Wednesday, April 7, 2010

A Lesbian Poetry Journal to be Named "Diatribe" : Where Diatribes are More than Allowed

If ever I am the position (lotus or otherwise) of starting my own feminist-lesbian-queer writing journal, I have a name for it ready: Diatribe. I cannot tell you how much I love this name, love this word. I want to go on a diatribe. Oh wait, I am. Diatribe, yes. It gets to the point (hahahaha). Ranting, a thing to avoid? Maybe. But ranting with style: it works. Embrace the rant. The rant is peaceful and powerful and empowering. Non-violent worded political art! I find "Diatribe" very empowering. It makes me feel better. It can be about self-acceptance and validation through art, as well as about the art itself. It feels fierce and righteous, that powerful word. Women have been dis-empowered, their voices muted: Diatribe is the safe place for all those "angry, man-hating lesbians" (the construction created BY men to stigmatize further feminists). In my head, it exists.

I'm inspired and anxious. Biting one of my nails, too. School did this to me. It's the old, familiar pressure to "do something" that often stops me from doing. Anyway, as I am searching to and fro, internet and Poet's Handbook, looking for the right fit for my poems; I am finding that I don't "fit" nicely (productively) in most journals. Big surprise! Not. There just aren't many journals out there who center on the lesbian experience. Whenever I read, "No porn, please," I always feel awkward and resentful. Like, what do you mean by "porn?" What constitutes "porn" and where is the line drawn? Will you misinterpret my writing for porn? For instance, I frequently use the word, "cunt," in my poems. Will my they be overlooked by "fine" journals because of this? Probably by some. Dang. My poetry is out-of-bounds: it's erotic and dark but at the same time it's philosophical and even old fashioned (romantic?). It's a really strange mix because it's me. I guess, like my poetry, I'm just not for most people. Most people don't get "me" so they won't get "it." (I'm kind of an odd-ball, minus the ball.) But a few will, I hope. I only have this (my) voice to work stories to tell.

I came upon a treasure of a poetry book in the bargain basement of a bookshop in Northampton, Massachusetts back in 2002 when I was a student at Hampshire College. Lesbian Poetry: An Anthology (with Elly Bulkin, Persephone Press, 1980). I love this book. I fit in this book (not literally, although some might suggest otherwise after reading a couple lines from one of my highly acclaimed middle school poems: "That girl, she's so skinny/An inch small piece would be her whole meal" or "She could fit on a pin and there'd still be room." Wow - and I didn't even include examples of my non-compliant breaks with traditional, patriarchal grammar and spelling (I love you, bell hooks). I was writing it about myself (me = "that girl" -neg.= symbol for modern girl struggling with impossible images of beauty in the media, yadayadayada). (That was right after I finished the kid's meal, chocolate shake and Hershey's pie from Burger King.)) Back to the book that makes me happy: I feel at home with the writing in the Lesbian Poetry book. Not that this needs to be said, but. Diatribes are allowed.

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