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Blog Entries tagged 'women'

Sugar In My Bowl.

I am sooo loving being a part of this incredible collection. 

From Kirkus:

Award-winning writer and high-flying sexual truth-teller Jong (Love Comes First, 2009, etc.) partners with 28 collaborators to create this fierce and refreshingly frank collection of personal essays, short fiction and cartoons celebrating female desire.

The approaches to the still-taboo topic of feminine sexuality—at least, for women writers seeking approbation from the literary establishment—are, as Jong notes, “as varied as sexuality itself” and as exuberantly diverse as the contributors themselves. They range from such emerging talents as Elisa Albert and J.A.K. Andres to such luminaries as Rebecca Walker, Eve Ensler, Susan Cheever, Anne Roiphe and Fay Weldon, and represent a multiethnic, multigenerational swath of some of the finest women writers in the United States.

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July 5th, 2013

Washington Post, The Root: The Fire This Time: An Interview with Ericka Huggins, for The Root

 

In 1967 Ericka Jenkins met John Huggins during her first year at HBCU Lincoln University in Pennsylvania. America was in turmoil. Inspired by a photo essay documenting police brutality against Huey Newton, she and John climbed into their car and headed for Los Angeles.

Within a year, the two teenagers had married and become active in the Black Panther Party. Three weeks after the birth of their only child, John Huggins was shot to death while organizing black students on the UCLA campus.

Devastated, Ericka continued her party work in New Haven, Conn. There, she was accused of conspiracy with intent to commit murder of a man thought to be an FBI informant. She spent two years in prison awaiting trial and upon release moved to Oakland, Calif., to join the leadership of the BPP. She continued the organization's mission of educating and feeding the black community for more than a decade.

Ericka still lives and teaches in Oakland, and in the midst of the recent reaction of the Oakland Police Department on Oct. 25 to peaceful protesters who are part of the Occupy Wall Street movement, I thought she might put current events in historical perspective. I caught up with her as she was traveling to promote the fascinating Swedish film Black Power Mixtape: 1967-1975.

The Root: What similarities and differences do you see between the Black Panther Party and the Occupy Wall Street movement?

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November 13th, 2011

Using Legos to Explain Global Changes

April 9th, 2010

Madame Chiang Kai Shek and Eleanor Roosevelt

The Times says the book is awful, but isn't the photo sublime. The turn of the ankle, the rich blue velvet and inscrutable face. The way the eye is drawn to Madame Chiang Kai, how she gives nothing but takes everything. Then Eleanor's distinct blend of American naivete, grit, and optimism.

Addendum: From the review in today's NYT:

Christopher Isherwood, traveling in China with W. H. Auden, met Madame Chiang in the late 1930s. He caught her aura exactly: “She could be terrible, she could be gracious, she could be businesslike, she could be ruthless. . . . Strangely enough, I have never heard anybody comment on her perfume. It is the most delicious either of us has ever smelt.”

November 5th, 2009

Nothing Ever Happens on My Block


So as many of you know, I love great design.

Which is one reason I love Donald Crews. My son and I have just about every one of his books, and have spent many hours reading our favorites: Freight Train, Harbor, and especially Flying.

Crews is someone I've wanted to interview for years--his graphic work is that strong--and as I'm working on a book at the moment that integrates the visual arts, I sought him out. 

I found him, and also the work of his daughter, Nina Crews, who is a terrific illustrator in her own right. I also found an interview with her in which she mentioned a favorite children's book that inspired her work. 

It's called Nothing Ever Happens On My Block by Ellen Raskin. It was published in 1965. I immediately ordered it from Amazon. It arrived yesterday and is FANTASTIC. It's about a boy, Chester Filbert, who declares nothing ever happens on his block while a dozen fascinating stories play out behind him.

What makes the book so great, aside from its lovely, lovely design, is the way the six or seven mini-narratives unfold in the graphics behind Filbert. You have to keep going back to find the early versions of each one to follow them, which ends up feeling like a cross between a treasure hunt and reading six books in one.

GENIUS. 

And that's my post for today. Even when we think nothing is going on, we are at the center of an untold number of stories. We just have to wake up to them. Then we won't be like Chester Filbert, thinking nothing ever happens when really, we are at the center of universe. 

September 25th, 2009

So I was Tweeting Mad Men...

...and wondering with @JenDeaderick if, after her horrid birth experience, Betty Draper will read the Feminine Mystique, put her head in the oven or both. Which inspired the lovely JD to send me to one of Plath's many extraordinary poems:

Morning Song

by Sylvia Plath

Love set you going like a fat gold watch.
The midwife slapped your footsoles, and your bald cry
Took its place among the elements.

Our voices echo, magnifying your arrival. New statue.
In a drafty museum, your nakedness
Shadows our safety. We stand round blankly as walls.

I’m no more your mother
Than the cloud that distills a mirror to reflect its own slow
Effacement at the wind’s hand.

All night your moth-breath
Flickers among the flat pink roses. I wake to listen:
A far sea moves in my ear.

One cry, and I stumble from bed, cow-heavy and floral
In my Victorian nightgown.
Your mouth opens clean as a cat’s. The window square

Whitens and swallows its dull stars. And now you try
Your handful of notes;
The clear vowels rise like balloons.
 

Sylvia Plath, “Morning Song” from Collected Poems.

Copyright © 1960, 1965, 1971, 1981 by the Estate of Sylvia Plath.

September 20th, 2009

Sophia Loren in Libya, via Hollywood

Love the legs, light, rocks, cigarette, turn of her head, strong nose, throw-on dress, easy sexuality. Love the raw feminine power. The beauty.

September 20th, 2009

Yes, in fact, I do blame (F)eminism

So there seems to be outpouring of excitement about the Katie Roiphe piece on Double XX on motherhood as a narcotic. 

What frustrates about this "excitement" on Salon and all the other more "mainstream" blogs, is the way editors and many readers ignore the work of women outside of their "milieu" be they poor, black, Asian-American, gay, male, community-college educated or otherwise.

My book Baby Love, for example, is also about the subject of feminism and motherhood and making a surprising and seemingly "anti-feminist" choice, and yet received none of the nuanced treatment. In fact, Salon used my piece on this exact subject to excoriate me personally, running an ill-informed post by Phyllis Chesler in which I was labeled misguided, confused, and in the throes of some kind of misplaced mother-daughter drama. My work was dismissed as personal pathology.

Which brings us to Katie Roiphe. Good gracious, she and I hashed it out on Charlie Rose ten years ago. Her intellect is no more superior, her writing no more "eloquent," but her privilege is, truly, many more generations deep, and certain editors apparently believe she has much more in common with their readers--an unfair assessment.

The entire episode reminds me of one of the more insightful things my mother told me (and regardless of the current state of our relationship, my mother has told me MANY insightful things):

"We read them, but really, they do not read us."

Meaning, of course, that many white women of privilege and access think what they write is new because they don't really bother to read the work of women (and men) outside of their race and/or class. And yet we think nothing of reading theirs and weighing their contributions as part of our process of informing ourselves as we begin to do our own work.

And, really, truly, the bottom line? I blame it on (F)eminism. Why is it that women of privilege are able to do this with impunity in the name of (F)eminism?

Because this kind of racial and economic apartheid is built into contemporary, especially Second Wave, (F)eminism. This latest exchange of pseudo-philosophical banter is just one more line item on an exhaustive list of betrayals, insults, and selective dismissals of the work of many self-identified feminists and others who have long ago abandoned their affiliation.

This remains a breathtakingly short-sighted method of engagement. 

June 1st, 2009

Alice Coltrane's Journey In Satchidananda

 

“Direct inspiration for ‘Journey In Satchidananda’ comes from my meeting and association with someone who is near and dear to me. I am speaking of my own beloved spiritual preceptor, Swami Satchidananda. Swamiji is the first example I have seen in recent years of Universal Love or God in action. He expresses an impersonal love which encompasses thousands of people. Anyone listening to this selection should try to envision himself floating on an ocean of Satchidanandaji’s love, which is literally carrying countless devotees across the vicissitudes and stormy blasts of life to the other shore. Satchidananda means knowledge, existence, bliss."

Alice Coltrane -- Journey In Satchidananda
 
One of my all time favorites--Alice and her husband John Coltrane remind me in many ways of John and Yoko. Two powerful artists, together. Searching for a higher plane. 
May 11th, 2009

A little theory today.

 

"None of us can ever retrieve that innocence before all theory when art knew no need to justify itself, when one did not ask of a work what it said because one knew (or thought one knew) what it did. From now to the end of consciousness, we are stuck with the task of defending art."

Susan Sontag, Against Interpretation

And, of course, painting by Mark Rothko.

May 5th, 2009