30 November 2005

In Memoriam: Nadia Anjuman

On November 4, 2005, a twenty-five year old woman in Afghanistan, Nadia Anjuman, whose first book, Gule Dudi (Dark Flower) had just been published, was killed. A few days later, her husband was arrested for her murder. You can read the in-depth story from the Times in the UK here.

A new report from the Institute for War and Peace Reporting was released today about the murder of Nadia Anjuman. You can read it here. Nadia's story has haunted me for the past month. I read about her, and I confess, I turn away. It is painful to think about one of the outcomes of patriarchy, sexism, and male supremacy: death. While I know this and to some degree live everyday with this fear, as a Western woman with race and class privilege, I can look away from it if I choose. I don't have to feel it every day. I am thankful for that. Still, I must force myself to look. I must witness how women live in the world.

I wanted to write this entry in memory of Nadia and for solidarity with all women struggling to end male hegemony. Memory and struggle are essential for our liberation.

I have been searching the web for a translation of Nadia Anjuman's work but have found nothing. If anyone has links to translations of her work, please post them.

Remember Nadia Anjuman. Her final words have been written. We must make space to read them and remember them. We must listen for the voices of other women in Afghanistan and the Middle East as they emerge. I think that must be part of the work of Woman-Stirred.

27 November 2005

Olivia! O!

Make me a willow cabin at your gate,
And call upon my soul within the house;
Write loyal cantons of contemned love,
And sing them loud even in the dead of night;
Halloo your name to the reverberate hills,
And make the babbling gossip of the air
Cry out “Olivia!” O! You should not rest
Between the elements of air and earth,
But you should pity me!

The painting by Pickersgill depicts Viola as Cesario, with Olivia, the Countess, smitten by Viola and her words.

Jami Ake reads "female-female desire" in Olivia and Viola's Act I, Scene 5, Twelfth Night exchange. She argues that Viola explores "a tentative 'lesbian' poetics." [Ake, Jami. "Glimpsing a 'Lesbian' Poetics in Twelfth Night." SEL. Studies in English Literature 1500-1900 43.2 (2003): 375-394]

Gillian Hanscombe and Suniti Namjoshi wrote about lesbian poetry in "Lesbian Histories and Cultures" edited by Bonnie Zimmerman: "... its proper reading requires a major reassessement of the assumptions brought to the reading of mainstream poetry... Reading poetry involves continually placing the poem in new contexts."

Shakespeare biographer, Steven Greenblatt: "The work is so astonishing, so luminous, that it seems to have come from a god and not a mortal, let alone a mortal of provincial origins and modest education." How about a highly educated countess with access to the royal court?

What do you think? Was Shakespeare written by a woman? Do you have any evidence that Mary Sidney, Countess of Pembroke, could not have written Shakespeare?

~ Mary

21 November 2005

Something Good

Julie AndrewsDear Dame Julie Andrews,

I'm not suggesting anything! I was only a love-starved teenager 30-something years ago when I first danced with you. Certainly, you weren't trying to seduce me. But you did. So I wrote about you and me and the gazebo.

Something Good

I waltz with Julie Andrews in her blue
desire dress one summer night, and we
are floating from the castle garden through
the edelweiss and falling dreamily
in love in the gazebo. "Nothing comes
from nothing. Nothing ever will," she sings
to me alone, while silky darkness hums
along in harmony with lovely things.
For here you are, you're standing there, in truth
you're loving me and touching me with your
soft womanhood. So somewhere in my youth
inside of Julie's sound of music, pure
confusion slowly melts, and any doubt
dissolves as Julie guides my coming out.

Happy 40th Anniversary to The Sound of Music!
~ Mary
PS: A friend of Woman-Stirred, Julia Maresca, helps produce the Long Island G&L Film Festival.
[Something Good was first published in Bay Windows on 11/17/05]

19 November 2005

Mother Poetry Contest

Enter Woman-Stirred's Mother Poetry ContestWoman-Stirred is having a poetry contest! Email your poems on the subject "mother" to womanstirred@earthlink.net. Include your name and full postal address. (Do not send attachments. Emails with attachments will be deleted unread.)

  • No entry fee!
  • Open to everyone!
  • Deadline is March 1, 2006.
  • Winner will be announced on UK Mother's Day, March 26, 2006.
Winner's poem will be published on Woman-Stirred (including your profile - bio, photo, links - if you wish). Your poem and profile will remain online indefinitely. Other prizes include:

13 November 2005

Wild Girls - Then and Now

Romaine BrooksHistory will judge who are the lesbian wild girls of the early twenty-first century, although we certainly will spend our time speculating as to who will get that sobriquet (Mary? Nicki? Jan?). For now though history turns her eye to the past and uncovers the wild girls of one hundred years ago. Diana Souhami, a writer who has already contributed much to our lesbian herstory, has a new contribution with Wild Girls that explores the relationship of Natalie Barney and Romaine Brooks.

Today's review in the New York Times should give the book a good boost in sales and publicity. I have some quibbles with the review (beginning with the eponymous title The L Word - certainly the editors could employ a little more creativity), but I'll leave though for now so that we can just celebrate a little lesbian visibility and attention to the work of a woman about lesbians.

I'm looking forward to reading Wild Girls as a complement to Suzanne Rodriguez's earlier autobiography of Natalie Barney, Wild Heart. It is gratifying to have our lesbian herstory restored and written.

P.S. Thanks to Mary for inviting me to join the Woman-Stirred group. I'm thrilled to be here!

9 November 2005

Vinograd Paints Steckel

Portrait of JanLife is rocking and rolling these days for Jan Steckel. Her first poetry chapbook, The Underwater Hospital, is being published by Zeitgeist Press in the spring of 2006. Mazel tov again to the mamaleh doctor for two poems just accepted by Harrington Lesbian Literary Quarterly. And then Debbie Vinograd painted this scrumptious portrait of Jan that captures her sweet gentle strong loving spirit. Bravo Debbie!

Click here to see more paintings by Debbie Vinograd.


1 November 2005

What is Woman-Stirred? In Sonnets

There were three women wishing to be heard
who found a little spot in cyberspace.
Virginia helped them name it Woman-Stirred.
Go look, you’ll see Virginia’s words and face.
You may decide to take a little scroll.
There’s Jan of Oakland, England Nicki, me
the Mary nomad, munching on a bowl
of fruit and growing flowers literary.
A network, forum, showcase of our voices,
resources, journals, photographs, and art.
You want to know if lesbians have choices?
There’s Sudie, Merry, Charlotte, Julie—start
of list that isn't finished—Lillian—
a new refreshing light on lesbian.

We were a queer quartet at first, but then
Liann, it seems, had novel things to do.
(Please note, Liann, that I’ll be stirred again
to lift my pen to praise your books and you.)
Are flowers three enough for a bouquet?
Would Woman-Stirred be fuller with another?
From Washington, DC, she rose to say
she loves our place. So here is Julie Enszer!
A lesbian supreme, a poet, and
the queen of raising funds; a playful mind,
a tender heart; she always takes a stand
for justice, peace, the best of humankind.
May Woman-Stirred be worthy of your presence!
We’re glad you’re here! Okay, unwrap your presents!