Monday, November 28, 2011

Good friend and all-around superb human being, the poet Eric Baus, has a new book out.

It is called Scared Text, and not only does it promise some awesome poetic jams, it won the 2011 Colorado Prize for Poetry.

Cole Swensen, the judge for the 2011 prize, says:

Baus has opened a new literary field: the linguistic bestiary, a new zoo where words pace like fauves behind ever-thinning bars.

I do love the new worlds that Eric creates (or brings forth from just outside our periphery) in his poetry. This is also true of his last two books, Tuned Droves and my favorite, The To Sound.

Come and get it!

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Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Mine too. May your Thanksgiving be full of pie!

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Wednesday, November 16, 2011

I've really really been trying not to write about the social implications of anything having to do with the Twilight novels, but I seem to have lost my resolve.

I know plenty of booksellers who had some reservations about recommending the Twilight series for consumption by teens -- teen girls in particular. This was for many reasons, but chiefly among them being the fact that the main character, Bella Swan, is not a strong female role model. But even this, along with abysmal writing, cannot blot out the fact that it is a series that spurred many kids to get excited about reading. Its appeal is undeniable, but so is its stunted message.

That is why I found this essay so fascinating.

Our Bella, Ourselves

I get the point about Bella coming from a place that is more identifiable for teens, especially teen girls. I also get that teens are more about internal dialogue. I was a timid, shy child who spent a lot of time playing alone. I was also not white in a town that was very white and very redneck. My internal dialogue was deafening. I also often thought about relationships and sex in a knight in shining armor context: a strong, controlling, patriarchal husband (not partner) who is somewhat hurt and damaged from his experiences, and thus excused for his controlling and patriarchal behavior because of said damage. It's unrealistic and wrong, and not only twists and stunts girls' expectations, but paints men into a corner as well. But it's also what has been shoveled to girls for ages. It wasn't until I discovered punk rock that I found freedom from the "norms" my community and society had placed on me, embraced my niggling suspicion that I could be anything I wanted to be, and began to act on that.

I think it's damaging to say we should give room to Twilight and Bella and her controlling stalker Edward because it's how many young girls think, especially when juxtaposed alongside the "Buffy Summers maxim" with the implication that is equally damaging because physical power comes "at the expense of emotional clarity." I also don't buy that self-actualized heroines are exhibiting a "masculinist" understanding of what it is to realize your own potential. These exhibitions should be part of modern human wholeness. Teens are inherently obsessed with gender roles and are emotionally stunted, but they have SO much potential. I say we need female protagonists in media to model personal power if we want girls to develop the tools needed to seek out balance and emotional clarity. The alternative? Bella stunts her emotional development through being controlled, infantilized, and put on a pedestal, and then as an ADULT marries her controller and stalker. She has no personal power -- physical, intellectual, or emotional -- and never becomes self-actualized.

As I have matured into a strong, independent woman in a deep partnership with another strong and independent human being, the one thing that spoke to me in this essay was this:

...the Twilight saga, I would argue, has the potential to revitalize a number of our larger conversations about feminism...If, as feminists, we believe in girls’ and womens’ autonomy, how do we understand the autonomy-shattering power of desire? Do we determine that some desires (to be dominated? to be beautiful? to get married?) are bad and others good?

These are valid questions. I see nothing wrong with any of these desires; it is the motivation behind it that is the question for me. As a woman who is constantly questioning why I do things, I think there must be an encouragement toward self-actualization and independence in order for desire to intersect with the idea of choice. Investigating being powerful yourself -- even as you are developing emotional maturity -- allows you to make mistakes, own up to them, and then work through any resulting damage. There may be no "bad" or "good" at that conclusion, just what is best for you and who you care about. Twilight may have a glimmer of potential to add to this conversation, but much of it is eclipsed (har har) by the overwhelming, relentless, and frankly, offensive, two-dimensionalness of the personalities in the books. It's a reach that may only offer a mere footnote where other works could do much better.

On another YA and controversial literature related note, my friend Nina La Cour's book, Hold Still was challenged!

"All publicity is good publicity" aside, I find this challenge -- while possibly giving a greater audience for her terrific debut -- sad. But at the same time, I have always been so proud of Nina and her beautiful novels, and I am even more proud that her work is at the forefront of a censorship battle! While I'm sure these parents would also object to Twilight, I personally find Nina's exploration of the many rich facets of teenage experience a much more valuable read -- one that honors and respects rather than insults teens' multi-layered experiences and budding personalities by being profoundly open-ended and real.

Funny, though, this whole exploration of adults attempting to curate a child's experience, and what is valued.

While parents have the right to guide their child's education, Bonney and the ALCU contend that parents don't have the right to impose their views on everyone else in the community.

Do I think the world's going to end if a million kids read crappy ol' Twilight? No. Do I think those kids will get a better quality read in Hold Still? For sure. Do I think both books, to different degrees, inspire dialogue and shouldn't be censored? Yes. And with that, and discussion, there is room on the YA shelf for Caitlin and Bella both.

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Thursday, November 10, 2011

I've been cooling on Neil Gaiman lately, for ridiculous reasons unrelated to his writing that I will not go into here. Lovely bloke at each reading I've been to of his, but...oh, let's not talk about that when he's just an itty piece of my post, m'kay?

I know the departure of David "phwoar, come to my man-harem" Tennant as Doctor Who was eons ago, but as a yank I am really just getting to know Matt Smith as the new Doctor. Was very sad about the latest regeneration, but as all Doctors do, he is growing on me. Amy and Rory, however? I was on board from the beginning.

Those things said, "The Doctor's Wife" (spoilers at the link, sweetie) -- written by Gaiman -- was possibly the best episode ever. Really, truly.

I wanted to see the universe, so I stole a Timelord and ran away. You were the only one mad enough.

Positively brilliant. And I mean, brilliant. Deliciously romantic and terribly clever.

So, am back in the saddle again boys, on both counts.

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"17 countries and it has to be unanimous -- unanimous! I can't even get three friends to agree on a restaurant, can you imagine how hard it would be if none of us spoke the same language and our grandparents killed each other in WWII?"

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Wednesday, November 09, 2011

Recent new fave How to Be A Retronaut is blowing up with good swag today!

Art Deco Superheroes

Seriously worth the clickety-click. Lovely images all.

Also making my morning: a different type of hero.

Alternative "Heroes" by Sukita 1977

Never been one of those gals (or guys) who was in love with Bowie, and a good photograph can do wonders for anyone, aaaannnnnnd youth and passion makes for a seductive soup, so I guess still question what I'm about to say in some ways, but OMG, how absolutely beautiful was David Bowie?

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Monday, November 07, 2011

Trevor and I once found a treasure trove of old Playboys from the late 60s/early 70s (in an abandoned trailer out in the middle of nowhere, no less), and the one thing that stood out for us (besides the obvious) was the prevalence of "family relations" in stories and pictorials.

What up, Boomers? Gross.

Oh those swinging times...

Via Sequential Crush, a "blog devoted to preserving the memory of romance comic books and the creative teams that published them throughout the 1960s and 1970s." Pure awesome.

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Thursday, November 03, 2011

That's right.

Just like that, but maybe more clothes.

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Wednesday, November 02, 2011

 an 18-year-old, [Keene] came across a translation of The Tale of Genji in the Astor Hotel in New York. At the time, Keene was studying French and Greek literature at Columbia University, having won a scholarship to study there at the age of 16. He bought [The Tale of Genji] because, at 59 cents, the epic story, written 1,100 years ago, contained more words per dollar than any book in the store.

Oh, those days -- those wonderful and magical olden days.

Why U.S. Academic Donald Keene Became a Japanese Citizen

BTW, look up "romanticize" in the dictionary and you'll see a picture of me -- in sepia tones, of course.

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