Issue 149 | October 2014
"A few years later, I got a small grant to write reportage on the war. The Maoists had a very strong presence there, as well as the army. A lot of people from there were killed and disappeared. The army thought that the Tharu were blanket Maoist supporters. One of the stories I reported there was about a twelve-year-old girl, Rupa Tharu, who the army killed; they thought she was a Maoist, so they came to her village, took her out of her home, and shot her point blank. I met her grieving parents. It was a very dirty war on both sides; but that killing has been impossible for me to get over. "
"When I began to think of myself as a poet, that was when I started to realize I had a license to just write about anything. In the role of the poet, you give yourself a freedom to pursue whatever, you know, so it sanctioned any interest. It all feels pretty holistic to me: granted, they're different sides of my life; I've got a lot of hip hop friends who are very different from my poetry friends. The various relationships I share with them are all different but still to me it's all one."
Patrick James Dunagan
I write a reader’s diary because reading is writing too. I don’t like talking all the time. This September I didn’t talk -- write -- very much at all but I read a lot, in the same pell-mell omnivorous way I listened to music as a teenager. It was a gift and a relief, feeling that way again. It was like I stopped believing in magic then revved back up. It is important, to me, that a reader’s diary not just be about what’s new, or books, because reader’s diaries are about marking time but also, magical thinking. They are about believing that stories can help you figure out your great life. Help me figure out mine.
"I believe that around the time that I started to reclaim the word "slut," I was working at the Lusty Lady in San Francisco. That could be an entire book in itself. I was just starting to really dive into sex-positive feminist writings of Carol Queen, Annie Sprinkle, Patrick Califia, and Susie Bright. The Lusty Lady was a wonderful, safe incubator for the development of my theories around sexuality and sexual desire and identity and a laboratory in which to test out those theories, desires. It was rich learning ground for sex positive feminism with brilliant feminists and queer women who were redefining sex work and sexual desire on their own terms. I remember reading a book around that time about the Sacred Prostitute. A goddess. A slut. That word just really resonated with me. I liked the way that it sexily whispered its way out between my lips. The sacred slut."
"We used a fertility clinic, or Assisted Reproductive Technology, to have our own children. And while I'm very happy about the outcome, the process was disturbing. I felt that we (patients, gamete donors, doctors, nurses, technicians, administrators) were all on shaky ground, ethically. I found that there was a very strong hetero-normative and paternalistic discourse that our clinic used, to promote, it seemed, the idea that this was all okay, since we were bringing life into the world. And now I'm going to get even more political and add that I think that discourse is continuous with the larger cultural one outside the clinic that encourages us to bring more children into a world that we're slowly destroying (landfills up to their brims with Pampers and all). So the fertility clinic comes out of my own experience, but it also struck me as a 'fertile' place to explore the issue of what it means to really live, when for so many of us, really living seems to mean bringing others into the world."
At every birthday party I have attended, there is a formal method to congratulate that takes the form of a lineup of guests, each one of whom waits his or her turn and approaches the celebrant, extends a hand to shake solemnly, and says the same words, "Vse najboljše za tvoj rojstni dan" ("All the best on your birthday"). Seeing this happen a few times would not be remarkable, but this is how everyone congratulates here. Reading The German Lottery and speaking to Mazzini, I learned why. There were handbooks on behavior and etiquette for such situations, published by the Yugoslav state, which dictated the preferred way to act. The postman in Mazzini's novella loves the fact that he does not have to think for himself, and does everything according to the handbook, which he keeps in his pocket. Independent since 1991 and a long-standing member of the EU, Slovenia still has roots in the Yugoslav traditions, and this is one of them.
"As you know, there's increasing discussion about ecopoetry -- the question of how that is defined, even though it is a term that has been around for quite a while. Given the nearly complete destruction of an entire planet, the overpowering by greed of any sense of the basic logic of survival, or valuation of beauty -- it would be odd if the urgency of this situation were not reflected in our poetry."
Erin Lyndal Martin