27 April 2009

Lisa Williams Reads to the Sea

Woman Reading to the Sea



Please join Merry Gangemi in welcoming Lisa Williams, author of Woman Reading to the Sea to Woman-Stirred Radio this Thursday, April 30th at 5 pm (eastern)for a discussion of her award-winning collection of poems

A scholar and associate professor of English at Centre College, in Denville, Kentucky, Williams holds an MA in creative writing and poetry from the University of Virginia, an MA degree in literature from the University of Cincinnati, and a BA from Belmont University.

Joyce Carol Oates calls Woman Reading to the Sea “Poems of arresting intelligence, precision, and beauty. In wonderfully crafted language, with the startling subtlety of certain of Emily Dickinson’s poems, Lisa Williams takes us into eerily imagined worlds—the interior of a jellyfish, and the interior of a glacier; she beguiles us with the most seductive of poetic possibilities... . This slender volume constitutes a journey of sorts, a pilgrimage ‘out’ that returns the questing poet, imagined as a companion ‘you,’ to her own life.”

Here is the title poem, Woman Reading to the Sea.
There's a certain freedom in the long blue slant
of its uncaring, in the wind that knocks
the surface onto rocks, and there's a dent

made in that wind by the woman who recites
straight into it, pretending the waves might hear
or that some larger being that is sea

or seeing hangs there listening, when sea air's
so clearly full of its own gusts and grunts,
inanimate uprisings. In the line

of no one's sight, her voice lost in the spray,
she feels a chilling freedom: how the foam
edges the sheets of zigzag patterned water

while gulls' shrill outbursts punctuate the sky
(one cloudy, sentimental phrase
or canvas brushed with amber, green, and rose).

What welcomes, and ignores, and doesn't question?
Sheer emptiness. It's like a husk
for her alone. It's like a shell for absence.

Without an audience, she makes a noise
swallowed by waves and wind, just as
the waves themselves---or no, just like the drops

lost in the waves, which neither care nor keep
distinctions---sweep out a place
inside an amphitheatre she imagines

rising around her, with columns that crash
instantly, like the white foam that collides
and shreds its layered castles. Her words drift,

dissolve, and disappear. A crest
of words has surged and poured into the sea.
It doesn't matter now what the lines say.


Woman-Stirred Radio broadcasts live on WGDR (91.1 fm) and streams online at wgdr.org every Thursday afternoon from 4 to 6 p.m. (eastern), with interviews, music, and guest commentaries from bi-activist Jan Steckel, British writer Nicki Hastie, and lesbian literary historian and poet, Julie R. Enszer.

Woman-Stirred Radio is funded in part by the Samara Foundation of Vermont, a non-profit, Burlington-based foundation that seeks to improve the quality of life for Vermont's lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgendered citizens. Click on the link to find out more about Samara Foundation and its programs.

26 April 2009

Mother-Daughter Relationship in the World of Alzheimer's

When I came out as a lesbian 15 years ago, my parents had a very hard time with it. Over the course of several years, though, they transitioned from being resistant to supportive to celebratory--then, to activists. My mom, Arlene Evans, helped found a chapter of PFLAG in her very conservative small town several years ago.

In addition to being an advocate for the queer community, my mom is a writer. It's hard to know when I say my mom is a writer what verb tense to use: is? was? Because now she has Alzheimer's and can write only short sentences, most of which are riddled with misspellings. And she knows it. She's very aware of what she is losing, has lost.

Her abilities have been sliding away fast. Not quite two years ago when she was diagnosed, she was able to write about the experience in a journal. Recently she gave me that journal and told me she'd like me to share her story with others.

In conjunction with working on a memoir about caregiving (involving the long illness and death of my father, followed by my mother's diagnosis), I've been sharing excerpts of my mom's journals on my blog.

Here is the first entry.

Here is the second.

Mom always supported my writing. I'm grateful to be able to return the favor.

13 April 2009

Martha Serpas on Woman-Stirred Radio



Please join me this Thursday, April 16th, at 4:15 pm (eastern) in welcoming Martha Serpas to Woman-Stirred Radio.

We'll talk about her newest collection of poems, The Dirty Side of the Storm, a compelling testament to the splendor and disquietude of the bayous and coastlines of Louisiana, its Cajun culture, and its history of "pink-taffeta-ball-gown-and-bourbon/sky," and "faces like a darkened mirror,/an alchemized image no longer discernible."

The Dirty Side of the Storm offers lyrical perspective on the social and cultural consequences of a compromised ecosystem which, since the 1930s, has lost more than 2500 square miles of wetlands and essentially set up the disaster of Katrina.

In a review of The Dirty Side of the Storm, Ginny Kaczmarek points out that all but one poem in The Dirty Side of the Storm was written before Hurricane Katrina, giving the book an "eerie prescience."

Through the act of writing the poems in this book, Serpas honors what Grace Paley understood so well and demanded of us as poets: to keep an eye on/ this world and cry out like Cassandra, but be/ listened to this time ("Responsibility").

So tune in and listen! Thursday April 16 at 4:15 to Woman-Stirred Radio!

Woman-Stirred Radio broadcasts live on WGDR (91.1 fm) and online at wgdr.org every Thursday afternoon from 4 to 6 p.m. (eastern), with interviews, music, and guest commentaries from bi-activist Jan Steckel, British writer Nicki Hastie, and lesbian literary historian and poet, Julie R. Enszer.

Woman-Stirred Radio is funded in part by the Samara Foundation of Vermont, a non-profit, Burlington-based foundation that works to improve the quality of life for Vermont's lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgendered citizens. Click on the link to find out more about Samara Foundation and its programs.

6 April 2009

Eavan Boland and Rigoberto Gonzalez on Woman-Stirred Radio


On Thursday, April 9th, Merry Gangemi welcomes Rigoberto Gonzaléz and Eavan Boland to Woman-Stirred Radio.

The son and grandson of migrant workers, Rigoberto González was born in Bakersfield, California and raised in Michoacán, Mexico. His extended family migrated back to California in 1980 and returned to Mexico in 1992. González remained alone in the U.S. to complete his education. His childhood in Michoacán and difficult adolescence as an immigrant in California are chronicled in his coming of age memoir, Butterfly Boy: Memories of a Chicano Mariposa. González currently teaches at the writing program of Rutgers University in Newark, where he is Associate Professor of English. He also holds a part-time appointment with the Vermont College of Fine Arts in Montpelier.

Rigoberto González has written two poetry books: So Often the Pitcher Goes to Water until It Breaks, a National Poetry Series selection, and Other Fugitives and Other Strangers; two children’s books: Soledad Sigh-Sighs and Antonio’s Card; and the novel Crossing Vines, winner of ForeWord Magazine’s Fiction Book of the Year Award, in addition to the memoir, Butterfly Boy.




Eavan Boland was born in Dublin, Ireland, in 1944. Her father was a diplomat and her mother was an expressionist painter.

At the age of six, Boland and her family relocated to London, where she first encountered anti-Irish sentiment. She later returned to Dublin for school, and she received her B.A. from Trinity College in 1966. She was also educated in London and New York.

Her books of poetry include New Collected Poems (W.W. Norton & Co., 2008), Domestic Violence, (2007), Against Love Poems (2001), The Lost Land (1998), An Origin Like Water: Collected Poems 1967-1987 (1996), In a Time of Violence (1994), Outside History: Selected Poems 1980-1990 (1990), The Journey and Other Poems (1986), Night Feed (1982), and In Her Own Image (1980),
Object Lessons: The Life of the Woman and the Poet in Our Time (W. W. Norton, 1995), a volume of prose, After Every War (Princeton, 2004), an anthology of German women poets, and she co-edited The Making of a Poem: A Norton Anthology of Poetic Forms (with Mark Strand; W. W. Norton & Co., 2000).

Woman-Stirred Radio broadcasts live on WGDR (91.1 fm) and online at wgdr.org every Thursday afternoon from 4 to 6 p.m. (eastern), with interviews, music, and guest commentaries from bi-activist Jan Steckel, British writer Nicki Hastie, and lesbian literary historian and poet, Julie R. Enszer.

Woman-Stirred Radio is funded in part by the Samara Foundation of Vermont, a non-profit, Burlington-based foundation that seeks to improve the quality of life for Vermont's lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgendered citizens. Click on the link to find out more about Samara Foundation and its programs.



[sources include: WW Norton; Rigoberto González; Poets.org;]