Friday, March 30, 2007

'Nuclear Pandoras' Radical Feminist History of the Nuclear Age, 1898-1945

On Saturday, I’m presenting at the Mid-Atlantic Women’s Studies Association conference in Buck’s County, Pennsylvania. The title of my presentation is, ‘Nuclear Pandoras’ Radical Feminist History of the Nuclear Age, 1898-1945. There are three components to my presentation which are all available online. They are: the paper, the handout, and the powerpoint presentation. I’d love to hear feedback on it.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

March 28th

On this day thirty-five years ago, my sister was born; she died on December 9th, 2005.

From The Writer’s Almanac:
It was on this day in 1941 that the novelist Virginia Woolf (books by this author) drowned herself in a river near her house in East Sussex. She had long suffered from periods of depression, and modern scholars believe these depressions may have been symptoms of manic-depressive illness, also known as bi-polar disorder.
In her diaries over the years, Woolf had often written about her volatile mood swings, and she seemed to think that they were brought on by her sense that her writing wasn't good enough. She was relatively healthy for most of the 1920s as she published many of her greatest novels, including Mrs. Dalloway (1925) and To the Lighthouse (1927). But she struggled with her book The Years (1937).
Woolf's mood only grew worse as the Second World War broke out in 1939. She and her husband moved to their country house in East Sussex when Germans began to bomb London, because they thought it would be safer. But their country house lay under the flight path of the German bombers. More than once, during the summer of 1940, Woolf watched from her garden as the German planes flew over, close enough that she could see the swastikas on the undersides of the wings.
By March of 1941, she was writing in her diary that she had fallen into "a trough of despair." She wasn't at all satisfied with her most recent book, and she felt as though the war made writing insignificant. She wrote, "It's difficult, I find, to write. No audience. No private stimulus, only this outer roar."
She finally wrote three letters, possibly as much as 10 days before she committed suicide, explaining her reasons for wanting to end her life. In the longest of the three, she wrote to her husband, "I feel certain that I am going mad again. ... I shan't recover this time. ... I can't fight it any longer. ... What I want to say is that I owe all the happiness of my life to you." Woolf left the letters where her husband would find them, and then on this day in 1938 she walked a half-mile to a nearby river and put a heavy rock in the pocket of her fur coat before jumping into the water.
One of the last people to see Virginia Woolf in good spirits was the novelist Elizabeth Bowen, who visited Woolf just a month before her death. Bowen later wrote of the visit, "I remember [Virginia] kneeling on the floor ... and she sat back on her heels and put her head back in a patch of sun, early spring sun. Then she laughed in this consuming, choking, delightful, hooting way. This is what has remained with me."

Sunday, March 25, 2007

The Year of Magical Thinking on Broadway.

I just cannot tell you how much I want to see The Year of Magical Thinking on Broadway with Vanessa Redgrave. I read Didion’s book right when it came out. It’s really quite an extraordinary book. I don’t think that it is Didion’s best book, but it is a riveting account, not only of loss, but of the life partnership that she had with Dunne. Unfortunately, New York isn’t in my future - I was just up there to see Wicked and Company with Raul Esparza. Both were fantastic. Still, I want to go back. Just for an evening to see Vanessa and this play. . . . .

John Jacob Jingleheimer-Schmidt: His Name Is. . . .

My buddy Kenneth Hill over at QueerSighted, the AOL queer blog, has written a fabulous blog entry about name changing. He’s much wittier than I and titled it, John and Jacob Jingleheimer-Schmidt: Gays Who Change Their Names and-or Hyphenate. The wedding announcement at the end of his blog post is classic Kenneth. Check it out.

Friday, March 23, 2007

Publishing Triangle Awards

The Publishing Triangle has announced the nominees for their 2007 awards. You can read the full listing here.

There are three poetry books by lesbians nominated. They are:

The Audre Lorde Award for Lesbian Poetry
Robin Becker, The Domain of Perfect Affection (University of Pittsburgh Press)
Kate Lynn Hibbard, Sleeping Upside Down (Silverfish Review Press)
Jennifer Rose, Hometown for an Hour (Ohio University Press)

I’ve only read Robin Becker’s book. I’ll have to look for the other two.

I’d also like to give a shout out to the fabulous Alex MacLennan nominated for the Edmund White award for debut fiction. Alex’s book The Zookeeper is supposed to be phenomenal. It’s on the top of my summer reading list.

It’s wonderful to see great queer books being recognized.

New op-ed: What's in a name?

What’s in a name?
Even if Maryland legalizes gay marriage, my partner and I are retaining our identities.

Friday, March 23, 2007

THERE MAY COME a time when my beloved and I are the last couple on the planet that hasn’t been registered, committed or married in some way.

Of course, we may get crazy and play the married/united/domesticated game — especially if it happens in our home state of Maryland. Even if we do, however, I’ll be keeping my name and she’ll be doing the same.

Read the rest of What’s In a Name?

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Amitav Ghosh's The Hungry Tide

Today I finished reading Amitav Ghosh’s The Hungry Tide. It’s a gorgeous and profound book. It’s provocative as a book about human rights and postcolonialism as well as about environmentalism. I’m thinking through all of those issues for my upcoming class on the book.
More immediately to me, however, is that one of the characters in the book knows my secret. I’ve recently been working on a poem titled “Secret Messages” which is about reading poems by poets that I love and finding within them secret messages written just for me - as though these poets were speaking to me, in some instances from the grave. I had to read this poem in class as I worked on it for a class exercise and I find it so uncomfortable because it revealed this thing that I find so intimate and even embarassingly personal. Then, I turn to page 274 in Ghosh’s book and read,
Rilke himself had shown me what I could do. In one verse I had found a message written for my eyes only, filled with hidden meaning. When the time came I would receive a sign and then I would know what I had to do.
For the Poet himself had told me:
This is the time for what can be said. Here is its country. Speak and testify. . . ‘
Can you believe that? “In one verse I had found a message written for my eyes only, filled with hidden meaning.” Nirmal, the character in Ghosh’s book who writes this, knows my secret and I know his, or perhaps it is Ghosh who knows and shares this secret with me. Whatever the case, reading those lines was one of the transcendent moments of reading: when I am known and recognized in the text, when my being is laid bare and my soul knows the truth, when I am not alone in the world.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Acceptance and Rejection in Writer's Lives

The other day I heard someone talking on the radio about how writing is an odd thing in that one must pretend to be a writer for a long time before one actually is recognized as a writer. People don’t pretend to be doctors or nurses or social workers, they go to school, study, apprentice and become one. Writers, however, spend a lot of time writing and telling people they are writing only to be asked, “Have you published a book?” We know that the negative answer to that is a diminishment of the assertion of being a writer and so each moment of suggesting that one is a writer is fraught with anxiety. Still, we pretend that we are a writer and we say it often in our mind or to a small circle of friends, waiting for the moments when we say it publicly and it is, at last accepted.

In addition to the facade that must be presented of being a writer prior to any actual recognition of that fact, there are the entwined issues of acceptance and rejection for writers. The other week, I received a rejection. I hate that. Especially lately. Through the wonders of email, I put together a packet of materials, send them off with great care into the great mysterious space of the U.S. Postal Service and then after that physical effort and that physical act of love to the world, I receive a single email in my box. Always, when I see who it is from, I leave it with a blue dot next to it for two or three email sessions. I can’t bear to read it. I want neither the joy of acceptance nor the pain of rejection immediately. I prefer to live in the anxious moment. Finally, when I can bear it no longer, I click on it and read enough to know if it is going to make me happy or sad and then I surf away from that email. I need the time to absorb what has happened. These actions are always the same for acceptance or rejection.

Rejection, however, lasts longer as a blow to ego, as an affront to the facade of being a writer. The last rejection plummeted me into a depression that lasted a good four or five days. I didn’t write or submit anything. It was not pretty. I was beyond console. Acceptance and its concomitant joy never lasts as long. Earlier this week, an essay was accepted for publication in a web journal. I was happy. For perhaps fifteen minutes. Then the crushing sense of what else has to be written came in and the joy dissipated.

Similarly, a poem of mine arrived in a journal that was just published. I haven’t opened the plastic yet. Part of it is looking through the plastic and knowing my work is in there. I want to savor the moment of opening it and I’ve been too busy with other things lately. Still I know, once that plastic is broken, once those pages are read, the joy of publication will be over. All that will be left is me with a piece of paper, blank in front of me, and the computer, waiting for the next ding, the arrival of an email with the next rejection.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

WHY DO STRAIGHTS HATE GAYS? Larry Kramer in the LA Times

I admire Larry Kramer in so many ways. One is the degree of anger that he has, rightfully so, and how he is able to sustain that anger. I first remember hearing about Larry Kramer in the late 1980s during the founding of ACT UP. He was angry then and he is angry now. This op-ed appeared in today’s LA Times.

Why do straights hate gays?
An aging 72-year-old gay man isn't hopeful about the future.
By Larry Kramer, LARRY KRAMER is the founder of the protest group ACT UP and the author of "The Tragedy of Today's Gays."
March 20, 2007


Why do you hate gay people so much?

Gays are hated. Prove me wrong. Your top general just called us immoral. Marine Gen. Peter Pace, chairman of the Joint Chiefs, is in charge of an estimated 65,000 gay and lesbian troops, some fighting for our country in Iraq. A right-wing political commentator, Ann Coulter, gets away with calling a straight presidential candidate a faggot. Even Garrison Keillor, of all people, is making really tacky jokes about gay parents in his column. This, I guess, does not qualify as hate except that it is so distasteful and dumb, often a first step on the way to hate. Sens. Hillary Rodham Clinton and Barack Obama tried to duck the questions that Pace's bigotry raised, confirming what gay people know: that there is not one candidate running for public office anywhere who dares to come right out, unequivocally, and say decent, supportive things about us.

Gays should not vote for any of them. There is not a candidate or major public figure who would not sell gays down the river.

Read the rest here.

Though I can’t resist not including the final bit because it is so potent. Here it is:

You may say you don't hate us, but the people you vote for do, so what's the difference? Our own country's democratic process declares us to be unequal. Which means, in a democracy, that our enemy is you. You treat us like crumbs. You hate us. And sadly, we let you.

Michael Blumenthal

This is another one of those profoundly satisfying poems that makes me think, if I could write one poem as good as this, I would be satisfied with my life.

Poem: "Light, at Thirty-Two" by Michael Blumenthal from Days We Would Rather Know.

Light, at Thirty-Two

It is the first thing God speaks of
when we meet Him, in the good book
of Genesis. And now, I think
I see it all in terms of light:

How, the other day at dusk
on Ossabaw Island, the marsh grass
was the color of the most beautiful hair
I had ever seen, or how—years ago
in the early-dawn light of Montrose Park—
I saw the most ravishing woman
in the world, only to find, hours later
over drinks in a dark bar, that it
wasn't she who was ravishing,
but the light: how it filtered
through the leaves of the magnolia
onto her cheeks, how it turned
her cotton dress to silk, her walk
to a tour-jeté.

And I understood, finally,
what my friend John meant,
twenty years ago, when he said: Love
is keeping the lights on. And I understood
why Matisse and Bonnard and Gauguin
and Cézanne all followed the light:
Because they knew all lovers are equal
in the dark, that light defines beauty
the way longing defines desire, that
everything depends on how light falls
on a seashell, a mouth ... a broken bottle.

And now, I'd like to learn
to follow light wherever it leads me,
never again to say to a woman, YOU
are beautiful, but rather to whisper:
Darling, the way light fell on your hair
This morning when we woke—God,
It was beautiful. Because, if the light is right,
Then the day and the body and the faint pleasures
Waiting at the window ... they too are right.
All things lovely there. As the first poet wrote,
in his first book of poems: Let there be light.

And there is.

Monday, March 19, 2007

Feminist Art

This is a great article over at Women’s ENews about feminist art.

Feminist Art Crowds the Cultural Calendar
Run Date: 03/19/07
By Courtney E. Martin
WeNews correspondent
In a landmark year for feminist art, the opening of the Elizabeth A. Sackler Center for Feminist Art in the Brooklyn Museum of Art offers a final refuge from tokenism and exclusion. Does institutionalism also mean the end of a dissident era?
For more information:
Elizabeth A. Sackler Center for Feminist Art:
Judy Chicago:
The Feminist Art Project:

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Writing Book Reviews

Reviewing books is a discipline that Diane Lockward encouraged. I’m immensely thankful. Each year I engage in a deep and thoughtful way a dozen or more books. This doesn’t seem like a lot, but there is a particular engagement to reviewing a book. I tend to read the book at least two or three times. I take a lot of notes. I think not only about the individual elements of the book (poems, in the case of poetry, but also chapters in a novel or other narratives) but also the structure of the book. I try to also place the book in a larger context and understand it as a cultural product.

Sometimes if I feel discouraged about my own writing, I quip that I’ll just make review writing my writing discipline. Though no one really has a career as a reviewer. I do think that reviews impact my essay writing, however, and the discipline of reading that comes with writing them definitely benefits my poetry.

I don’t think that I’m a good reviewer particularly. I’ve been writing reviews for a long time because the impulse to share my excitement about books is a recurrent one. I want others to read what I read and I want to tell them about what I read. Friends, even really good reading friends, eventually tire of this. Reviews are the next step for this enthusiasm. Reviews require more than enthusiasm, however, and that’s what I’ve been cultivating over the past year, in particular.

Other elements of good reviews, I think, include selection of the books for review. Engagement with the text and then distillation into a written product that explains and compels its reader. I’m still learning about it and enjoying that process immensely as I engage in it. There are links to my reviews here.

I started thinking about review writing this evening because a book review that I wrote has been published online in a new magazine from Canada, Studio. This is a review of a book about which I feel passionately, Jane Miller’s most recent book, A Palace of Pearls. It’s also interesting to me because it is one of the earlier reviews that I wrote in my recent commitment to this form of writing. I think that I have learned more about writing reviews and my newer reviews are more thoughtful and even artful. I hope that this perception doesn’t diminish the significant of this book of poetry. A Palace of Pearls is a knock out book!

Friday, March 09, 2007

The Writer's Almanac: Virginia and Vita

It was on this day in 1913 that Virginia Woolf (books by this author) delivered the manuscript for her first novel, The Voyage Out, to the Duckworth Publishing House. She had been working on it for almost seven years. She first mentioned it in a letter in 1907. By 1912, she had written five drafts of the novel, including two different versions that she worked on simultaneously. Between December 1912 and March 1913, she rewrote the entire novel one more time, almost from scratch, typing 600 pages in two months.
The book was finally accepted, and then she had to work on correcting the proofs. She found the experience of re-reading her own work in print almost unbearable. She had a nervous breakdown, and spent two years recovering. The Voyage Out was eventually published in 1915, but it didn't sell well. It took 15 years to sell 2,000 copies. Critics don't consider it a great work, but among the novel's cast of characters is a woman named Clarissa Dalloway, a character who would stick in Virginia Woolf's mind for more than a decade, until she wrote an entire novel about that woman called Mrs. Dalloway (1927).

It's the birthday of Vita Sackville-West, (books by this author) born in Knole, England (1892). She was a friend and a lover of Virginia Woolf's, and she inspired Woolf's novel Orlando.
Aside from writing novels, Sackville-West was also one of the first great gardening writers. At the time that she began to keep her own garden, gardening was considered a masculine hobby, and most members of the British upper class employed gardeners to do all the actual work. But Vita Sackville-West started writing in a column in The Observer about the joys of digging around in the dirt, pulling weeds, and arranging the flowers herself. Her column helped persuaded many people to start their own gardens.

Monday, March 05, 2007

BRIDGES: Miriam, as you've never read her

This Passover, give yourself, your friends and
family, a gift:
Miriam, as you've never read her.

Excerpts from Bridges: A Jewish Feminist Journal
(Spring 2007) Volume 12 Number 1:

My grandmother watched fire
explode her house in a shtetle

and like Miriam One followed smoke
west to a dream.

Someone else's grandmother follows
this Monarch butterfly. I name her
Miriam Three as she and her children
walk the stones of the Rio Grande,
the sands of the Chihuahan Desert

while people who stuff butterflies into jars
wait for them.
Helen Papell
from "Miriam Three" p. 49


while he was on the mountain receiving God's ear
I was on the ground sweating in my toe-length
the stretch of burlap & the back of my neck wet
under the badly tied hair.

while he put aside his sandals to walk on sacred
I walked in mine through manure to pen the cows.
like a horse. soothing thousands of anxious
who left their slave-homes to come where? here?

he was so far away at the head of the column. he
seemed to notice we were getting older.
dying. I cleaned each
body. shaved their heads. clipped their
nails. shrouded
them in sheets. & covered them gently in sand.
Kazim Ali
"from the Book of Miriam
the Prophetess" p. 35


Miriam, I'd like to call on you
to heal these wells, this common water, this
May I invite you to the next meeting
along with the EPA people the engineers the
local officials?
This is Friday morning.
Tonight all rivers connect, and belong to you.
Dare I ask for a miracle,
a blessing,
some good advice?
Enid Dame
from "My Relationship with
Water" p. 43


"In the old days," she says,
"I danced at the defeat of those
who tried to keep us in chains.
Now I weep, even though
they want us dead.

"We manage to survive.
But we are all mingled
in the salt water
that once served
only to divide."
Karen Alkalay-Gut
from "Miriam" p. 41

This 148-page issue of Bridges is organized into
six interlocking sections: Miriam's Birth, Miriam
and Baby Moses, Miriam and the Exodus, Miriam in
the Desert, Miriam Confronts Moses, and Mourning
The issue includes Hebrew and Yiddish
translations, a short story and three reviews that
do not mention Miriam at all, yet relate to themes
raised in the Miriam work. The subjects of reviews
include books by Adrienne Rich (The School Among
the Ruins) and Bettina Aptheker (Intimate
Politics)-and Marla Brettschneider's The Family
Flamboyant: Race Politics, Queer Families, Jewish

To order today go to:
or call 800-842-6796

Contributors to Bridges 121.1, Spring 2007
Kazim Ali, Karen Alkalay-Gut, Rebecca T. Alpert,
Sarah Antine, Miriam Axel-Lute, Cathleen Cohen,
Melissa Cooper, Enid Dame, Julie R. Enszer,
Rachael Freed, Pesha Joyce Gertler, Debbie
Goldman, Jill Hammer, Anne Kleiman, Diana Miriam
Jacobs Komisar, Blume Lempel, Julia Wolf Mazow,
Haviva Ner-David, Helen Papell, Yosefa Raz, Lia
Lynn Rosen, Joy Ellen Rosenberg, Yiskah Rosenfeld,
Shelley Savren, Mary Harwell Sayler, Nita
Schechet, Joanne Seltzer, Ruth Knafo Setton,
Steven Sher, Susan Sindall, Pete Wolf Smith, Gail
White, Lisa Yanover

Clare Kinberg, Managing Editor
Bridges: A Jewish Feminist Journal
4860 Washtenaw Ave #I-165
Ann Arbor, MI 48108

Sunday, March 04, 2007

Call for Submissions: Sinister Wisdom

Issue #76
                Lesbian Theories/Lesbian Controversies
                Deadline: June 1, 2008
Guest Editor: Julie Enszer
Theory is an analysis of a set of facts in relationship to one another. Theory simultaneously reflects and shapes our lives. Sinister Wisdom has always been a place for Lesbian theories to be created, expanded, evaluated, and discussed. What are the theories that are driving our lives today? What conditions in our lives do we need to think about, analyze and share with one another? What are the controversies within the Lesbian communities today? What controversies are spoken? What controversies are unspoken? How are we working to understand, share, and celebrate the controversies among us? Creative explorations of Lesbian Theories and Lesbian Controversies are sought for this theme issue of Sinister Wisdom. The guest editor is interested in current theories and controversies about Lesbian separatism, contemporary Lesbian culture, patriarchy, Lesbian identity, and Lesbian life. Especially welcome are submissions that challenge, incite, connect, and create new theories and new controversies as well as collaborative submissions by multiple writers, artists, activists, and thinkers.
Send manuscripts for #76 only to Julie R. Enszer, 6910 Wells Parkway, University Park, MD 20782 with SASE for response or email

Call for Submissions: off our backs!

Call for Submissions
Special Theme Issue of off our backs: Feminisms and Cultures
Deadline: June 15, 2007

About off our backs
off our backs is a newsjournal by, for, and about women. It has been published continuously since 1970, making it the longest surviving feminist newspaper in the United States. It is run by a collective where all decisions are made by consensus. The mission of off our backs is
•        to provide news and information about women's lives and feminist activism
•        to educate the public about the status of women around the world
•        to serve as a forum for feminist ideas and theory
•        to be an information resource on feminist, women's, and lesbian culture; and
•        to seek social justice and equality for women worldwide.
About the special theme issue: Feminisms and Cultures
Culture is what we do and the importance of what we do. Feminist culture has always been important to the feminist movement. Cultural Feminism seeks to both re-discover women’s cultural contributions from earlier eras and to build a contemporary women’s culture. In the current millennium, womyn’s culture and cultural feminism continue to change and evolve providing new and important insights for feminist struggles and feminist liberations. This special issue of off our backs will explore the contemporary connections between feminisms and cultures considering the broadest possible definitions and intersections of those two words.
Some of the questions we wish to consider include:
•        What are feminist(s) culture(s) today?
•        Where are cultural expressions of feminism found today?
•        What is the role of music, art, film, literature, and poetry in feminism today?
•        How does feminist cultural production confront patriarchy and other systems of oppression?
•        How do feminist cultures support and sustain our political and economic work for liberation from patriarchy?
We are interested in articles that explore and engage feminist cultural production from the past and in our contemporary world. We are interested in personal accounts of artists, writers, and feminist cultural workers about the meaning and significance of their work currently. We are interested in analysis of feminisms and cultures. We are interested in reports of feminist cultural work in the United States and around the world.
For our special issue on Feminisms and Cultures, we are looking for manuscripts of 500 to 2,000 words. If you are interested in writing a longer piece, please query first.
Deadline: June 15, 2007.
For manuscript submission guidelines, please visit the off our backs website here:
Submit manuscripts to AND to
Questions, queries, comments? Please email the special editor of this themed issue, Julie R. Enszer at
Please distribute this call for manuscripts widely.
off our backs
2337B 18th Street, NW
Washington, DC 20009
voice: 202-234-8072
fax: 202-234-8092

Guest Editing: off our backs and Sinister Wisdom

I’m guest editing two special issues in the next two years. The first is an issue of off our backs on the theme of Feminisms and Cultures. The call for submissions will be posted next.

The second is an issue of Sinister Wisdom on the theme of Lesbian Theories/Lesbian Controversies. I’m posting that call for submissions as well.

I look forward to reading and accepting many great submissions and producing two fabulous issues of these time-honored publications.

He Drown She In the Sea by Shani Mootoo

This weekend I read He Drown She In the Sea. This is a brilliant book by Shani Mootoo. The story is wonderful and the storytelling delightfully paced and interesting. I fell right into the book and loved Mootoo’s writing from the beginning. She is incredibly inventive and has many lovely turns of phrases. The book is the story of love lost between two people separated by class, families, and ultimately continents. It also explores the ways colonialism impacts people with its narrative split between an imaginary Caribbean island and Canada. This novel is both entertaining and enormously satisfying, although I hope that Mootoo’s next book is the story of Cassie, the daughter of one of the main characters who I imagine is a lesbian. Her story is not central to this book, but I would like to hear her full story.

You can read some of Mootoo’s work over at Lodestar Quarterly (which has sadly stopped publishing) and article about her and an interview with her in the newspaper at the University of Alberta where she teacher.

Saturday, March 03, 2007

Otto Frisch Discovers Fission, 1938

"Otto Frisch Discovers Fission, 1938"
By John Canaday
Posted Tuesday, Feb. 20, 2007, at 7:19 AM ET at Slate

Rare earth sparks the clouds
        between two wars.
Fermi, Hahn and Strassman,
all chemists, physicists,
        track protons now.
But Hitler's blinders point
        to Austria.
The occupation interrupts
        Aunt Lise's
parting of nature's mists.
        When she departs
for Sweden, isotopes
        of radium
(she thinks) sit on her desk,
Lonely, she summons me
        north to Kungälv
for our Christmas ritual.
        Her colleague's letter
intercepts festivities.
        The body's tagged.
Identified by Hahn.
        It's barium.
I strap on skis; she demurs,
        makes good her claim
to move as fast without.
        The woods that wall
the Göta älv become
        our conference room;
a fallen spruce's trunk
        our sticky seat,
my pockets stocked with scraps
        of hotel paper.
We know uranium
        can't crack in two
against the grain of Gamow's
        alpha theory.
Yet it does. We turn
        to Schrödinger
for insight: particles
        are waves. Then Bohr:
a nucleus is liquid,
        like a drop. Our thought:
that heavy nuclei
        must undulate
like water molecules,
In larger elements
        charge balances
the surface tension. Struck
        even lightly,
in neutron capture,
        the pseudo drop
will wobble, waist, and split.
        Sometimes physics
lacks words for what we think.
        Its abstract paths—
quantum tunnel effects,
        packing fractions,
and disintegration—
        lead to thickets
where neutrons multiply
        like rabbits, wildly.
The winter woods are gone.
        The mind's meadows
bloom as I calculate
        the energy
released: two hundred million
        electron volts.
Now atoms break and breed
        like living cells.
I name their splitting "fission"
        and publish it
where even Nazi stooges
        can read the news.

FILM: Period: The End of Menstruation

Period: The End of Menstruation looks like a fascinating film exploring a huge variety of issues about menstruation. I’ve never been on birth control myself and, consequently, have never had my menstrual cycle altered. I think that I’ve been menstruating about twenty-five years now. To be perfectly honest, it’s never bothered me to menstruate. Yes, I’ve had period with bad cramps. Yes, there have been moments of being uncomfortable. Yes, there have been a few days - probably less than a handful - when I thought, wow, I wish I didn’t have my period today, but really it’s been just a normal and regular part of my life.

That’s not to say, of course, that I don’t look forward to menopause. I do. Earlier this year, when I started exercising, I would have these hot flashes as my body was adjusting to the physical activity. I thought that it might be the beginning of menopause. It clearly wasn’t, I haven’t had one in about a month now. It was a consequence of the exercise. Still, there is something about menopause that I look forward to, even though it is probably ten to fifteen years away.

I don’t idealize menstruation. It doesn’t make me feel particularly cyclical or close to the giving of life. It doesn’t make me feel in touch with the moon or the tides, though I do like both. I resonate with cultural feminist messages about menstruation as a time of power. I like Anita Diamant’s book, The Red Tent, about menstruation and women sitting out in their own space their menstrual periods and their time after giving birth. I like these stories, but I don’t feel them in some visceral way in my body - the affection is all between my ears.

I have to admit being disturbed by contemporary tendencies to alter menstruation. I’ve met young women who take birth control pills sequentially with no break for bleeding. I’ve known people to seek out the new pill, Seasonale, which apparently eliminates for a time one’s period. I wonder, why would you not want to have your period? What effect are those hormones having on the body? I refrain from being too moralistic about this because I’m a lesbian and don’t have to deal with the incredibly inadequate birth control options that we have as women and men. Still I wonder about these things. What are the medical impacts? What are the social impacts? What does it say about how we view our bodies and the processes of our bodies at this moment that we want to end menstruation?

I hope that there is a showing of the film in the Washington, DC area. It sounds fascinating.

Thursday, March 01, 2007

Lambda Literary Award Finalists

Lambda Literary Awards Announces Finalists

March 1, 2007--Finalists for the 19th annual Lambda Literary Awards were announced on March 1 by the Lambda Literary Foundation. Awards are presented in 25 categories, and winners will be announced on Thursday, May 31, at the Lambda Literary Awards Ceremony in New York City.

Finalists were chosen by a jury of judges who come from all walks of literary life: journalists, authors, booksellers, librarians, playwrights, illustrators. In all, 87 judges participated in the selection of finalists from the pool of 381 books that were nominated.

Please note: Finalists are listed alphabetically by author. The publisher appears in parenthesis.

Nominees for ANTHOLOGY

Confessions of the Other Mother, edited by Harlyn Aizley (Beacon)
From Boys to Men, edited by Ted Gideonse & Rob Williams (Carroll & Graf)
Love, Bourbon Street, edited by Greg Herren & Paul J. Willis (Alyson)
Charmed Lives, edited by Toby Johnson & Steve Berman (Lethe Press)
No Margins: Writing Canadian Fiction in Lesbian, edited by Catherine Lake & Nairne Holtz (Insomniac)

Nominees for ARTS & CULTURE

Fun Home by Alison Bechdel (Houghton Mifflin)
Cinemachismo by Sergio de la Mora (University of Texas Press)
Sex Objects by Jennifer Doyle (University of Minnesota Press)
GAY L.A. by Lillian Faderman & Stuart Timmons (Basic Books)
Blood Beats: Vol 1 by Ernest Hardy (Redbone Press)

Nominees for BISEXUAL

Eros by Serena Anderlini-D'Onofrio (Harrington Park Press)
Affirmative Psychotherapy with Bisexual Women & Bisexual Men by Ronald C. Fox (Harrington Park Press)
Three Sides to Every Story by Clarence Nero (Harlem Moon/Doubleday)
Bi Guys, edited by Ron Jackson Suresha (Harrington Park Press)
Bi Men, edited by Ron Jackson Suresha & Pete Chvany (Harrington Park Press)
The Bisexual's Guide to the Universe, Michael Szymanski & Nicole Kristal (Alyson)


The Manny Files by Christian Burch (Simon & Schuster)
Full Spectrum, edited by David Levithan & Billy Merrell (Random House Children's Books)
Between Mom & Jo by Julie Anne Peters (Little Brown)
Tale of Two Summers by Brian Sloan (Simon & Schuster)
Erik & Isabelle's Junior Year at Foresthill High by Kim Wallace (Foglight Press)

Nominees for DRAMA/THEATER

Questa by Victor Bumbalo (Broadway Publishing Inc.)
Confessions of a Mormon Boy by Stephen Fales (Alyson)
1001 Beds by Tim Miller (University of Wisconsin)

Nominees for HUMOR

Queen of the Oddballs by Hilary Carlip (HarperCollins)
My Lucky Star by Joe Keenan (Little Brown)
Roy & Al by Ralf Konig (Arsenal Pulp Press)


Hello, Cruel World by Kate Bornstein (Seven Stories)
GAY L.A. by Lillian Faderman & Stuart Timmons (Basic Books)
Different Daughters by Marcia Gallo (Carroll & Graf)
Behind the Mask of the Mattachine by James T. Sears (Harrington Park Press)
Unspeakable Love by Brian Whitaker (University of California)

Nominees for LGBT STUDIES

Every Inch A Man: Phallic Possession, etc. by Carellin Brooks (UBC Press)
Gay Power: An American Revolution by David Eisenbach (Carroll & Graf)
Their Own Receive Them Not by Horace Griffin (Pilgrim Press)
Crip Theory by Robert McRuer (NYU Press)
Beautiful Bottom, Beautiful Shame by Kathryn Stockton (Duke University Press)


Carnival by Elizabeth Bear (Bantam Spectra)
Mordred, Bastard Son by Douglas Clegg (Alyson)
A Strong and Sudden Thaw by R.W. Day (Iris Print)
Izzy and Eve by Neal Drinnan (Green Candy Press)
Spin Control by Chris Moriarty (Bantam Spectra)


Sex & the Sacred by Daniel Helminiak (Harrington Park Press)
The After-Death Room by Michael McColly (Soft Skull Press)
Spirited edited by Lisa Moore & G. Winston James (Redbone Press)
The Singing of Swans by Mary Saracino (Pearlsong Press )
Mobius Trip by Giti Thadani (Spinifex Press)

Nominees for TRANSGENDER

Transgender Rights edited Paisley Currah, Richard M. Juang, and Shannon Price Minter (University of Minnesota Press)
Drag King Dreams by Leslie Feinberg (Carroll & Graf)
Supervillainz by Alicia E. Goranson (Suspect Thoughts)
The Transgender Studies Reader edited by Susan Stryker & Chris Whittle (Routledge)
The Testosterone Files by Max Wolf Valerio (Seal Press)


Punk Like Me by JD Glass (Bold Strokes)
Slipstream by Leslie Larson (Crown)
Outrageous by Sheila Ortiz Taylor (Spinsters Ink)
Rose of No Man's Land by Michelle Tea (Macadam Cage)
The Night Watch by Sarah Waters (Riverhead Books)


Fresh Tracks by Georgia Beers (Bold Strokes)
Wild Abandon by Ronica Black (Bold Strokes)
Finders Keepers by Karin Kallmaker (Bella Books)
Chance by Grace Lennox (Bold Strokes)
Turn Back Time by Radclyffe (Bold Strokes)


Sleep of Reason by Rose Beecham, Rose (Bold Strokes)
Night Vision by Ellen Hart (St. Martins)
The Art of Detection by Laurie R. King (Bantam)
Idaho Code by Joan Opyr (Bywater Books)
The Weekend Visitor by Jessica Thomas (Bella Books)


Domain of Perfect Affection by Robin Becker (University of Pittsburgh)
Days of Good Looks by Cheryl Clarke (Carroll & Graf)
The Truant Lover by Juliet Patterson (Nightboat Books)
Lemon Hound by Sina Queyras (Coach House Books)
Touch to Affliction by Nathalie Stephens (Coach House Books)


Intimate Politics by Bettina Aptheker (Seal Press)
Fun Home by Alison Bechdel (Houghton Mifflin)
Queen of the Oddballs by Hilary Carlip (HarperCollins)
Hit by a Farm by Catherine Friend (Carroll & Graf)
Incognito Street by Barbara Sjoholm (Seal Press)


Walk Like a Man by Laurinda D. Brown (Q-Boro Books)
Glamour Girls edited by Rachel Kramer Bussel (Harrington Park Press)
18th & Castro by Karin Kallmaker (Bella Books)
Master Han's Daughter by Midori (Circlet Press)
Best Lesbian Erotica 2007 edited by Tristan Taromino & Emma Donoghue (Cleis Press)


The Teahouse Fire by Ellis Avery (Riverhead)
Black Marks by Kirsten Dinnall Hoyte (Akashic)
Erzulie's Skirt by Ana-Maurine Lara (Redbone Press)
Slipstream by Leslie Larson (Crown)
Origami Striptease by Peggy Munson (Suspect Thoughts)

Nominees for GAY FICTION

Every Visible Thing by Lisa Carey (HarperCollins)
Izzy and Eve by Neal Drinnan (Green Candy Press)
Alternatives to Sex by Stephen McCauley (Simon & Schuster)
Now Is the Hour by Tom Spanbauer (Houghton Mifflin)
Suspension by Robert Westfield (HarperCollins)

Nominees for GAY ROMANCE

Someone Like You by Timothy James Beck (Kensington)
When the Stars Come Out by Rob Byrnes (Kensington)
Two Boys in Love by Lawrence Schimel (Seventh Window)
Surf 'N Turf by Scott & Scott (Romenticc)
Going Down in La-La Land by Andy Zeffer (Harrington Park Press)

Nominees for GAY MYSTERY

Mardi Gras Mambo by Greg Herren (Kensington)
The Hell You Say by Josh Lanyon (I-Universe)
The Back Passage by James Lear (Cleis Press)
Provincetown Follies, Bangkok Blues by Randall Peffer (Bleak House Books)
The Lucky Elephant Restaurant by Garry Ryan (NeWest Press)

Nominees for GAY POETRY

Gutted by Justin Chin (Manic D Press)
The Album That Changed My Life by Jeffrey Conway (Cold Calm Press)
A History of My Tattoo by Jim Elledge (Stonewall)
Other Fugitives & Other Strangers by Rigoberto Gonzalez (Tupelo Press)
When the Eye Forms by Dwaine Rieves (Tupelo)


Untold Stories by Alan Bennett (FSG)
The Bill From My Father by Bernard Cooper (Simon & Schuster)
Tweaked by Patrick Moore (Kensington)
History of Swimming by Kim Powers (Carroll & Graf)
My Father's Keeper by Jonathan Silin (Beacon)

Nominees for GAY EROTICA

Best Gay Erotica 2007 edited by Richard Labonte & Timothy J. Lambert (Cleis Press)
A History of Barbed Wire by Jeff Mann (Suspect Thoughts)
Hot On His Trail by Zavo (Alyson)


A Scarecrow's Bible by Martin Hyatt (Suspect Thoughts)
Send Me by Patrick Ryan (Dial Press)
The Zookeeper by Alex MacLennan (Alyson)
Suspension by Robert Westfield (HarperCollins)
5 Minutes & 42 Seconds by Timothy Williams (HarperCollins)

For more information, contact

Auden and Stevens and Caring about Poetry

On Tuesday night I went to All I have is a voice, the celebration of the 100th anniversary of W. H. Auden’s birth. It was a starry event in the poetry world populated by distinguished poets and even Christopher Hitchens, the well-known writer and political commentator. It was a good evening, though long and for some reason I left very tired. Perhaps listening for over an hour and a half. The culmination of the evening, however, was hearing Auden’s voice from 1966 as he read a poem at Oxford. It was quite delightful. The best thing about it, however, was being there in a filled audience of people who cared about poetry. That can never be underestimated.

I’ve also been reading Wallace Stevens prose. Actually, that is too general to me. I’ve found the essay, “The Irrational Element in Poetry,” in Steven’s Collected Poetry & Prose and I just keep rereading it. I feel like I’ve found something special and of course I feel like Stevens in talking just to me, though a google search indicates others have read this and found it meaningful. I’ve actually been reading this essay for ten days now and have been afraid to write about it. Afraid that to say, look this is important, would somehow diminish it’s importance. That is of course irrational, but Stevens would understand. This is a brilliant essay because it explains why it is so important to be in a community of people who care about poetry.

Rereading some of Stevens’ poems has also been important to me because the last time I read Stevens seriously was when I was an undergraduate. So reading those poems is a bit like having a dialogue with my younger self - I was an undergraduate eighteen and nineteen years ago. It’s reassuring to the younger self, who of course worries that we’ve lost our way doing too much political work and no paying attention to language, and it’s fascinating to my older self to remember what we loved then and see how what we love is similar and different today.

The Stevens’ essay has also come to me at a time when I have been trying to explain to my beloved what this graduate program in creative writing means to me. She asks, “What’s the end game? I mean I knew when I was in law school that I would be a lawyer and make money, but you. A poet? There is nothing in that.“ And how can I argue. What is in that. So little and so much. And it is a moment of anger and those moments pass and poetry needs both the anger and the passage to flourish. And Stevens. The essay, ”The Irrational Element in Poetry.“ For me it has had some answers, not ones that I’m yet ready to share with my beloved, but ones that I find reassuring and nourishing. And for now, that is what matters.