Creative activists have reacted to the 2016 Presidential election in myriad ways. Editors Danielle Barnhart and Iris Mahan have drawn on their profound knowledge of the poetry scene to put together an extraordinary list of poets taking a feminist stance against the new authority. What began as an informal collaboration of like-minded poetsto be released as a handbound chapbookhas grown into something far more substantial and ambitious: a fully fledged anthology of women’s resistance, with a portion of proceeds supporting Planned Parenthood and the Center for Reproductive Rights.
Representing the complexity and diversity of contemporary womanhood and bolstering the fight against racism, sexism, and violence, this collection unites powerful new writers, performers, and activists with established poets. Contributors include Denice Frohman, Elizabeth Acevedo, Sandra Beasley, Jericho Brown, Mahogany L. Browne, Danielle Chapman, Tyehimba Jess, Kimberly Johnson, Jacqueline Jones LaMon, Maureen N. McLane, Joyce Peseroff, Mary Ruefle, Trish Salah, Patricia Smith, Anne Waldman, and Rachel Zucker.
|Product dimensions:||6.00(w) x 6.90(h) x 0.70(d)|
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Read an Excerpt
Kiss Me, Kate
Ruth Bader Ginsburg sits in the nineteenth row of my heart while onstage, a woman has been conscribed to the shape of a shrew. The actress has sparkling blue eyes, an aquiline nose; her shoulders slight, her waist small enough. She is being spanked over our hero’s knee and I am laughing because everyone is laughing except the conductor, who must steady his baton, and the house manager, who has seen it before, and the actorsdirected instead to be aghast, agape, gawking, agog, whatever Cole Porter rhymes with dismayedand Ginsburg, who adjusts the pearl clipped to her ear. She curls the program in her lap. This is tiring, attending theaters of the heart. She doesn’t relish it as Sandra Day O’Connor did, sipping champagne during the intermission of Porgy & Bess. The gangsters soft shoe, reminding us to brush up on our Shakespeare. The actress sings "I am Ashamed That Women Are So Simple." Our chests hurt from laughing. Kate must be tamed, of course. That’s how we’ll know the ending is happy.
Previously published in the Mackinac Online Journal
Locker-room truant in a locked stall
Through study hall
Hiding, hand-stifling her cries,
A girl wide-eyes the unimagined smear
Of blood rusting
Her fingertips. Secret, quaint horror.
Some betrayal of the flesh has left her
Her blithe pellmell
Redefining to this singularity. But no.
She is smarter
Than her body. She will starve
This woman out, she will run and outrun
The turncoat moon.
She will firesale down
To a shoestring inventory: item:
Two eyes, indifferent
Blue; item: brain and brainstem;
Item: one mouth, tightened like a screwcap
On the business end
Of the pipebomb she’s just become.
Jacqueline Jones LaMon
The Children’s Chorus
I want to sing in the Children's Chorus at the church because it looks like so much fun. I am confirmed when I am seven, because I can read the Bible and discuss what I have read. I am allowed to join the Children's Chorus because I can follow the lyrics in the hymnal. The pastor speaks to my mother after church and offers to pick me up and take me home so I can make all the rehearsals. I am the youngest member of the chorus. The pastor says I'm pretty. The pastor calls me into his office. The pastor lifts me up and puts me on his lap. The pastor kisses me. I squirm, tell him I don't like it, don't like the line of waxed hair above his lip. The pastor grabs my kicking legs, my thrashing arms. There is a gap in my memory here. I am grateful. There is a kaleidoscope of blackness, with those tiny, white floaters that come when I squeeze my closed eyes shut and hold my breath. I am grateful. When I tell my mother what happened, she is silent, then tells me, in a tiny voice, that I don't have to be in the Children's Chorus if I don't want to go.
The Ride Home
I am walking down Franklin Avenue. There is a little neighborhood bar on the corner of Crown or Carroll Street, one of those almost-home streets. I remember hugging the curb when I get in front of the bar, always hugging the curb, never wanting to get too close to the dark glass or the insides. But this day, somebody calls out my name and I turn around. It is a man who used to come over and visit my mother sometimes. He works as a security guard in our apartment building and he is always nice to my mother; he is always nice to me. He asks me if I want a ride home; he says he is going my way. I think it is crazy that he wants to drive me home such a short distance...but there I am in the front seat and he locks the doors. I am in the front seat and he pulls up my skirt. I am in the sixth grade and I am smart but not smart enough not to get in the car with a man who has been in our living room and laughed with my mother. Don't you remember the pastor? Don't you remember anything at all? I am nine years old and in the sixth grade and he pulls up my skirt and says if I tell I'll just get him in trouble and no one will believe me anyway and he moves his hand beneath my skirt and this is all I remember of it, I swear. Give us the date. Give us the time. What was he wearing? Did you tell him to stop? Oh, yes: I remember the sky screaming; the sky that day was so incredibly blue. I remember telling my friend down the hall and the two of us, together, telling my mother. I remember that the next time I see him, he has two broken legs with pins in his knees. He says he will always have those pins in his knees to allow him the freedom to bend his legs. He says the cast, the pins, the metal...he says that all of this is all my fault, for telling on him and not keeping our secret.
James Allen Hall
Catherine Opie, "Self-Portrait/Cutting"
Dye coupler print, 40 x 30 in. (1993).
The model turns her back to us, hair shorn to the nape,
tribal tattoo circling her tricep, which, when flexed,
is a warrior's, but now hangs limp as a spear, unpoisoned.
She is naked. Maybe our looking unclothes her, searing
the image on her back: a house, scratched red into her flesh,
just beginning a lifetime's scab. Two windows, a door.
Two open eyes and a shut mouth and all the poisoned words
are in their beds, looking out to the front garden,
where two girls in red skirts hold hands among the tulips.
But the model can't see them. I tell her she can drop the knife,
but there's a bruise the size of a first at the base of her neck.
I tell her the girls are in love, if love means drawn in blood,
the scar of your childhood will never heal.
My mother in a white wedding dress digs a tunnel
from her father's to her first husband's house.
The dirt walls crumble around her hands, which plant,
uproot, replant themselves like bulbs in the dank earth.
The Paloma Blanca dirties, the chapel train tears.
No man, no earth could hold her forever.
Behind her, pearl and rhinestone beading glimmers
in the unfastened dark. Now in faint blue organza silk,
she digs a tunnel from her husband's house
past the bar where he picks up his women, the lots
where he drops them off, reeling in the dew-stricken dark,
past the believing that married people do when they want
not just the story but the holes to engulf them
she tunnels until she arrives, blushing under her veil
in my father's house. For years she stays above ground.
She lives without the dress, the digging.
But nothing can stop my mother in her Melissa Sweet,
the ruched satin too snug at the waist, her shovel ready
to injure the earth. She stands sweating in the hole,
wanting to stitch herself to the underneath,
where reinvention hides its root.
In the morning light, the man, the earth
are remade in the image of her retreat.
Getting a UTI
I went to the doctor for a UTI and I said to the receptionist “I have a UTI” and then I said to the nurse “I have a UTI” and then I said to the second nurse “I have a UTI” and then I said to the third nurse a male nurse “I have a UTI” and he said “OK we’ll need a urine sample here pee into this cup” and when he looked into my urine with a microscope he said “you have a UTI” and wrote me a prescription
before the male nurse had come into the room the first time I said to the first female nurse “I don’t want to be left alone with a male nurse or doctor” and she said “oh no we don’t do that” and laughed and then I said to the second nurse “I don’t want to be left alone with a male nurse or doctor” and she said “like just in general?” and I said “yes in general” and she said “oh ok”
when the male nurse came in the first time the second female nurse stood in the corner with her hands clasped together in a way I would describe as “nervously” it seemed like this was something she wasn’t used to doing standing in the room with the male nurse and the patient
the second female nurse had just examined my kidneys for damage by having me lie down and pressing firmly on my back and side to check for pain or discomfort
when the male nurse came in he said “I’m going to feel your organs for damage” and then karate chopped my back and abdomen pretty hard while I was sitting it was actually alarming it was hard to gauge whether there was pain in my organs or not because he was karate chopping so hard when I showed my boyfriend later how hard on his leg he said “ow”
while the doctor was karate chopping me I was thinking maybe he’s mad because I asked to have a woman stand in the room and he’s taking it out on me by karate chopping me but maybe he karate chops all his patients I don’t know
Table of ContentsPart I:
Kiss Me, Kate - Sandra Beasley
Female - Kimberly Johnson
The Children's Chorus - Jacqueline Jones LaMon
Civil Rights - Jacqueline Jones LaMon
The Ride Home - Jacqueline Jones LaMon
Over Mate - Ruth Irupe Sanabria
Image - James Allen Hall
Wedding Dress - James Allen Hall
Good & Evil Shoes - Jan Beatty
Getting a UTI - Laura Theobald
Untitled - Laura Theobald
Rib - Hope Wabuke
Skin II: Firebird - Hope Wabuke
Hours Days Years Unmoor Their Orbits - Rachel Zucker
And Still I Speak of It - Rachel Zucker
January, after El Niño - Ryka Aoki
13 - Aracelis Girmay
To the Husband - Aracelis Girmay
Elegy with a White Shirt - Cynthia Dewi Oka
Poem Beginning with Items from The Vienna Museum of Contraception and Abortion - Joyce Peseroff
A Woman and Her Job - Elizabeth Clark Wessel
That's Where You Disappear - Monika Zobel
Of the Swan - Jericho Brown
The Legend of Big and Fine - Jericho Brown
Ladies Weekend in Brooklyn - Danielle Chapman
To the Protesters Outside the Planned Parenthood Near My Job - Elizabeth Acevedo
dowry - Safia Elhillo
zihour - Safia Elhillo
after - Safia Elhillo
If 2017 was a Poem Title - Mahogany L. Browne
Heritage - Kaveh Akbar
Poem for Suheir Hammad - Trish Salah
Ode to the Pantsuit - Lauren Alleyne
Madame X - Lauren Alleyne
Matriot Acts - Anne Waldman
Am Ha'aretz - Rosebud Ben Oni
Stanzas for the Resistance - Todd Hearon
The March - Achy Obejas
Meanwhile - Maureen McLane
Heidenröslein - Maureen McLane
Hagar in the Wilderness - Tyehimba Jess
To the breasts when it's over - Ellen Hagen
To the woman on St. Nicholas Avenue whose thigh
was a wilderness blooming - Ellen Hagen
Kiss of the Sun - Mary Ruefle
Lucky Ladies Sestina - Jill McDonough
Accident, Mass. Ave - Jill McDonough