Monday, November 13, 2006

Jordan, Lorde, Sontag, Butler, Willis... Who Will Be Left to Speak?

Feisty, fabulous feminist essayist Ellen Willis died yesterday. The silencing of a major leftist voice in the US is a cautionary note after last week's midterms victory for the newly centrist Democrats. Willis was a pioneering voice for abortion, an expanded definition of family, workplace rights, pro-sex feminism and cultural radicalism.

She was also one of the first people to bridge academia and activism, and one of the last of a generation of feminist essayists who included Susan Sontag. Katha Pollitt is one of the few remaining feminists writing regularly for US national publication and receiving global attention (OK, Naomi Klein and Noreena Hertz are the newbies). Don't even mention Caitlin Smith or Ariel Levy, who Willis would have torn to shreds in seconds.

Where are the feminist essayists of our generation, trained in the humanities and thinking politically? Lots of brilliant women write for Bitch and Bust, many of them combining academic or professional careers with activist writing. But not the New Yorker or Why is that? And why are so many of the voices that do get heard those of attractive white middle-class women?

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Poem of the Moment

The internal rhyme! The powerful use of the past participle to imply the pastness of its couplet partner. The subvocalic echo of the rush with which the news was received, with its powerful "sh" alliteration of a clean wind bringing change, borne on the wings of dreams...

And the tickertape stutter of "election" bringing us back to earth - openended, reminding us that the war (in the Senate and in Iraq) is not over.

The Evening Standard opted for the headline "Bushwhacked!" with its cowpoke charm and neat Whedon echo (GWB as king of the Reavers, anyone?) but this poster brings more chickens home to roost for me with its dual physical/emotional "crushed."

Waving or Drowning?

I've now been reading Virginia Woolf's The Waves for a month. It's less than 200 pages long, gorramit, but I just can't seem to finish it. It's actually a great book for public transit reading -- absorbing yet non-linear enough to roll with the punches (yup, actual punches sometimes, along with sophisticated elbow blocks and shoulder barges). I have read it before, back in the distant mists of my adolescent Virginia Woolf obsession (inspired by Sally Potter's Orlando) but the impetus to re-read came from the incipient multimedia stage production by Katie Mitchell at the National Theatre. I've wanted to re-read it for a while, since doing some work on how Virginia Woolf haunts contemporary films about women academics -- Charlotte Rampling gives a scintillating reading from The Waves in Sous le sable, very much a film about waving and drowning.

So -- will I finish the book before the show tonight? Or is it a book that - with its cyclical nature - can never truly be finished without beginning it again?

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Get Some Chicken

Here I was, planning to be soooooo good and make some headway into the stacks of Delirium's Library (although Marina Warner's Phantasmagoria is so mind-blowing it's like a delirious library in and of itself)... and then: boom! New Marjane Satrapi leaps off the shelf and into my hands at Mega City in Camden. See, I keep trying to be serious and read about 'the role of the archive in contemporary artist's film and video' and an article on Jean-Luc Godard by someone called Frodon (no joke!). But. Comix get in the way.

Chicken and Plums! Chicken and Plums!

K, I'm gonna go read it now. Tomorrow I will be serious and get stuck in.

Friday, November 03, 2006

Small Is Beautiful

Kegedonce has just announced two new titles! Yay for small presses, especially a small press as unique as this - publishing work by First Nations writers, and brave enough to publish poetry AND fantasy fiction. Incredible. Daniel Justice's instant cult classic, Kynship, gets its sophomore sister, Wyrwood. And Rolland Nadjiwon's Seven Deer Dancing continues Kegedonce's run of excellent poetry. If you're thinking about Thanksgiving (and surrounded by Nature's bounty, who isn't), consider giving thanks to and learning from the first folks of Turtle Island by investigating Kegedonce's diverse list. You may just meet a fabulous witch called Denarra, and fall in love at first sight...