womanness is a/an:

visual exploration
poetic investigation
personal practice
erotic expression
performance of self-authorship
visual-verbal love song1
pursuit of a new archetype
living metaphor
nocturnal poem2
archive of female overflow
map of intuition
experiment in open research
question of feminine writing3

1Mann, Sally. Hold Still, Little Brown and Company, 2015, pp. 208. 2Paz, Octavio. “The Kingdoms of Pan.” Translated by Helen Lane. The Double Flame: Love and Eroticism, Harcourt, Inc., 1995, pp. 18. 3Woolf, Virginia. Un lieu à soi. Translated by Marie Darrieussecq, Denoël, 2016, pp. 176.

waning year/remarriage/wilding
a topography in fifteen chapters

tantric currents
Theater of Love
self study 1-21

Consider an axis of values that emphasizes:

  • Becoming over outcome
  • Human over product
  • Free and open sharing of ideas and creations
  • A process of ongoing revision and evolution
  • Exploration with intention but without fixed destination



2Joni Mitchell: Woman of Heart and Mind, Dir. Susan Lacy, Eagle Rock Entertainment, 2003.

3Sandra Gilbert: “The outsider, the Other, the woman poet owns only her own vision and therefore she can steal into the house of myth, see everything, and say, for the first time (and thus with the dearest freshness) what everything means to her. While [the male poet] shores fragments against his ruin, she exults as the fragments join in her with their own music.”

4Lauter, Estella. Women as Mythmakers: Poetry and Visual Art by Twentieth-Century Women, 1984, Indiana University Press, pp. 45.

6(a lost fragment, about how often women use the language of the sea to describe their own interiority.)

7Lauter, Estella. Women as Mythmakers: Poetry and Visual Art by Twentieth-Century Women, 1984, Indiana University Press, pp. 65.

8Atwood, Margaret. You Are Happy. Toronto: Oxford University Press, 1974, pp. 49.

9Varo, Remedios. Born Again (Nacer de Nuevo), 1960.

10I immediateley think of Suzan-Lori Parks’s invented foreign language of TALK in Fucking A.

11DuPlessis, Rachel Blau. “To Begin Story.” Special Session, “Myth in Contemporary Women’s Poetry,” organized by Estella Lauter for the Modern Language Association convention in December 1980.

12Caitlin Keogh: “The edge of the canvas is the restraint that imposes narrative and hierarchy onto the picture plane if composing a picture with recognizable ‘things’ and therefore was a liberating restraint to remove.”

13Kathryn Everly on Remedios Varo.

14From Georgia O’Keeffe, Living Modern: “a fresh modern aesthetic that drew no lines between the way one lived and worked” and “that art, architecture, dress and lifestyle should be one integrated system.”

15Sexton, Anne, et al. Selected Poems of Anne Sexton. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 1988, pp. 102.
I’m in the grocery store near my house getting my morning coffee and in the background a case of you, faintly, like a familiar embrace. And after I was just driving back from the desert with its ambient perfection1, remember?. And after we were just driving alongside the ocean dark listening to its covers. And after I was just thinking about its lyrical precision, its simultaneity of supplication and power, and how it made sense to me when I took a step back from the song itself to remember ”she was the subject and she was the painter.2 Yes, of course. That it wasn’t the experience of love I sought but that gesture of self-authorship, with love as just one of many characters to play. Now here it is in the background as I say hello and good morning and thank you and it’s even my favorite part, part of you/out of me, as my footsteps ring heavy on the floor. The loudest footsteps I know, in these lines from time to time. It’s amazing the comfort her words bring me in the vast landscapes of my own communion. It’s easy to be the lover, harder to be the artist. So leave me be in this wilderness with all the other she-poets and storytellers. Walk me a hundred miles into nothing, leave me lost and let me sing my own way home.

I keep talking about the wilderness and I think it’s become another expression of the search, the quest——the pursuit of something else. Some other archetype, some other myth3. I couldn’t accept the limited scope that had been offered to me and I was certain I wasn’t the only one starving, gasping, searching, now-ravenous, wailing, now-joyous for more. More. For the knowing recognition of a self that resembles the wild chiaroscuro of Self beating its wings beneath my surface. What I mean is: “the creation of a ‘counterworld’ in which women can believe in the images generated by or appearing through their dreams.”4 Circe’s temple with moon snakes and future tongues. A poet of the earth. My being born of earth and air but with the rhythms6 of the sea. Milk and bloody and honey. Emotional/artistic comprehension of a body that is, by defintion, boundless. To erase our “centuries of partly-conscious experience of silent complicity in a myth we did not choose.”7 “Come away with me, he said, we will live on a desert island.”8 The reflection of the crescent moon in the moment of ecstatic discovery.9 As above, so below. Waxing year or waning? ”I said, I am a desert island...”

How does one place a woman’s body within a frame? A visual frame, a lyrical frame. How does one place a woman’s experience within language? “This is not simply a reversal of image, or a re-interpretation of event with different emotions. Rather deformation is a struggle with the stuff that makes a text into a text: adequate grammar, understandability, a known vocabulary10, mandated sequences of events, speech itself as opposed to aphasia, stutter, or the void.”11 The void as the language of our experience. The loss of language our language’s clearest articulation. I tell my students to trust what they feel as they encounter words, to take special care with rhythm, with the winking symbology of repetition. Such as! Mary Magdalene. Mary, mother of. Mary, my mother (and the poet’s mother, too). My mother’s mother, a Scorpio, a woman strange to me, unmet, dead too young and narrow-faced in the one photo I’ve seen. An image in a frame, their five faces smiling, my mother small and soft and my own existence just the faintest flicker of potential hovering in the edges of her body. Edges of consciousness. Edges of restraint. Riding the edge. Reaching the edge and going suddenly another way. Mondrian’s edges as an entire utopian ethos. All that for an edge!12 "For her, tools of the painter and the writer are unified in breaking down our visual and intellectual customs."13 Rewriting the edge and therefore rewriting the frame and in so doing breaking the rules of: beauty/but not sensuality; sexuality/but not eroticism; domesticity as limitation/but not as an extension of unified14 vision.

       (I’m certain there is more to this list.)

How does one place a woman’s body within a frame? I don’t know yet, I’m still searching. But this much I know: with everything as material, everything as possibility. Anne Sexton, in a poem to her daughter: “there is nothing in your body that lies. All that is new is telling the truth.”15