Wednesday’s Reading at E.M. Wolfman was our biggest turn out so far! Anna Avery, who I knew as an internet entity only, was there in the flesh and she was funny as fuck. She did an experimental poem, introducing herself and how she knew me through a craigslist ad, as she was looking for housing and now here she was reading. It didn’t clarify how we knew each other, but that was what was awesome about it.
Sharon Coleman managed to make Plague beautiful in a several part poem she debuted in front of us and congratulated us for getting through it!
Sandra Wassile read a series of moving poems from my personal favorite, “Marionette” to one depicting a hunting experience, to others taking on the overall political climate of our times as well as individual grieving.
Judy Elkan also read a debut play in progress about an one hundred and eleven year old woman who has a party in a banquet hall and only invites her female relatives because she doesn’t want to have to listen to the men.
Everyone was on fire!
The prompt from the writing workshop before hand had us consider how Feminist Writing is Liminal Writing. Here are a few of the responses:
On Writing the Threshold
The threshold is a space of observation and reflections where our faces are mirrored both ways, where our bodies turn around and back again as we steady our feet in the doorway.
It’s a place to stop. To stop from being pushed in or out, being lured in our out. We can dig our heels in and watch the comings and goings, the deals, the wheel that turns thoughts and desires. It’s a pregnant pause in which we strategize. We collect our desires and realign them with the next moment or action.
Liminal writing comes not so much from the rooms we inhabit, the room we’ve inhabited for millennia, but the doorways in and the doorways out.
Our minds are the windows between desire and perception and action, the windows from which we can write threshold and see for miles inside and out. Even in the fallen plaster or rising smog, the words are portals to seeing.
Words are the preliminary to the next action: If you wage your wars, you will win them. The art of waging anything begins with stepping out and watching what makes what happen or not happen.
It’s a place outside scripts, pushing energies, baits, lures, shame, guilt, the constant streaming of people like in a subway of empty souls that are so stimulated that they don’t realize that they’ve been emptied.
The threshold’s a moment of nothing, a different nothing: a pregnant emptiness that can be, will be filled consciously, in alignment with desire.
At the threshold time runs backwards and sideways. History hiccoughs and burps up and spins forward. Can you see it? Understand it?
You become a ghost among ghosts, a specter who speculates, a witness with wit.
You disappear from the structures of power and float through them unaffected—until you decide to pull the rope or push the wheel. Then you either appear or slink back into the fog only you can see through.
How is all this feminist? How can woman or one who’s feminine exist apart from power structures and re-enter a room or leave it as a creator rather than just a created?
How is Feminist Writing Liminal?
By Gina Goldblatt
Feminist writing is overtly fighting for equality, subliminally laying it down as truth, the only sensical way to be, creating realities that are both subtle and agressively subverting the norm. Feminist writing is both on purpose and not. It is a soaked through to the core way to express oneself through words. It is a concious decision. It is the result of hardened experiences, it is the result of soft cushiony love and open eyes. It is the privelaged and the unprivelaged, though they keep drawing division lines between them.
When I write, I walk through a threshold. On the otherside there is only telling the truth. I can lie to do so.
This is where I want someone. On this other side. This is where I want my pussy to live. In a place where she both weeps and wants. Is free to change her mind all the time and back again and not be called fickle or emotional like its a bad thing.
I am sweet and I am evil. Depending on who you are to me. In the liminal space of writing, this makes perfect sense though in our reality, it is questioned, documented, pathologized- or maybe this is the amount of attention I wish my writing would get and so in the liminal space it does. And of course it doesn’t too.
In my writing, I am always a feminist. I can fuck like one. I can smoke like one. I can be a big sister who no one wants to think about doing any of these things. I can both stylize, think too much, tell too much and only be chipping away at an edge.
The liminal is the stuff only inside of me. The stuff that pours out onto the page, that pours from other feminist writers, that somehow finds each other and sometimes stays so detrimentally far apart.
Feminist writing is everywhere and nowhere. A space made for it is a place it can evade. A space banning it may be a place where it alights, takes root, stays.
The secret weapon of someone who doesn’t label it, the empowerment of someone who does, the outcasting of either or neither or both.
Still people are so scared of the word. More than they are of fundamentalists, less accepting of it as a point of view, as a reality, than they are of war. It is liminal because history keeps throwing it back. And the writing keeps inscribing it, ticking off tally marks, forging a memory, a possibility, an actuality.
And something people don’t realize is that feminist writing can be fucking funny. It is allowed to be whatever it wants. It is allowed to mock itself. It is allowed to become quiet and hide, come out differently so it can have a space in the hollows of different walls, less accostomed to it. It isn’t all yelling. All angry. Feminist writing is liminal becuase no one can solidly say what it is or isn’t.
Our next reading, scheduled for February 9th, will feature Liz Green as your host. We are taking submission of ten minutes of reading or less as well as one works in progress reader. Send Submissions to firstname.lastname@example.org
Recently, I made some new-neighbor-friends and one of them decided to actually check out my writing. When people ask for my website, especially over drinks, I don’t expect much. The next time I saw him, he had read two of my pieces. One of them, which he wondered about is titled “Boots.” He is a nurse practitioner at Highland Hospital and from Louisiana, so everything he says is in a calm drawl that starts with “these mother fuckers.” He tells me, “I don’t know where the fuck your head was at, but it’s interesting.” Then he shows a picture of someone who smoked bed bugs and nailed through three of their fingers and adds, “poor motherfucker.”
This prompted me to take another look at “Boots” to remember where the fuck my head was at. The piece was for “Altered Barbie” an annual event that includes a collection of writing, a reading and art that all center around different experiences with Barbie. I wrote the piece because I was asked by a then writer friend to do so. I had to get the piece in for a deadline and “Boots” is what emerged. Re-visiting boots meant a bit of revising boots, but mostly, the words that I wanted to be there are there, in the order I wanted them to be in.
Where the fuck my head was at is another story. I know I started A Spy in the House of Love by Anais Nin around the time I wrote this, though I stopped pretty close to the beginning. I can see the bar setting parallel and the sexuality that trickled in, as well as the anonymous woman in the boots, like Sabina, an anonymous woman that it seems people are curious about. There is also the outside of myself but talking about myself point of view, though my narrator talks about herself through talking about this anonymous woman, who is physically other than her. I was also reading short stories by Miranda July at the time. Her awkward nonsensical sense making has definitely made its way into “Boots.” As it turns out, starting A Spy in the House of Love and reading short stories by Miranda July, plus the constraints of a soon-approaching deadline and the task of writing a story “about Barbie” yields interesting results.
Recently, I re-started and finished A Spy in the House of Love. I found the same thing that was frustrating about my story, the lack of clarity around who this woman is, or wants to be, at the beginning of the book. I guess since I found it frustrating, I put down the book and re-created it. On this second read, I got past the ambiguity of the opening of the novel, which was then replaced by a heavy guilt that alternated with a raucous sexual freedom. I loved the image of the painter with all of the disparate parts that she didn’t appreciate when she first saw it, but came to later, when it paralleled her insides. I found myself annoyed with the guilt, with the cycling, with how much she looked to men to help her find her, or hide her from herself. Then there was Djuna at the end, who told her how it was. But at the last moment, the lie detector had to come “as if to rescue her.” The book was so close to a triumph of truth and through a woman character! The truth that was unveiled instead was Sabina’s truth, her dependence on male attention and saving, the truth of where she was, though we got to see the glimmer of what was possible through the character of Djuna, a head-strong, self-possessed woman in her body and self.
I also recently finished reading Nami Moon’s Miles from Nowhere, another novel I had started at one point and abandoned. I think I abandoned this one because it was about New York and Heroin and at the time was not ready for the heaviness of it, as I had a quick and intense relationship with a New Yorker who did Heroin. He died a completely random and unrelated death years later and I cannot hear about the drug or New York and not think of him. We had some of the best sex I’ve ever had with a person. It was just a perfectly natural act with him and he was just a perfect example of a born-and-raised New Yorker. Sex that leaves me feeling in possession of my body and self is rare, so sharing this with him, and so easily, is something I will always remember.
Nami Moon’s novel had a raw honesty to it as well. Her characters were young, their lives were woven candidly and without apology, dark and destructive though they were. Her character’s coming to truth was a familial truth, the legacy of what her parents could and couldn’t do for her, and it wasn’t a solution either.
I liked that neither of these novels solved the characters “problems.” That made them real and poignant and brave. Is this what writing like a feminist is?
This week I also read the short story “If I Were a Man” by Charlotte Perkins Gilman to which there was a solution to the inequality between men and women. When the character wished to be a man and then became her husband, she was exposed to the conversations about business, the truth of what men thought of their wives, and the sense of camaraderie that comes from having familiar people to take the train with, but what was really standing in the way of women feeling the same comfort, pride and power that men feel was— POCKETS!
Possessing and carrying your own shit on your person is the answer. The key to feminism is POCKETS! Yet so much of the clothing marketed to women is still pocketless. WTF? I found myself annoyed this week at the lack of functional pockets in my wardrobe. I protested by wearing a pair of fleece pants over my tights that I wear to Aerial, which were left by an ex, are several sizes too big, but comfy and with FUNCTIONAL FUCKING POCKETS. I stuck my hand in them to feel the satisfaction of how deep they went, checked myself out in the mirror with my new empowerment pants on and went out to Walgreens feeling sexy as hell.
Keep reading, keep writing, keep telling the truth. But for the love of whatever higher power you believe in, sew some fucking pockets into your clothes.