I’ve always understood the allure of the road. A chance to play at something else, something bigger, get swallowed up, get away.
My childhood was filled with curly lipped churchgoers who spoke in tongues, an aunt with curious hands, a stultifying fatphobia that ripped my tongue out of my mouth, and an unstable mother who liked meth houses.
I survived this through the pathological pursuit of achievement, a rabid dick-hunger that activated an ancient understanding of pussy as barter, and the most meticulously crafted isolation—a rococo house with no doorknobs. I built a road out of my past one trophy, one fuck, one stifled meltdown at a time. Roads—metaphorical and literal—are precious to me, representing motion, change, and the promise of a novelty that touches me and awakens my heart.
I’m about to hit the (literal) road with seven other writers and artists for the Sister Spit 20th Anniversary Tour. Started in 1997 by Michelle Tea and Sini Anderson, Sister Spit was a brazen response to the dude-saturated open mic scene of 1990s San Francisco. The tour is legendary for having started as an all-girl lineup traveling the country by road and bringing provocative observations about the strange world that had built itself around them—stories of sex and love and survival and the million ways a country can disappoint you. Continue reading
Rad American Women A–Z, which was just released from City Lights/Sister Spit, doesn’t pretend to be an exhaustive list of important American women. But to imagine the 25 women selected by author Kate Schatz and illustrator Miriam Klein Stahl as a representative sample is to imagine a world in which radicalism is somehow the norm, a world in which living as a woman in America might itself be a radical act. From Angela Davis to Zora Neale Hurston, from Dolores Huerta to Kate Bornstein to Maya Lin to Patti Smith to to Temple Grandin to Wilma Mankiller, the book profiles women who came from very different backgrounds and worked in very different fields, but who were all undeniably radical: in their politics, their aesthetics, their style, in the ways in which their work continues to shape and challenge our own lives. Very few, if any, of them are familiar from the Famous American Women books of my childhood. In one of the most moving sections of the book, Schatz and Klein Stahl devote the letter X to The Women Whose Names We Don’t Know, gesturing not only toward public figures who could eventually show up in middle-school social-studies curricula–“the women we haven’t learned about yet”–but toward the ordinary women “whose stories we will never read.”
I got to talk to Schatz and Klein Stahl over email about their collaboration, their own daughters, and about the politics of basically every concept in the title: radicalism, America, nationalism, women, feminism, and the alphabet! Continue reading
April 1st kicked off National Poetry Writing Month. A bunch of Weird Sisters are NaPoWriMoing over at GirlPoWriMo—stop by for fresh feminist poems popping up every day!
The Poetry Foundation blog’s group of featured writers this month is omg radness—Jennifer Tamayo delivers a message from The Mongrel Coalition Against Gringpo, Trisha Low reminds us that “Poetry Is Not the Final Girl,” and Gina Myers tells us what she’ll do while she’s not at AWP.
For those of us who are going to AWP this week, come say hi to WEIRD SISTER!
In other literary news, Morgan Parker is launching her new book, Other People’s Comfort Keeps Me Up At Night, into outer space tonight in NYC.
Read The Volta’s great review of Rosa Alcalá’s Undocumentaries. Continue reading
With the new year comes a new crop of totally amazing reads. Here are some I can’t wait to get my hands on:
1) Where the Words End and My Body Begins by Amber Dawn
(Arsenal Pulp Press)
Amber Dawn’s known for her award-winning memoir How Poetry Saved My Life and her novel Sub Rosa, which reads like a feminist pulp novel/fairytale about sex workers. Where the Words End and My Body Begins, Dawn’s first book of poems, pays homage to legendary and emerging queer poets including Gertrude Stein, Christina Rossetti, and Adrienne Rich with a series of poems written in the 15th-century Spanish glosa form.
2) Houses by Nikki Wallschlaeger
I love how Nikki Wallschlaeger’s poems travel from building to building, room to room, from the exterior to the interior, from the often female-embodied everyday to the vast and looming social world that surrounds us, filled with problems and possibilities: “I have children that need lunches in the morning so I love them best. I also love lipstick and Europe, and the things that dead men say.”
Wallschlaeger’s first full-length book Houses is coming this May. Until then read some of her knockout poems here and here and here.