Sunday, July 27, 2008

The Butch Cook Book

This sounds like a great project! I of course cannot contribute for reasons obvious to those who know me, but post it for the general dispersion.

Dear friends,

The Butch Cook Book has been met with such enthusiasm, we're doing a sequel!

The new book will include submissions from all self-identified lesbians: singles, couples, mothers; grandmothers, teenagers, et al.  Please pass this on to your lesbian friends!

Please go to for guidelines.

We're looking forward to seeing your recipes and enjoying them.

Lee Lynch

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Not just Greeks on Lesbos are Lesbians

It is Marvellous to Wake Up Together by Elizabeth Bishop from The Writer's Amanac

It is Marvellous to Wake Up Together
by Elizabeth Bishop
It is marvellous to wake up together
At the same minute; marvellous to hear
The rain begin suddenly all over the roof,
To feel the air suddenly clear
As if electricity had passed through it
From a black mesh of wires in the sky.
All over the roof the rain hisses,
And below, the light falling of kisses.

An electrical storm is coming or moving away;
It is the prickling air that wakes us up.
If lighting struck the house now, it would run
From the four blue china balls on top
Down the roof and down the rods all around us, 
And we imagine dreamily
How the whole house caught in a bird-cage of lightning
Would be quite delightful rather than frightening;

And from the same simplified point of view
Of night and lying flat on one's back
All things might change equally easily,
Since always to warn us there must be these black
Electrical wires dangling. Without surprise
The world might change to something quite different,
As the air changes or the lightning comes without our blinking,
Change as our kisses are changing without our thinking.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Happy Birthday, Judy Chicago!

From The Writer’s Almanac:

It's the birthday of feminist artist Judy Chicago, (books by this author) born Judy Cohen, in Chicago (1939). She grew up in a secular Jewish family and her father was, according to her, "an atheist, a radical, and a labor organizer." She began drawing when she was a toddler and from a very early age she knew she wanted to be an artist. She said, "Because my mother worked and because I saw women participating fully in all the discussions that went on in the house, I grew up with the sense that I could do what I wanted and be what I wanted." At age eight, she started taking Saturday lessons at the Chicago Art Institute.

Her father died when she was 13, and the event was for her particularly traumatic, shadowing her teenage years. When she graduated from high school, she was given a scholarship to study art. She left the Midwest for Southern California and went to UCLA to do a bachelor's and M.F.A. in art. She has noted that while she was there, she encountered several barriers that stemmed from male chauvinism. The art department didn't give teaching assistant stipends to women painters, so she had to teach in the sculpture section instead. Some of her master's advisers found that her work was too full of female genitalia and other "biomorphic imagery," which they found offensive, and they told her that they would no longer support her thesis if she continued to incorporate such imagery. She altered her art so that it became less graphic and more abstract.

She married a fellow student and thereby became Judy Gerowitz. Her husband died in a car accident, however, just a few years after they had married.

Five years after she received her master's, the Pasadena Art Museum featured her work in a solo show. Over the next many years, she devoted increasing energies to spotlighting women artists and their art. She founded the Feminist Studio Workshop in Los Angeles, which promoted art as well as leadership, and she saw to the opening of the Woman's Building, a facility for feminist political organizations, theater groups, and media. At one of her art shows, she posted an announcement: "Judy Gerowitz divests herself of all names imposed upon her through male social dominance and freely chooses her own name, Judy Chicago."

She published an autobiography in 1975, Through the Flower: My Struggle as a Woman Artist. Some critics thought it a significant contribution to feminist literature, but the book was widely disparaged for sloppy and clich├ęd writing.

She is perhaps best known for her piece "The Dinner Party," which opened to the public in 1979 at San Francisco's Museum of Modern Art. It's a huge triangular banquet table with 39 full place settings, each for a significant woman in mythology or history. The Fertility goddess, Saint Bridget, Amazon, Sacajawea, Hildegard of Bingen, Susan B. Anthony, Emily Dickinson, Margaret Sanger, Virginia Woolf, and Georgia O'Keeffe are all honored with place settings—which include golden chalices, embroidered runners, and intricate porcelain plates.

Judy Chicago documented the process of making the exhibit, which took five years and the collaboration of many skilled artists, in The Dinner Party: A Symbol of Our Heritage (1979) and Embroidering Our Heritage: The Dinner Party Needlework (1980). It's now on permanent exhibition at the New York's Brooklyn Museum.

She said, "I am trying to make art that relates to the deepest and most mythic concerns of human kind, and I believe that, at this moment of history, feminism is humanism."

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Showing Up

In general, when I do things, I like to do them well. I want to do more than the bare minimum. I want to excel at projects that I undertake. This is just fine when it comes to professional and academic achievement, but recently I’ve been exercising and realizing that a. I am not particularly good at it, and b. that the measure is not excellence, but rather “showing up.”

It’s an odd process to go through. Initially, I approach exercise by setting goals and expecting some sort of achievement pattern as a result of my goal setting and activities. To a degree, I have done that, but I must be honest, the achievements are fair to middling, not excellent, and there is no excellence in sight for me. For example, since February my goal has been to exercise everyday. By and large, I have done that, though I find myself settling into a pattern of thirteen days of exercise and one day off - usually a Sunday. I’ll be honest, I relish those days. The last two days off, I sat in bed, naked, and read all day. So in an honest assessment, I can say that I have achieved the goal. I’ve also gotten stronger and I can exercise more and longer than I could in February. Still, I’ve lost little weight and yes, I’ve had increases in energy, etc, but I’m no athlete. What I do in the exercise world is show up. Every day. I run or do yoga or go to the gym. I swim, use the cross trainer, lift weights. I’m not skinny or buff or athletic. I’m just showing up.

Is there anything wrong with showing up? Probably not. It’s just a mind shift to me. I think to myself, shouldn’t I be training for something? Shouldn’t I be aiming for some type of excellence? Is it enough to just show up? To just do it with no big plans or aspirations?

I’m doing a master update of all of my projects (in obeisance to Getting Things Done - though frankly I’m a bit behind. I am supposed to do this review weekly, but have gotten out of the habit because it is scheduled on Friday at 4 p.m. and at that time I am cleaning out flower coolers) and I wonder to myself, do I put any projects relating to exercise? I’m not sure. I don’t put in projects my dentist appointments or my doctor visits. I don’t put in many activities of daily life. Isn’t that what exercise is supposed to be?

I’m not sure if I will put any projects in relating to exercise. I’m still mulling it. I’m also still wrestling with “just showing up.” For now though that is what I am doing. Every day for thirteen days, then resting.

The Robin Becker Chapbook Competition - Winner Announced

I am completely thrilled that there will be a new chapbook by Judith Barrington in the world courtesy of the amazing Ron Mohring and Seven Kitchens Press. Barrington won the first annual Robin Becker Chapbook Prize for the chapbook titled Lost Lands. Two other chapbooks will be published from the competition. One by Steve Riel titled Postcards from P-Town and one by Matthew Hittinger titled Platos de Sal. I can’t wait to read them all. I’m also pleased that my chapbook, One Explanation, was a finalist in the competition. Such good company to keep!
(Kudos, too, to Christopher Hennessy over at Outside the Lines who was a semi-finalist!)

The Timeframe of Our Work

This morning’s Writer’s Almanac reminded me of the timeframe of our work. On Thursday night, after a long day at work, I sat down to read the mail and had a mailing to all graduate students at the University of Maryland. There are 10,000 of us next year! One of the services offered to graduate students is “helping graduate students build skills relevant to completing the dissertation (i.e., goal setting and time management). This lead me to despair. Those are two goals that I have worked on and, while they are always a process, are two areas in which I believe I have some mastery. No where in this six page mailing is there anything about how the University will make me smart enough to write a dissertation. That is what I wanted to read. So I think of that as I think of Mott and Stanton. Our horizon must necessarily be long.

To celebrate this historic convention, we’ll be having dinner with friends and going to see Mamma Mia. I think Emma Goldman would approve.

On this day in 1848, a convention on women's rights was held at Seneca Falls, New York, which was organized by Lucretia Coffin Mott and Elizabeth Cady Stanton. At the convention, they discussed property rights, divorce and women's suffrage. It was the start of the organized women's rights movement in America. But it wasn't until 72 years after the convention, in 1920, that women finally achieved the right to vote.
From The Writer’s Almanac

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Kay Ryan is the new Poet Laureate!

I’m thrilled that Kay Ryan is the new Poet Laureate! Here are some excerpts from the press coverage.

From the New York Times
Kay Ryan, Outsider With Sly Style, Named Poet Laureate

Published: July 17, 2008

When Kay Ryan was a student at the University of California, Los Angeles, the poetry club rejected her application; she was perhaps too much of a loner, she recalls. Now Ms. Ryan is being inducted into one of the most elite poetry clubs around. She is to be named the country’s poet laureate on Thursday.

Known for her sly, compact poems that revel in wordplay and internal rhymes, Ms. Ryan has won a carriage full of poetry prizes for her funny and philosophical work, including awards from the Guggenheim Foundation, the National Endowment for the Arts, and in 1994, the Ruth Lilly Poetry Prize, worth $100,000.

From the Washington Post
Verse of the Turtle
Taking On the Role of Poet Laureate, Kay Ryan Sticks Her Neck Out

More than a decade and a half ago, despairing that her poems would ever find an audience, Kay Ryan found herself writing one about a turtle. It was about as personal as a Kay Ryan poem ever gets.

Ryan's appointment as the nation's new poet laureate, to be announced today by Librarian of Congress James Billington, will cap one of the most unusual careers in American letters. Hers is "a very original poetic voice," Billington says, "almost the antithesis of the things you hear booming at you every day."


The Washington Post article talks about her 30 year partnership with Carol Adair. They were married last month in Marin County. It shouldn’t be true, but everytime I read about queer couples getting married, legally, officially, I cry. So congratulations Kay Ryan. I hope you spend lots of time at the Library in Washington, DC!

Sunday, July 13, 2008

My Website without Advertising

I have finally broken with AOL and launched my website without advertising. Check it out here.

There are still some updates to do and a few things that are missing, but I think it looks good! I’m excited about it and pleased with my work of learning iWeb on my mac. I’ll keep updating over the next week, including launching the new CIVILesbianIZATION blog.

Saturday, July 05, 2008

Lifting Belly High: A Conference on Women’s Poetry Since 1900

I’m excited that I’m going to be presenting a paper at this fabulous conference in September.

Lifting Belly High: A Conference on Women’s Poetry Since 1900 will be held at Duquesne University in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, September 11, 12 & 13, 2008

Lifting Belly High: A Conference on Women’s Poetry Since 1900 celebrates women poets of the twentieth and twenty-first centuries through a national gathering of critics, scholars and poets. Exploring the rich and diverse textures of poetry and scholarship, the conference encourages discussion about the shape and direction of women’s poetry and discourse that can carry poetry into academic, social and political life. The conference will include a range of contexts for discussing and hearing poetry.

* • Plenary panels featuring invited scholars and poets, discussing “New Directions in Scholarship”; “Poetry and the Visual”; “Poetry and Sound”; and “Feminism, Formalism and Innovation”
* • Readings by contemporary poets
* • Break-out sessions for submitted papers and panels
* • Seminar discussions of pre-submitted papers on various topics

Featuring the following poets and critics:

Jan Beatty • Mei-mei Berssenbrugge • Rachel Blau DuPlessis • Lynn Emanuel
Annie Finch • Kathleen Fraser • Susan Stanford Friedman • Elisabeth Frost
Melissa Girard • Alan Golding • Arielle Greenberg • Jeanne Heuving
Cynthia Hogue • Stacy Hubbard • Lynn Keller • Dawn Lundy Martin
Cristanne Miller • Deborah Mix • Adalaide Morris • Claudia Rankine
Lisa Samuels • Lesley Wheeler • Elizabeth Willis

For more information, click here.

What I'm Reading

While I’d like to write a long blog entry on what I am reading, I can’t. I’m reading a lot and everything is just gestating, which means I don’t have sustained things to say about any of it. Here’s what on my shelf, however:

Excitable Speech by Judith Butler
Cassandra by Christa Wolf
Medea by Christa Wolf
Lysistrata by Aristophanes
Orestia by Aeschlyus
Selected Work by Angelina Weld Grimke

All very interesting and all leaving me somewhat speechless.

The Donald Hall Standard - January through June 2008

I’ve written about the Donald Hall standard before here and here. It’s my semi-annual ritual of benchmarking my work as a writer against the standard of my idol/mentor, Donald Hall. Hall writes in Life Work about publishing one piece per week in general. So that is what I have been trying to do for the past year or two.

Although I’ve done an extraordinary amount of work in the past six months, I do feel like the volume of poems and reviews that I am publishing has decreased. Until recently, I had only a few things pending publication. That has changed in the past few weeks, but it is my general sense. I’m not worried about this, rather, I think that my poems are getting better and taking longer to germinate.

This productivity though isn’t just about poems and reviews. It is about my writing life writ large. So here’s the report on what I have done from January through June 2008:

2 poems in print journals (“Dear Donald” in billet-doux and “My Father’s Mimeograph” in MiPOesias - sort of a hybrid between print and online, but I’m calling it print here.)
4 poem in an online journal (Mahnaz Badihian ran four poems of mine here:
1 poem in an anthology (Letters to the World from Red Hen Press.)
3 column - outside of the CIVILesbianIZATION series
4 columns for CIVILesbianIZATION (you will note CIVILesbianIZATION is down - I’m going to relaunch it elsewhere)
1 article
7 reviews
1 readings
3 conference paper presentations

I also wrote a seminar paper and an encyclopedia entry and many creative non-fiction pieces - but I’m saving those for when they are published. It’s all about the pipeline!

So the goal is to have 26 items published (an average of one a week which is what Hall said he was doing in his book) and I had 26 items out. I feel a bit like I squeaked by, which amazes me because I am working like buggery. Oh, well, I made it with the number. I don’t think that I will in the second half of the year though unless something bizarre happens. Nevertheless, so far, it’s a great year of writing.

Thursday, July 03, 2008

I Knew A Woman by Theodore Roethke

I Knew a Woman
by Theodore Roethke
I knew a woman, lovely in her bones,

When small birds signed, she would sigh back at them;

Ah, when she moved, she moved more ways than one:

The shapes a bright container can contain!

Of her choice virtues only gods should speak,

Or English poets who grew up on Greek

(I'd have them sing in chorus, cheek to cheek).

How well her wishes went! She stroked my chin,

She taught me Turn, and Counter-turn, and Stand;

She taught me Touch, that undulant white skin;

I nibbled meekly from her proffered hand;

She was the sickle; I, poor I, the rake,

Coming behind her for her pretty sake

(But what prodigious mowing we did make).

Love likes a gander, and adores a goose:

Her full lips pursed, the errant note to seize;

She played it quick, she played it light and loose;

My eyes, they dazzled at her flowing knees;

Her several parts could keep a pure repose,

Or one hip quiver with a mobile nose

(She moved in circles, and those circles moved).

Let seed be grass, and grass turn into hay:

I'm martyr to a motion not my own;

What's freedom for? To know eternity.

I swear she cast a shadow white as stone.

But who would count eternity in days?

These old bones live to learn her wanton ways:
(I measure time by how a body sways.)

"I Knew A Woman" by Theodore Roethke, from The Collected Poems of Theodore Roethke. © Anchor Press/ Doubleday, Garden City, New York, 1975.

As seen in The Writer’s Almanac.

Poem by Shahid Ali

On Hearing a Lover Not Seen for Twenty Years Has Attempted Suicide
I suspect it was over me.

The White Crane/James White Poetry Prize is given biennially for a book-length poetry collection.

The prize consists of a monetary prize of $1,000, publication of the winning manuscript by White Crane Books, and 5 author copies.

Submit 48 to 80 pages of original poetry with a $25 entry fee by October 30.

All submissions must be in English.
All submissions must be the work of the applicant.
Applicants must be Gay-identified males. 
The winner’s book will be published by White Crane Books.

Please include a cover letter with a short biographical statement and contact information. This contest will be judged blind, so we insist that manuscripts to be judged NOT include your name or any identifying information.

Submissions not following exact guidelines will be rejected.
Manuscripts will not be returned.
For notification of receipt, please include a self-addressed stamped postcard with the submission.

Entry fees should be in the form of check or money order made out to

James White Poetry Prize

Submissions must be postmarked no later than October 30, 2008 and should be mailed to:

James White Poetry Prize
172 Fifth Avenue, Suite 69
Brooklyn, NY 11217

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

New Column: It's Time for Real Marriage

CIVILesbianIZATION :: It’s time for real marriage, nationwide
by Julie R. Enszer
EDGE Contributor
Monday Jun 30, 2008

It is time for gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender people to speak out with some policy options for the next administration- and all Americans- to consider. There are a host of interesting policy changes that we might hope for from a more GLBT-supportive federal government, from ending don’t ask, don’t tell to a transgender-inclusive ENDA and a repeal of the tax on domestic partner benefits. One policy that isn’t currently being discussed, and that I’d like to propose, is "real marriage."

Read the rest of the column here.