From the Stacks is a new series on Weird Sister wherein we pull a book—old, new, or anything in between—from our bookshelves, and write something about it.
The Collected Novels of Jean Rhys #feministshelfie
I recently had a conversation with a man about Bukowski. Had I read much Bukowski? I said I’ve avoided a lot of the bro-writers: Bukowski, Burroughs, Miller, Kerouac (though I’ve come to love Kerouac). He said, Yeah, those guys are great writers, but, you know, they’re not really great toward women.
It’s not surprising we have a whole genre of literature by men who disrespect, objectify, reduce, and silence women. A more interesting question is, who are the women—especially the early women writers—of whom we might say the same: they aren’t really great toward men, you know, but they’re still worth reading.
I posed this question to a brilliant poet friend, who responded that while male writers are often being sexist when they write about women, women are often being honest. So the comparison doesn’t really work, she said, laughing. She then made some contemporary suggestions: Dodie Bellamy. Kathy Acker. Rebecca Solnit.
But what about going further back into the archives?
Image via Angry Little Girls, Lela Lee.
I wrote/recorded (click here to hear) the following in reaction to recent events. Also, our fabulous Weird Sister Soleil Ho wrote a related post (which you should also check out if you haven’t already)…
[Procedure: Have an actual Asian female poet silently mouth “take my face take my voice take my face take my voice” throughout this entire audio recording]
Are you a cis-white male poet who’s been rejected over and over for the same shitty poem? Do you want this same shitty poem to be selected for the Best American Poetry anthology?
Then look no further–just adopt an Asian female voice! Continue reading
My cold hand lands on Laura’s leg while the woman behind us holds her husband’s hands tight, whispering cariñitos to him. We’re here to prove we love each other. To prove this is a true white-picket-fence-two-point-five-children-Christmas-card kind of love, even if it’s homo love. Promises of a better future after this horrid appointment fly in the air in Spanish, Arabic, Russian. Inside the Soviet-looking immigration building Laura and I are literally moscas en leche. Perro en misa. Gallina en corral ajeno, etc. All the couples here are straight. Some even brought their kids, dressed in their Sunday’s best. The children are instructed to shut the fuck up and smile. Arturito, saluda al oficial mi rey. They’re here as evidence. The mamis with their hairs done, nails done, high heels and glossy lipstick. Men with gelled black hair, black button-down shirts with a few open buttons revealing gold crosses, chest hair. Legs crossed impossibly tight, smiling at every and any immigration officer walking through. Good afternoon, Mr. Officer. Nobody speaks loudly, we all hush and whisper and hold tight to our brown folders, our photo albums.
Porque mamita, you never know.
Music “When I didn’t appear in public, I wasn’t a recluse. I was just living my life.” Marine Girls’ and Everything But The Girl’s Tracey Thorn tells The Guardian.
Pixable via Gif allows us to see how many men and how few women will be playing at a music festival near you this Summer. Disappointing to say the least.
Yoko Ono’s “Woman Power” is #18 on Billboard’s dance charts! Listen to it now.
I grew up in rural New Mexico, north of Santa Fe, an area sharply striated along race and class divisions. My quasi-hippie mom banned Barbie because she feared bad body image. American Girl dolls seemed like a healthy alternative to her—and to many other families in the 90s. They were multicultural, historical, and aligned nicely with a “progressive” education. They were the PBS of doll-dom.
When I first paged my stubby baby-fingers through the Pleasant Company catalog in the back of our Volvo, the cast was composed of Felicity Merriman, a Revolutionary War-era firecracker; Kirsten Larson, a pioneer from Sweden to Minnesota; Samantha Parkington, an Edwardian orphan raised by her mega-rich, stuffy grandmary; and Molly McIntyre, whose father is a soldier in World War II. Addy Walker, who escapes slavery and was the first non-white character, had just been launched like a token ship.
While I was still old enough to vaguely care, Josephina Montoya, from a rancho in 1820’s New Mexico, was released. All of Santa Fe was super-stoked. Not much happens there.
The classism and status anxiety embedded in American Girl dolls were integral parts of ownership, often trumping any historical or cultural knowledge gleaned. $95 (now $110) a pop was flat-out unaffordable to most of the kids in elementary school, where I was one of the only white students. I could tell precisely how rich my white friends at my after-school acting class in Santa Fe were by how many dolls and accessories they owned.
Yes, they’re only 20, yes they’re twins, and yes their music is dreamlike. Born in Paris, Lisa-Kaindé and Naomi Díaz are daughters of the famed Cuban percussionist Anga Díaz who died when the girls were 11, but not before teaching them how to play the cajón and batá. I’m obsessed with their mix of Afro-Cuban beats with electronic textures, and with their English overlapping with Yoruba. Here is an NPR piece where Anastacia Tsioulcas calls their entrancing music “a world of intoxicating beauty, in songs that are smart, sweet and emotionally cracked wide open.” Do stop Instagramming and be lost in their brilliance. Also, here is a list of their upcoming shows. Continue reading
Illustration by Laura Cerón Melo
I dreamed that you bewitched me into bed
And sung me moon-struck, kissed me quite insane.
(I think I made you up inside my head.)
The story went like this: Camilo waited for me at the park next to my house every day after school. He brought Bon Bon Bum (look it up), cigarettes, and his tongue inside my mouth. He said, Quibo, qué mas? I like you. After he left I walked two blocks north to another park where Pablo under a hoodie munched Sparkies, also smoked cigarettes (although red Marlboros, so ew), and wrote me—ME who was barely twelve—a love poem. It was heaven-like. I was twelve and totally ki-lling it. My friends envied me! Should I tell you about Darío, my third boyfriend? Darío in a leatherjacket while I stroked his greasy brown hair, a leftist revolutionary wearing Zapatista shirts, a beard, etc.… I had not one, not two, but un-dos-TRES boyfriends (I know, and there you sat thinking I was just an angry lesbian).
The next day I arrived early and giddy from so much excitement at my all-girl Catholic school. Really quick: picture nuns, picture impeccable uniform, picture Jesús bleeding from the cross everywhere you look, picture this humble narrator in a ponytail and yellow headband (the 90s mi reina). Amén. Inside the classroom I whispered to all my girlfriends about my romantic whereabouts the night before. His tongue! His mouth! His index finger! His poetry! I showed them the poem, a letter, and the plastic wrap of the Bon Bon Bum as proof of my escapades. Sometimes this was enough, and by the end of first period most of them believed my triumphant romances. Other times, some girls’ skepticism made me repeat Uva Curuba Uva until my upper lip folded into two perfect semicircles proving I was not a mouth virgin, proving I was kissed the night before.