Sunday, August 16, 2009

Judy Grahn

"A woman is talking to death," by Judy Grahn
Testimony in trials that never got heard

my lovers teeth are white geese flying above me
my lovers muscles are rope ladders under my hands

we were driving home slow
my lover and I, across the long Bay Bridge,
one February midnight, when midway
over in the far left lane, I saw a strange scene:

on small young man standing by the rail,
and in the lane itself, parked straight across
as if it could stop anything, a large young
man upon a stalled motorcycle, perfectly
relaxed as if he'd stopped at a hamburger stand;
he was wearing a peacoat and levis, and
he had his head back, roaring, you
could almost hear the laugh, it
was so real.

"Look at that fool," I said, "in the
middle of bridge like that," a very
womanly remark.

Then we heard the meaning of the noise
of metal on a concrete bridge at 50
miles an hour, and the far left lane
filled up with a big car that had a
motorcycle jammed on its front bumper...
Published in 1977, Diana Press, Distributed by Crossing Press (Oakland, Calif, Trumansburg, N.Y). The text can be downloaded here or here. Several people from the Women's Poetry Listserv suggested Grahn. This certainly embodies a moment.

Here's Honor Moore who recently edited Poems from the Women's Movement
At first it seemed that New York City in 1970 had no room for personal poems by privileged white women like me. The women's movement I tracked down was heavily influenced by the left politics I was familiar with, protesting racism, the war in Vietnam, inequity of rich and poor, all of which, women's liberation now declared, were consequences of male supremacy and patriarchy. Fulfilling the pledge I'd made when I quit graduate school, I took to the streets, and one day, hearing that the radical newspaper Rat had been taken over by a cadre of women guided by WITCH (the Women's International Terrorist Conspiracy from Hell), of which Robin Morgan was a founder, I visited its offices on East 14th Street. There I found a book by the black poet Sonia Sanchez, whose fierce lyrics startled me with their directness and intimacy. It was there too, in the first woman-produced issue of Rat, that I read "Goodbye to All That," Robin Morgan's declaration of independence from the male left, its title borrowed from Robert Graves' 1929 anti-war memoir. Defending in polemic the takeover of a paper whose radicalism was compromised, she declared, by the pornography that drenched its pages, Morgan took on the sexism of the radical men for whom she and so many movement women had fetched coffee and typed flyers. "Sexism is not the fault of women—kill your fathers, not your mothers," she wrote. Goodbye to all that indeed.

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