I am a Supportive Feminist

by Kali Nelson

red code for a computer that says end patriarchy.
A sign written in code.

My lipstick, I pick it out carefully every morning.

All the shades of red and pink remind me that

I am the decedent of warriors.

My mother was a warrior

And her mother before her.

They did not use lipstick to armor up.

They used a little pink ribbon.

But my lipstick is my armor.

Without it I feel naked, defenseless.

My feminism is a lot like my lipstick,

I sometimes water it down as to not offend.

From blood red to pastel pink

I know I shouldn’t but I do.

I am most offensive in my head.

Always set to my darkest red.

I do not control my thoughts in my head, but I censor myself when in crowds.

But do not think I do this for you. I do this for me,

Because I do not want to fight today

My feminism is ready to combat all the stereotypes.

Don’t tell me I cannot,

If you do, get ready to watch me do it.

Oh dad,

Thank you for telling me I could be whatever I wanted

You’ve raised an ambitious woman.

But did you have to say you think it’d take me five years to graduate?

Because now dad,

I have to do it in four. Continue reading “I am a Supportive Feminist”

3 Poems

By Emily Alexander 

blogpoems
Drawing of different people standing close to each other.

I have been struggling to figure out what to say about the election, and what kind of post I wanted to write for this week. There is so much hurt right now. I am one of the lucky ones, whose circumstances have put me in a place of relative privilege that allows me to search for and find love. So mostly I want to listen. For this post, I decided to share three of my poems; the first two are about the most important women in my life, and the last is a love poem. I am hoping that I am lucky enough to have this little bit of light, and to give it.
Continue reading “3 Poems”

An Evening of Other Marvels: Kathryn Nuernberger, Laura Read, and Maya Zeller Read at Bookpeople

By Emily Alexander

bookpeople

On Friday night at Bookpeople, I saw Kathryn Nuernberger, Laura Read, and Maya Zeller participate in a reading called “Taxidermy Mermaids, the Vegetable Lamb of Tartary, and Other Marvels.” The reading was smart, funny, and genuine. Each poet had a wide range of subject matter and themes, all of which tended to circle around femininity and womanhood, but in very different ways. Continue reading “An Evening of Other Marvels: Kathryn Nuernberger, Laura Read, and Maya Zeller Read at Bookpeople”

Three Poems

By Canese Jarboe

18509989254_40f4f50345_c
“Untitled” by Sarah Mittermaier


Ars Poetica (scavenge)

A female alligator snapping turtle will collect sperm
it over several seasons. You know when the time is right.
I carry you by your carapace and push you past aluminum threshold
to truck bed. You crawled all night
to lay your eggs in the icebox of the ditch at sun-
up. I recall they found one of you down in Alma with a musket ball
embedded in their shell—saw men running
and gutted by bayonetlight, muzzle-raw. I scrawl
my name into your belly with a pocketknife, a sigil to bind you here.
I will eat your heart to make me brave. You are full of snake,
crawdad, filaments of hair.
If I cut off your head, your body should live for nine more days.
Your eggs are soft and warm in the hole you’ve dug. I swallow
them one by one hoping to feel them hatch in my hollow.

Continue reading “Three Poems”

The F Word Live

Ashley Peel

If you’ve ever felt the urge, the need, the desire to scream the F word in front of a live audience, now is your chance. And by the F word, I do mean, of course, Feminism. The 2nd Annual “The F Word Live”Poetry Slam will be held on November 12, 2013 from 7:00-9:00 p.m. in the Borah Theater, located in the Student Union Building at the University of Idaho.

F-Word-Live-Web-Banner

Funded by generous donors, this performance is completely free to UI Students (with valid student ID) and only five dollars for the general public. Once again, Dr. Traci Craig will MC the slam.

A poetry slam is a young tradition that began in Chicago in the early 80s. A construction worker by the name of Marc Smith is credited for starting the first poetry slam in a Chicago jazz club, Get Me High Lounge, on Monday nights. After the slam’s popularity increased, he began a slam at The Green Mill Jazz Club to boost the lull of Sunday evenings. This location became permanent. The first National Poetry Slam was held in San Francisco in 1990 involving only three teams. Today, approximately eighty teams battle for first place over a five-day competition and the tradition has spread world-wide.

Although the tradition of poetry slams is competitive, The F Word Live is not a competition, but a celebration of individual feminism and the future. However, participants are encouraged to the use “all of the tricks of storytelling, songwriting, theater, stand-up comedy, and cold hard poetry” as the tradition is described by the National Poetry Slam’s website. The Women’s Center web site describes November’s slam as a performance of spoken word, only, which “is a form of performance poetry that often uses alliterated prose or verse and occasionally, metered verse, to express social commentary. Traditionally, it is in the first person, is from the poet’s point of view, and is themed in current events.”

Applications are still open for a performance spot in the poetry slam. Poets and performers of all levels are welcome, novice to professionals. Applications are due by October 25 at 5:00 p.m. and applicants will by notified on Tuesday, November 5. You can find the online application here. For more information check out the UI Women’s Center website or contact The F Word Live coordinator, Colleen Kulesza, at ckulesza@uidaho.edu.

Poetry as a Feminist Practice

adriennerichBy Erin Heuring

A poet, essayist, and one of the most prominent voices in modern feminism, Adrienne Rich explored the rich experiences of women through the written word. Hailed as “one of the most widely read and influential poets of the second half of the twentieth century,” it seems fitting to honor her in the aftermath of April’s National Poetry Month. Adrienne Rich passed away March 27, 2012, but her poetry will endure for generations to come.

Adrienne Rich was born in Baltimore, Maryland on May 16, 1929. She attended Harvard and studied poetry, and later married an economics professor she had met there. After the birth of her third child, Rich produced a book of poetry which mark a dramatic shift in the themes she explored in her writing. Entitled “Snapshots of a Daughter-in-Law,” the volume included more personal poetry and an exploration of what it was to be a wife and mother in the 1950s. Rich was also involved in politics and the New Left and began teaching at Columbia University. Rich’s “Diving into the Wreck” split the 1974 National Book Award for Poetry with Allen Ginsberg. After divorcing her husband, Rich began a long-term relationship with her life partner, Michelle Cliff, and acknowledged lesbianism as a political and personal issue. Rich also wrote socio-political essays, including “Compulsory Heterosexuality and Lesbian Existence,” which was one of the first to bring to light the theme of lesbian existence. During this period of Rich’s life, she seem to “cross a threshold into a new relationship with the universe.” Rich died last year at her Santa Cruz, California home at the age of 82.

The poet W.S. Merwin said of Rich’s writings:

“All her life she has been in love with the hope of telling utter truth, and her command of language from the first has been startlingly powerful.”

divingintothewreck
Diving into the Wreck

First having read the book of myths,
and loaded the camera,
and checked the edge of the knife-blade,
I put on
the body-armor of black rubber
the absurd flippers
the grave and awkward mask.
I am having to do this
not like Cousteau with his
assiduous team
aboard the sun-flooded schooner
but here alone.
There is a ladder.
The ladder is always there
hanging innocently
close to the side of the schooner.
We know what it is for,
we who have used it.
Otherwise
it is a piece of maritime floss
some sundry equipment.
I go down.
Rung after rung and still
the oxygen immerses me
the blue light
the clear atoms
of our human air.
I go down.
My flippers cripple me,
I crawl like an insect down the ladder
and there is no one
to tell me when the ocean
will begin.
First the air is blue and then
it is bluer and then green and then
black I am blacking out and yet
my mask is powerful
it pumps my blood with power
the sea is another story
the sea is not a question of power
I have to learn alone
to turn my body without force
in the deep element.
And now: it is easy to forget
what I came for
among so many who have always
lived here
swaying their crenellated fans
between the reefs
and besides
you breathe differently down here.
I came to explore the wreck.
The words are purposes.
The words are maps.
I came to see the damage that was done
and the treasures that prevail.
I stroke the beam of my lamp
slowly along the flank
of something more permanent than
fish or weed
the thing I came for:
the wreck and not the story of the wreck
the thing itself and not the myth
the drowned face always staring
toward the sun
the evidence of damage
worn by salt and sway into this threadbare beauty
the ribs of the disaster
curving their assertion
among the tentative haunters.
This is the place.
And I am here, the mermaid whose dark hair
streams black, the merman in his armored body.
We circle silently
about the wreck
we dive into the hold.
I am she: I am he
whose drowned face sleeps with open eyes
whose breasts still bear the stress
whose silver, copper, vermeil cargo lies
obscurely inside barrels
half-wedged and left to rot
we are the half-destroyed instruments
that once held to a course
the water-eaten log
the fouled compass
We are, I am, you are
by cowardice or courage
the one who find our way
back to this scene
carrying a knife, a camera
a book of myths
in which
our names do not appear.