Sunday, December 24, 2006

Misogynist stereotypes on Valleywag

I don't care what Sandy Montenegro Littlefield is actually like; I don't know her, and I've never met her. Also, I am not intrinsically fond of superwealthy society people. Who knew that "Gentry" magazine even existed! Not me! Gentry. Wow. Weird. Lifestyles of upper class philanthropists; really beyond my comprehension - they're like aliens.

Anyway. Gossip is fun and I love to hear it. Dirty gossip is great. I would love to see Dirty Friendster with all the possible totally sophomoric sex gossip charts of who slept with whom and who just made out in the conference room.

That said, I think that Valleywag's post on Littlefield deserves to be called out on its misogynist rhetoric about Ms. Littlefield. The article says she "used to go to tech conferences in search of husband material" and, worse:

She'd arrive on her own and return on someone's private jet. She is absolutely gorgeous in person, but I don't think it took people too long to figure out she was a gold-digger.

I'd like to look at what stereotypes this gossip plays into and what reactions it can possibly evoke.

Here, who a woman sleeps with or marries is used to throw her competence as a tech executive into question. It is strongly implied that she is not a real geek, or maybe has no "real" skills at all other than her looks. When an article like this gets written, it also by association casts aspersions on all women in tech. Would this article be written about a man, a senior executive? Would there be any equivalent way to devalue and slander and ridicule a man?

It's very strange because while men are always whining about reverse sexism, and how everything should be genderblind and we should all just be human and be judged on our skills and not our gender... Then they whip out this sort of rhetoric and use it against women. The stereotypes are built in and waiting, ready to be used against any woman, from the most successful and visible to the least important. As women, none of us are immune to being objectified by exactly the sort of rhetoric used against Ms. Littlefield.

Notice the way that the quote above suggests that Ms. Littlefield habitually went to tech conferences alone and then left with different rich guys - and that she went to the conferences solely for the reason of wanting to pick up rich geek guys. And also implying that's how she got her jobs - by being a jet-set slut.

Again, I'm no expert on the upper class. But don't quite a lot of rich people work off their personal networks and backgrounds and friendships? The woman has an MBA from Harvard and she speaks five languages. What's so odd about her getting a good executive job? Didn't like 5 gazillion MBAs descend on Silicon Valley during the boom? Why shouldn't one of them be a multilingual cosmopolitan Guatemalan beauty queen from Harvard?

But no... instead Valleywag points to Montenegro's past achievements as a beauty pageant winner and the fact that she's from Guatemala as something further to objectify and sexualize her. Then they make fun of a newspaper article quoted on her homepage that calls her a "Latina who defies stereotype." (See Common stereotypes of Latinas for more explanation.) Hey, if you are a Latina who defies stereotype, and you're a successful senior executive in high tech, and a VC person and a bigshot international philanthropist, why not be proud of it? Valleywag evokes a stereotype in response, and stuffs her right back into it.

Waaah! Women in tech are toooooo sexay! That sucks! It ruins our whole homosocial male bonding geek guy thing! Get them out! Or, quick, give Sandy a reverse makeover, a pair of glasses with electrical tape on the nosepiece, and some penny loafers!

Everyone needs to keep in mind that when women, sluts or not, sleep with geek guys, it might just be because they like geek guys a lot. Sleeping with geek guys doesn't invalidate one's geek credentials. It's not like they have to be *rich* geek guys and the women have to be brainless bimbos going after their money. Trust me, geek guys, you are often super cute all on your own. It's the devastatingly sexy unhealthiness caused by hours of late night hacking, and how you get all passionate about open source, and the way that you probably got pushed around by those jock dudes in the locker room long ago. We love it. It gives you a mysterious aura, like consumptive bohemian poets from 1890 who smoked too much opium and thought they were in touch with the Divine. Heterosexual nerd chicks go for that kind of thing. It's completely natural.

Anyway, Valleywag tries to preempt any criticism by saying they don't really care, and they don't think Montenegro is "evil". Just mockable. Misogyny is automatically funny. Sexy women are automatically dumb golddiggers. We're supposed to read that post and laugh and nod knowingly... as if we know the type. Do we really? Or do we know them from the idiotic stereotypes made up by and perpetuated in Hollywood movies?

It's not uncommon for writers to evoke sexist and racist stereotypes for a cheap laugh. But not all of us are laughing when we read that stuff. Instead, we're pissed off and alienated. Or we might respond by laughing at the writers for their cluelessness.

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Thursday, December 21, 2006

Gender and genre in blogs

In her paper on Gender and genre variation in weblogs Susan Herring and her team hypothesized differences between male- and female-authored blogs. I haven't read the paper closely enough to get the detail, but the gist of it is they expected women to say "I" more and refer to women more, and men to write more impersonally and refer to "he" and "you". Instead they found that personal blogs, male or female, show the characteristics that had been predicted for women's writing, according to, I think, other studies and sources like the Gender Genie, based on grammatical analysis by Argomon & Koppel. (I have to say, when I messed with the Gender Genie I thought it was just annoying...) While filter blogs, meant to give information on a topic, have the characteristics associated by the Gender Genie with men -- whether they are written by men or women. Herring et al.'s findings contradict Argomon & Koppel. She suggests that genre itself is gendered.

I agree with this, which matches what I found in reading women's poetry from 100 years ago and in reading the criticism about that poetry. The gendering of genre appears to me to happen over time as a way of valuing or devaluing the quality of the writing. Entire genres would become (simultaneously) "feminized" in order to devalue them, or as they became devalued they were described as feminine, or as women succeeded in the genre, it was considered less important.

Many factors contribute to this and one of them is that women at times do the less important things or write in the less important genres because there is less backlash for doing so. And when they do enter the male-dominated genres where power is considered to be located then there is a strong backlash and the entire genre is at risk of being devalued.

When women in the 19th century succeeded at Romanticist poetry, for example, they were hailed as being unusual exceptions, virile, oddly masculine, at the same time perhaps kind of slutty or of questionable and abnormal sexuality. And when women began to dominate the genre to the extent that they could not be ignored and tokenized, then the entire genre was disempowered over a period of years - it became girly, uncool, dumb, awkward, not cutting edge, old-fashioned. When it was clear that women had mastered it, it didn't matter anymore.

In short, there is a pattern of the "pink collar ghetto" in literary genres as in other professions. (I just looked online for something to link to, to explain pink collar ghetto and did not find an adequate explanation. Yes, it refers to jobs with a high concentration of women. But it further refers to a process: as women enter a high status profession, the pay for that job goes down, and there is a tipping point where the profession itself becomes devalued because women have entered it and succeeded. I remember going in around 1991 as a fledgling tech writer to a meeting of the Society for Technical Communication, and hearing a lot of incredibly depressing but realistic talk about the pink collar ghettoization of tech writing.

Anyway, back to literary genres; the same pattern becomes clear as I do further feminist research; If you have read much Dale Spender as well as Joanna Russ then you can see a lot of good evidence.

I point to this as something that bloggers should be aware of & consider.

(I am using the word "genre" here but may be talking about some more vague category, literary movements or styles or subgenres, like "Romanticist Poetry" or "Western novels" or "science fiction" for example. )

In fact - a short digression - consider science fiction and how as women write in the genre, there is a scramble to define the part of the genre that only men do, or mostly only men do, or only men do well. Why is it so important to prove that, for example, "hard sf" or "cyberpunk" is so masculine? (Of course in the face of any evidence to the contrary.) Hmmm! Could it be a backlash to preserve the perceived literary value of a formerly male-dominated genre?

Back to Herring. From about page 15 onwards Herring & co get into the nitty gritty of some excellent questions:

Diary writing has traditionally been associated with females, and politics and external events, the mainstays of filter blogs, have traditionally been masculine topics. Furthermore, previous research shows that females write more diary blogs, and males write a disproportionate number of filter blogs (Herring, Kouper et al. 2004; Kennedy, Robinson and Trammell 2005). But what is the direction of causality, and where does gendered language fit in?

In conclusion Herring points out that the gender differences are in which genre a male or female author writes in, much more than any essential difference in grammar or writing style, and that:

Social and political consequences also follow from this
distribution: Men's blogs are more likely to appear on 'A-lists' of most popular weblogs (Kennedy, Robinson and Trammell 2005), and to be reported in the mainstream media, in part because filters are considered more informative and newsworthy than personal journals (Herring, Kouper et al. 2004). This recalls the traditional stigma associated with 'gossip' and women's writing (Spender 1989), and reminds us that genres are socially constructed, in part through association with the gender of their producers.

Oh look, she just referenced Spender. Right on... No wonder I like this paper.

Anyway it's a good paper - go read it. I'll read Herring's other papers and I look forward to printing it out and giving it an hour or two of more close and serious reading and note-taking & reaction. Oh - and in good blogging and gossiping tradition I should mention that I came across this paper after reading Managing 'Trolling' in an Online Forum, which is amazing and excellent; I got to that from Wikichix, which I found because I was bitching about the lack of good feminist content on Wikipedia and a few weeks ago, some dude commented and told me to check out their talk page on Systemic Gender Bias. Since I am involved with some feminist wikis and ticked off whenever I try to engage with Wikipedia, Wikichix sounded great. If you are a wiki editing woman or would like to be, then sign up with Wikichix and add to the discussions there. There's a mailing list and an irc channel as well as the wiki pages. & on alternet recently there was a brief article that talks about the Wikichix, Wikipedia vs. Women? with an interesting comments thread.

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Monday, December 18, 2006

Five things you probably don't know about me

I got tagged for this meme by Chris Carfi of The Social Customer Manifesto. It was interesting reading Chris's 5 things and following some of his links. I also came across The Blog Tag Tree which traces a bit of this meme's geneology. Though - I first saw it a year ago or maybe longer, on LiveJournal.

"Write down five things about yourself that others probably don't know, and pass it on."

  • I lived in a 100-person co-op house (21st St. Co-op in Austin) for 5 years, and at different times held the positions of menu planner, dinner cook, dessert cook, and "cookie monster". From this, I know how to cook a fancy meal for 200 people and how to boss a crew of helpers, as well as how to go to endless community meetings.

  • I can move my littlest toe on each foot independently of the other toes. Try it!

  • From age 14 to 17 I worked in a dry cleaners in Houston, way out near Tomball. Conditions were disgusting and inhumane. Don't buy dry-clean-only clothes, if you can help it.

  • I played 5 bells in a handbell choir in a church in Allen Park, Michigan, when I was a little kid. The bells were huge and shiny, and had special fancy cases lined with velvet; we wore white gloves. In regular choir I sang alto and sometimes tenor. It was a good choir, and I liked wearing the robes. Once I got to be a ceremonial candle-snuffer, which was fun even though I was an ardent atheist.

  • Secretly I often like to pretend I'm someone else who has switched bodies with me. Usually they're people from books I've just read - either fictional characters or people from history. What would they be thinking? How would they react to being in my body, doing whatever I'm doing? And what would I do if I were in their body and time? Now you know. You might be talking with Genghis Khan, Ayla, Ataturk, the Continental Op, or Laura Ingalls.

  • Tag, you're it:

    * Ellen Moody from Ellen and Jim Have a Blog, Too
    * Vim from Screamything
    * Minnie from Screamything
    * Gabby De Cicco from Pont des Arts
    * Prentiss Riddle from Aprendiz de todo, maestro de nada

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    Thursday, December 14, 2006

    Trivium, twittering, gregarious behavior

    Originally uploaded by Liz Henry.
    Some rambling thoughts on twitteration, or twitteritude:

    Twitter is fun. It's a microblogging site; your entries are strictly limited to just a couple of lines of text. You can friend people and get their twitters on a web page, on IM, or on your cell phone. Sign up, watch the public stream go by, friend people who strike you as interesting.

    Now you have 10 imaginary friends, tamagotchi who need feeding, your loneliness is assuaged, and you feel important and hip and cool as you're standing in line or sitting in a boring meeting and you get texted on your cell. Shallow me! And shallow you if you like it. You must not be very important. You must not be busy enough. Listen to the mean ol' grinches who love to hate Twitter! Broadcasting the trivium of your day! It's almost like social conversation, gossip, small talk. It's almost like the glue that holds relationships and people together. It's not important enough to blog. It asserts the importants of daily life. It forces the compression of your own evaluation of your life into two lines a day. Are you twittering too much, to people who already have too much of an information feed, and they'll drop you?

    The more in-the-corners and unimportant you are, the more fun and important a twitter or a myspace becomes.

    Maybe it isn't a productivity tool. Or, with more focus, with groups and channels, it could be made into one. Why slam it for being what it is? Why not take the idea and run with it, tinker with it?

    I had a strange moment at Writers With Drinks, when I was introduced to a guy named Yoz and realized 10 minutes later why his name sounded familiar, the sort of thing that used to happen from orkut or friendster, a familiar moment to anyone on a social network. It was because he's the last person on the friends-badge list of a bunch of people I "know" on Twitter.

    I appreciate social media's enabling of fun webstalking, of course.

    But that's not even the interesting part.

    It's the potential for literary forms to evolve with technology. I see particular people who have immense Twitter charisma, who are more interesting in that venue than they are on their blogs or in conversation. Shouldn't that be okay? If we are abandoning objective standards for quality, then it's good to look at what's good in all media. It is pointless to bemoan the fact that people like to do stupid things. Instead, look at the mass of stupid things and pick out the best of, according to the standards of that community and not just according to the standards of dominant culture or dominant literary forms. It is possible that the great internettian novel is being written right now on Twitter, or will be written next year.

    Or we'll get a bunch of poets on there and do renga. No, wait, I forgot, that might interrupt my productivity! Chatting, fun, and art: bad for productivity... of course...

    It isn't useful for some people, but that doesn't mean that there isn't something interesting going on under their radar.

    If everyone in a nursing home right now had phones with Twitter, or something twitter-like and the knowhow to use it, think how cool that would be. Loneliness is not to be sneered at. I bet we all know several lonely people who would like some imaginary tamagotchi twitter-friends. Surely, soon, we will have better two-way social networking appliances than phones, laptops, or crackberries, easier to use, easier to type on, marketed towards the senior niche. And then the great internettian novel will be written by a 95 year old former kindergarten art teacher in Modesto.

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    Monday, December 11, 2006

    Excellent feminist rant on being "of a time"

    I really enjoyed Ide Cyan's "Timeless" on the Feminist SF blog; it's a polemic on Time and social change, and was sparked by Ide's notice of the ubiquity of the defense that a sexist or racist or otherwise annoyingly biased person was a product of their time. This sets up a framework in which "now" is seen as a product of progressive linear evolution with Now and Us ethically on top. I agree with Ide Cyan that this is a false construction, a construction in which Time stands in by a trick of rhetoric for individual responsibility and agency; a construction that is deeply harmful.

    The part has become the whole.

    It’s very, very convenient. It’s very, very easy. And it means the oppressed vanish in a puff of rhetoric.

    Her concluding paragraphs using synechdoche and the body (namely, assholes) was hard-hitting, outrageous, and deeply funny!

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    Writers With Drinks report, Saturday Dec. 9

    Writers With Drinks, at the Makeout Room in San Francisco, was fabulous again. Indigo Moor, a poet from Sacramento, read first. He was a dynamic and clear speaker, funny, warm, with a lot of stage presence, and I enjoyed his poetry; he read a poem about the violent territorial nature of hummingbirds ("hollow bones... strung together by frayed nerves"), "Trigger", "Pull", a poem about a hunting trip ("...the way everyone... is trapped in love"), and "Apotheosis". I especially liked the hunting poem.

    Laura Moriarty read two chapters from her experimental poetic bizarro science fiction novel Ultravioleta. I just heard her read from it for the anthology Paraspheres and am in the middle of the book. Wyatt, one of the human characters, gets all mixed up with Wyatt Earp and there are some good romantic slashy bits about him and Doc Holiday. There's some aliens call "the I". Gender and love and reality all screwed up and weird. It was hard to follow the thread of the reading; while I liked it, I think it would benefit hugely from being read aloud in a livelier way. It just occurred to me that while I just bitchily wrote "It's not like postmodernism is a language from Mars" in another context (on a Wikipedia talk page on an article on Donna Haraway, the author of The Cyborg Manifesto) actually Moriarty's book is kind of about postmodernist language from Mars.

    Kevin Monroe, the stand up comedian in WWD's genre mixup, was hilarious, with routines about prayer, god, and spam; Jesus' capacity for protecting people when he wasn't too hot on self-defense; the missing bastards of the Iraq war as compared to the Korean and Vietnam wars (the bit of race-based that made the audience the most uncomfortable, for sure), and back-alley assisted suicide. He made fun of the idea that God cares about prayers, for a minute being God, "Increase the size of your penis? What the fuck? That's the 12th prayer on that I've gotten today..." leading to something that cracked me up by its outrageousness, "Fuck Nigeria. Their main export is fraud." And then "You can't hide an afro under a burqua." "Malt liquor - the gatorade of street combat" and the funny bit about assisted suicide. "What? You only got 50 bucks? I hope you live, motherfucker!"

    Charlie had a particularly hilarious interlude about how we were going to have a new thing at Writers With Drinks: 2 minute dates in which we all pair up and establish who's dominant and who's submissive, then rotate. When we've figured out who ranks where, the most dominant will cook and eat the most submissive while everyone else masturbates, as is customary at a literary event. There was something in here about the vanishing middle class, but I've forgotten... it was funny, anyway, as I contemplated literary feuds and how so many people behave like annoying divas. As usual Charlie's humor exposes something true and interesting in a way that isn't mean or bitter (which is so rare in humor, especially standup comedy).

    After the break, Stephen Elliott read an excerpt from his novel Happy Baby - a guy sees a former guard or employee from juvenile hall who used to rape him and abuse him and "protect him" and follows him home on the bus while thinking of then and now and his current girlfriend. It was really good! I had a nice time talking with Stephen - had never met him before but I have a short story coming out in his upcoming anthology about sex in America.

    At some point I met a dude named Yoz who was very bouncy and fun ...

    At dinner afterwards at Esperpento... (to be finished later... oops must go upstairs for jury duty)

    As usual, Writers With Drinks was well attended -- crowded -- despite the heavy rain that prevented two of the readers from coming. (One, Grace Davis, on the wrong side of the mountains and reluctant to come over Highway 17, and the other, Lally Winston, stuck in traffic for two hours in blinding driving rain.)

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    Sunday, December 10, 2006

    Why I like LibraryThing

    I was trying to explain tonight to Annalee why I like LibraryThing. "What's it FOR? Is it a book recommender? Or is it data about a book?" No... no... it's for building a picture of knowledge and of people. When I first walked into Annalee's house, for example, my head went sideways and I muttered off into all the rooms reading the book titles. I could see evidence of interests past and present, clusters of information, and could extrapolate meta-interests or things like "here are sets of books that indicate grad school classes very similar to ones I took or browsed." So now I know without having to ask that she has a mental foundation or familiarity with Spivak and Bhabha, Derrida, Sontag, Delouze and Guattari ("Spavin, Babble, Dada, Snotrag, Deloser and Guitar") and that sort of cultural studies/literary/historical theory way of thinking as well as science books, tech books, monster movies, pulp, tons of good science fiction, and the same sort of 19th and 20th century sex and gender information books that I also collect.

    When I was looking at Timmi Duchamp's books I wrote that it was like being together with her in a beautiful cathedral. The way she organized them was beautiful, but it was the combinations of ideas and the depths of certain areas of knowledge that were amazing and I felt happy and honored to understand some of that, and what it meant to my knowledge of her as a person and of her work as a writer and critic. Seeing someone's books, if they are a very booky person, with their brain deeply intertwined with what they have read, very intertextual, then seeing their books gives you some knowledge. It's not like any two people, reading the same set of books, have the same reactions to them. But because we're in this post-Golden-Bookshelf age where we have no literary or cultural canon, it is reassuring and interesting to see someone's (nongolden, or golden only to them) bookshelves. If it was important to have (and to destroy) the golden bookshelf, then it's important for us that we're developing ways to make each others' bookshelf compositions transparent.

    Since I have read quite a lot, and in areas I can't expect someone else at random to have read, I get very happy when I met with people whose bookshelves intersect. Right now the person with the closest books to my books on LibraryThing happens to be one of my best friends. That was a funny feeling, like confirmation of our unusual common areas of deep knowledge. I look at the people I don't know (and I know many of them from their blogs, mostly from LiveJournal) and figure that, the way my life is going, and with tons of social software stickly spreading around through everyone I know denser & denser, I'll probably meet them within a year. And when I search on a few of the rare books -- anthologies of Latin American poetry from 1910 -- and then later am searching on some incredibly hip or trashy science fiction book published last year -- Then I swoon a little bit and fall in love with that person who is in the tiny club of the two of us who like those two very different books. (We don't just own them: we gloat over them and bothered to enter them and tag them up.)

    Who has this book? Only 2 other people! I feel a new pleasure; that of snobbery and pride. I look at their tagging of that book and I learn something - and maybe go back and put my tags more in line with theirs, which might make more sense. Or I like mine better and keep them as they are. Together the three of us built something, a small consensus. Then I can look at their personal library tag clouds:

    Another pleasure is in the tag clouds. I can follow a few tags of marxist feminism and find strangers, then browse their tag clouds. (Here's my tag cloud, but that's only about 2% of my books.) What other tags does a marxist feminist reader tend to gather? Wandering around in that information is fun and I feel like I'm learning a meta-something from it. What, I'm not sure.

    I look for the people who have eclectic collections, and who have certain areas of depth of knowledge - who are geeky and expert about a few things, but then whose interests scatter interestingly. It's not like I am dying to write them messages, I'm busy enough... but I feel less intellectually lonely because I know they exist. And again, odds are in the techno-bohemian world I'll meet them at some point and then feel instant friendliness.

    I start to feel I want to introduce certain readers and LT-ers to each other; and I see gaps that inspire me as a critic, that make me see "Wait. All these people should also have A Certain Glorious Book; they'd love it, based on what they own and tag heavily." And then I resolve to write a review, give a book as a present, or just give a recommendation out of the blue.

    It is not just social and about stalking... it is a method of creating cultural meaning.

    But that is not all of it... I'll have to return to this thought. Meta-information structures laid in place... underpinnings of possible conversations.... people seem more real to me than they ever did... strangers hold more possbilities... It is a general feeling of hope, connection, interest, pleasure, curiosity. I think that when you drink the Web 2.0 Koolaid it's not about believing in hype - it's a fundamental shift in how we think about each other as people with depth, with books and feelings about them, with wishes and goals and places we want to go to or that we've loved (as on 43places and 43things) and with social ties laid out with at least an attempt at clarity. When novels became popular, it provided an opportunity for people to think about each other as characters in novels, as protagonists even, whose thought processes could be revealed, imagined, chronicled. I think Web 2.0 and blogging and rich social information environments, which will surely develop intertwinings more complicated than we've imagined, are in the beginning of a shift in the way it is possible for people to think about each other. There are of course utopian and dystopian results from that shift. But lucky for me I was born in interesting times and will not be bored, ever.

    LibraryThing has inspired me several times so far to get rid of books that I think are embarrassing, too embarrassing or dull to add to my public bookshelf. Do I want this on my shelf? I didn't want it in my brain. Then... throw it out!

    Just as certain people are peculiarly charming and witty on Twitter, but dull on their blogs... or vice versa... I think some people's libraries will function like registers of complicated conversation. Registers of speech or media for speaking can result in very different output from the very same person. So as a mode of self expression, art, and culture, LibraryThing and social media let us see each other saying things we might not have said, or been able to see being said, before. They provide an extra conversational layer.

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    Saturday, December 09, 2006

    Vote for BlogHer for best community!

    As a contributing editor to BlogHer (World/Latin America and Caribbean) I'd like to ask that you vote (daily!) for BlogHer for best online community of 2006:

    Vote daily for BlogHer as Best Online Community

    The 2006 Weblog Awards

    If you like my coverage of Latin American women's blogs on BlogHer, or if you enjoy the many other amazing writers on that site, please click on over and vote for us!

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    Thursday, November 30, 2006

    Women of the Left Bank

    I'm still thinking about Paris Was a Woman and at the moment am listening to Ed Sanders reading "Hail to the Rebel Cafe". I know a lot of Latin American women were in Paris or visited in the teens and 1920s, and I'll look through my notes to figure out who. All my biographical information on these writers is going into a wiki, which for now is private while I set up the structure and the skeleton, but will soon be public and editable by anyone.

    I need to get a copy of Women of the Left Bank and add them too.

    Here's some of the people I can list as literary women in Paris from the documentary: Djuna Barnes, Jean Rhys, Sylvia Beach, Janet Flanner, Alice B. Toklas, Colette, Janet Flanner, painter Marie Laurencin Berenice Abbott, Gisele Freund, Djuna Barnes, Natalie Barney, Sylvia Beach, Adrienne Monnier, Gertrude Stein, Ada "Bricktop " Smith , Josephine Baker, Renee Vivian, Romaine Brooks, Marie Bonaparte, Elizabeth Bowen, Victoria Ocampo, Vita Sackville-West, Virginia Woolf, Bryher.

    We could also add:

    * Gabriela Mistral
    * Emilia Bernal
    * Léonie Julieta Fournier (Nirene Jofre Oliú.)
    * Comtesse de Noilles - Anna de Noailles

    Of course, what about now? Where are we? Are we documenting this? I'd like to expand my women poets/writers wiki to right this minute and my own hometown. Why not document the moment and ourselves? Think of the riot grrl history that is already lost or slipping away. Let it be recorded on heaven's unchangeable heart or at least the internets, failing heaven.

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    Monday, November 27, 2006

    A few feminist seeds scattered to the wind and you

    The documentary Paris Was a Woman, about just a few of the women in Paris in the early 1900s and especially the 20s; writers, painters, poets. I especially liked the interviews with photographer Gisele Freund. The tension between Stein and Beach as Beach suddenly turned to throw her weight of attention, of critical attention and great-man-making, behind Joyce and people like Hemingway who she decided was a big fat genius before he had written a single stitch.

    Rant mode...

    Consider the poisonous sexism of Joyce and how the poison is worse when it is in an elaborate feast. Think for a minute about how good Ulysses is, and it's damn good, and then about how he produced it while knowing SO many genius interesting articulate politically and artistically aware women and what women characters does he write? Not any who have a thought in their head - a dumb teenager who confusedly tolerates a masturbating creep on the beach and an illiterate slut taking a shit. I could slap him. (And also could slap every person who's ever pointed out Molly Bloom to me as an example of a female character I could love in great literature. (and no I said no I won't No) I can love the book and admire the talent but hate the dreadful vindictive poison -- as well as the thing in Joyce and so many other writers of dicklit that makes them gather masses of mediocre sycophants to make themselves look better - unable to tolerate other actual geniuses. It is just that sort of person who is consecrated later in history as a "great" writer, unfortunately - something to keep in mind as a sour-grapes comfort as the most of us head straight to being Minor Poets. Think how irritated I am as I continue to digest Orhan Pamuk's My Name is Red and the magma builds up in my fevered thoughts. Oh! The more beautiful and excellent the art, the worse the poison is and the madder as hell I get.

    It was funny to be watching this movie with my partner who didn't really know any of the writers or painters even the most famous ones. Joyce and Stein, their names, but not their work at all and he had never heard of Sylvia Beach. That puts it all in perspective, doesn't it? I plotzed when he said "H.D.??? Who?"

    To get the taste of all that out of your brain try downloading some of this:

    Free mp3s of Adrienne Rich reading from Diving into the Wreck and other works - from the Pennsound archives. On the very long file, the 38 minute one, it sounded a little like Di Prima introducing her but then I decided it wasn't and the accent was just a bit similar. It's nice to have the huge file of the entire reading in my iTunes. I love hearing her inter-poem comments, nerdy little snippets about greek drama and patriarchy.

    Oh, and if anyone happens to have some recordings of Di Prima's early readings I'd love to have more of them. I have her doing a few of the Revolutionary Letters; they're so flamingly fiercely beautiful!

    Elisa speaking up about biological determinism. Very lovely!

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    Tuesday, November 21, 2006

    Dear Urbana Slam Poets and Bowery Poetry Club

    Dear "Big Mike"... at the Bowery Poetry Club...

    Fuck right off.

    No I will not take off my shirt or show you my ass for your polaroids. Skeevy asshole. I"m so happy to go back to San Francisco and say goodbye to the Bowery's poetry scene... Where they knowingly tolerate blatant sexual harassers in their scene.

    Dear women in the Bowery Scene and people who aren't misogynist fuckheads, I feel sorry for you that you have to put up with that kind of thing. Why do you?

    Dear mc dude of the Urbana slam team, nice job of laughing off sexual harassment to my face. Also thanks for letting me know that "that guy hangs out here every single day at the poetry club." I'm sure everyone just thinks he's SO funny and such a character!

    Dear guy working the door... I thought you were laughing with me and were complicit in my fool-baiting. "Thanks" for then when I confronted the dude about his fucked-upedness, then acting like you didn't hear anything wrong... And for saying that you didn't hear anything hostile. Because we all know that asking all the women in a cafe or a poetry reading to take off their clothes for a camera and if they have any "intimate" piercings or tattoos is just totally FRIENDLY... It makes women feel all appreciated and welcome and stuff...

    Oh also? The tempting offer of a free copy of your book in exchange for the polaroids of my naked body... not tempting at all.

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    Tuesday, November 14, 2006

    Liveblogging: Blogging Feminism panel, Barnard, NYC

    blogging feminism flyer
    Originally uploaded by Liz Henry.
    Panelists: Jessica Valenti (feministing), Liza Sabater, (Culture Kitchen), Alice Marwick (Tiara), Lauren Spees, and Michelle Riblett (Hollaback), Gwendolyn Beetham (NCRW).


    Intro by Janet R. Jakobsen from the Center for Research on Women.

    I just came yesterday from a 70s feminism event, the Veteran Feminists of America, a book release for Feminists Who Changed America about second-wave feminism. But this, blogs, is carrying on feminism in new generation in a new medium. Gwendoyn and Jessica are co-moderating and co-editing the Scholar & Feminist Online. We're videotaping for that journal issue. The current issue is on women & sport. Full issue on blogging will be out in the spring.

    Intro for Gwendolyn: She's involved with the U.N. [task force on...?] and the Real Hot 100. Founding member of Younger Women's task force, contributing editor for 3rd Wave Feminism Encyclopedia. And training institute for ... in the Dominican Republic. Graduate of the London School of Economics and Political Science. And BA from Kenyon. "My gosh, you don't look old enough to have done all that." *laughter*

    Jessica Valenti. Feministing, NARAL, MA from Rutgers, Legal Momentum, NOW, Planned Parenthood, Ms. Magazine. Co-founder of Real Hot 100. Contributing author to We don't need another wave from Seal Press. (List of publications). Currently writing a book about younger women. Forthcoming from Seal Press.

    Gwen: Thank you, thank you to Barnard and for being so supportive. Thanks for coming. Background: We propsed this idea to Barnard a year ago. At that time blogs were still edging their way into the mainstream. Today blogs are everywhere. all the major US news outlets have blogs. Also around the world. Where I'm doing my project on the UN the Sudanese govt used comments on a blog as an excuse to kick an envoy out.... Direct diplomacy. More liberal bloggers meant that blogs had jumped the shark. If even the UN is using blogs then we have a problem with using blogs for radical change,. Are blogs obsolete? Then what are we doing here? If you look at last week's election results you can see blogs are alive and well. One thing that hasn't changed a lot over the past year is the way that women are talked about in the blogosophere. The way that white males still get talked about most and dominate the political blogosophere. This is being examined in academia. Anyway, now over to Jessica, my co-moderator...

    Jessica: We do everything together. It's like we're "heterosexual life partners". Let's hear brief intros from the other panelists.

    Alice Marwick: Hi I'm Alice. I'm a phd at NYU, studying online communication... working in communications since 1995.

    Liza Sabater - I publish Culture Kitchen and the Daily Gotham among other blogs. I'm an academic maroon, I ran away from phd program at NYU in neobaroque latin american literature.

    Lauren Larken Spees, co-founder of Hollaback NYC. Also a found of Artistic Evolucion, non profit, social activism using art, technology, and bicycles. [Link?] Media arts. USC for undergrad in theater.

    Michelle Riblett: I went to high school with Lauren.

    Lauren: We were in boarding school together!

    Michelle: BA from Barnard. Philosophy... worked in Rape Crisis center and anti-violence. Interested in feminist interpretations of disability, media studies, queer theory.

    Jessica: A few words on why we wanted to do this panel and this issue. Why we think it's important. Vibrant community of feminist blogs out there. While there's an ongoing conversation online about feminist blogging, there hasn't been much offline. We need to communicate that there's a cohesive body of work. We wanted to make something available to academics and start a conversation between bloggers and academia and get the discourse doing. We have an amazing opoprtunity in front of us as feminists with blogs. How can we find those intersections where academia, feminsim, blogging come together?

    Alice: Doing a broad survey of 2 things. academics and blogs; feminism and technology. I'm an academic who blogs, not a "blogger" . Why academics think blogs are interesting.
    - they're easy to analyze; they're public.
    - blogs tend to encourage values academics like interactivity: comments.
    - egalitarian, anyone with internet access can blog
    - resistance, ideology of resistance.
    - academics do blog a lot. we love to hear ourselves talk.
    - trend right now is to write huge paper then say "blogs are the answer".

    We study effects of media consolidation on news practices. Emphasis on advertiser friendly stories, etc. Gail Tuchman "multiplicity of voices principle"- free speech is not enough. Must have diverse voices in media. Blogs posited as solution. Also as a solution to political participation. Horserace vs. analysis of the issues; blogs allow grassroots discussion of issues in depth. Even if pts of view are minority viewpoints.

    What are academics saying? - analyzing blogs as journalism. Warblogging. Studies claim that blogs are changing journalistic practice; changing democracy. Academics write about blogs changing academia. A way to get out of the ivory tower. Start discourse with regular people outside the academy. 2 year delay on academic papers before they get into journals where no one reads them anyway. 3rd thing is blogs and gender. Indiana study - women. Are blogs "democratic"? Public discourse about blogs is gendered male, white, heterosexual. privileged over activities that are gendered female. Blogs seen as authoritative, if male. Women's blogs are given labels of gossipy, private, trivial, etc. Top political blogs written by men. Why? Because women don't write about politics? Or because women's plitical blogs are crappy? Neither is true. They found that men all link to each other and pay attention to each other and what is "good" is waht men say when men say it. [Is this referring to Herring & Scheidt paper...?]

    2nd - 12 percent of world population is online. What happens when we posit this as a solution when people don't have access. When people are worrying about sanitation etc. Class based. Public libraries, filtering software. Social tech inequality in itself. The original idea was sort of that minds would commune on this pure level, disembodiment hypothesis. This viewpoint resulted in the white male subject being seen as the norm. if you identified as not white male etc. then you were seen as "playing the race card". Online stuff reproduces dominant culture's stereotypes. Female characters in games... where "fag" is the most common word thrown around as an insults. Quote from an article about "breast physics" and buttocks in gaming. *laughter* Power imbalance within tech industry. 30% of the workers are women but they are in marketing, proj management, but are not in decision making positions about features in a product. Enrollment in comp sci programs for women is dropping. Young girls to have access to tech. blogging is a good way for that.

    We need structural change. We can't depend on blogging. But we need more women in tech and comp sci. Media loves political women bloggers bc they fit the maninstream definition... But we need diversity without ghettoization. Mainstream bloggers focus on each other. and think that the women and the queers will just deal with everything else, so they don't need to do it.

    Nevertheless i think feminist blogging is very important. Networks of activists, writers, tech, has allowed me to inferace with other women in the industry. Validation of our politics when femism is left out of media. Blogs are today what zines were for me when i was a teenager. Women who are not corporate sponsored like ivillage or like barbie or fashion or chick lit or other consumer narratives of what it means to be a woman today. Important online to foster these feminist communities. Other communities can be very hostlie homophobic etc. Foster political changes. Thanks.


    Lisa Sabater:

    I have a different opinion about niche publishing. BLOGWAR!!! *laughter* It's a good conversation. I've been in the business of being online for 10 years. When I left academia... my then boyfriend was experimenting with these things that ended up being net art. Movement of painters and sculptors who happened to have day jobs as software developers. They expermented with web browsers... in ways that looked like art. *sees a familiar face in the audience* Oh! Hi Margo! She's part of the net art community! *waves* [Liz's note: I think Liza is talking about Rhizome]

    At the time you had to be very skilled in coding. for me it was waiting to see what would come for someone who was a writer like me to get online. Years later blogs came and there's this thing called the blog revolution. I go from panel to panel talking about blogging. I'm trying to make a living blogging. Everyone talks about the blog revolution but no one can describe what it is. What is it about blogs that makes them revolutionary? I've been thinking about this for years.

    Going back to one essay I read in a feminist lit course in NYU years ago. Las Tretas de debil. cfrom collection from collection called Tretas del debil by Josefina Ludmer. "The tricks of the weak". Essay is about Sor juana Inez de la Cruz - who is the reason I call my blog culture kitchen btw. [Liz's note: if you want to get what Liza is talking about, and you should, see "filosofías de cocina".] Defense againt inquisition. Told to stop writing about poetry, philosophy and science. Essay is fantastic, it talks about rebellion and revolution in terms of spaces. Not a metaphor. Not a gesture. About creating spaces where science and technology and knowledge are NOT SUPPOSED TO HAPPEN. Inquisition, nunnery, vow of silence, still opportunity for her to think aobut philosophy, think about physics, science, and to really find powerful spaces, spaces of power. And so, Let me read this... feminist of the politics of the personal turned public. Power is not about a fixed dialectical opposition, strong vs. weak. Power is about making spaces for expressions. Letters, autobiographies, diaries. At least in Latin American literature. Blogs fit nicely into this space. Personal realities. Deleuze and Guattari - Kafka towards a minor literature. Through thinking about that, we can understand how power dynamics are subverted by blogs. What Deleuzeand Guattari say about "becoming minor", in business speak on the web, it's called niche blogging. A minor literature is political, collective, revolutionary, and even spatial. It takes away territory. It takes away ethniticy, reace, state, country. A minor literature goes further, there's no subject, it's not Liza the person who is writing Culture Kitchen. Liza is an archetype for people to relate to this person online. It takes the idea of me online being not just a subject but an archetype, It's free to move around. There's this freedom to move around and be outside my blog, my body, my country, my race, my ethnicity, and can travel through the net as ideas and conversations. This idea of minor lit escapes signification and representation. To me this is really important. People think of niche writing as this very specific small reflexive way of writing, I actually see it as something much more powerful, giving a voice to stories that have been suppressed. Blogging makes that possible, the structure of blogging makes that possible. Power realtionships are altered. Four things related to minor lit and Deleuze and Guattari: vernacular language, vehicular, referential, mythic language.

    (Well, that was 10, 15 years ago, ha, I'm really old! )

    With Web 2.0, the permalink came about. When you post... can we get a web page up? now b/c of permalinks there's a map, this is not just a page. A web page nowadays is a whole map of relationships. It's not just relating to itself, it's relating outside itself. Media, big media, is about concentrating controlling the spreading of information, making it scares, impossible, for "the people" to take and participate in it. That's what tv, broadcasting is about, radio. With blogging you can say i'm going to refer to this particular part of the page, put in an email and send it somewhere. Now there's not just a space. There's a vehicular media like email or rss. You can read a blog outside of itself, blasting it through "crackberries", email, whatever. You can move a blog anywhere. Referential language - categories. It's not just a category for you but it opens up the whole web to looking..., Multiplicity of identites. Not just a feminist blog, it's a space where feminism expresses heatlh, sex, love, technology, politics, it expresses a whole myriad of different conversations with people who might not be interested in feminism at all. For an example one of my most hit posts, one of my writers wrote about forced pregnancy and celebrity porn. So people looking for celebrity porn came to feminism. The mythic language - memes. [Liza explains memes. I, the transcriber, rest my fingers.]


    Lauren Spees: What Hollaback is. It's a campaign that makes a space for women to take photos of street harrassment, encounters, and post those stories online. Boston Globe wrote and article and refused to publish the address of Hollaback Boston. As a matter of policy, Boston Globe does not publish links to sexually explicit content. *groans from audience*

    Michele: i wrote back to them that unfortunately, sexual violent statements are not acceptable to the women who receive them on the street ... [that's what we're fighting]. We asked for a copy of that policy. We love the exposure from the Globe but for them to refuse us an online link that was very critical. In online news if something isn't cited as a link it virtually doesn't exist. Defeated the purpose of exposing us to our potential audience. In contrast... a blog post on [??] generated thousands of hits for us.

    Lauren: Big media is at a disadvantage compared to bloggers and their speed of response. [....?] when she took photo of subway masturbator... the police didn't answer but as soon as she put it on her blog, Daily News picked it up. [Which helped lead to Dan Hoyt's arrest.] Blogs helping and becoming our major ally... cyber critical mass - media consolidation is a reality but we're firing away at it. Hollaback offers a quick response.

    Michelle: Blogging, photos captures the moment, anger, fear, reactions, in immediate way, not abstract and way later. It's easier for me to identify with them, to recognize the daily infrigements on my body i may experience. Hollaback allows this experience to be interpreted as if they'd experienced it personally.

    Lauren - It's accessible, it's free. Something that happened to me - i was at the speakout against sexual assault in Union Square. They introduced us as the most exciting feminsit activists around. At the time i didnt' know i was a feminist OR an activist. Allows people to do the activity even if they don't identify with the word.

    Michelle: Women who don't have anything in common other than having been harrassed can all post. They're relating the experience as their own.

    Michelle and Lauren read some posts from Hollaback:
    Post about the "professional menu distribution associate for caribbean flavors restaurant".
    Then he pursued me down a few steps of the subway entrance getting really close to my face and leaning in,"Marry me!" I put down my bag and grabbed my cell phone, he protests, "No. Why are you taking my picture? Oh oh, I see you want my picture so that you can go home and wack off to it."

    Holla Herzegovina post. Video post. Vlog.
    (firefox crashes.) Oops!

    The "fuck your own ass" post of the guy on the train platform. Then, "i want to be your toilet paper".

    [I can't remember which one said this, Lauren or Michelle, but, damn, it's GOOD.]
    What you might notice from the posts. When we read the posts, from our experiences, we cant help notice this seems so wrong. Hollaback doesn't define for others what counts as street harrassment. The tone matters, the intention and translation matters. All the posts come together to show the slippery and icky stuff of gendered power relations. These interactions are not about sex. They are about using and wielding sex to express power.


    Liza : You mentioned that the fastest way to get your story out there is to put it on a blog. The one complaint i have about that is it depends on how big your networks are. Who are the people i would trust with something i write online? it puts it into perspective you need other people.

    Jessica - With feminist blogging we run into that a lot when you're writing anything political, particularly feminists, you're leaving yourself open, you're going to get some really nasty comments. Anyone can come on. It's a dangerous place to be and it's a scary place to be for a lot of feminist bloggers. There's been a lot of discussion about how to support each other. Trolls. Horrible stuff, like "fuck you you dyke bitch", or whatever. And it helps for 20 other feminist bloggers to be like "oh yeah fuck you too go to hell" to them. Comment registration, etc. can also help, [but doesn't stop it all].

    2 Questions from a guy standing in the back:
    - question [I missed the first question. I think something about editing/censoring.]
    - Why blogs, why not just web sites or bulletin boards, whey are they so appealing, fashionable. Why not bulletin boards which are more interactive? Why blogs?

    Michele - We state in our site we reserve the right to edit for clarity. We have statements about race and class on our site. Replacing sexism with racism or classism is not a proper way to hollaback. I am referring to historical stereotypes of men of lower socioectonomic status, men of color, as being stereotpyed as sexually violent. [It's not useful and Hollaback doesn't allow it and will edit it out of posts.]

    Liza - Two tracks on my blog. Contributors and contributing editors - then other articles on sidebar. i sometimes move stuff to front page [for emphasis]. There's different ways to read it.

    Jessica - On feministing there's no editing, there's 6 contributors and they post what they want. it depends on the blog, though.

    Alice - Web sites that were personal homepages required people to know some html. There was a technical barrier to entry that you had to teach yourself. i taught myself html when i was working as a secretary. Why journals, diaries, etc. online? Women journaling online since late 90s. But only once you got blogosophere gendered male that people pay attention to it. BUT also blogging tools became very easy to use, and that opened barriers.

    Jessica - Comments section on blogs, interactive that way. Conversation. LIke a bulletin board. But what's exciting about blogs is the immediacy. Blogs updated a lot. Blogs important for femininst activism, for example when the Bureau of Labor Statistics decided not to report on women [its Women Workers Data Series: more here] anymore and I blogged and months later i got an action report from NOW. If we had been working together we could have taken action quickly.

    Woman in audience; I think alice said 12% of the world is online?

    Alice: It's a stat from a resesarcher, africa... [I missed the citation]

    Woman in audience: Class analysis of blogging. Higher income white feminists? Are blogs contributing to that legacy? Are lower income people being involved in blogosphere

    Jessica: Yeah.

    Lauren: Anyone who owns a cellphone has a remote ip address. Anyone who owns a cellphone can blog.

    Liza - i'm suspicious of stats that say 12% of people are online. People have crackberry. They pay 300 bucks for blackberry, high but less than paying 1000 bucks for a computer, and a landline. They're online, but not counted. There 's a core group of colored bloggers, the digital ethnorati, we have higher incomes but we also have, we happen to be in these social-class-blended families. There's a lot more people of color with access to the internet through cell phones and pdas. Recently I was at a conference with ESPN Mobile. The fastest growing segment of population was Latinos followed by Asians and African Americans. Digital divide - we have to stop thnking that way. We have to stop thinking of computers. You can read a blog on this (holds up phone). You can post.

    Alice - You can post from your pda, i do it all the time

    Liza - i don't have the patience.

    Alice - Big differentials between [styles, patterns of] access , asia, europe, north america. Internet cafes. Different patterns of usage. One person in a community has a computer and they charge other people to come use it.

    Guy in front row - Alice you mentioned that very few top political blogs are written by women b/c of the men linking only to each other. Michelle Malkin, Pandagon, firedoglake. I mean, 2 years ago Pandagon didn't have Amanda Marcotte on it! What changed?

    Jessica: I bitched about it. Bitch enough and they throw you a link.

    Liza: Shelley Powers is someone who is a must read... burningbird [archives] is a must read for anyone interested in the hisotory of the blogsophere. Speaking from the margins to power. She nails it over the head what happenes with tech bloggers is just what happens with political bloggers. There was this ad, feminist pie wars, women on reality shows, ad on daily kos. Some women on daily kos got really offended. why do we have this ad on daily kos? Markos said with typical charm, you smelly hippies, sanctimonious women's studies, have no place on this blog. It created a whole shitstorm. [Good explanation here with links to major feminist blogs discussing it.] At the time in this country we were getting ready, Katrina hadn't happened yet btw. Right before Katrina. We already heard that Justices were coming down, Alito, Robertson. I wrote this post about why diversity is even an issue. He front paged it. [Liz: Is it this post on "no black bloggers"?] Of course he doesn't talk to me anymore... After Katrina, after Supreme court... they know they need us. They need feminist bloggers. We wrote a manifesto as feminist bloggers against Robertson. [link?]

    Jessica: that's not to say we get the credit we deserve, still.

    Liza: No. *laughter*

    Jessica: Who does the nytimes talk about when they mention a blogger? The same 3 guys over and over. We did it ourselves - we linked to each other and supported each other. [...] blogs revoulutionized feminist politics. Top male bloggers, aasking them dont you think it's a problem, all the top bloggers are men. They said "No." The conversation for them ends there.

    Liza: Organizations encourage that. Working Assets has media training... they found someone to get this grant. Only 5 bloggers were going to be trained to go in front of media. Markos, Atrios, same people who appear as face of the blogosphere. Now Mary Scott Oconnor [of My Left Wing, a woman from firedoglake. No people of color. And this was done by Working Assets, not a right wing organization. That's problematic. I feel that for the future of feminist blogs and future of progressive politics in the US it's up to us to look at ways of organizing. There is power in actually having a flock or an aggregate of bloggers sharing resources, sharing access, and power. If we're going to wait for someone to give it to us it's not going to happen. The tech allows for coalescing, creating different power structures.

    Jessica: We don't want to recreate the same sexist racist homophobic paradigms in our new structures. At a conference -that panel - on the "power of the blog" - all white men. Sausagefest! and as soon as the mic came around to a woman (it was .... ] and said you're talking about power but you're sitting up there all men. And they said what do you want us to do, back off and not be on the panel and say no [to being on it]?

    Liza : I'm on the board of BlogHer, an organization to raise the profiles of blogging women. Estroswarms around tech and political conferences. Get a whole bunch of women and drop them there.

    Lauren: There's one thing with the net and with the grassroots. You have to be both. Tou have to do more than online. Some of the most success we found getting mentioned in media have been from attending or creating different performative events. We did the idiotarod. *laughter* A crazy shopping cart event in NYC. We got our first media attention there. New York Metro Daily. She [who?) wrote an article. Talk to people. I volunteer at Bluestockings, a political bookstore, and [meet interesting feminists all the time there.]

    Woman in audience: What are these political blogs - list some. You all seem to know each other. How? Who?

    Jessica: You'll have a huge blogroll on the issue of the magazine. If you go to our blogs and look at our blogrolls.

    Liza - three categories of feminist blogs
    - ones like Lauren and jill at feministe - they talk about feminsm
    - activist blogs like Hollaback
    - then people like me, in the middle - I dont write about feminism, i write about everything from a feminist perspective. it's a praxis more than anything esle. Even if there's a blogger who's a lawyer, there's law profs, photographers, artists, technologists, mommybloggers, they identify as feminists, transgender bloggers as well. And men btw, men who call themselves feminists . Alas a Blog. publisher is a guy. Barry Deutsche.

    Audience question: What is it that... (i missed the question)

    Lauren: I found a community. I didn't realize - I didn't know what I was missing and then I realize that all the different parts of myself fit into this way of activism and feminism.

    Margo, in audience, the artist: What do you think about discussions in blogs, in their discussions, so public, the kind of language that's emerging, the way of empowering each other, perhaps some of that content, has cultural difference, can you comment on that.

    Alice - people are putting themselves out there. a lot of cultural anxiety around information aggregation. In 15 years you're going to regret it, i'm so glad there was no internet when i was 13. Or people getting fired for their Myspace. The social practices have not caught up with the technology yet. Privacy is a big one. People are willing to provide a ton of personal information. sites asking what your income, your gender, sell your data. That really is a big concern. it's a little too early to say what the overall cultural impact is going to be. i can't speak to the linguistics aspect.

    Liza - speaking with (Mark?) last night. Extended consciousness. No such thing as a separation between virtual and real. An extension of who we are. This flesh we carry. It should be treated as material. What you put there may have more of a life than you. Even if you take down your blog, do scrubs, the wayback machine, somebody in some place in the world might have a scrapbook copy of your site because they like it. Or, porn people scoop my site, because of my google ranking. So what you put online is the closest thing to immortality.

    Lauren- My mom's found all sorts of things about me online.

    Liza - My own children. I made a distinct decison to not give away their privacy when they had no choice in the matter. I talk about Thing1 and Thing2 once in a while, and I put that we went to Puerto Rico and how they were pretending to be Coppertone [.....] but I never identify them by name. Because they don't have any choice in the matter.

    Woman in audience - Definition of a blog? Different properties, having links, being updated multiple times per day? i'm a little bit fuzzy.

    [Liz/transcriber: Okay, here I just *have* to leap in and say I would answer this question from this person simply by saying: a blog is a web page you control, that is structured so you can update it very easily with frequent posts, and many have features that make it easy for people to leave comments on what you post. )

    Liza - A blog is a group of software that resides in a server and it's, there's three elements. The script that produces the web pages - could be written in anything form perl to php. The two main languages in which blogs are written. You have a database, you need a database in where you write is going to reside. Databases are software, they're soft machines. The third element that mkes them different froma livejournal diary, is that you can pretty up your blog. You can design it and do CSS and the html. And that's why it's web 2.0. Because web 1.0 was all hard coded... on a page it might turn into 15, 20 printed pages... whereas a blog, it dynamically puts those things together.

    Jessica: Liza's a real geek, I wish I understood that stuff... but that's not how I define it. When i define blogs I say it's the immediacy, it's the updated frequently. Comments section. i don't think it's really a blog if it doesn't have comments. And a sense of community. Having a blogroll, linking to other bloggers, having online relationships. Not so much for the tech.

    Lauren: it's so easy, we could have sat here right now and made an awesome blog about this panel.

    Liza - i'm from the first wave and i have to install it myself.!!

    Thanks - applause -

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    Saturday, November 11, 2006

    Writers With Drinks tonight!

    Y'all come to WWD tonight and hear one of my favorite poets, Steve Arntson. He does mad things with geography in very long poems which he mostly recites from memory. I've heard him declaim for 45 minutes without stopping! He's a master of juxtaposing imaginary landscapes and history into any moment, oddball freewheeling descriptions, with language that's densely layered & conversational. Yay, crazy beat poet legacy!

    I'll be there to cheer him on!

    Award-winning spoken word show Writers With Drinks mashes up your literary experience! This month it features:

    - lit by KE Silva (A Simple Distance)
    - erotica by Spring Opara (Ultimate Lesbian Erotica)
    - comedy by Dana Cory (Q Comedy)
    - journalism by Katie Hafner (The Well)
    - poetry by Steve Arntson (Cuts from the Barbershop)
    - SF/Fantasy/mystery from Madeleine Robins (Petty Treason)

    Where: The Make Out Room, 3225 22nd. st. btw. Mission & Valencia
    When: Saturday, Nov. 11, from 7:30 to 9:30, doors open 7:00
    How much: $3 to $5 sliding scale, all proceeds benefit other magazine.

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    Tuesday, November 07, 2006

    Spoken word memoir

    Just said this on mailing list but I want to stick it here too so I can remember it and think about it some more. In the context of people saying their students write this kind of thing that is more "performance art" than poetry. What I'm looking at is that this form is a new form - or genre - that we have a hard time judging properly - and there is a knee jerk reaction against it, but that's because we're seeing its manifestations popping up all over and not (as we will 30 years from now) its "best" or most characteristic examples. (And mediocre or dull formal poetry is certainly as bad as mediocre spoken word memoir.)

    So this is a bit out of context but, anyway, here.


    I tend to feel that there's a trend of memoir-style spoken word
    performance that isn't what I think of as poetry. It's a form that's not as dense and declamatory even as long poems; it's more like the pace of a section of a novel. I think of them as vignettes or as their own form whose conventions I'm only starting to understand. As poetry, I don't always like them. But as whatever they are, they're their own thing.

    There is something about the "coming out story" to them; again, they follow a convention of memoir, but of a sort of monologue sharing-aloud memoir. Does anyone know what I'm talking about? I could try to find examples online.

    As far as content, the spoken-word memoir seems to extend and turn what I think of as a convention of the generation before me - the Boomer confessional, in which a shade of emotional subtlety is revealed - what is secret is revealed - the "private" of the nuclear family is violated in speaking the unspeakable - then, a moment of aesthetic awareness. For the younger spoken-word memoir poets there is a firmer security in speaking that kind of thing. It comes out, but it isn't all. I think the point is more that it's a conscious establishing of political identity, a playing
    with identity and story.

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    Bilingual creative writing prof job announcement

    University of Texas at El Paso
    Creative Writing, 500 West University Ave Liberal Arts Room 415, El Paso, TX 79968
    Tenure-track Assistant Professorship in Creative Writing [803]
    University of Texas El Paso

    Dept. of Creative Writing

    Tenure-track Assistant Professorship in creative writing. Specialty open: fiction, poetry, playwriting and/or screenwriting beginning September 1, 2007. Translation and non-fiction also of interest as secondary specialties. The candidate must be bilingual, Spanish/English, and able to deliver instruction in both languages. At the graduate and undergraduate levels teach workshops and literature courses. Successful applicant will also teach one online course each year in our new Online MFA. Salary competitive. MFA or PhD required.

    Interviews for this position will be conducted at the Modern Language Association convention. Preference given to applications received by November 17, 2006, but position will remain open until filled.

    The Department of Creative Writing at the University of Texas El Paso is the only such program in the United States to offer fully bilingual study. It currently has 35 full-time graduate students and the undergraduate major has 170 students and is growing rapidly. We offer a broad-gauged curriculum that trains students in Fiction, Poetry, Non-Fiction, Playwriting and Screenwriting, as well as literary theory and the history of form. Our MFA student body is international and cosmopolitan. We produce the Rio Grande Review, a bilingual publication with a strong international dimension. Our highly productive faculty has a distinct presence on the national literary scene. Our website is

    Please send cover letter, résumé, and the name, address and telephone of three references to: Johnny Payne, Chair, Dept. of Creative Writing, Liberal Arts 415, 500 W. University Ave., El Paso TX, 79968.

    The University of Texas at El Paso does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, national origin, sex, religion, age, disability, veterans status or sexual orientation in employment or in the provision of services.
    Rosa Alcalá, Assistant Professor Bilingual MFA
    University of Texas at El Paso
    PMB 670500 W. University Ave.
    El Paso, TX 79968-9991
    Office: Liberal Arts, 212

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    Friday, November 03, 2006

    Restraint in poetry

    An epiphany of annoyance. I hate the ways that class status in U.S. poetry is about restraint. It is the tightly reined emotion, squished and squozed into formal patterning. It's polite, it kicks against the pricks in a tiny box, it understates, it's wry in its little distance and its scope of muttering under the breath. It's like everyone's got the mute button on. Civility! Aesthetes! Subtle hand gestures in an apologetic ballet! Tiptoeing prissy-assed highwire, scripted bow & curtsey...

    Fine, there's a poetics of the quiet moment. I can respect that. I can even respect the extreme neoformalistas, their exquisite marzipan sculptures and intricate architectures. But that is not all of poetry.

    In this context, I realized my sprawling, messy yells will have a hard time finding a home if I ever get off my ass and send them out. I don't want to tuck in the ends in a neat little knot - it makes me feel like vomiting when I realize I 've done this in a poem. I don't want to do what everyone else is doing! I don't want to struggle to discipline myself to epitomize the thing that other people are all fucking doing! How boring and sad a fate in the larger scale of literary history. My god. Break something, would you people?

    Some emotions should be broken! Messy! Huge! Fucked up! Not stuck into little free-verse couplets. What's up with that?
    Where are the enormous instrumental breaks as the band jams way past midnight and the song becomes bigger than itself and a light goes on and guitars catch on fire, the explosions on stage? Where are the performances that become riots and the riots that don't start as performances? Juggernauts, elbows, bulldozers, explosions, action movies, shockwaves, meteors? Rants & manifestoes, mothers of the word!

    Poetry magazines piss me off today! I'm nauseated by the whole "thing", by scenes, by the grubbing and scraping, by the lack of actual caring and intercourse and conversation and sparkiness. Once in a while get to see it and it makes me so happy.

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    Monday, October 30, 2006

    A slick site for book-buying

    I don't usually read email spam, but this one for Booksprice was really good. I tried the site and liked the slick, clean interface. It basically does what it says it does: searches across a lot of different book sites & shows you comparisons of the prices. I tried Gotz & Meyer by David Albahari, a book I just bought for 15 bucks at the translation conference. I loved the book and was thinking of buying it for a couple of people I know. The most interesting feature of Booksprice is the ability to compare prices on multiple items. I stuck 5 books in my basket: Gotz & Meyer, Kalila and Dimna, Le Guin's translations of Gabriela Mistral, "Unmentionables: A Brief History of Underwear", and Naciste Pintada. I got a choice of two different ways to buy all those books, one significantly cheaper than the other. The idea is that if you can get all the books from the same source, shipping charges will be much cheaper. (Or will they?)

    I took out the book in Spanish and tried again. The results ranged from all the books+ shipping for $44.35 (all new) to $136.85 if I bought them all individually from little stores on (I often use abebooks for books in Spanish, actually - I'm not dissing them.)

    The site seems to operate from cookies - it tracked my recent searches, but never asked me to create an account. It has another cool feature - you can look up amazon wishlists from within Booksprice.

    Their spam offered me a free copy of Orhan Pamuk's "My Name is Red" or "Snow" - books I've been wanting to read anyway -- whether I blogged about them or not.

    A nice deal & a good way to treat potential customers. Though... of course... who are they, and why are they? What business? Perhaps they're really a branch of Amazon. Or maybe they get a referral commission on books you buy through them?

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    Friday, October 20, 2006

    Reporting on the conference

    I'm liveblogging the ALTA conference on the group blog, It's a lot of work - I'm working very hard to make it not too sloppy or raw; to add links; and to get details, especially people's names, correct.

    I hope it's helpful to give ALTA members and others an idea of what the conference is like. (Probably some people here think it is pretentious or annoying or that I'm checking my email, or being disrespectful.. but just so you know, my intentions are good. I try to sit in the back of a room, so as not to disturb anyone too much with my clickety typing noises or my unfortunate fidgeting.)

    I'm hoping to get more translators to sign up for the group blog - even if they write something only a few times a year, it would help to make the ALTA blog lively, fun, and valuable to everyone.

    I had trouble getting on the Hilton Bellevue hotel's wireless, despite having paid for it. The manager, Frank, happened to walk by while I was asking if there was a particular problem, or a place with better reception, so I could send out my conference reports. (A 'mere' blogger, behaving all biggety, like a journalist.) How wonderfully nice - Frank gave me a hotel room right on the 3rd floor, not to sleep in, but to sit in with privacy and quiet and reliable wireless access. I appreciate it, and am finding it's helping me to keep my head together in the whirl of social networking, to disappear for half an hour periodically during the day.

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    An apology and a resolution

    I talk a lot about the exposure of process, and about the risk of making mistakes. For the 3rd issue of "Composite: Multiple Translations" I worked with a guest editor, Sholeh Wolpé, who curated the translations of a poem by Forough Farrokhzad. Unfortunately, in our process, I made some crucial mistakes, and so distributed perhaps 10 or 20 copies of the issue that have errors in Sholeh's translation on pages 12 and 13. At her request (and with great contrition and embarrassment) I withdraw that issue, and as soon as possible will correct the error (in the breaks between stanzas, and the loss of italics) and will reprint the issue.

    What I learned here is that, having often acted as a maverick publisher, I had insufficient collaborative process. I proofread, edited, did layout, corrected typos, etc., putting in a lot of hard work. However, with a guest editor (and maybe, too, with all the poets in an issue) I should send proofs before I print, rather than rushing to print with my usual impulse towards quick execution, instant gratification, efficiency, and a short attention span.

    As a seat-of-the-pants xerox zine, again, I'm not used to operating with that level of formalism. However, I find now, of course, that that's no excuse.

    If I gave/sold you a copy of this zine, please email me your name and snail mail address, and I'll send you a new, correct version! (Destroy the old one.)

    So, one problem appears to have been in file formats between computers and computer software.

    But the other problem was in my lack of collaborative process. I'll try to be better about that.

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    Monday, October 16, 2006

    Litcrawl report

    Litcrawl swarmed across the few blocks on Valencia and Mission where I spend quite a lot of my time in San Francisco, betwen 16th and 24th. I started out parking on Mission, checking out the clothing stores, & then worked for a bit in Ritual Roasters, ran into Annalee and other people I knew. Noticed that public-event feeling where people were being unusually friendly or nice on the street, a convivial fellow-feeling, conspiratorial.

    I figured that on the way to the reading I planned to go to, the MIssion poets at Dalva, I'd peek into the translation readings. Peeked. Heard John Oliver Simon do a very hilariously Ezra Pound-style reading of his translation of Gonzalo Rojas' poem about Canto-Poundiness & imitators. Voice quavering in majestic rolling sweeps! I laughed my head off. And it was a great poem. He read the X405 poem about prison and the polyhedrons that was in, I think, the "Cells" issue of Two Lines.

    Then nipped out to go to Dalva. No such luck. I could not shove into the room down the narrow corridor to the back. Damn.

    So, back to the One World reading at Abandoned Planet, where I caught Chana Bloch reading a prayer for peace from a book called "Open Closed Open. And "The Politics of Applying Moderate Physical Pressure". My notes are not great - I was listening to hard to take notes. I liked the poems. Then Nasreen and Hamida Chopra reading English translations & doing Urdu recitations. hamida's recitations were amazing - masterful - I was fascinated with the form. Olivia mentioned "Moshaira" (sp? look for link) or the "Urdu Poetry Slam" which happens soon in Berkeley. I listened as hard as I could try to learn words and hear patterns and try to match them up with what I heard in the English. "your voice" - i could hear the powerfulness in the urdu where i did not hear it as much in the English; form and density. "There's no messiah for a broken mirror" - an amazing poem. Fez Amit Fez? I'm sorry if I spell everything wrong... I loved this poem to death. wealth - goblets & mirrors are made - they auction off mountain after mountain, ocean after ocean.

    Niloufar Talebi from The Translation Project read translations from 5 different poets writing in Farsi - all from Iran and all living outside of Iran. Heavenly variety! My notes are sketchy and I haven't looked up spellings but I'll do that and correct & add links:
    1) poet living in Australia "Post-Cinderella"
    2) Dena? Bina? b. 1934 fled 1979 living in Sweden "Yearning for Sari" (region in northern iran)
    3) guy - also in sweden - "Book of Fear" - "Fear #45"
    4) Ziba Karbassi - b. 1974 left 1989 living in the UK monolingual "Revolution" - very powerful poem like a children's rhyme- "starheart" - whoa! I reacted v. strongly to this poem and want more
    5) Abbas Saffari - lives in u.s. published frequently in Iran - translated chinese, japanese, ancient egyptian, erotic poetry. "Revenge en Tehran"

    A fabulous reading. Then I was off to Encantada Gallery for the Flor y Canto reading organized and MC-ed by Alejandro Murguia. He declaimed "O California". Ananda Esteva read "When Latinos go Buddhist" and "Notification of Baggage Inspection" ffrom her book Pisco Sours. Milta Ortiz recited [Take me off this timeline I'm on] about not getting married. and then a longer piece about relationships. I liked the salute. "your nazi girl reporting for duty sir! mission: no feelings! objective: pleasure!" That cracked me up... rueful recognition... Luis uribe recited from Hummingbird's Daughter - excellent - "Teresita, only a goddamned idiot wouldn't see god in a taco." Ruben Alexander Barron lives in the south bay - book "American Poet" - told story about monks and river and "bbrother you are still carrying her"... dithered a little shyly and then declaimed, ranted, denounced "Imperialism" in a fiery beautiful wave of conviction & rhymes. YEAH! Alejandro did another piece for us - El Camino - y "16th and Valencia" about poets & rage, blew me the fuck away. Harold Norr, Oscar Ceta Acosta. "even the furniture was angry" "I knew this was the last call... dying for nothing, freight train ... a crazy mutiny aboard a battleship every porthole filled with anger and we are NOT LEAVING." "quicksand swallow me up or the FBI... make this poem a jungle..." I dig his work, beautiful revolutionary strong violent steadfast humorous & humanistic. Chicanopalooza mentioned & exhibit at museum

    Then I was off to Writers With Drinks & Manic D Press at the Latin American Club. Charlie MC-ed the first half. The room was fucking packed so I weaselled up to the front and sat at the back of the stage; I could never stand up that long, my knee is too messed up. Alvin Orloff read - from novel about a whiny telemarketer. Lauren Wheeler - poet - erotica - whip - some very sexy stuff - Claire Light read her story about the men gone and the boys disappearing, a beautiful story and the beginning especially beautiful - the onions & crease of armpit & breast & the way the boys feel their tongues in their mouths - and then I ahve read many people's attempts to make people see what men's rapability would really mean, what it would take to reverse the power structure and dynamic, and this story did it; how narratively to establish some of the injustice of a system, terror & helplessness & bravado - I liked the end. Why she says the story isn't done, I have no idea - Justin Chin read an amazing long piece about... well... damn, it starts out about his dad in heaven playing golf with Celia Cruz. His work fucking rocks. I would like to hear him and Steve Arntson read together, so they could hear each other. Then Jennifer Blowdryer read from her recent book, the how-to-be tranny one, snarky and funny - Jon Longhi read some stuff from wake up and smell the beer, which was all funny and good but i have already by coincidence heard him do everything he read, twice or sometimes more, over the last couple of years! It was good anyway.

    Amazing tacos and ceviche at Taqueria Can-Cun at mission & ... 20th? 19th? somewhere. Then to the Elbo Room for the afterparty which I slimed into since I didn't have an invite. Ended up sort of making out scandalously in a photobooth with Meliza and her partner. They have the photographic evidence with my phone number and a lipstick print on the back. None of us were even drunk. Told them the strange story of my fantasy about me and Buzz Aldrin in our lunar rover. Meliza and her partner just got married in Vegas! In my opinion it makes a party better to have some wild child types careening around giggling & floozyish & flirting - so why should it not be me. I'm doing it for you, people. My noble civic duty.

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    Saturday, October 14, 2006

    Art 21 poetry reading - October

    Art 21 poetry reading
    Originally uploaded by Liz Henry.
    The art gallery was full of amazing paintings this month! I briefly met Teresa Hsu and admired her huge paintings of rocks... the sort of thing I wish I could capture when I'm staring into a clear stream at wet pebbles, very beautiful. Then, as I was setting up chairs for the reading, I ran into a wire sculpture of the gorilla. The gorilla won. Ph33r the gorilla! Susan, the gallery owner, helped me to tape my bleeding nipple back onto my body with bandaids, and a fierce adrenaline rush fueled my MC-ing for the rest of the evening. Who knew I'd get a free piercing?! Just one of the perks of the job.

    Dolores Hayden opened up the evening with poems from her recent book American Yard. I scribbled down some lines, but since she gave me a copy of the book (Thanks!) I can fill out this bit from "For Rent" that struck me:

    ...long views expand,
    command wide axes everywhere,
    entice your kind of hairpin vision,
    a swaying wide and cambering in.

    Maybe just because I like the word "cambering", back from when I had a wheelchair with cambered wheels. Camber, limber, lumber, climber, words that seem clumsy but instead - nimble. "Hairpin" in close proximity to "camber" made weird neurons fire. I was also superenthralled by "Target Practice", a multilingual poem about crows in Grenada, which I heard as a complex noticing of racism and misogyny... or we could say "race and the feminine" but hey. It's a fabulous poem. I might talk about it at the ALTA conference at the panel on multilingual poetry.

    Kate Evans read as the second featured poet of the evening, mostly from her very very recent book, Like All We Love. The first section, and first poem, "First", focused in on mortality... Kate commented that a lot of poems were about being in bed, sex and death, you know... and there were cheers and hoots from the other poets, of "Right on!" She read a long poem about her father, her suburban childhood, and her father's illness & dying. I most enjoyed the poems from the middle section - or were they from "Fluid Self" ? - on Ginger from Gilligan's Island & on the Wizard of Oz, but that's because I'm shallow. Her "Diet Poem" was a whole different animal, very oral, very spoken-wordy, excellent out loud, playful and thoughtful.

    So, wow! What a nice result from my call for poets on the WOMPO women's poetry mailing list. When I did that call, I noticed that about the first 5 or 6 people to write to me were men. I was not specifically looking for women for any reason - I just asked because that's the poet list I'm on that I like the most - But think about that for a bit for what it was. Perfectly nice men - but they rush forward without doubt or hestitation for self promotion in a context that is in theory focused on women and their work. For example, were I on a poetry list for gay men of color, which existed to discuss gay men's poetry and aesthetics and history and to promote their work, and someone asked for poets on that list, I might *think twice* about answering... And if as the person making that call I got my first 5 answers from straight white women, I'd be perturbed... And so I was very happy when a few days later, the emails from women poets began to come to my inbox.

    We had a break, with Steve Arntson playing Chopin and Mozart for us on the grand piano with his usual delicacy and passion. Whenever he plays Chopin I freak out and travel back in time to when I was 13 or 14 and playing that stuff, picking out complicated nocturnes and frisking through waltzes, preludes, mazurkas; while for me it was a joy to exert this immense effort to manifest a tiny percent of what I felt, for Steve it seems more like breathing - he plays so effortlessly and beautifully. It's a pleasure to hear. (But also makes me SO jealous.) Oh, and he brought the fanciest cake ever, with fruit and whipped cream and white chocolate painted with stenciled designs - delicious! Thanks, man!

    I talked with Brenda about the next issue of Composite: Multiple Translations, and then ended up somehow spouting off to Dolores about my enormous Anthology. She was intrigued and very encouraging, saying wild things like "But, you should send queries to the Oxford University Press! To Norton! A perfect textbook! Important!" Which was sort of like hearing someone say "You should, of course, just fly to Mars! The Martians will crown you as their Queen!"

    Anna Coulter started off the open mic session with some poems from her new art book, which I think is called "Transformations". She's having a show at Art21 next month, which will intersect with our Art21 poetry reading! Jane Kos read "Corrido" and announced the next meeting of the Redwood City Not Yet Dead Poets Society. I should mention here that the NYDPS founder Anatole Lubovich - and I've written about his poems, and his death, here before - Anyway - you can and should order his "Selected Poems" published posthumously - from, the Book Nest in Los Altos. What an amazing guy, and I still miss him a lot in all our poetry scenes on the Peninsula!

    Rob Neville read "The Barrel of a Gun", about violence, guns, and cancer. Brenda Simmons read another poem that had bullets in it and that I really loved - and thought to myself that it's been at least a year since I've heard her read and her work is going in some interesting directions - more compressed, more saturated - but I didn't write down any lines, unfortunately. Steve Arntson recited a huge chunk of a long poem about the Lewis and Clark River, another geographical historical philosophical exploration of reality and fiction, as usual exploding my mindscape!! David Cummings (I was so waiting for him to read, and hoping Dolores would not read, because I felt that they would especially like each others' work!) really outdid himself with amazing excellence in a long poem, I didn't catch the name - "as if mysteriously roused from the drifts of a greening sleep - " More bullets and war and death and catastrophe and subtleties piled on top of each other so that listening was like deciphering sedimentary strata after millions of years and several earthquakes. It was some good stuff, I'm telling you.

    Susan, the gallery owner, read a beautiful piece about realizing you're not lost in the forest - the trees know where they are and where you are. It was a nice reminder for me to chill and walk with the flow of life as it happens. I read two of my translations of poems by Carmen Berenguer, because I'm totally in love with her lately, and translating her is a freaked-out violent joy. Read from "Bala humanitaria" ("Humanitarian bullet"), continuing the theme of bullets and war, so appropriate since we're perpetrating an enormous criminal horrible war at the moment in this country; and "Mollusk" which is lighter but super fun to read out loud: it's about, well, "about"... femininity and performativity and capitalism and objectification and violence against women - while being short, deceptively simple, and funny. I should try to memorize it for the Declamacion at the ALTA conference.

    Talked a tiny bit with Dolores' husband Peter, who is a sociologist and novelist. When he said he wrote about Africa and also young adult fiction I suddenly was like "OMFG am I talking to Peter Dickinson, say it is not so!" No... it was not so. That really would have been too much for my brain to handle. But I'll look for his books.

    What a nice time I had - I felt happy and in a loving poets' community - I only wish more of the "usual suspects" had showed up this month, because they would have enjoyed the features and been enjoyed in return. Though it was a small reading, we definitely had critical mass in the party sense, with the jazz going, the wine flowing, people all talking, and a nice feeling of convivial bohemian artiness, wine-and-cheese-party palo alto style.

    That's enough, I think!

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