Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Gender & Poetry

Jessica Smith always has interesting things to say, and her recent post about women and publishing has sparked some discussion over at the Harriet blog. Craig Santos Perez (whose post "'Afro Picks,'" Publisher's Weekly, & the Racialized Pun" is a must-read) asks, "do you think women’s self-promotion in poetry differs from men’s self-promotion?" Here is what I posted in the comments:

The men who have established the professional standards that govern the world of poetry are by and large men who have benefited from many different kinds of unearned privilege, including the uncompensated labor of many women (domestic, secretarial, and creative). Therefore, the question should not be “how can women learn the skills that men seem naturally to possess (self-promotion)?” Those skills, upon closer inspection, reveal themselves to be not much more than plain, old-fashioned bourgeois entrepreneurialism that is rooted in inequality. I think it is good that men are asking what they should do vis-à-vis feminism, but I think the best way to begin is through careful scrutiny of their own practices. If one finds oneself with a creative project that does not include women, one should not conclude that it is the fault of women. Rather, one should ask “what’s wrong with this creative project in that it excludes women?”

Another thing that seems important to this discussion is time (see this article about sleep as a feminist issue). Who has time and who does not. Many women I know struggle to find the time to complete their own projects, and this lack of time surely has something to do with "self promotion." I talk more about time and gender and poetry in a post I have forthcoming over at delirious hem (where Jennifer Bartlett is asking some very important questions about gender, poetry, and disability; you should check out her blog too).

ETA: Craig's new post, with incisive, thoughtful comments from the rad Reb Livingston and the fab Danielle Pafunda

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