9 October 2005

What is Woman-Stirred?

Jan Steckel: I'd like to see Woman-Stirred be many things at once: a connection to lesbian and bi women's literary resources and markets, a forum for literary discussions, a collection of profiles of literary dykes and bi-dykes to provide role models and networking, a place to showcase and promote our own work, and even a bit of a queer women's literary journal, with thoughtful essays like Nicki's and beautiful poetry like Mary's (and thoughtful essays by Mary and beautiful poetry by Nicki....), and perhaps guest columns or full poems by people outside our quartet.

Mary Meriam: I see all those things you see, Jan. I also see Woman-Stirred as a beautiful garden of flowers and fruits. Some, like Lillian Faderman, are in full bloom. Some, like Charlotte Mew and Virginia Woolf, are pressed between pages of books. Then there are some of us who need to be tended carefully so that we will reach full bloom. I would like our garden to be a pleasurable and nourishing place where visitors can slow down and enjoy the sights, scents, and tastes of woman-stirred poetry, art, photographs, essays. Eventually, I hope we can publish our own Woman-Stirred Books and sell them at a roadside stand.

Nicki Hastie: I think Woman-Stirred is evolving and is in the process of becoming many things. Perhaps we're in the business of constantly re-creating what we want to do, although I imagine us building up and adding to the portfolio rather than replacing one aspect with another. I think we have a chance of doing that if we're clear about our central aim. The way I understand Woman-Stirred is that we started off as a way to support each other and promote our work, through strength in numbers. But there was always an aim to go beyond that and look outwards. I see a shared celebration of lesbian and bi women's writing - woman-stirred writing - as the foundation stone. There are many voices, our own among them, that we want to be heard. I remember that's why I started writing poetry - in case my voice wasn't heard, because there were times in my history, even, when it was a real struggle to find other woman-stirred voices.

I guess we want to point the way to other writers and artists who deserve more attention than perhaps they're currently getting. Then celebrate or otherwise constructively comment when attention is given. We want to assist the woman-stirred browser to find something new - or if not so new and unknown (take Virginia Woolf, for example), perhaps see that work in a different light. Put the woman-stirred spin on it! That involves spinning other voices in and through our own. So we're not just a quartet, we're part of a network that sparks off in many directions. We are a resource, but I also want our passion and personality to come through, so that our commentary (plus that of guest writers) encourages more discussion - here and elsewhere. Hey, Mary and Jan, you know how much I like passionate discourse! And how, once I take up the challenge of answering a question like 'What is Woman-Stirred?', I'm going to find it impossible to stop at one succinct paragraph ...