26 June 2012

Here's a Great Idea... First Do Less Harm :: Suzanne Gordon on WSR

Suzanne Gordon
 Suzanne Gordon,  co-editor of,  First Do Less Harm: confronting the inconvenient truth of patient safety, visits Woman-Stirred Radio, this Thursday, July 29th, at 5:00 PM (eastern).

Do doctors and nurses always wash their hands between patients? Is it reasonable to suggest that the patient is responsible for confronting nurses and doctors who don't wash their hands? What's the problem with those hot ties and cool lab coats doctors like to wear?  With the incorporation of computers into hospital infrastructure, how are records incomplete, fragmented, and essential patient information lost? Why, in spite of all the magnificent advances made in medicine, do patients still needlessly suffer and die from preventable infections?

In First Do Less Harm, twelve professionals and researchers plus two former patients explore the pitfalls of patient safety that plague American hospitals and clinics and account for thousands of deaths. The diversity of the contributors reflects the diversity of the issues and solutions discussed, and while, from a variety of perspectives many practices are inadequate and impractical, the solutions can be deceptively simple.

The contributors in First Do Less Harm focus on topics such as sleep deprivation in professional staff, medication errors, the out-sourcing of cleaning staff and janitorial services, the unforeseen or poor coordination in the use of electronic medical records (EMR), and the exclusion of frontline staff from important and increasingly essential meetings on patient safety.

"Despite a decade of effort to decrease medical mistakes, progress has been carefully slow, and unintended consequences have been the rule not the exception. Two of the most innovative, iconoclastic thinkers in health care---Ross Koppel and Suzanne Gordon---have produced this collection that tells us why and illuminates the way forward. The book is dramatic, honest, infuriating, surprising, and ultimately hopeful. It is a welcome contribution to the safety field and deserves to be widely read" (Dr. Robert M. Wagner, UCSF).

Suzanne Gordon is currently Visiting Professor at the University of Maryland School of Nursing, and was program leader of the Robert Wood Johnson--funded Nurse Manager in Action Program. Gordon is the author of Life Support and Nursing against the Odds, co-author of Safety in Numbers, and From Silence to Voice, She is also editor of When Chicken Soup is Not Enough, and coeditor of The Complexities of Care, all of which are published by the Cornell University Press.

Want to join the conversation? Call the air studio at 802.454.7762.

    Woman-Stirred Radio is underwritten by Sinister Wisdom,
    celebrating 35 years of  lesbian-feminist arts and letters.

    Woman-Stirred Radio broadcasts live on WGDR 91.1 fm and
    WGDH 91.7 fm, Goddard College's community radio station
    located in Plainfield, Vermont. 

20 June 2012

Bar Book: Poems and Otherwise : : Julie Sheehan Returns to Woman-Stirred Radio

We start off tomorrow's show with an interview, at 4:15, with Janet Mason, author of When I Was Straight and a woman alone

 Mason's LBGTQ commentary is featured on This Way Out, a syndicated radio program that broadcasts out of Los Angeles. 

Janet Mason's memoir, Tea Leaves is “a forthright personal memoir… on the factory-worker lives of her mother and grandmother in working class Philadelphia…. Her mother’s feminist example and unwavering support of a lesbian daughter” (Bella).

Julie Sheehan (photo Chip Cooper)
Then at 5:00 PM (eastern), I welcome back poet Julie Sheehan, to  Woman-Stirred Radio.

Sheehan, who teaches in the MFA program at Stony Brook, Southampton, won the Barnard Women Poets Prize (2005) for her sophomore collection, Orient Point.  Sheehan also won the 2008 Whiting Writers' Award, the NYFA Fellowship in Poetry (2009), the Elizabeth Matchett Stover Award from Southwest Review; the Robert H. Winner prize from the Poetry Society of America, and the Paris Review Bernard F. Connors prize.

The Bar Book: Poems and otherwise, is an intriguing hybrid of poems and prose: spoken-word, persona, lyric… all come together in a wry, stinging, at times hilarious “24-hour snapshot of love and war in a bar” (Hippo).
Poet Mark Doty (who taught at Goddard way-back-when) says that when “Julie Sheehan takes the lyric poem out for a few drinks, everyone winds up talking fast and loose. The lush, agreeably-out-of-style cocktails who take the stage in Bar Book tell their stories in voices comic, cracked, and aching.”

Organised by lunch, swing, and night shifts, Bar Book's complex persona poems match personalities to cocktails: We meet the Brandy Stinger: "You young ones wouldn't know where to begin/ with all the strappy contraptions trussing up us old birds (13); the Pink Lady ("She ordered her gin as if it were a hat,/ sawdust were wall-to-wall fresh-vacuumed plush/ and Red behind the bar, a milliner" (44); and the Whiskey Sour "Called in sick. Stayed home/ sick. Could be the oysters,/ that asshole behind the bar,/ a glob of Tuesday's special/ on Wednesday's fork,/ par for a nonunion joint" (78).  (The whiskey sour, as we know it now,  evolved from the "practice of adding lime juice to rum" on British ships.)  Bar Book is also a narrative of human relationships, intimate, casual, professional, and cultural---all threaded with observation, insight, and terrible truths. 

Here's  a stanza from  "The Barmen of Paul's Lounge Draft a Field Manual for Counterinsurgency":

The bar amputates at the waist.
Few survive such illusions. How to end our standoff? Disgrace
is not an option on either side
of the spill zone, but it’s no disgrace to give last call, and genocide
threatens the perimeter. Get out
by cutting off the juice. Get out by saying Everybody get out.
Then count the till. Turn the music lower.
Legs bunkered, bodies truncated: What’s the best we could hope for,
hired guns?  Look at us, how
they see us, star-spangled, though we could be in wheelchairs for all they know. (31)

As you can see, Sheehan’s metaphors rage and her aim is dead-on true and compassionate. And from cover to cover, a reader will find, in pieces such as “On Pouring a Good Stout” that “time is the main ingredient” in the voice, imagination, and craft of Julie Sheehan’s wonderful collection:

And I pour the last third, and the thick head rises up,
up past the rim of the pint, but it doesn’t spill because I have been patient and slow and wise.
It stays put, my prayer, my possession, not quite broken, reading in her chair. (101).

So please tune in to Woman-Stirred Radio—locally at 91.1 and 91.7 FM, or click HERE to stream us live—for a lively and eclectic discussion of Julie Sheen’s The Bar Book. Interview starts at 5:00 PM. Comments or questions? Call the air studio at 802.454.7762, or email, merrygangemi@gmail.com

Woman-Stirred Radio is underwritten by Sinister Wisdom, celebrating 35 years of  lesbian-feminist arts and letters. Woman-Stirred Radio broadcasts live on WGDR 91.1 fm and WGDH 91.7 fm, Goddard College's community radio station located in Plainfield, Vermont. 

14 June 2012

Alexi Zentner and Meira Levinson

Alexi Zentner
photo: Laurie Willick
Today at 4:15, Alexi Zentner, author of the exquisite debut novel, Touch (WWNorton 2012), a fluid, magical tale that unfolds in the majestic wilderness of the northern Canadian woods. The narrative of Touch follows the fortunes and foibles of Jeannot, who at sixteen years of age travelled the width of Canada and settled the town of Sawgamet, "a town of motion, light, and sound," by the banks of the Sawgamet River. The time is early twentieth century, the First World War yet to explode, and the Sawgamet River was a fast-flowing, secretive, and unforgiving avenue to the outside world and to the affluence gained from the magnificent Canadian hardwood forests.

In Sawgamet, the mythic character of Jeannot meets the fearsome and the fabulous---the ghosts and legendary creatures that inhabit the wild forests surrounding Sawgamet, and the river creatures who would grab a person and dive into the depths.

The magical realism of Zentner's narrative opens one's imagination to the many possibilities of compassion and redemption---all of which coexist in the human psyche; and it maps the rarified points of contact between  reality and the supranatural, a confluence of imagination and awe-inspiring nature:

The muffled light began to fall away into darkness and the wind settled. Jeannot stopped paddling, let the canoe drift through the clouds and curtains of snow. Martine slumped into her seat, seemingly unaware of her own demise, but Jeannot looked out at the angels that had appeared beside the canoe. He had not expected to go to heaven, but as long as he was here, he thought he should show some reverence and marvel at the miracle before him.... Each angel they passed seemed like it was dancing methodically, reaching down and the up, pushing and puling, or swinging its arms in gentle circles. He could see such a short distance ahead of him, and the current caused the canoe to pass each angel so swiftly, that Jeannot was unable to make out more than a little detail: the way the angels' robes seemed like they were made from snow, a lack of wings or halos, a preponderance of beards.... It was only when the voices came through his wind-touched ears that Jeannot realised he was not seeing angels, but rather miners in rubber boots standing in the river, panning for gold despite the onset of snow. They were nearly home. (119-120)

Touch "may remind readers of Gabriel Garcia Marquez or may echo the landscape of Snow Falling on Cedars, but Zentner's superb debut is a world unto itself" and I have yet to read more luscious and strikingly layered descriptions of snow in all its diverse materializations--- anywhere.
So that's at 4:15 today, June 14th on Woman-Stirred Radio. Click here to stream us live on WGDR and WGDH, Goddard College's community radio stations. Want to join in the conversation? Call 802.454.7762 or email me: merrygangemi@gmail.com.

Then at 5:00,  I welcome Dr. Meira Levinson. We'll discuss her new book: No Citizen Left Behind (Harvard 2012), an accessible and highly relevant analysis of a "civic empowerment gap that is as shameful and antidemocratic as the academic achievement gap targeted by No Child Left Behind" (GLW). 

Meira Levinson, who is an associate professor of education at the Harvard Graduate School of Education, wrote No Citizen Left Behind after  eight-years experience teaching in the Atlanta and Boston public school systems. "Drawing on political theory, empirical research, and her own on-the-ground experience,  Levinson shows how de facto segregated urban schools can and must be at the center of.... Recovering the civic purposes of public schools" (GLW). 

No Citizen left Behind explores questions such as:

  • What is the civic empowerment gap and why does it matter? How large is it?
  • What is Cultural Capitalism?
  • Why has Obama failed to carve away at the civic empowerment gap?
  • What forms of disrespect and mistrust do students in urban schools encounter on a daily basis? What effect do these have?
  • Why are lunch hours and bathroom policies so fraught and indicative of future expectations for students in under-funded and undervalued urban public schools?
It's a far cry from the old north woods of Canada to present-day Atlanta and Boston, but in the educators' world of Meira Levinson, imagination, creativity, and the surrounding environments of America's public schools, are as complex if not far more complicated then the past; so please join us, today, June 14th, from 4 to 6 PM (eastern) on Woman-Stirred Radio.

feminist arts and letters. Woman-Stirred Radio broadcasts live on WGDR 91.1 fm and WGDH 91.7 fm, Goddard College's community radio station located in Plainfield, Vermont.

Woman-Stirred Radio is underwritten by Sinister Wisdom, celebrating 35 years of  lesbian-feminist arts and letters. Woman-Stirred Radio broadcasts live on WGDR 91.1 fm and WGDH 91.7 fm, Goddard College's community radio station located in Plainfield, Vermont. 

6 June 2012

Margo Timmins of the Cowboy Junkies :: Florence Williams, author of Breasts:A Natural and Unnatural History

This week on Woman-Stirred Radio:

Margo Timmins of the Cowboy Junkies at 4:15

Florence Williams: Breasts: A Natural and Unnatural History at 5:00

 The Cowboy Junkies
I first heard the Cowboy Junkies when I was a graduate student and working at The Poetry Center at SFSU. One of our staff was playing Lay It Down (1996), and I was intrigued by the repetitive gestures of the songs both lyrically and musically: the effect was mesmerizing, and organically beautiful and effortless. Margo Timmins's voice is splendid and the lyrics poetic.

The first time I heard The Trinity Session, I was hooked for good.  The Wilderness, does not disappoint. Volume 4 of the Nomad Series, The Wilderness is another elegant narrative of emotions in sync with reality; of human connection in a world of electronic emotion.

Since their beginnings in the 1985, the band has released more than 15 studio albums, and 7 live albums, 3 of which hit gold and 2 platinum in Canada. In the U. S., the 1988, Trinity Session, scored platinum on the charts and got the band on slot on The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson. As WGDR music director, Josh Hayes-High pointed out to me, you never see The Trinity Session in the used bin. Here's a clip of them playing on The Tonight Show, and here again with Jay Leno.

Florence Williams
So, please join us at 4:15 on Woman-Stirred Radio for an in-depth conversation with Margo Timmins, this Thursday, June 7th, at 4:15 PM. We'll be talking about their new album, The Wilderness and a host of other things... and of course, if you have a question call us at 802.454.7762.

Then at 5:00, I'll ring up Florence Williams. Her new book is Breasts: A Natural and Unnatural History (WWNorton 2012). Terry Tempest Williams call the book "a smart, witty natural history of feminism by way of the body and health. At a time when all things female seem to frighten those in power...Williams offers an intelligent antidote."

One of my other favorite science writers, Mary Roach, writes: "Florence Williams's double-D talents as a reporter and writer lift this book high above the genre and separate it from the ranks of ordinary science....Breasts is illuminating, surprising, clever, important...."

Here are just a few fun facts you'll discover:

*  Breast milk is sold on the Internet for 262 times the price of oil

*  Breast milk contains substances similar to cannabis

                                                        *  The metabolic energy required to breastfeed a baby every day is the equivalent of walking seven miles.

                                                        *  Breasts are getting bigger, arriving earlier, and attracting newfangled chemical.

That last fact is neither fun nor surprising. Either is the troubling history of implants or the silicone used to replace them. Williams is seriously engaging in Breasts, and you will be fascinated.

As Williams writes: "The debate over breast evolution is important, because the creation stories color how we see breasts, how we use them, and how we burden them with our expectations. Because the dominant story has been all about the visuals, it discounts what's actually in breasts. How do they work? How are they connected to the rest of the body, and how are they affected by a larger ecology?"

So please join us this Thursday, June 6th, 4 to 6 PM on Woman-Stirred Radio. 4:15 Margo Timmins and 5:00, Florence Williams. Join the conversation! Call the air studio at 802.454.7762 or email your questions to merrygangemi@gmail.com. You can also comment below.

Woman-Stirred Radio is underwritten by Sinister Wisdom, celebrating 35 years of  lesbian-feminist arts and letters. Woman-Stirred Radio broadcasts live on WGDR 91.1 fm and WGDH 91.7 fm, Goddard College's community radio station located in Plainfield, Vermont.