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afghanistan


http://standardfemale.blogspot.com/2010/06/afghanistan.html



(apologies, but could not get the formatting fully up in the box, so I had to edit to provide a link for the revised poem)

Last edited by pjouissance, Jul/16/2010, 12:27 pm
Jun/25/2010, 4:12 pm Link to this post Send Email to pjouissance   Send PM to pjouissance
 
Christine98 Profile
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Re: afghanistan


hi Pam,

A girl-child named meggie in Afghanistan, attempting to escape to Kabul--"turns to me and says help me pam...how I could not protect/you...I pick up her spoon but she is gone."

So I think there is something universal about this little girl and the narrator's powerlessness to protect her. But also specific to being a girl in Afghanistan. Very beautifully conveyed, "children from nowhere. nowhere is a village"

Some stuff I googled about Arcturus:

It is the brightest star in the kite-shaped constellation of Bootes. Arcturus is located at the point of the kite where the tail is attached.

The ancient Egyptians called this constellation "Bootes Smat" or "one who rules, subdues and governs."

Arcturus is a red super giant and the 4th largest star in the sky, 2x older than the earth and solar system; probably the oldest thing most of us have ever seen. Due to its proximity to the Bears (ursa major and minor)
it is called Guardian Of the Bear, The Bear Watcher, the Herdsman...

Arabic names for Arcturus:

Al Haris al Sama, Keeper of Heaven
Al Haris al Simak, probably referring to Spica, "the unarmed one," Spica being the "first calf," in early Arabian astrology...

and Bamiyan:

Largest town in the region of Hazarajat, central Afghanistan, situated on the ancient silk road was at a cross-roads of east and west. Was part of the Buddhist Kushan Empire
(empire?? Buddhist??) during the early Christian era. It's where the taliban destroyed those ancient Buddhas, carved into the cliff face. Afghan refugees hiding in caves in this area have recently discovered a collection of Buddhist statues and more than 10,000 fragments of ancient Buddhist manuscripts.

Well. I'd have loved the poem without all that information. The poem reverberates with all that information.

Chris

Last edited by Christine98, Jun/27/2010, 1:09 pm
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Re: afghanistan


Good stuff, Auto. I am frequently surprised by the stretch of the associations you draw. Something that cannot be learned and which you make look easy to do. For example getting from well watered flowers to drones dropping packages of noise is not something I would expect. And yet there it is and it somehow makes sense to me. I am as regularly struck by your penchant for the strong story line, what makes your poetry organic. Time and again, no matter how experimental you get, the narrative inclination, or is it an instinct?, comes through. Then there is this. When I saw the title my first thought was, uh oh, this is not going to go well; a poet taking on something not within her ken of experiences. But by keeping to things immediate, even domestic and every day (for lack of a better word) the poem's vision works for me. What Chris says about a universal tied up in the poem makes sense. The urge to protect and nurture pitted against the sense of helplessness. How the poem ends just might be perfect: sight lost of the little girl with all that's left being a spoon she might have held in her hand. That kind of haunts.

"nodding on our stems" is affecting.

Tere

quote:

pjouissance wrote:


during the flight to kabul the dry earth glares
little meggie turns to me and says help me pam
she's afraid of the future she's standing
in a patch of poison oak stoned on acid help me pam
she's a toddler who lost her spoon help me
she's a baby falling off our mother's lap
at the hotel we find coat hangers in the closet

old and bent what were they used for
the sink stains the shaggy spots in the rug
someone was hauled out of here
a bevy of bearded men arrive to hold our elbows
tell us where we can safely go
to the restaurant to the window to bed
hustle to a car and leave the capital

at last the empty alcoves of bamiyan
signs of alexander — sand armies rough roadblocks
children from nowhere. nowhere is a village
what are you doing here they stamp angrily help us
heat rises from the oven of earth we are all earth-colored
little meggie are you all right. how I could not protect
you. can we still pretend to be clematis for a while longer
white. mild. moist. fragrant. nodding on our stems.

under arcturus a tent flaps
under arcturus are many murders
under arcturus little meggie is so pained and puzzled
she is looking up as a drone approaches
no she says we are flowers well-watered
the drone drops its little package
of noise I pick up her spoon but she has gone

'
'
'



Jun/27/2010, 2:38 pm Link to this post Send Email to Terreson   Send PM to Terreson
 
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Re: afghanistan


Hi, Tere and Chris, thank you both for looking in and for your comments. This is pretty much from the unconscious, which explains the loose associations. You both seem to get the emotion, though, and that's what's important to me, so that's good.

If you get a chance and want to see the revision, it's at

http://standardfemale.blogspot.com/

as I just don't have the technical knowhow to do the vids here, apologies. I changed the ending as I wanted both women to live.

Take care,

Auto
Jun/27/2010, 5:52 pm Link to this post Send Email to pjouissance   Send PM to pjouissance
 
Christine98 Profile
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Re: afghanistan


hi Pam,

The version at standardfemale is a very different experience due to the mixed media. I like a happy ending, something about picking up the spoon and running together. There's hope in that.

From the unconscious to the page is a huge filtering process for me. You seem to have mastered it. Is it a question of practice or permission? The results are often stunning.

Chris
Jun/27/2010, 6:21 pm Link to this post Send Email to Christine98   Send PM to Christine98
 
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Re: afghanistan


Hi Auto,

The events last week in this country had me thinking about the women and girls Afghanistan and going silent. Once again, you have my admiration and gratitude for the way you have been taking on current events in these recent poems.

I like the name change to Jeanne in the revision.

The direct address to Pam in the poem is startling and effective.

I like the way the poem moves from one child to "children from nowhere. nowhere is a village" and then back to Jeanne again.

Strong lines:

"heat rises from the oven of earth we are all earth-colored"

"we can still pretend to be clematis for a while longer
white. mild. moist. fragrant. nodding on our stems."

The next to the last line is a killer (no pun intended).

Thanks to Chris for the informative footnotes.

Keep up the good work, Auto, of giving voice to things that leave many speechless and others' ignore. I sense you are onto something big.
Jun/28/2010, 1:39 pm Link to this post Send Email to Katlin   Send PM to Katlin
 
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Re: afghanistan


Thanks, Katlin,

I dunno. The language in these poems is nothing special, and the emotion is painful. The reception is equivocal from most readers. They disagree, they don't want to think about it, I'm being strident, etc. But that's what I'm on about, that low-level fear of strange men that does always exist walking on the street, that feeling of powerlessness, the knowledge other women in other countries are in far more danger than me, that gratefulness for laws that have been put in place due to great sacrifices by so many, the U.S. invasions and use of drones with their collateral damage, etc etc.

I'm leery of "cause" poets. I know some of us have chips on our shoulders due to discrimination. A handicapped person may need to get out of the way some protests about her status before she can get more universal. Same for somebody gay, or Hawaiian, or victimized in some way. Only after the Cause is dealt with can such a poet move on to more universal topics.

I used to try to avoid writing poems about what it feels like to be female. However, it's a topic of great intrinsic interest, it's full of mystery, it's big, and I'm as qualified as anyone to take it on; any female is going to have personal experiences that lead to insights in this area. I ask myself, why not write about this issue? What's wrong with that? Does it really make us narrow, or does it take us deeper into universal issues?

Anyway, thanks again for your encouragement, Katlin,

take care,
Auto

Jun/28/2010, 4:35 pm Link to this post Send Email to pjouissance   Send PM to pjouissance
 
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Re: afghanistan


I dunno either. I'm not a big on cause poets myself, and you may be right that causes need to be worked through to get at what is more universal. That said, I didn't see this as a cause poem, but maybe that's because the cause is one I identifiy with. But why isn't writing out of a female perspective and experience considered universal in the same way writing about being a man is? Why isn't gender inequality a universal issue, especially in light of the fact that it hurts men as well as women? I'm not one who believes replacing patriarchy with matriarchy would be a good way to go, but there is such a thing as justifiable feminine truth-telling and anger. Gender politics, like politics itself, is complicated, messy stuff. I refuse to believe, however, that writing "about what it's like to be female" ipso facto constitutes cause poetry!

Successful poems are more than just special language, yes? Successful poems contain what Tere likes to call "poetry of thought." And by that, he means feeling as well as thinking, what comes through and gets carried over even in translation.

Perhaps I've muddied the waters here. Suffice to say, I don't see you as a strident, one-dimensional poet.

Last edited by Katlin, Jun/28/2010, 7:11 pm
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Re: afghanistan


Hi, Katlin,

You ask why women's concerns are considered odd, foreign, non-universal. It's another huge question. We are the majority in terms of population, but in general we are still silent due to various laws and customs. The male remains the norm, is the Subject. Sometimes when I see photos from Iran or other Muslim countries, of demonstrators or whatever in the papers, and they say, people are doing this or that, I look at the sea of men and I think, wait, why don't they say Muslim men are demonstrating, Muslim men are speaking? Why is an all-male demonstration, "people"?

In U.S, papers, I'm always struck by crime statistics. The homicide rate isn't a general rate; there's a striking differential. In general, it's the male homicide rate. Every day I read stuff about "we" and "them", and the "them" are women. The commentator is speaking from the male POV without ever considering that fact.

After so many years of struggle! It's completely exhausting, debilitating, really, and I can only go here every once in a while.

Thanks for your comments,

Auto
Jun/28/2010, 8:39 pm Link to this post Send Email to pjouissance   Send PM to pjouissance
 
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I should so like to see this thread go through the ceiling. But I am a man. Auto. I cannot speak to the poem's pathos the way you can. Kat, I cannot speak to the moment's ethos the way you can. But here is what I take from the poem. I am passing tired of somehow men still being considered more human than women and children, which is what the poem's special pleading attests to.

Tere
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Re: afghanistan


Yes, thanks for adding children here. I always say, after the rights of racial/ethnic minorites and women's rights become matter-of-course, the next great rights movements will be in support of children and animals.

Auto
Jun/30/2010, 5:52 pm Link to this post Send Email to pjouissance   Send PM to pjouissance
 
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Re: afghanistan


Emotional? Crying in endless shock and sadness. These pictures you project strike through such grim context so personally, so part of the everyday horror of chaos and sudden death.

----------------------

during the flight to kabul the dry earth glares
little meggie turns to me and says help me pam
she's afraid of the future she's standing
in a patch of poison oak stoned on acid help me pam
she's a toddler who lost her spoon help me
she's a baby falling off our mother's lap
at the hotel we find coat hangers in the closet

old and bent what were they used for
the sink stains the shaggy spots in the rug
someone was hauled out of here
a bevy of bearded men arrive to hold our elbows
tell us where we can safely go
to the restaurant to the window to bed
hustle to a car and leave the capital

at last the empty alcoves of bamiyan
signs of alexander — sand armies rough roadblocks
children from nowhere. nowhere is a village
what are you doing here they stamp angrily help us
heat rises from the oven of earth we are all earth-colored
little meggie are you all right. how I could not protect
you. can we still pretend to be clematis for a while longer
white. mild. moist. fragrant. nodding on our stems.

under arcturus a tent flaps
under arcturus are many murders
under arcturus little meggie is so pained and puzzled
she is looking up as a drone approaches
no she says we are flowers well-watered
the drone drops its little package
of noise I pick up her spoon but she has gone
Jul/9/2010, 9:17 pm Link to this post Send Email to libramoon   Send PM to libramoon Blog
 
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Re: afghanistan


Thanks for reading, libramoon, I look forward to seeing some of your work.

Auto
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Re: afghanistan


"I used to try to avoid writing poems about what it feels like to be female. However, it's a topic of great intrinsic interest, it's full of mystery, it's big, and I'm as qualified as anyone to take it on; any female is going to have personal experiences that lead to insights in this area. I ask myself, why not write about this issue? What's wrong with that? Does it really make us narrow, or does it take us deeper into universal issues?"

I don't read this poem as about being female. It is universal, human, to be fragile, afraid, overwhelmed by outside forces, needing to comfort and protect. That the specific characters referenced are women is not so important as that they are specific -- people with whom to identify in sharing the horror and sadness.
Jul/10/2010, 4:25 pm Link to this post Send Email to libramoon   Send PM to libramoon Blog
 
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Re: afghanistan


Hi, libra,

Thanks for your comment. Yes, it's not just women who are fearful and need protection, quite right.

Take care,

Auto
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I hope this is germaine and I hope it is taken in the spirit in which it is intended. It is a disturbing development to me that some women writers have become self-conscious about covering so-called woman-centric things or issues or agendas. I am always at a loss for words when so much as such is expressed.

Has it ever occurred to anyone following Auto's poem that there are men, some or many, starving for a woman's perspective on reality? And that is what it comes to. It is less a matter of feminine issues or agendas and more a matter of perspective. To me this is key and a cardinal distinction. I know I am hungry for it, have been all of my career, and I am satisfied I am not the exception to the rule. In my murse, aka a suburban survival bag, along with a Swiss Army knife, binocs, camera, etc. I got an anthology of Arab women poetry. I keep it with me through out the day, pull it out as time permits. I must be looking for something, you reckon? I mean the book is not light. And I've been assiduously following Shab's translations of the Persian poet, Forough. And I remember the case of that man's man poet, Rexroth, who turned to translating Japanese womens poetry. I figure he was looking for something too. And maybe it was simply that: a different slant, a different perspective, a different way of processing.

When starting out I read a shitload of lit. For pleasure, yes. But I was also looking for models. And I went to the greats, Goethe, Shakespeare, Joyce, Proust and the likes. But while my young-man contemporaries were bogged down with Ginsburg, Bukowski and the others I was reading Colette, Nin, Riding, Loy, Madame de Sevigne, Sexton, eventually getting around to Dickinson, and to Bishop. My all time favorite has to have been the letters of Heloise to Abelard: what a clear and comprehsive thinker she was. So many other women writers come to mind.

My predilections make for an interesting case study amounting to no more than this: I was looking for something I wasn't getting elsewhere, not even in the one culture hero who has passed all my tests: Goethe. And I think much the same is true of many men who go to women writers. They are not looking for the same ole, same ole. They are looking for something different, maybe something that does not come easily to them. This may sound funny to say but one of the most perceptive readers of women authors, hands down, has to be Camus.

In my prose the two greatest influences have been Colette and Nin. The taught me the biggest lesson: proceed from the inside out of this moment and this moment only.

Is this making sense to anyone? Auto, you know my way as a critical reader. I am not one who parses as if, as they say, parts is parts. Your poem is working for me because it is proceeeding from the inside out.

Tere
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Tere,

Earlier while reading this thread, I thought about the quote: "Why can a woman be more like a man?" Um, because she's a woman? And why should she/we?

Perspective, yes, a vital and necessary one, rather than agenda.
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Re: afghanistan


i dream afghanistan

little meggie pulls amygdaloid
earlobes high-shriek wails helicopter
loud -- lands inside my dream
carrier to evil arid valleys, sharia alien
landscapes of mars.
surreal desert blooms
van gogh garden of destiny,
bombarded in intoxicant, napalm perfume.
these need annihilation,
poisonous infection so much more sinister
than mere anthrax or apocalypse flu.
Children ought to bloom
smiling daisies
laughing pansies
great grasping reaching to
the Sun, the stars.
We need protection from false prophets
aiming armies
with lethal projectors, lives for lies.

July 12, 2010
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Zakzzz5 Profile
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during the flight to kabul the dry earth glares little meggie turns to me and says help me pam [this seems surreal to me: as you suggested, maybe part dream]
she's afraid of the future she's standing
in a patch of poison oak stoned on acid help me pam [meggie” doesn’t sound like somebody from Kabul, so this definitely must be a conglomeration of images]
she's a toddler who lost her spoon help me
she's a baby falling off our mother's lap
at the hotel we find coat hangers in the closet [this is all surreal because only emotionally can I connect it to the war in Afghanistan]

old and bent what were they used for
the sink stains the shaggy spots in the rug
someone was hauled out of here
a bevy of bearded men arrive to hold our elbows
tell us where we can safely go
to the restaurant to the window to bed
hustle to a car and leave the capital [Ok, I follow this]

at last the empty alcoves of bamiyan
signs of alexander — sand armies rough roadblocks
children from nowhere. nowhere is a village
what are you doing here they stamp angrily help us
heat rises from the oven of earth we are all earth-colored
little meggie are you all right. how I could not protect
you. can we still pretend to be clematis for a while longer
white. mild. moist. fragrant. nodding on our stems. [The connection, which I feel is broken is because of the girl’s name. Meggie is not convincingly an Afghan girl. If she is an American girl, maybe yourself as a child, well, there’s no connection to the real girl in Afghanistan. The real orphan in the sand beyond the barbed wire.]

under arcturus a tent flaps
under arcturus are many murders
under arcturus little meggie is so pained and puzzled
she is looking up as a drone approaches
no she says we are flowers well-watered
the drone drops its little package
of noise I pick up her spoon but she has gone [You’ve traveled quite a bit since your jaunty, somewhat purposefully silly poem “Osama Your Mama” or something like that. Since then our own violations in Abu Gharib have been cast out into the light of day, our own drone shots gone awry and so forth. Maybe that’s what you’re hinting at. Or maybe you’re focusing only on the murders of our enemies. And they definitely are our enemies. This poem succeeds in that it hits an unsettling nerve, casts a painful image up on the screen. It fails insofar as I am unconvinced about the little girl really being the blood and bone of a true little girl in Kabul. So this is a mixed review. Thanks for posting. Enjoyed its restless energy. Zak]
Jul/13/2010, 8:10 am Link to this post Send Email to Zakzzz5   Send PM to Zakzzz5
 
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Re: afghanistan


Hi, Zak,

Thanks for stopping in and for your careful reading! I learn a lot from your comments. It helps me when you say the bits that make no sense to you. I see I have a different way of thinking sometimes and that this makes the poem less accessible.

Yes, I have gotten more into Islamic history and philosophy recently, and I guess I'm feeling more serious about the wars than before.

You say, "It fails insofar as I am unconvinced about the little girl really being the blood and bone of a true little girl in Kabul."

What I thought I was doing was to send two American women, an older and younger sister, on a metaphorical journey to "afghanistan"; a place of fear, terror, even, that can sometimes exist for women right here in the good ole USA. So the situation in Afghanistan is a metaphor that links symbolically and realistically back to the US with the drones, an actual american source of horror. I see that you took afghanistan as the "reality" and didn't see the american connections. Thanks for showing me that. I'll think about what to do about it. The poem is supposed to be a sort of nightmare, so I don't want to go for linearity, I'll have to just look at each bit.

Thanks again, Zak,

Auto
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Re: afghanistan


Hi, Tere,

What a supportive and personal comment. Thank you very much.

It's interesting. Calling oneself a feminist, writing about women's issues, was 30 years ago denigrated with one set of excuses, while now to do so is dismissed as old hat, obsolete, and hanging on to a dead issue. It has always been very difficult to write "feministically".

What's weird is that I forgot about feminism for a long time. Something is happening in the world which is bringing on a new wave of thinking about it, however. The issues seem more dire than ever; maybe for the first time I'm getting a global sense of them. This time there's a body of writing and research to look at and work from, which is quite an advantage. I'm getting an irresistible conflation between the teachings and traditions of the big religions and feminist issues. Before, I thought of these issues from a political/psychological point of view only.

BTW, am reading Norman O. Brown's profound book about Islamic thought. It's called The Challenge of Islam: the Prophetic Tradition, New Pacific Press 2009. He actually says the Qu'ran can only be explained to westerners with reference to Finnegan's Wake!

Take care,

Auto
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Auto,
I don't think it is related to linearity. Rather, it has to do with the real live suffering of the real little girls in Afghanistan (or in my case, Vietnam). If this is going to be an insertion of two Americans into an Afghanistan-type dream, than the metaphor has to be much stronger. The dream has to be clearly a dream, so that the experiences depicted in the poem are a dream and not real. The nightmarish quality of a dream can be similar to true terror, yet there is a difference. I think that's where the poem becomes a problem for me. The opening line reminded me very much of the flight on a CIA-operated airline to Saigon back during the Vietnam conflict, how the heat began to suffocate us, how the circling of the airplane and the warnings about evacuating the plane immediately began to create a mild hysteria. So for me, your poem was quite real, and the scenes appeared credible and so the clarity, the choice to work within a nightmare is not clear enough, if that makes any sense.

Your own criticism has been very helpful to me, too. If the above doesn't help, please disregard it. Zak

quote:

pjouissance wrote:

Hi, Zak,

Thanks for stopping in and for your careful reading! I learn a lot from your comments. It helps me when you say the bits that make no sense to you. I see I have a different way of thinking sometimes and that this makes the poem less accessible.

Yes, I have gotten more into Islamic history and philosophy recently, and I guess I'm feeling more serious about the wars than before.

You say, "It fails insofar as I am unconvinced about the little girl really being the blood and bone of a true little girl in Kabul."

What I thought I was doing was to send two American women, an older and younger sister, on a metaphorical journey to "afghanistan"; a place of fear, terror, even, that can sometimes exist for women right here in the good ole USA. So the situation in Afghanistan is a metaphor that links symbolically and realistically back to the US with the drones, an actual american source of horror. I see that you took afghanistan as the "reality" and didn't see the american connections. Thanks for showing me that. I'll think about what to do about it. The poem is supposed to be a sort of nightmare, so I don't want to go for linearity, I'll have to just look at each bit.

Thanks again, Zak,

Auto



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Clear and honest thinking, Auto. Understandably so sometimes a guy gets scoffed at in calling himself a Feminist. You know? It can be construed as if saying, heh, some of my best friends are black or Indian, etc. For me it started early, long before I could think about position papers and such. Raised by three strong, independent women, mother and two older sisters. No patriarch in sight. Mostly weak men and feckless men (with one exception). So when I came of age in the late sixties, coming into contact with the issues involved amounted to a no brainer. I had seen it all first hand as a child. I had watched a single parent buy a house, feed her family, raise her children, gain her independence from having to kow tow to men and on a waitresses earnings. Oh the stories I could tell. And scant little coddling too. One story still amuses me. Family's matriarch dies a painful and drawn out death. I am in clinical depression for nearly two years. Whine to older sister. She writes back: little brother, how can you be a poet if you don't embrace the blues? Funny though. Sisters are far to the right. Mother was so to the right she was chairperson of her county's Republican party, in the fifties I might add. And I am so far to the left voting Democrat amounts to a pragmatic compromise.

So that is where it all starts for me, at least on a personal level. Where does it all end? Speaking religiously it all brings me to such notions as the Gaia hypothesis. I don't know what you know about Feminist theology, but it is rich, variegated, and speaks to a certain depth experience. And it draws on, at the minimum, 40,000 years of human experience. Between the two poles there is the whole spectrum: psychological, personal, political, social, and artistic.

Not to get too weird on you, but there is a class of poets who has been Feminist long before the moniker was in play. The Troubadors of Provence were nominally about love. Their real concern was with the "humanizing" of women, viewing women as human beings, not objectified animals. Same is true of Dante. Anyone who says otherwise has not read his psychological portraits of Beatrice with comprehension. A point I can prove. Stendal is a particular favorite who comes to mind. I should love to tell that story. Then, of course, there is the case of R. Graves. It all comes down to this only: a bunch of guy poets, and over the centuries, are Feminists.

Oddly enough, or maybe it is not so odd, the harshest, most scathing critics of women have been women writers. Jane Austin, the Bronte sisters, and George Eliot immediately come to mind.

One last note and maybe this is why your poem spoke sharply to me. I am way concerned these days about the violence meted out to women, children, and homosexuals on a global scale. Usually, not always, domestic abuse is doled out by men on women and children, right? I view the act as a supreme expression of frustration. In this time of a decadent patriarchy I think men get on a gut level they are losing control of the scene. The reaction has become one of extreme violence. And what is the difference between domestic violence in America, the Taliban's treatment of women, and a new law in Uganda, that if passed, will call for the death sentence for homosexuality in a court of law?

Well there it is. In the end Feminism is not so much a political matter as it is a matter of human rights. There it is. That is why I am a Feminist.

Tere
Jul/13/2010, 7:32 pm Link to this post Send Email to Terreson   Send PM to Terreson
 
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Re: afghanistan


Hi, Enjoyed that comment, Tere, thanks very much for going to the trouble. What you said about growing up with independent women in your family was very interesting, and so was your statement about the strong influence of Nin and Colette. I read the Diaries of Nina and was influenced too. Now that you say it, Tere, I can especially pick up some of Colette. I think I see her in your strong story-telling, subtlety of emotion, and descriptive generosity.

I'd like to add two points that I have often thought about feminism but haven't ever said before for some reason:

There's a simple reason, and we all know it, why to be a woman was (and in many places still is) considered a most unfortunate fate. Women were kept strictly to Kinder, Kirche, Küche, not just left uneducated, but indoctrinated forcibly with bizarre beliefs promulgated by religion. They were ignorant, obedient, and more or less sellable as property.

I can't look at women as a sexist man does, so I can't imagine how he would have felt about a strange woman on the street, what sterotypes he would bring to the process of assessing her. But it must have been something like looking at any valuable property; how much would she cost, is she spoiled in any way, is she fresh off the line...is she likely to be troublesome...

I'm just saying that women in general were so illiterate, ignorant, narrow, dependant and accepting of their condition, it would be "natural" for a man to look down on them. (On a more positive note, their "feminine" qualities were always much enjoyed and even respected by men).

So though there are exceptions, as you say, in literature women have not been immediately accepted (and this is still true) as not encumbered by these gender stereotypes.
In some sense the stereotypes do reflect a correct bottom line, much relied on as evidence that women are inferior writers; that women have produced only very rarely an outstanding/successful writer. This is hilariously blamed on women.

The other thing I'd like to add is that there was one other major reason why women generally are still held in less esteem than male writers, and still viewed with suspicion. It has been talked about a lot; the overwhelmingly masculine standards of writing, starting with Good "Conquering" Evil. I was watching the World Cup between Spain and the Netherlands with my son on Sunday. When the final goal was made, I said to my son, how wonderful - both teams played so great, they'll be so happy.

My son said, are you kidding? The losers wish they were dead! (or words to that effect). I was amazed; the losers had made it to the finals and played the other team to a standstill that only was broken by the luck of a Spanish kick. I was thinking (and I apologize to all feminists everywhere for saying this, but I think it's got to be said), like a woman, and I never would have written the male narrative (Losing the Finals Means You Have Lost Everything). I would have written about the two teams congratulating each other, the losers happy for the winner's success and only slightly disappointed.

Which is to say that the Dutch players would never have bought my novel. The narrative would ring false to them, simply because of the foreignness of the woman's viewpoint. Critical approval would be withheld, and sales would be limited.

Most women writers pragmatically choose to write from a successful, i.e., masculine viewpoint, or limit their audience to other women. They'd like some approval and some success, to support their children. But this deformation in their writing kills authenticity and life. And of course, they don't become "great".

It would be interesting to examine the work of the most successful woman writer who ever lived, J.K. Rowling, from this point of view. She wrote for children, used a male protagonist and a male villian, and, well, look at the women characters...what a missed opportunity. Of course Harry should have been a girl.

Thanks for letting me sound off in your blog, Tere, much obliged. I'm sure you already know have thought through all this.

Auto

Last edited by pjouissance, Jul/14/2010, 1:04 pm
Jul/14/2010, 1:49 am Link to this post Send Email to pjouissance   Send PM to pjouissance
 
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Re: afghanistan


hi Auto,

Just wanted to chime in here and tell you I appreciate the taking on of topics that might be considered topical or political. I've noticed a kind of unspoken devaluation of such poetry on the boards--always wondered why this is so.

I think I understand Zak's critique, but the insertion of Americans into the poem works for me. Something to do with the extension of family to include the unspeakable/that which can only befall others, never us.

Chris
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Auto,

I appreciate the discussion and am following it, though not understanding everything completely yet. An aside: You might want to reconsider your statements below. I'm not a soccer fanatic, but do watch the World Cup, and do follow the blogs. The match between Holland and Spain was fiercely contested: Holland broke a record for the number of yellow cards (fouls) committed in such a game. Several commentators actually switched sides after watching Holland (the Netherlands) commit so many fouls. After such a match, it would have been hard for either men or women to embrace warmly. I remember watching a news show where a female soccer player not only punched an opposing player, but pulled her by the pony-tail to the ground, so I guess the field is slowly leveling out in terms of behavior.

The other observation: You mentioned that Spain only won by a lucky kick. Actually, if you read the blogs, Spain had control of the ball for most of the game. In fact, they won all their games with the same strategy, winning all of their games the same way, by one point. They had previously stopped the juggernaut, Germany, in the same way. My DNA is 70% Spanish, so I just had to speak up. Grins. (: Zak

quote:

pjouissance wrote:

I was watching the World Cup between Spain and the Netherlands with my son on Sunday. When the final goal was made, I said to my son, how wonderful - both teams played so great, they'll be so happy.

My son said, are you kidding? The losers wish they were dead! (or words to that effect). I was amazed; the losers had made it to the finals and played the other team to a standstill that only was broken by the luck of a Spanish kick. I was thinking (and I apologize to all feminists everywhere for saying this, but I think it's got to be said), like a woman, and I never would have written the male narrative (Losing the Finals Means You Have Lost Everything). I would have written about the two teams congratulating each other, the losers happy for the winner's success and only slightly disappointed.

Which is to say that the Dutch players would never have bought my novel. The narrative would ring false to them, simply because of the foreignness of the woman's viewpoint.

Thanks for letting me sound off in your blog, Tere, much obliged. I'm sure you already know have thought through all this.

Auto



Jul/14/2010, 12:56 pm Link to this post Send Email to Zakzzz5   Send PM to Zakzzz5
 
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Haha, Zak, enjoyed those bits about the game. I still think the lucky kick could have been made by either side, though.

P
Jul/14/2010, 1:07 pm Link to this post Send Email to pjouissance   Send PM to pjouissance
 
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Oh I do love knocking up against smart people. One of these days I feel sure a little of the smrts will rub off on me. I'll need to come back to the discussion Saturday. Elsewhere I've said the heat is brutal this year and having come early. Now I am entering the time of the year when here the nectar flow is shutting down, making the older foragers cantankerous and cranky. It started yesterday. The old bod is kind of hurting. Especially thr ankles, wrists, and forearms which are kind of swollen too. So I'll get back when feeling rested.

Two quick items for now. Above I mention the French writer, Stendal. I call him a feminist. His favorite book of his was called "L'Amour". A delightful read. I first read it in the seventies and I still have that tattered Penguin Classics paperback. Auto, he ends the book with a lengthy tract against the very evil you mention, the lack of educational opportunities for women. For him it was a social evil. For him also it has been used as a political tool of oppresion. (Sound familiar?) Same tool now used by the Taliban. But he understood precisely what you get. The lack of education produces stupid people, or at least uninformed people. I am trying to remember when he wrote the book. It was sometime between the fall of Napolean and the revoltion of 1830, sometime in the 1820s. But my point is that he got at least one root of the problem.

Second item. When making the board I had in mind the Salon model, something I've always been smitten by. But I did not actually know the history, maybe the herstory, of the Salon as a social mechanism. Salons were started in either the 16th or 17th Century (think it was the 16th) by Italiam women of means who were excluded from higher institutions of learning, Europe's universities. They used the institution in order to get a higher education. As could be expected, men soon entered the scene, probably wanting the company of women. Philosophers, intellectuals, scholars, and artists. I reckon there must have been an unspoken exchange at play. The geeks got the attentions of fashionable, socially sought after women. And the women got information and an education. How is that for being sneaky and subversive, down right feminist?

One more thing maybe. I don't see the board as my blog. If I say too much it is mostly because I am wanting to keep it active. It is the salon thing I am after. Little coteries of conversation.

Tere
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Christine98,
Since I was called out by name, I feel impelled to respond, maybe expand a bit. Mind you, I don't have the arrogance to believe my perspective is the only one out there. While I sympathize with your view that we must think those awful things can befall us too, I can't but feel that we're "expropriating" the suffering of others in our poetry when we do this. We really don't have to inject ourselves in an imaginative rift like this because all we have to do is look into our own drug wars in the inner cities, or the meth labs in suburbia to find terrible ordeals. Or to the Civil Rights struggles, or to the public physical dismemberment (fingers, ears, noses) and emasculations of Black people (while the white audiences ate their picnic lunches). That or the genocide of the Native Americans. The mind would more easily accept a white woman and her child in such scenarios.

While Auto's poem is well written, and while the ideas are worthwhile, the factor of "believability" is brought into question. Why should "prose" be held to higher standards than "poetry" in this case. Someone creating such a fiction in prose would immediately be questioned on the basis of believablity. Did the author go to Afghanistan? Is it "possible" or "likely" that an American woman and her child would find themselves in such a situation?

The imagination must be nurtured and given free rein, but shouldn't the fiction be based on the solid ground of believabilty? Yes, "anything" can be imagined, but why not make it believable when possible?

Again, this is just one view on this one particular poem. This is not a comment on the author's greater body of work. Thanks, Zak
quote:

Christine98 wrote:

hi Auto,

Just wanted to chime in here and tell you I appreciate the taking on of topics that might be considered topical or political. I've noticed a kind of unspoken devaluation of such poetry on the boards--always wondered why this is so.

I think I understand Zak's critique, but the insertion of Americans into the poem works for me. Something to do with the extension of family to include the unspeakable/that which can only befall others, never us.

Chris



Jul/15/2010, 8:41 am Link to this post Send Email to Zakzzz5   Send PM to Zakzzz5
 
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Re: afghanistan


Auto,
I guess then all six or eight games they won, all by a single kick, were all lucky kicks. What a way to win a World Cup! We just go out there and score lucky kicks. Amazing!!! (: Zak

quote:

pjouissance wrote:

Haha, Zak, enjoyed those bits about the game. I still think the lucky kick could have been made by either side, though.

P



Jul/15/2010, 8:43 am Link to this post Send Email to Zakzzz5   Send PM to Zakzzz5
 


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