Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Questions concerning definitions

From Silliman's blog, a list of ways that "feminist poet" may be defined, excerpted from Rachel Blau DuPlessis' Blue Studios (good stuff for future Intro. to Women's Literature classes):

Feminist poet = one who talks a lot about gender and sexuality in her/his work. No, wait-that would be lots of poets--Olson, Williams. So try-a poet who marks the constructedness of gender and sexuality in her/his work, takes gender as an ideology about male- and femaleness and wants to investigate, to critique, not simply to benefit.

Feminist poet = woman poet

Feminist poet = woman poet consumed (studied, read, appreciated) under the regime of or in the economy of feminist perspectives, whether or not she is a feminist. One might want a different term for this-see the note on "feminist reception" below.

Feminist poet = [woman] poet who has certain themes in her work, themes (tautologically?) agreed upon as feminist. These themes - Alicia Ostriker names a number: self-division, anger, investigation of myth, assertion of the female body-are very palpable, valuable ways of organizing poetic texts, but have the flaws of their formulizable virtues: of being reductive or making the poem one-dimensional.

Feminist poet = [woman] poet who writes poems about the liberation of women

Feminist poet = [woman] poet who resists stereotypes of women-in her life? in her work? both?

Feminist poet = [woman] poet who resists stereotypes of women and men-again-where?

Feminist poet = [woman] poet who comments on gender issues in her critical work, who thinks about gender in the cultural field

Feminist poet = woman poet whose work is selectively seen, certain materials heavily valorized because of the existence of feminist criticism and its paradigms.

Feminist poet = [woman] poet who takes certain themes of "difference" involving women's experiences -menarche, menstruation, childbirth, kid life, sexisms experienced, rape, incest - as central subject matter (some of these topics are not exclusive to women)

Feminist poet = [woman] poet who tells the truth about her life as a woman. And with that verbal emphasis on truth and the unmediated communication of experience, one also might want to investigate the word "tells" or representation. As Margaret Homans so presciently said about Rukeyser's rousing manifesto "No more masks!": "Lines like Rukeyser's and the expressions of faith derived from them are always exhortatory, never descriptive, because to speak without a mask is an impossibility, for men and for women…." (Women Writers and Poetic Identity, 1980, 40)

Feminist poet = [woman] poet who used to be called a poetess

Feminist poet = [woman] poet in a certain anthology (like No More Masks!)

Feminist poet = poet who destabilizes the normative terms of gender/sexuality and makes some kind of critique of those issues in her/his poems. This is closing in on the word "queer" as synonym for "feminist"

Feminist poet = [woman] poet who refuses (self-censors) certain themes or solutions, certain images or insights because they do not explore or lead, in her view, to the liberation of women

Feminist poet = [woman] poet who calls explicit attention to the relative powerlessness of women and the relative power of men-or who exaggerates this positionality into female powerlessness, male power in all cases.

Feminist poet = [woman] poet historically coming to her production in some relation to the liberation of women, and to the cultural critique of female exclusions made by feminism in general

Feminist poet = [woman] poet writing something "politically involved…multi-gendered, …delicious to talk about, unpredictable" (to cite the Belladonna formulation from Rachel Levitsky)

Feminist poet = [woman] poet affronting the complexities of sexuality, eroticism, desire, odi et amo, frank and startling, decorum breaking (like Dodie Bellamy or Leslie Scalapino)

Feminist poet = [woman] poet who investigates language, narrative, genre and representation in its ways of constructing gender and gender roles. This is Kathleen Fraser's argument: "I recognized a structural order of fragmentation and resistance" that was anti-patriarchal; her argument for the crucial intervention of formally innovative and investigative poetry into a feminist field in Translating the Unspeakable: Poetry and the Innovative Necessity, 2000)

Feminist poet = a person who is a feminist, and who also writes poetry

Feminist poet = angry woman, writing poetry

Feminist poet = ironic woman, writing poetry

Feminist poet = [woman] poet who is "disobedient" (Alice Notley's term for herself); transgressive (like Carla Harryman); "resistant" (my term about myself); imbuing knowing with its investigative situatedness (like Lyn Hejinian's "La Faustienne") in full knowledge of gender normativities

Feminist poet = a poet radically skeptical about gender ideas and arrangements in a culture

Feminist poet = a poet who knows what she thinks about gender ideas and arrangements in a culture and does not particularly change her mind

Feminist poet = a poet who sometimes shows herself to be ironic and skeptical about gender and sexual arrangements, but other times is not, or not overtly

Feminist poet = a woman protesting the place of woman in culture and society (in her poetry? not in her poetry? I didn't say)

Feminist poet = one who finds herself "mounting an enormous struggle" within culture, including poetry, because of its deeply constitutive gender ideas


Anonymous said...

Hello, Donna. This is Steve Ganey, remember me? Well, I just read one of your posts about the class blog and I thought I'd explain my lack of blogging. I'm currently writing many of my ideas, including some inspired by the Hamster's Wheel posts, into sketches intended for TV. Right now, I'm just sitting on them, but after I graduate from Mizzou, I'll have something in my back pocket for writing school. Basically, I haven't blogged because I'm converting the Hamster's Wheel into television. Maybe it's a medium not as cutting edge as the web, but it 's my passion. Anyway, I'd just like to say that I thought that class was a great success and I would recommend it to anyone.

Donna said...

Hi Steve! Thanks for the good words about the class and for explaining your disappearance from the blogosphere. I have nothing against TV and am happy to know your blog provided a place to try out some ideas that I hope to one day see on Comedy Central. But, you know, is that really reason to stop blogging? Why not try out more ideas? (I'm blog crazy. But, then, you probably knew that.)

Anonymous said...

Yeah, you know it WAS a good place to try out some ideas. And I think I got a favorable response. I didn't just get lazy and forget about it, I made a conscious decision to let it go in favor of other priorities, which was kinda hard when I thought about you guys clicking on my blog for a cheap laugh and finding a ghost town. As silly as it may sound, my blog comments were kinda like my first fan mail, and that's really encouraging. But it looks like I'll be attending the New York Film Academy after I graduate this year, so maybe once I get done with all these classes and focus on my writing, I'll return to the blogosphere. And when I do, I'll let you know. Besides, ME? in the Big City??? You know I'll be full of great stories!

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