Thursday, April 29, 2004

Notes of a young feminist poetry geek extraordinaire

I'm exhilarated and exhausted. Not only because of the March but I also came out to my parents on the phone. Totally unexpected and not how I would have planned it, but they took it well, all things considered. So I feel like I've been hit by a truck, basically. Check out Ms. Musings for great links on the March. And don't listen to the fucking newspapers. There were a million people there; I was one of them. Anyway, Dorothy Allison has got some things I wanna say:

What I don’t hear at conferences is what did in fact bring me to feminism. So let’s go back, let’s begin: Rubyfruit Jungle, Riverfinger Women, Meridian, Wise Blood, The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter, True Story of a Drunken Mother, Snapshots of a Daughter-in-law, The Girl, The Salt Eaters, A Woman Is Talking to Death, Edward the Dyke, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, Memoirs of an Ex-Prom Queen, The Bell Jar, Big Blonde and authors like Judy Grahn, Elana Dykewomon, Alice Walker, Adrienne Rich, Carson McCullers, Audre Lorde, Lillian Hellman and Joann Ross.

What was the first feminist book you read? Not Our Bodies, Ourselves or The Feminist Mystique. No, take me back. All the way back. Take me back to the trashy books you read. Take me back to the stuff that you read and that you wanted to be. I’m 54 years old. To quote “Sex and the City,” I’m abso-fuckin’-lutely tired. I read theory. I read to train my language and to sharpen my mind. But I write fiction. I write fiction for a specific, deliberate, reasonable, old lesbian purpose. The world I love is not on the page. The world I understand is not reflected on the page. What made me a feminist were occasional glimpses of my real life on the page.


Let me be clear about what I envision as the future of feminism. When they come around to make the movie of your life, when someone comes around to write the biography of you, as that feminist icon or that revolutionary, world-changing activist you are about to become, for God’s sake, make it more than anything small or pretty or over-romanticized. Make it as revolutionary as this tradition in which we speak has been. Make it so dangerous that people will be scared and unnerved when they read it. Take risks. Make illegitimate children. Get lots of lovers. Try some stuff! Make some difference. Without that courage, without that outside agitation, there will be no future of feminism. There will be no change in this country.

Oh, and along the way, read some novels.

She's fucking awesome! She's such a badass; I'd read her stuff but I'm not in the mood for tales of child molestation at the moment.

April is National Poetry Month. I used to know that, but life's been like a train wreck lately. Tomorrow is Poem on Your Blog Day. I'll try to come up with something good. I'm kicking myself for leaving my Walt Whitman and Emily Dickinson and Immortal Poems of the English Language and especially Sounds Good at home. It's such a Phillip Larkin day! I love that last collection, Sounds Good. I got it for crazy cheap at Barnes and Nobles a few years ago; it's a little anthology of poetry that, well, sounds good, that reads well aloud. I miss it, it's my literary comfort food, I miss it so much it hurts like a toothache.

aha, here we go. Thank god for Google.

The Trees, Philip Larkin

The trees are coming into leaf
Like something almost being said;
The recent buds relax and spread,
Their greenness is a kind of grief.

Is it that they are born again
And we grow old? No, they die too,
Their yearly trick of looking new
Is written down in rings of grain.

Yet still the unresting castles thresh
In fullgrown thickness every May.
Last year is dead, they seem to say,
Begin afresh, afresh, afresh.


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