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Posts Tagged ‘power’

It pains me to say it. It could be un-PC. It could alienate me from some in the local poetry community. I might look bad. The doorkeepers who are published could shun me from their presses. Really, who reads my blog anyway? I am fairly sure this won’t reach the eyes of the poets involved in a recent reading I attended at The Elevens. But you never know. Maybe part of me hopes it does. Maybe some of the people who’ve been running things around here need to hear from some of the young upstarts (writing poetry since I was a child, am I an upstart?).

For a few months, I have been trying to learn more about my writing as well as the local poetry scene by attending local readings, ones in which others read their work as well as some open mics. Some of the formats include both—featured poets and an open mic.

I went to one last-Sunday-of-the-month Esselon reading in May, the first time I had read my work out loud since I was in my 20s.

Let’s start there, my 20s. My younger self. My scared self. My virgin reading voice. My childless womb. My full blood and tits and ass. My eyes. My hair. My voice that cracked. My hands that shook as I held the pages. Me, pre-Alexander Technique training, pre-marriage, pre-motherhood, pre-peri-menopause, pre-sobriety, pre-I lead a helluva lot of Shape Note songs on Tuesday nights in Northampton. Pre-me coming into my full power. Yes. Me, easy to give a push to and I’d fall over.

Sunday afternoon/evening, August 26, was the monthly last-Sunday Esselon reading, except that this reading was moved from Esselon to The Elevens. Confused yet? Okay, not such a big deal, a change of venue to a better space and time is probably just what the doctor ordered.

Let’s go back again to me in my 20s. Kent, Ohio. Brady’s Cafe. JB’s Down. Outdoors, walking around, a poem per outdoor spot. Fred Fuller Park. The Cuyahoga River. Coventry. Drinking. Cleveland Heights. Poets who are now dead. Obnoxious poets who drank too much. Bars bars bars. Men Men Men. A few women. Some lesbians. Me, shaking scared unsure. Bad poets. Good poets. All poets influenced by The Beats, no doubt about it. My boyfriends. My mentors. My friends. My dying father. My dead father. Intimidating men. Children running around. A child I loved and my best friend, her mother. All of that informs me today and all of it informs what I know to be right about poetry readings. These were my people.

But not really. Just part of me belonged. Still, I understood what worked and I got what I know to be right about poetry readings.

RULE NUMBER ONE: If you are one of the readers, do your damnedest to stay and hear everyone read. IF YOU ARE A FEATURED READER, this goes double, maybe even triple. Maybe even to infinity. If you can’t stay, let the people around you know. Be kind. Be courteous. Be respectful. This is not about you. This is about Poetry and every person striving to share their voice after they just sat and listened to yours.

RULE NUMBER TWO: If you announce, online (or anywhere, really) the amount of time the reading will last and how long each open mic poet gets to read, don’t change it when the poets show up. In good faith, they have put their trust in you. In good faith, they expect you, their leader and the organizer, to hold them. When you say 5-7 pm reading, 5 minute-limit for the open mic, stick to it. Do not change the time to a 3-minute, 2-poem limit because you want to be at another reading and you assume all attendees will want to be there, too. Don’t presume to read your own work if you’ve already cut everyone’s time short. You invited us. Keep the table set until everybody has gotten their portion and be sure you stay to clear the table. Kiss some ass because we just kissed yours.

Oh, also, if a reading is in a bar and you are ordering a drink? Make sure that you aren’t cutting in front of your confreres who’ve been waiting in line longer than you. Capiche? This is really the definition of Bad Form and it’s extra bad form if it is your reading series. The host or hostess drinks last.

RULE NUMBER THREE: Know each poet’s name who you are introducing. Use BOTH first and last names so the listeners can catch who the hell they are listening to. If this is your reading series and it’s time for the open mic and every featured reader was not only introduced by first and last name but also their introduction included a short bio which mentioned their published works and publishing houses as well as the fact that they have books for sale, don’t screw this part up. Naming is what poets do. Show some understanding of this.

Needless to say, I shant be attending the last Sunday Elevens readings any more.

I do like the once-a-month Tuesday Straw Dog Writers Guild readings that are held at the Elevens, at least the 2 I’ve attended.

I have been to one last-Friday-of-the-month reading at Rao’s in Amherst and I will be attending it again this coming Friday. (Spoiler Alert: I will be a featured reader (SAVE THE DATE!) in September).

I just found another poetry series which happens every Friday night, 5:30-7:30, at The Thirsty Mind in South Hadley. Can’t wait to check that out.

Of course, there’s the every Tuesday night reading series at Hinge in Northampton, but as this is my yoga and Sacred Harp singing night, it’s unlikely I will make it often. Still, I hope to clear some Tuesday evening in the near future to check it out.

This sort of leaves Mondays and Wednesdays and Thursdays and Saturdays and about a hundred other venues in the Valley for me to fill with a reading of my own devising. Just like it’s high time I start my own writing workshop. You know how it is, you who flounder to be heard and seen and to define yourself both inside and against the tide.

You remember my bike n bitch tenet that there are no bad rides? Well, guess what? There are bad poetry readings.

Since the post is void of photos and is dry and boring and I know already too long, here I am. Giving the finger. Kiss my ass muthafuckacocksucka. Oh yeah.

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And am I born to die? To lay this body down!

Easter is not a holiday I feel much of an attachment to. However, I was reminded this week of a specific time in my life, a new friend I once had, her life and death.

8 years ago, I began singing Sacred Harp every Tuesday night at the Helen Hills Hills Chapel on the Smith College campus in Northampton, Massachusetts.

I got to know Mirjana Lausovic at the Tuesday night sing a few years later after she moved back to the area from Minnesota with her husband and 2 young children.

Minja, as she was known, was one of the strongest women I have ever met—happy, practical, full of joy and life, big in presence and physicality; loved her kids, huge heart. Everything about her was open and present—she was buxom, full-lipped, had big eyes and a big smile, and of course, a powerful voice. Formidable was the word that came to mind the first time I saw her. She was easily approachable and had a humility I draw from to this day.

Minja had beautiful silver hair and it was cut short. I, too, kept my hair short and we joked together about haircuts, how it didn’t really matter who cut it or how: no muss, no fuss. I never knew why her hair was short and gray; she was, after all, a couple of years younger then me.

When I began to sing in the Sacred Harp group, in 2004, I had a difficult time socially. If it hadn’t been for my fierce love of the sound, my determination to add a creative endeavor for myself after years at home raising my daughters; if it hadn’t been for my training as a teacher of the Alexander Technique, I would have bagged out. I found the group strange and clique-y; I didn’t understand the social dynamics. I heard a lot of talk of “welcoming the newcomer,” but my presence seemed less than welcome. I was baffled and spent many a Tuesday night filled with the joy and satisfaction of learning a new, powerful way of singing, but with an undercurrent of my own sadness and anger at feeling on the periphery of a group [supposedly] dedicated to a communal tradition of song.

Minja was a remedy for all of that, a breath of holy spirit.

She died less than 2 years after I met her. It was a shock to me because I didn’t know her history—she had had breast cancer and pulled through several years earlier and this was apparently a recurrence. They left town one day in July of 2007 and she died 2 weeks later, on my birthday, something I recognize as a great gift.

I remember the evening before Tim and Minja and the kids were leaving town. I had prepared a little card and a bundle of ribboned lavender from my garden. When I handed the card to her, my instinct was to walk away so she could open it at her leisure, no pressure to say she liked it in case she didn’t, nor to respond to the words therein. But she said, emphatically, “Can I open it now? I want to open it NOW.” It was so much her, living for the moment, taking a bite out of whatever life presented.

♦ ♦ ♦

Today, I watched as my daughter’s Agricultural Arts teacher introduced 5 new colonies of bees to the existing hives on the school’s campus. Nicki told us that the worker bees, all of whom are female, do not lay their own eggs, in deference to the queen’s laying.

I saw the first tulips open in my side garden bed.

I am preparing a dish for dinner with eggs from my neighbor’s chickens, a salad with greens from a local farm.

Sometimes I receive emails from a fellow parent at my daughter’s school and they close with the statement “Walk in the light, wherever you may be.” Some days I begin to know what this means.

Today is Passover; tomorrow is Easter. I know I have been delivered, here and now, to the center of a swirl of abundance that I call home, the earth.

♦ ♦ ♦

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Ladies and Gents,

I am a woman; I was born female; or as Her Ladyship Gaga likes to say “Baby, I was born this way.”

I was born complete, with all of my eggs.

I am a perfect vessel for many things. Fornication, procreation, lactation, IF I SO CHOOSE. All of the biggies that somehow some folks seem to think I don’t understand about myself.

I was made unique from the males of the species. There need be no judgement of this; it is fact, not good, not bad; not right, not wrong. Add an intelligent brain and critical thinking to the fact of my biology and I choose that I am right and I am good. I am not bad nor am I wrong; my body’s design is a perfect amalgamation of centuries of evolution.

When our quadrupedal ancestors stood up and eventually evolved into homo sapiens, the genitalia of the males of the species became vulnerable in a way that they are not in a quadruped. Female genitalia, in a fundamentally different way than in any other mammal, became protected and free from the males’ easy accessibility. Add to this that women have a menstrual, as opposed to an estrous, cycle and you have women’s sexual liberation, built right into our unique human biology. Add that women are [potentially] multi-orgasmic. Add that within a pregnant woman’s body, the absolute time and place of life and death exist. These all make for a potentially POWERFUL FORCE OF NATURE.

I will state it a different way: women are powerful forces of nature due to our biology. What about this? Nature can feel threatening because it can seem out-of-control. Sometimes, this makes people uncomfortable. When we are uncomfortable, our fear response is often triggered. The fear response can take the form of fight, flight, freeze, submit, or any combination/manifestation thereof.

Right now, many are mislead into thinking that the females of the human race are somehow wanting. I say we lack nothing; though, like anyone doing the hard work of being human, we have needs and we need support.

We need support for many reasons, not the least of which is to carry out the hard work of being female in an fearful, unjust, uncomprehending world.

Women have always sought ways to prevent pregnancy. Not always has morality been attached to this seeking.

I am tired of confusion. I am tired of obfuscation. I am weary of the twists and lies, misinformation and rhetoric currently sucking energy away from real issues of wealth disparity, war-mongering, environmental degradation, and the hijacking of our country by corporations and corporate interests. I am tired of Rush Limbaugh, the state of Virginia, the misguided political climate, fundamentalist religions, and corporate greed, to name a few, trying to wrest control and power from me.

I declare that no one can call me a whore or a slut unless I say so. If being a whore or a slut means I like sex, always have and likely always will, then I will gladly call myself these things. If you resort to calling me names, then I call you misguided and I suppose you are probably not having the kind of sex you’d like or as frequently.

I choose to be sexually free. I choose to be in charge of when, how, with whom, and where I have sex, as long as it is consensual, and I declare, just like Billy Holiday, that it ain’t nobody’s business if I do.

Kiss your daughters, kiss your wives. Declare your love and admiration for your mothers and sisters, for women with children and women without children. Kiss the ground we walk on and throw rose petals before our feet. Stop using our names against us. Give credit where credit is due. Remember history before god was declared a man, before doctors stole from midwives, and when mother-worship ruled.

Bow down before the original life and death force.

I am grateful that I was born a woman, motherfuckers.

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(I hope you didn’t have to suffer through 5 seconds of a Ron Paul campaign ad before the video. Oh the irony!)

Much could be said about this song and video, but I’m not gonna go on about that. I do find it interesting that the amazing drum troupe, Olodum, featured in the song, champions of race and human rights, seem not to have any females in their group. Perhaps they are “allowed” to dance, but I don’t see any females drumming. Please educate me and tell me I’m wrong, or tell me the whys and wherefores. I can’t learn everything of importance on wiki….

Look, it’s not that I’m against all-male drum troupes or all-female drum troupes. But based on Olodum’s mission, as I understand it, it does bother me and strikes me as ironic that there are no chicks drumming. Again, help me. Tell me I’m wrong and why. All bloggers, including moi, are simply dying to have their ignorance exposed.

I’m not a fan of Michael Jackson, but I do recognize that he was a soul brother in spite of his creepiness. Was he a child molester? Was he smart (methinks, NO)? Was he mentally ill? Was he abused as a child? Was it just the drugs? One is still responsible for one’s actions and Michael Jackson was CREEPY and STRANGE and NOT RIGHT. Still, I’m glad he shared his talents with the world in spite of it.

I am sorry he’s still crotch-grabbing in the video. It’s unseemly, stupid, immature, and unnecessary. Do you think he insisted? Habit hard to break?

Anyway, here’s the whole slogan:

Just because you have one, doesn’t mean you have to act like one

But you knew that, right?

I’ve seen those words on a bumper sticker and I’ve thought, do I approve? do I agree? do I find this offensive?

I’ve never come to any final conclusion about the phrase except I think about it on occasion.

After taking my car for a repair on Saturday and after my ordeal with Dr. Old School Offensive Insensitive Reprehensible, I am a Male God Ruler of the Vagina and Uterus in the ER 2 weeks ago, it will not be too soon if a man is never a dick to me again in my life. I’m 48 and I’ve been treated unacceptably by men [for being female] on more occasions than you can count on ten fingers and ten toes and than anyone can count anywhere, anyways, and in any case (I’m guessing most of the women you would poll would come up with similar numbers). The worst offenders are certainly men who work in car repair, then male OB/GYNS, and finally, perhaps, home repairmen.

So fellas, can you please get your shit together?

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Yes, it’s true that without the Google doodle of yesterday, I wouldn’t have known it was Marie Curie’s birthday. This poem still gives me chills. One of my favorites. I don’t really know much about Marie Curie, but I do think of all the women who research alongside men and don’t get credit, though perhaps this has nothing to do with Marie Curie.

Power

Living in the earth-deposits of our history

Today a backhoe divulged out of a crumbling flank of earth
one bottle amber perfect a hundred-year-old
cure for fever or melancholy a tonic
for living on this earth in the winters of this climate.

Today I was reading about Marie Curie:
she must have known she suffered from radiation sickness
her body bombarded for years by the element
she had purified
It seems she denied to the end
the source of the cataracts on her eyes
the cracked and suppurating skin of her finger-ends
till she could no longer hold a test-tube or a pencil

She died a famous woman denying
her wounds
denying
her wounds came from the same source as her power.

Adrienne Rich

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I am not going to say that I am grateful for electricity, okay?

Oh, who am I kidding? I’ll say it. I’m grateful for electricity.

I am more grateful for a heated house and hot water and light in the darkness, which is to say that for the 3 days and 4 nights we just spent without electricity, I would liked to have had a better ability to create a source of heat and light that is not dependent on power lines. We did use a camping stove for heating up soup and noodles and water a few times. That was nice.

But I would like to have a gas stove, a wood-burning fireplace, and more surfaces in my house that could be safely used with candlelight. My house is small-ish (to me who grew up in much larger houses) and cluttered-ish. I would have liked to read or do my crossword puzzles by candlelight in my bedroom on those nights without electricity, but there isn’t a safe place to put a candle–too much clutter or too many fabric-y things all over the place.

I am grateful for HEAT and LIGHT and FIRE which is to say, from within.

You may not believe it, but I, twinklysparkles, was getting very pissy and whiny after just ONE NIGHT without heat. It was cold, I tell you. By Monday night, I was too cold to sleep and I had a super-shitty night. But on Tuesday evening, I went to my regular yoga class. My teacher, too, had been without heat at her house. She taught a very heat-producing class. Like strip-off-your clothes yoga workout. Not hot yoga, just bringing up the inner heat, the heat you can create by moving your own muscles, breath, chi, prana.

I came home ready to conquer. Full of fire. Remembering who I am and remembering that before external power, I have the spark of life inside.

Hubby heated water on the camping stove. I did a whole dang load of dishes. (Have I ever told you about my champion dish-stacking skills? I am the best dish-stacker I have ever met. My drying rack is a thing of beauty. Balanced, poised, sensible. I love stacking clean dishes almost as much as making sure the dishes are clean).

Warm toilet seats. Oh my God.

Warm floors.

Warm bed.

You know, in the winter, those 3 things aren’t terribly warm all the time anyway, but 48-ish degrees was going too far.

What I learned: I would be able to adjust if we had no electricity. I would figure it out. I would need help, yes, but I would not die or fester or crumble or disintegrate. We all would figure it out. We would have another way of heating, of lighting. We would have root cellars and canned foods and jerky. Yes. We have not lived with electricity for much of human history; we would get it together.

I actually liked the pace while we had no electricity. Slower. Boring and depressing, but I liked the slow. I liked the candlelight. I liked having a little pot of hot water from the camping stove that I could put a wash cloth to and wash in the candle-lit bathroom, so cold to be uncovered, but my body craving the heat. Steam. I like steam.

I really missed my vacuum cleaner (I think it has made Thankful Thursday before). My German-made SEBO. It is the best vacuum cleaner I have ever owned. Love my SEBO.

Love my kids. Love my Hubby. Love my mom.

I love shopping. I love when we are out of food and can’t cook but can go eat somewhere else.

Love my blender with which I can make my own coffee blended (I know you know that, but I really missed it).

Love my granola (ran out and couldn’t bake more)

Thankful for friends who open up their homes to us when we have no heat, electric, shower.

Thankful that I have an old-fashioned land-line (not cordless) that never went out so I could stay connected.

Love my internet. Love my blog.

Love my car. Love having a car. Love being able to drive when I need to.

Love being able to help my mom.

Silk long johns–bottoms, tops, undershirts, especially if they are pink or black

non-itchy, but warm, socks

polarfleece

Oh I hate this post, but it being Thankful Thursday, I’m not supposed to say that. Just this one time, I’m going to allow it. Then it will be forgotten and I won’t remember the cold and the lack and the dependence and it will happen again and no one will remember and it will be okay and I’ll let you know, just once in over 10 months, that I don’t like my writing sometimes. So deep and rich for me to practice not hating my writing. So deep and rich to not hate anything at all, really.

It’s hot, it’s cool, it’s the bomb, this practice of not hating. I recommend it. I am learning to love it, but it may be the hardest thing I’ve ever done. Is it simple acceptance, then, not hating? Is it detachment? Is it love?

Start of new poem, or fragment of new poem, not sure which:

Fragment

The dead cornstalks flutter like prayers

Why try to measure my immeasurable love?

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I went out to Occupy Amherst yesterday afternoon with Hubby. Yes, you can laugh at our little town. But I was heartened at what is the beginning of a movement that I believe will grow in strength and voice week by week, as it already has. You say you want a revolution? Well, you know, we all want to change the world. So let’s up and do it.

Now that we got that out of the way, on to a song that should get the juices flowing. I first heard this when I saw “The Fighter” and soon forgot it. I take it as a song of power and since I’m thinking a lot about the people’s collective power, let’s have at it. The video is silly, but I like it.

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