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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