To Work

There is an interesting squabble happening in literary circles as they attempt to talk about elements of women and feminist womens writing in particular, its value seems the big question. This is interesting in itself. It seems outdated by 50 years or so. I stumbled onto it, when looking for analysis of what innovative/
avant-garde writing and womens writing in particular was doing at the moment in the US, because it is extremely hard to see whats happening in Australian womens writing because the demographic is even smaller, minuscule in comparison.

The debate as articles was published in the Chicago Review Autumn 2007 so just a few weeks ago. It goes something like this, WACK, an Art and the Feminist Revolution big blockbuster show was held at MOCA in the states, http://www.moca.org/wack, earlier this year. It was a good show, I think great, but I only saw it second hand... the response was varied, lots of criticism for the work as being essentialist and so not worth much or anything by 'general' (whatever that is) standards. Anyway to some extent the show gave rise to lots of juicy debate and articles, and an article by Jennifer Aston titled "Our Bodies our Poems". In it she said "the recent commitment to women as formal innovators...is utterly and literally essentialist...

Then followed this article by Juliana Spahr and Stephanie Young who argue obliquely that the system is still excluding women... they have some extensive statistics to demonstrate this...worth a read. Then Jennifer Aston replies and lastly Joshua Kohin and Robert P. Baird add their perspective.

“Numbers Trouble” by Juliana Spahr and Stephanie Young

“The Numbers Trouble with ‘Numbers Trouble’” by Jennifer Ashton

“Poetry Magazines & Women Poets” by Joshua Kotin and Robert P. Baird

This debate is so interesting because it reveals the literal stuck-ness in this sort of perspective. Both sides are right and there is no room for them working together. I think it points to a very real need for more analysis of what exactly innovative, experimental women writers working on as ...So I thought I'd start to try and map that a bit here, for my own benefit and for anyone who would like to look over my shoulder.

I do not have a agenda at this point except that coming from a visual art and a writing perspective, I have seen similar debates in visual art arena for decades and writers could benefit from some of the perspectives that have been initiated through the debate ... I think it would move things alone at a more interesting pace...

Over the next few months I'm going to explore things like what innovation and experimental are in light of Modernisms frames and the re-reading of those ideas all these years on. What then constitutes innovative work... the role of repetition in work, the value in nuance and the marginalization of it. How women are writing what they are writing, what the ideas are behind this work, what aren't they interested in, what the shifts in that are and then the impacts that has on writing but also thinking in general. I'm a real stickler for living the 'good' theory...
Comments and input greatly appreciated experimental/innovative/postmodern/avant-garde writing


Debra Di Blasi said...

Hi, Majena:
Came upon your blog as the result of a Google alert for "innovative writing."

There is much avant-garde/innovative/experimental/conceptual women's writing going on the in U.S. You're not likely to find it published by any of the large houses, but it's here and spreading.

The &NOW Festival of Innovative Writing and Art (http://andnowfestival.com) in April 2008 will feature many kick-ass women writers. I'm on a panel with Vanessa Place, Andrea Fitzpatrick & Jennifer Calkins (see panel description, "Science in/and Literature," and am reading with writers in the forthcoming anthology, Wreckage of Reason:XXperimental Women Writers in the 21st Century.

I'm also producing a vodcast (video podcast) specifically on innovative writing and other arts, BLEED (forthcoming January 2008).

Further, at the Associated Writers Conference in New York in January, I'm on a panel with Rikki Ducornet, Vanessa Place, and Steve Tomasula that explores image in text. (http://www.awpwriter.org/conference/2008schedFri.php)

The reason I give you this information is for you and your readers to be assured that the avant-garde is very much alive, well, and blooming in the US. And women are playing an enormous role in that fruitfulness.

I'm always interested to know what's going on in other countries. Keep me posted!

Debra Di Blasi

PANEL: Science In/And Literature:
Poet and genetic scientist Jennifer Calkins will moderate a panel exploring relationships between science and literature. Debra Di Blasi will discuss Systems Theory as it relates to the creation of her fiction and how the system of "the writer" within the system of "the individual" may be interconnected with the systems of "writing" and "writings" as well as linking the aforementioned to other systems like computer technologies and external literary systems (e.g., journals, editors, other writers and writings), and national and global cultures. Andrea Fitzpatrick will discuss how the perception of a "scientific language" may be tied to emotive response, and in what ways the presentation of "fact as explanation" can propagate itself as a type of literary mysticism. Vanessa Place will discuss the difference between the generative use of science and work that is scientifically generated, and whether this difference involves fact versus facticity – such as using quantum physics as part of the literal plane of the text versus the application of relativity theory to embodied plastic perceptions (i.e.g, does the skeleton key endo- or exo-?).

majena mafe said...

Hi Debra, I was excited to hear from you…I know your work and like it very much. Its so irreverent its makes my ankles turn…You confirm what I think and so many others say, the US leads as the place for this type of exploration into language/writing…I’m pretty determined though to get a community of like minded exploration started here…and connected to the writing ideas coming out of the US…. This work needs good conversation, and lots of it and that’s what’s so lacking in isolation and so thanks again for your reply. Any leads… contacts, conferences, connections and comments oh so gratefully appreciated…

That conference in April looks wonderful. I’m thinking I might put in a proposal…’kick-ass women’ and the panel titles swayed me…I’m doing lots of work on good old Gertrude Stein at the moment, really interested in how she sounded writing bridging the silence around women expressing ecstasy…so will put together some thing her and see if I get in

BLEED also sounds fantastic… notice my descriptives are getting more florid…I’d love to know more about it, I also run an experimental and collaborative Artists Run Initiative in Australia, called Unplace Project http://www.unplaceproject.com/ we do a variety of projects, you might be interested in hosting some of your work here one day. I’m all for the interesting possibilities of connecting.

I’m thinking that experimental women’s writing coming from the margins of the margins (here) might be able to contribute to the fruitful project, I would like to build connections between us if possible… Cheers Majena