesbians who are frantically looking for assurance that everything will be okay, providing them with hope for the future and permission to be themselves. That’s exactly what I want people to take from This Is How We Love; comfort, solace and so, so much joy. I have received and witnessed so many kind words and acts of support since day one of working on This Is How We Love, from countless lesbian friends, strangers on the internet, my university tutors and fellow writers. I am overjoyed that a little idea I had during lockdown has become a tangible piece of art that means something to people.
Can you see This Is How We Love as being part of a series or do you plan to do something different in the future?
I would love to turn this into a series of some sort! The amount and variety of potential submissions to future editions of this sort of book are essentially limitless, so I’m determined not to stop. I’d love to do something ten times as big. I now have invaluable insight— which I certainly didn’t have before— into the costs involved in taking a project this size from start to finish, from website development, designer fees and software costs, to digital and physical marketing pre and post-publication, production and time. If I were to do it all again, which I hope I will, I'd know exactly what to expect, so the next book would likely be even better.
Review of This Is How We Love
With snippets of post-it note poetry alongside artful lipstick marked napkins, this anthology elevates lesbian love and provides its audience with positive and essential representation. Suited to lesbians of all ages and background, as well as other members of the LGBTQIA+ community, This Is How We Love takes declarations of love from all around the world and places them into one creative anthology. The book features both large-scale and more domestic proclamations of love such as within this excerpt here:
“My girlfriend and I were hosting a party, once everyone left, I went upstairs to take off my makeup before tidying up. When I came back down, I found this note from her on the table, written on a coffee filter. In that instant, it hit me that I want to tidy up after partiers with her forever more.”
Dripping with love that makes you feel at ease and at home, Aischa Daughtery has created something powerful and assuring. Pre-order now for £30, or contribute to the “pay it forward” fund to help make This Is How We Love accessible for all.
This truly is a poignant yet playful book that provides lesbians of all ages with the positive representation they have often been denied. Aischa has put together something magical and I for one cannot wait to receive my copy.