Wednesday, July 04, 2012

Ongoing Notes to My Interview for CWILA

Hi Natalee,
I'm not sure what Flarf has to do with anything here...nor am I sure what model you are referring to. 
Good points. This brief interview can't speak for all women. Nor for all experiences. Nor should it. If it's harsh, if it's blunt, it's because I think that we really need to think about the issue of mentorship and promotion and why great pools of women go unnoticed, their work unengaged with. And because speaking in public is met with the blunt and harsh: that's reality. Hence my call for a boot camp: get used to it, speaking in public is uncomfortable. 
So, if you're squeamish, don't poke the beach rubble, or you can't cover every angle in every response. Further, if we're going to ask questions about difficult topics such as women, power and representation don't expect to like all the answers we get. It's not a simple matter of being supportive. The more I think and witness and watch, the more complicated I realize it is.  
It's simplistic to say it's simply a matter of these books not being reviewed. Who will review them? What context, what discourse? What forum? To what audience? And why are women not writing more reviews? What conversations are they content to have? What conversations do they want to have? How are domestic situations and financial arrangements and "mentorship," playing into those decisions? How do they play into the work? There are larger questions that haven't yet been touched on here: hopefully the conversations will spill out, but in what forum? 
Hopefully we will find ourselves with essays  that appear in the Walrus, or the G&M, or National Post, or Geist, or Maisonneuve--and that we'll see collections of essays from women about poetry and cultural matters that are discussed, not in these comment streams, or not only...
My frustration, clear in my interview, is that speaking out about these issues is costly It attracts a lot of emotional friction and quite frankly, as I say above, it's time better spent pushing each other to write better, longer, go further. What forum do we need for that? That's where I want to go. Maybe this is it. I hope so (yay, Gillian Jerome et al).
And yes, my post above is about poets--but also female public voices. I don't think women in other genres/disciplines are quite as critically underrepresented as poetry. Here. Now. It's a particular problem. 
How can we make women more comfortable speaking in public? There are many voices out there that I respect, that I would like to hear more from--I mention Karen Solie and Ken Babstock because every poet knows who they are, but there are more--Sue Goyette, Katia Grubisic, Kate Eichhorn, Angela Carr, Kaz, Sonnet L'abbe, and young ones such as Nikki Reimer and Natalie Zed, Gillian Wigmore, and so many in Vancouver that I have met briefly, but was very excited by, and now my students coming up--Emma Healey, Laura Broadbent, Lise Gaston, Ben voices that are creating their own forums. Here is Emma Healey's sophomore project: 
So sure, there is a lot to celebrate--there are some great young critics, Karis Shearer, Erin Wunker, and yourself. Still, there is also, I hope, a way to work smarter, and I for one am tired of waves of women's work disappearing (and that's another complicated issue....). 
Call me blunt, but I'm going for national a six pack of Susan Sontags and a woman on every masthead. What will it take to get us there?  


Guillaume Morissette said...

thank you for always being so kind to 'emerging' writers sina. I didn't know laura broadbent until recently (through conversation we realized we both had had you & talked about sina-as-positive-influence a little), but I liked what I've read from her a lot.

Lemon Hound said...

Cheers, Guillaume, nice of you to say. Look for more from Ms. Broadbent on these pages.