Snowed Under . . .

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. . . but digging out!  Not literally, but from the end-of-semester madness, which included not only grading but five--count 'em--five faculty reappointment files to review.  (Academics:  you understand.)  I will just quickly say that reading The Tale of Mrs. Tiggy Winkle to 25-30 pre-schoolers was the highlight of my week, and I now know what I want to be when I grow up:  a grandma or a pre-K teacher. 

Then I got wind that the new issue of the journal of the Barnard Center for Research on Women, Scholar & Feminist Online, had just pubbed, and it's gorgeous! 

Called Polyphonic Feminisms:  Acting in Concert, the issue is about all different kinds of feminisms and how they're working now.  It's a beautiful, eclectic issue that includes scholarly pieces, personal pieces, pieces on drumming, singing, dancing, parenting.  There are videos and artwork next to Sara Ahmed's piece "Feminist Killjoys (and Other Willful Subjects)" next to Duchess Harris's "The State of Black Women in Politics Under the First Black President."  There's a piece on fat, pleasure, and heterofemininity, a piece on women and tattoos--and, as if it weren't cool enough already, the whole journal has a soundtrack.  (My contribution to the playlist is Irma Thomas & Galactic's awesome "Heart of Steel," which is great belted out when you're home alone.) 

My own piece that's included, "On Becoming Educated," is a personal essay I read part of here at UNL this fall.  It's about graduate school and the unsettling cognitive frictions around class, gender, and ethnicity that can occur there.  On the whole, I loved my grad school experience, but this piece opens up a few particular moments of weirdness and thinks about what we can do as teachers to make school a welcoming place for everyone.


Faye said:

Reading "On Becoming Educated" affected me deeply. I remember, during the first residency of my MFA program, that you stopped me on a difficult day and asked what was wrong. I remember that you set aside an hour that week to stand at a blackboard in an almost-empty room, with just me sitting at a desk or a table, and explained some basic tools that would help my writing, help this frightened new student with fragile self-esteem believe that the task was not hopeless. I couldn't believe that a "real" writer like you would spend an hour with me, and I was nervous and awkward and didn't know what to say. But that image is burned in my mind, the image of you standing at that blackboard writing out things that would help me while I sat there scratching notes in my notebook. The image, in some ways, is even more clear than what you wrote on the blackboard that day. What affected me was that you cared. And sometimes knowing that someone you admire cares, and believes in you, is all that you need to begin believing in yourself.

December 21, 2010 3:36 PM

Faye said:

Just adding to my last comment -- I in no way qualify as a person in need, in the general way that phrase is understood. But I really related to what you wrote in your article about academic language and lingo and the sense of feeling left out of an exclusive club. I have wrestled, since taking my first steps into the contemporary literary world, with some similar kinds of feelings. Do we write to be read by other writers? Do we write to win prizes that other writers compete for, that will catch the attention of editors and publishers? Do we write so that people will smile with recognition when we enter a room at a conference? Is this the end goal?

Every time I have seen you on a panel at a conference, you have stood up and said something DIFFERENT and real, and despite your very impressive intellect, what you say is never about that. This is one of the things I admire so much.

December 21, 2010 3:53 PM

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