Posts Tagged ‘ women ’

Was It Always Going to Be the Last Men Standing? – The New York Times

Was It Always Going To Be the Last Men Standing? |The New York Times

Opinion | Women’s Unpaid Labor is Worth $10,900,000,000,000 – The New York Times

Think about it, women . . . .

Obama: Women ‘pretty indisputably’ better leaders than men | TheHill

Former President Obama said at a recent event that he believes women are “indisputably better” leaders than men and confidently predicted that people would see a global improvement if every nation was led by a woman.

Source: Obama: Women ‘pretty indisputably’ better leaders than men | TheHill

The Kung Fu Nuns of the Drukpa Order

Until recently, Buddhist nuns in the Himalayan region were denied leadership positions and the opportunity to exercise as part of their spiritual practice. Then the spiritual leader of the Drukpa Order, frustrated at the lack of equality for women in the region, changed that and the Kung Fu Nuns were born.

Source: The Kung Fu Nuns of the Drukpa Order

American Poetry Review – Poems

SHARON MESMER
FLOOD THE WORLD WITH BEAUTY

A big literary conference is probably not the best place for a poet dealing with a mental breakdown. But there I was at AWP, skittishly perusing tables at the book fair, under the garish lights of the Minneapolis Convention Center. For two years, paralyzed by depression and anxiety, I was barely able to leave my apartment. Staying inside was also a problem because the TV, phone and microwave seemed to be emitting high-pitched whines. I’d contemplated suicide. But with the help of my husband, a good shrink and poetry, I was slowly recovering. I still wasn’t 100% myself, but just being in that crowd felt like a great victory.

 

At the Tavern Books table, I picked up a poetry collection with a striking title: The Fire’s Journey. As I paged through it, I read these words:

 

I cast myself in a hollow of shadow

from the highest contour of the blood

 

from the skin to the light entering through dawn

climbing up through the syllable

 

 

The voice, a combination of Sappho, Dickinson, Whitman and Blake, felt both ancient and contemporary. The poet told how creation began with sacred speech from the mouth of a poet-god. Then, like a shaman, the deity embarked upon a perilous Underworld journey to bring back wisdom and healing to humanity. I was especially attracted to the idea of descending into darkness for the benefit of others. I’d walked my own painful path; what knowledge could I share?

 

I looked at the cover again: The Fire’s Journey by Eunice Odio.

 

I’d never heard of her. A quick search on my phone revealed a stunning, movie star face: long dark hair framing a high forehead, eyebrows like black wings above fierce, luminous eyes. A visionary. However, her biography told a different story. Born in 1919, Odio was “the mother of Costa Rican poetry in the twentieth century.” But her work never saw publication in her home country until after she’d died, alone and undiscovered for days, in Mexico City at age 54. There were only a few examples of her work on the Internet, despite an impressive publication record. The book I’d just been reading was making its English language debut, the first volume of a 456-page epic that Odio had completed in 1957. As a poet myself, I felt desperate to know this brilliant, neglected woman — and how she’d come to that tragic end.

 

Back home in Brooklyn, I obsessively Googled. I ordered anthologies of Latin-American poetry and source books of Spanish-American women writers. As I researched Odio, I was shocked to discover many other talented female poets who’d suffered similar fates. Paging through one anthology I found the work of Delmira Agustini, shot by her estranged husband (who then turned the pistol on himself) in a hotel room in Montevideo, Uruguay in 1914.  She was only 27. She’d published her first collection at 21, and was praised by critics of the time (for her beauty as much as for her work). Her poem “Lo inefable” (“The Ineffable”) struck me:

 

Have you never endured a star like a white dwarf

inside you that gives no light but entirely consumes?

 

 

Those lines described exactly how I’d felt during my breakdown.

 

In the same book I came across this biographical note for Alfonsina Storni:

 

“Depressed and in bad health, she walked into the sea in October 1938.”

 

She was 46. Born in Switzerland in 1892, she’d come to Argentina with her Swiss-Italian parents when she was three. Her first book was published when she was only 24. Like Agustini, she’d frankly depicted female desire and depression. Pages later, I read the lyrics to “Gracias a la vida” (“Here’s to Life”) by Violeta Parra, born in Chile in 1917. The version in the anthology was co-translated by Joan Baez. An activist like Baez, Parra had collected and performed Chilean folk songs. She toured Europe for four years, introducing her audiences to regional singers and local customs. In 1963 she founded a performance space in Santiago called La Carpa de La Reina — the Queen’s Tent. The following year, she became the first Latin-American artist to have a solo exhibition of her paintings, sculptures and arpilleras (patchwork pictures constructed from scraps of cloth and burlap) at the Museum of Decorative Arts of the Louvre. Unfortunately, the public’s response to the Queen’s Tent was not positive. Feeling abandoned, Parra shot herself in the head in 1967, in the space she’d created.

 

I had to close the book. I was reminded, of course, of Plath and Sexton, but I’d personally known poets like that. My best friend Lydia Tomkiw passed away in 2007, alone like Odio, of alcoholism. We’d met in a college poetry class, back in Chicago. Together, we plotted our rise to literary fame, sent work out, and gave readings. We’d even hatched a scheme to kidnap Allen Ginsberg, to get ourselves on the cover of Time magazine. (When we met him at a reading, and told him about our idea, he was all for it. Too bad we didn’t have a plan.) But we grew apart when her drinking began to consume her life. I’d always wondered whether it was artistic sensitivity that created the conditions for depression, or was depression the gateway to great art. And why did women seem to succumb more than men?

 

I also wondered: How had I survived, when they hadn’t?

 

The answer was obvious. I had things they lacked: monetary resources, medical information, love. I wanted to embrace these lost sisters, tell them they’d never be forgotten because they’d managed to flood the world — or at least my world — with beauty. During my breakdown, poetry had sustained me. Now, I realized, I had a debt to repay.

 

I got up and Googled Delmira Agustini’s face, printed the image, and pasted it in the anthology next to her selection. I did the same with Odio, Storni and Parra. I read their work, stared into their eyes, and made notes. I compiled everything I could find on the Internet about them, and ordered more books. I felt like I was following a breadcrumb trail: the more I read, the more women I discovered. Soon, I had a growing stack of books next to my reading chair and a list of “under known” women poets from throughout the Americas, from Canada to Uruguay. I wrote in a fever pitch — poems that incorporated details of their lives, that spoke directly to them. At times, I could feel my language blurring into theirs. It was the only thing I wanted to do, and I rose at dawn every day and wrote for hours. I hadn’t written that much since before my breakdown. One day I realized I was creating a new manuscript, one poem for each woman. I decided to include their biographies and call it (after a line by Agustini) Even Living Makes Me Die. I would honor them using the art form we shared. Because they’d descended to the depths and never returned. Because I did. Because through their work they’d brought back knowledge that speaks to us in difficult times — that poetry is a long conversation with wise friends over time, a kind of justice, a kind of peace. Because they never knew they had done that.

 

Sharon Mesmer

Published in American Poetry Review – Volume 48  |  No. 06

Source: American Poetry Review – Poems

They’re Mad as Hell – The New York Times

“I don’t know, you get to a place when a switch flips. You tell yourself, ‘I’m done.

Toni Tunney

Sunday Poem | 3 Quarks Daily

Another Life

Women spend the afternoon squatting on the porch,
picking lice from each other’s hair.
They spend the evening feeding the little ones,
lulling them to sleep in the glow of the bottle lamp.
The rest of the night
they offer their back to be slapped and kicked by the men of the house
or sprawl half-naked on the hard wooden cot.
Crows and women greet the dawn together,
the women blowing into the oven to start the fire,
tapping on the back of the winnowing tray with five fingers
and, with two, picking out the stones.
Half their lives women pick stones from the rice.
All their lives stones pile up in their hearts,
no one there to touch them even with two fingers.

by Taslima Nasrin

~~~~~~~~

Taslima Nasrin, an award-winning writer, physician, secular humanist and human rights activist, is known for her powerful writings on women oppression and unflinching criticism of religion, despite forced exile and multiple fatwas calling for her death.

Source: Sunday Poem | 3 Quarks Daily