Nasty Women Poets



[Applause] we're nasty I know this is overkill but I thought it might be really amazing to have you know us reverberate throughout the space and to assert our nastiness my name is Elizabeth Peterson and Elizabeth and a Steve Peterson and I'm a director of the museum here I'm also a dyke I'm also a momma I'm also an adjunct professor and I've been out 32 years but but we're here for all sorts of women for all kinds of women throughout the country and Julie is going to talk to you a little bit more about that I want to do a shameless plug for the museum and just tell you we have lots of spring events and some are related to literature and some are related to the Georgia watercolor show and we have many many different things happening I want to thank all the people involved so Julie Wong Keith who's now my BFF writer there are three writers who are in this anthology who are here tonight we're going to read and others who are going to read we're also writers so Julie Karen head of his class of 98 both work and also a museum advisory board member and an amazing human it's going to talk to you in just a moment – and JC Reilly who have just met I think some other writers in the anthology and then Shalonda Cash who did an incredible jobs the senior about to graduate getting a resume and Johnny and jetty who I also just met he's a writer it was going to read tonight at Jessica handler who is frequently mistaken for me and I think she likes it similar awesome look about ourselves know what it is and also Karis books is a feminist bookstore it's here it's amazing so thanks to the trees from coming tree spoon for coming tonight and selling I heard a wonderful thing on NPR recently that as the big box stores disappear the independent bookstores are rising again so on that note let me hand this over to Karen ahead talk to you for a moment and I don't know if you want this it's over it's even more so if you're standing right now my first name ain't some of you actually don't that Jana tax preferences so if you're too young so Elizabeth just wanted me to talk just for a moment about the museum and why I'm it suggested originally sort of doing this particular event here I just thought that this was the perfect space it's I think that the over museum is one of those long held secrets in this town and it doesn't need to be a secret anymore the exhibits that come through here are amazing and important it's a fantastic space to have these kinds of events in their Street parking which is you know another big bonus and Atlanta these days um but this part of the reason that this particular stakes is very special to me is that I was a non-traditional student and I was commuter student and I didn't have any place to be when classes weren't going on you know if I was between classes and I used to just come up and like hang out here in the museum long ago when I was a student and so much so that people that I worked here and but it was my kind of safe haven place to to be and hang out and so it's always been a very very special sort of safe space and I thought that that also lent itself really nicely to this particular because this book is very much dealing with the marginalized voices and giving rise to those voices and that's super important now I should also tell you that grace Bower and Julie came who I really wouldn't have loved to have be here today are two extraordinary poets if you have not read their work you should Julie Cain's actually the former poet laureate of Louisiana at the National Book Award winner a terrific formalist writer those aren't hard to come by doing it and doing it really well and grace power is has been dealing with women's issues and women's voices for a very long time all the way back to her early chat book the women and the well and all the way through and she also was on both the Graduate committees of mine and JC Reilly so part of what got us through grad school she it's part of this larger sisterhood and I think that's important these readings have been happening all around the country and this book has been something out every press they can't actually keep hope we weren't sure we're going to have them here tonight so so you don't have a copy do you try to get a copy and I hope you that you really enjoy all the nastiness tonight Julie [Applause] really not attacking my soon-to-be your daughter especially but yes especially thank you so much all of you for being here so it is time to get this I first want to start off by thanking Elizabeth Peterson who just the moment I met her was absolutely fantastic and so excited about putting all of this together and there is nothing more wonderful than people that get excited about poetry readings and excited about testing for readings and thank you too – Karen thank you – over for and you to each one of you for being here today you know I know it's a lot to come through Atlanta traffic and devote your time to important team so we really appreciate you being here and I do want to say give a special shout out to the men in the audience because it's really fantastic that men are you're supporting women's voices and what better way to dismantle patriarchy right and to have a manager I also would like to say thank you to Grace and Julie who turned the synth ology around in record light and fire time I will not go into all of the details that are listed in the introduction but if if you when you went if when you get a copy of the book you can take a look and see just what they put together and what passion and diligence and persistence put into the world and it gives me chills to think that they were able to do this in such a short period of time okay so I'm going to start off by talking a little bit about the temperament of the poems they're in this anthology because I think it's important for you to understand sort of what the whole impetus was behind putting this together and of course those words are not lying those words were learned in Julian grace so I'm going to read just a short bit of the introduction to you so many of you will remember of course the debate between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump when Donald Trump looked at Hillary Clinton and said such a nasty and this was their response the epithet applied not just to his opponent on the stage but to any woman who had the audacity to stand up to him contradict him call him out in any way any woman who is not subservient who refused to act like a pussy waiting to be grabbed a model wife or a Playboy bunny ready to serve or a porn star you may have taken it personally or maybe five of your friends mothers daughters wives partners sisters even if you are not a Hillary fan we may have felt like a line to the crust so you are not surprised when the phrase quickly became a meme a Twitter hashtag a t-shirt women wore with defiant pride commonly recognized shorthand for a critique of the sexism of the insult embody the phrase stuck in our heads as well as our price as poets we have always believed that writing well is the best romantic notion we respond to language with language our way of fighting fire with a brighter flame so while we struggling to articulate our own responses we had no doubt that other women poets were doing the same what might happen if we asked to hear from them and so the idea for this anthology was born originally called for poems read now is the time for all nasty women poets to come to the aid of their country we are seeking poems from women who proudly celebrate their own nastiness and that of other women who have served as a ste role models we want poems by and about women defying and ladylike expectations women refusing to be nice girls women embracing their inner bitch when the situation demands it women be a formidable and funny when in speaking with to power was singing for the good of their souls women be a strong sexy stranded super smart and stupendous women who want to encourage little boys to keep thing if you are a woman who refuses to submit we want to read your submission and as Elizabeth said as Karen said to women from all over the country submitted to this anthology and there were five women poets chosen in the state of Georgia and that's JC Wiley Karen head Alice Brian and Mary Callen and me I first talked about this we said yes you know we want to read the poems by the Georgia colleagues but how can you reach out partner what else can you do and so we started talking about other voices that we can bring in and we wanted to bring in other brightest writers and other activeness other women that stood up for the women and so we have Jessup and allure I'm jelly n2g and Shalonda cash so I am going to kick off the reading and it is my great pleasure to start with the poem written by one of our oldest older women it's really hard to navigate look in mine you hear me okay when I do that this is a poem by Alice Ryman and I did you'll see I have my book marked for what I'm reading and I love it cuz her initials are a F so and the reason Alice is not here tonight she I think she's 85 so they may know exactly yeah she's not there it's because oh she's off in Florida doing the reading sherry had that booked when I talked to her however she had computer problems and so she asked her president to email and say on behalf of her good luck tonight that she was thinking about all of us which I thought was fantastic so this is Alice Murray and I'm gonna tell you a quick story about meeting her because it's perfectly nasty and perfectly wonderful I met Alice at Decatur Book Festival when I was 37 years old and when I met her for some reason we would fight introduced me to her I said I'm almost 40 when I met her but she looked at me with a smile woman she goes honey when I was in my forties who couldn't hold me down and I thought we're going to be friends and so we have and every few months we get together for lunch and so she reminds me all of the time to be bold and to be loud so this is Alice fireman's pump impeller he was the right words in the right order on demand the hot blab of the poetry circuit so we promised him dinner publicity and a powerful pull at the punch bowl we would have thrown in Italy from the lessons bought him exclusive inclusive martyr rights if only he'd come reading his poems for our little group disciplined in nothing but Midwest adoration he wasn't made what's sweeter Henry in professor the arched eyebrow the purple scarf the right of the rapes progress to the field of Angelou news swing before him children of the corn facing the plates of the company over dinner we talked poetry influences he read his short list of favorites he and his son as if gates never put a pen Shakespeare wasn't the Shakespeare and Porky's never hatched a porter Nightingale fast Neruda will come forget it no women winced Tsavo Dickinson lever talk the choked on this wish good reader list I sound out of joint I offer up only what memory shakes act and if memories shakes out Bitterman would be assured it remains clear-eyed the dinner with his fork wiped his mouth then serving in the table and not finding what he was looking for looked down as it confirming with his place where's a woman no not of Barrett's to banter with his ground named alter ego in the beginning and a gate of female flesh swung open why enjoys a paltry wage or genius yes but what can be expected a volunteer work done flat on the back and the liner stain o use the cockiness of the y-chromosome sole proprietor the poetry gene that itch at least running to the party over to be born he read from his quote unquote work-in-progress shuffling dropping papers attending diligently to the fuss of history and I wish for art and the poetry we kept dangled before us glittery as the print of Tantalus because we wanted it certain I wish I could rewrite this story saying no one nodded off and walked out saying the big man's poems were enough to fly us beyond judgments orbits to where the real stars burn their work more than bright enough to render the least of them attributable I wish [Applause] and this is the poem that I submitted it's called scar season as a girl I wanted one simple uninterrupted those zags of tell and hide injury surgery the open and closed mouth of them all at once after my friend fell with a bike she had Bonnie's tied into her chin little shocks a thread that put their spikes when I touched them I did not think about the blood the needles how she wailed her the splits my hearings covered the gap as I stumbled upon all I saw was the glare of accident on her skin the remarkable way they fixed when all the boys stayed together when she's smiling screamed I told no one why I raced my swing of doubt Deadman's hill why I jumped from the D retrieve roller-skated intervening idly lonely over the bruises and scrapes the adornments that field and disappeared The Betrayal of band-aids and chickenpox the threat of my body tied to itch my mother photographing my life back stunned at the terrific colonies of red don't everyone said when I touched twenty your scarf and I thought of the bite the follows escapes sitting very and all I had to do mood was release lift the stab each time it formed I took finally on my ankle around trailer a universe to claim the scar without the accident the mark would have the wound how I was simply given what I tried so hard to create [Applause] yes and I meant to say in my introduction that obviously these are nasty poems so these there will be poems about assault and rape and violence so I'm saying this to serve as an triggering Content warning for any of you that might not be expected I'm also going to read Jim Beatties poem shooter and after the me to learn that this home had a special significance shooter I shoot the old man who followed my 11 year old body on Smithfield Street because I smiled at him because it was to Christmas I shoot the man who had jacked off on the bricks of our house put a ladder to my window when I was 12 I shoot the professor who said my work was illogical that used me for publicity when I won an award the businessman who wanted to talk about my teenage breasts I'm loading and reloading the guy who walked up to me when I was a cashier and asked about my home I hope you will still like me when I say the gynecologist stuck his tongue down my throat when I was 16 the writer who read his gang rape poem to a group of women students and putting my finger on the problem the men who posed as feminists the Predators the rapists the bullies and thugs among us my uncle who tried to kiss me but he was drunk my 60 year old neighbor who grabbed me when my parents were home it was my fault a man named Floyd who wouldn't stop when I said no he said shut up he said now he taught me to love the trigger I'm shooting the cook who grabbed me from behind in the restaurant kitchen the famous poet who said there are no great women writers the boyfriend who left his handprint reluctantly the men who saved were too serious prettier when we smile I'm smiling and shooting the shrink who tried to lock me up the boss who gave me a ride home and wanted a blowjob pushed my head down the poet who said I didn't raise him enough here's one for you the restaurant manager who told you to roll a thicker skin and wear a skimpy uniform because really we have an attitude we need to lighten up my shoot all the men I've loved off the list so I don't have to worry rose calls for leader leaves three days after it happened I grab a gray hair going west all I have a duffel studded stuffed with socks t-shirts old pants a coffee stain photo of my mother a little cash I spark marlboro menthol from the lavatory spit smoke into the know flush toilet stench curls and thickens fluorescent buzz overhead before lurches beneath my feet nothing is steadying anymore the door clicks shut i slumped back to Anna with receipt I need to be in my marked water bus I have friends in Kansas City I'll crash on couches find some doctor to take care of me if it comes to that I'll pursue a new hobby take a shotgun to the edge of the lake and shoot at every shadow [Applause] there's some language in this one this is Alison stones lover tell me what you see down there I tried to look it's Harry new jewel of many names lotus garden and that be dark but yummy down there long wigs slim hips but Barbies missing something just a prize Devine out their men's nightmare feature teeth and razor blades a cache of weaponry gender their thick books help frustrated women teach their men how to solve the mystery down there if it ain't cooks dinner who expect to dive into the sweet deep sea slick magazines are full of both Boba's and advice don't stop the seal in there kick him to the curb if he forgets your birthday or is lady down there Sciences men creeps nature makes them super crazy down there forget my washboard abs and Mensa mind you'll find the best of eating you'll be my true love when you say Allison I'll spend eternity down there this is my colon fat girls get groped – in public places on the northbound Marta train where I leaned on a pole where the door a minute and slips around me and pumps my breast test if testing its fullness a moment his finger teasing for my nipples responds original against Floyd winter in my throat I shrink from him but there is no space to step away in the crowded car and I cannot make myself smaller the tree moves enters five points what if I get off at the stop just to breathe what if the voices of a thousand women caution stay here stay invisible stay sane as you can the doors closed the train pulls away picks up speed he is too close like sulfur and sweat I told myself maybe it was an incident he didn't know what he was doing the voices of a thousand provably whisper you know what she felt you know what he did you must learn to you can't react the train rolls he crushes against me panic metallic learning sparks like the third rail breath Farrell and chitnis triples up my neck I know what he's thinking you are fat no one would believe you if you said anything nobody wants a fat woman I can get away with this no world is safe with men like him in his eyes like all women I've no right to myself a thing to be solely silenced he was not escalate the situation the voices of a thousand women urge do nothing forced oscillator Midtown passengers from the doors his hand clears on my breast again he takes what he wants if I do nothing if I let this change twist at me type I used the train sudden lurch to ram my elbow into his chest stop his foot for good measure the trains momentum mine keep once with the impact I said well sorry didn't heed about me you know I turned and faced him a coverage a black suit t-mobile's fuck you fat bitch this scuttles off at Lindbergh the doors closed the voices of a thousand women well so I mentioned the sisterhood and I think it's a very real thing call it a girls club call it whatever you want but I believe in lineages and I'm sort of happy that it seems I'm beginning to be sort of in the middle ground that some of that when I glanced through a book like this and I realized I mean man and then the younger writers who are coming up behind me and being even braver than my generation and so I want to serve you a handful of small poems actually by the people who are part of my lineage so I'm gonna start first with pulled her eyes and her palm women's lib although was my dissertation director and a longtime editor at very Skinnerian women's many women turned their loyalties from their fathers clothes huge discs are mentions they have been missing all night dreaming the map of the future their subject had been the artists at work in a room under the stable it is vital to pull yourself up by your own roots we are making love in the weeds slamming the dahlias flat bill weeds swollen than bursting outside roads mostly the television is on but we didn't notice we went to the movies someone in the back row touched my arm we lent them to me and then I got angry feathery trees embroider our mouse keys old clothes and a poetic road passed out of fashion blessed be he the womb but to use or not now dancing and in a different kind of lineage a couple of years ago damn Beach asked me to take over the Atlanta review and probably one of the poets who has influenced me the most was one of the founding the of that editorial team and is what if the most famous poets and translators in the world hurt their home home folks there were as we show the rest of the world number is 80 stallings for Atalanta your name is long and difficult I know so many people who we didn't ask have told us so and taken us to task you to perhaps full wonder as you grow and believe us with the venom of 13 for ruining your life using our own love against us keen as a double bladed knife already I can picture a whole scene how when we answer you yes you were in a hurry to arrive as if it were a race to be alive we waited the syllables and they rang true and we were hoping to you'd come to like the stories of princesses who weren't set on shelves like China figure Amy's not allegories but girls whose glories included recusing rescuing themselves slaying their own monsters running free but not running away it might be rough singled out for singularity tough Beauty will be of some help you'll see but it is not enough to be nimble brain or fleet o apple of my eye the world will drop mini Gilligan bother us at your feet to break your stride don't look down don't stoop to scoop them up [Applause] my last poem of lineage is actually the barrel and talent poem I'm sorry that Marilyn couldn't be here speaking of lineages she is going to be here on the 30th and shameless clip for yet another reading at Harris at the end of the month 30th Marilyn will be reading with me and my current student Sara oh so say Maris detached Pele's sister cathodes esthe a detachable vagina unlike us we can't distract while wars by cleaning decoys in high school though I needed a guy with a DD Bristol ISM fatigue eyes unlike ours Heather's thought was detachable she could fling it like a frisbee came up who's the pig eye God never caught on I dated a guy like that dumb bristles on his back one day he was buying me a charm bracelet the next snorting boring the guide and dirty I'm not saying he was a gigantic a tied hog like come on buck but those black bristles down his back mood swings and his rooting around my pants not attempt at Southside High boys rented like wild boars lucky cathode and my us she was asked a detachable was gonna happen [Applause] finally I'll leave you with my home one thing that he might be a reference for in this film is it references the great Wendell M Brooks and propel the levers of the poor which is about the church women who who want to help before they only want to help the right time for between ute or it's also written based on my passing experience I head on the way to JC swimming the other side of the tracks what if I chucked it all the and calling myself candy with a heart over the I stopped in at Walmart buy a jean skirt tank top and a can of Aqua Net hitchhiked to a small town just outside running on Alabama taking on a part-time waitress gave warnings of the Waffle House evenings spent pot smoking and fucking anyone pay enough just to make ends meet don't a little meth your train crossings from a junker with a hood that the backlight whenever I guns the engine or drove over 45 until the day came when I saw a Laura Ashley knockoff jumper hanging out at the Salvation Army been and felt the spirit and took to preaching from the self-serve pumps at the Shell station that sells trucker corn answered to any biblical name believing like proper Church matrons that I was somehow more redeemable worth $1 charity when before they couldn't even be bothered to the unit when I served them coffee [Applause] everybody I'm going to talk about vaginas this is a poem by Stella Gonzalez it's called vaginas on the loose good to know that people are still afraid of wild vaginas especially young hairy ones the kind that aren't splayed open like those sharks hung from a grappling hooks fat fishermen beside them smiling for no pimps like them tame shaved pinned open by manicured fingernails of all hot pink acrylic nails just like Jesus they like them crucified and a big hairy cock or a dildo nailing them down an old for China on the loose gray hairs blowing wind wrinkled lips roaring not as slick as the young ones is so twisted they're still waiting wimon say to women roaring holy they will eat you changing the discipline by Jin Jin Zhu it's called the tractor in a tractor he came for her she waited the loan has the engine broke through the air from behind the horizon it's steady breath closed in cloud the earth to hurt you in an oversized blue suit he came for her cotton dress first clutched to her chest hair swept up by an ox bone clip her wedding an imagined spectacle slurred vows foreheads banging against ground fathers and uncles and grandfathers and the dead a drunken dame to steal the bride here she stole onto the train no goodbyes she stepped on and stepped off onto the platform of dirt and dust the engine the engine she listened waiting for life outside the choke of mosquito netting the blank walls of the room one by one her sisters had left where was there to hide last daughter of the house with a dead woman a daughter is a body with a price an attraction he came from her she listened a seashell to the and : reading is I wanna named your debt and Adams it's called digital anthropologists find our hashtags dear hashtag Alton's your name your face reminds me of an order soon by older cousin then my first boyfriend the only one who ever asked me to advance golden moon stone hashtag this again at poets Facebook today these fatal shootings are not isolated we tweet hashtag Baton Rouge we tweet hashtag Falcon place dear hashtag planet or Castillo after four gunshots were girlfriend asked winner is my daughter where is the diamond while recording keep your hands up hashtag for a busted taillight like hashtag Walter L stop hashtag this again Facebook I wish the Bonneville was a magic Negro in his last six months in to wave his wand and hashtag make it stop add black Twitter goon Drake is awake he is concerned now even hashtag we see you dear hashtag Alton sterling I am sorry I haven't done enough don't want to hear more stories can't remember all the names Twitter advice for allies if you want to help do and do not ask a black person how to fix white supremacist for these murders dear hashtag play the Martinelli at BBC is tweeting Beyonce today we are sick and tired they report that a black woman protesting at the mic and battery test how many of you really wish you were running they said remarkable add random uncomfortable say no to trial I mean you know it's a black paranoia hashtag be color one wait for the facts for the facts dear hashtag Jordan Davis today is like dear hashtag Jonathan Farrell I bethought dear hashtag Michael Brown what hap dear hashtag Tamir rice he was so one and dear hashtag santalune if we need the cop dear hashtag mother I will remember dear hashtag tamale hemming and hashtag Freddie gray I believe that dear hashtag I can't breathe aka hashtag Eric corner [Applause] I just do it and you know I really appreciate all these wonderful nasty women prevent on this panel between Mississippi and remote areas everybody get those are real so this first poem that I've ever read is by Barbican group and it's called infinity is tough being a woman fill your object to be buck and a Lucifer very something to be chaste a time we didn't know you're more than that so for me an attorney doing something dark fucking more isn't it marvelous I came in wondering what's the girl got to do to give us a note I mean I'm so high academia I will call you I have a karaoke Friday 9:00 p.m. I'm thinking of McDonald Midland and Russell water under disdain I want to be a player not a mascot I want something with babies and dark chocolate with a new you sinner I want a watched and boskie champagne on ice and two chairs bar on a terrace and race whoever saw the fountain immune can't forget it the lies the movie song dare clock of Louie's dream a vicious party life isn't beer you got to play your cards no matter where I could have been Dean of living a covergirl an exotic Togo dancer and I'm a Meredith down with a guy but I'm not so oh me another shot of Jack oh great sight next poem is actually by a poet that I actually heard a person is she was really really great really really awesome and she actually rocks tell me a little bit so this next one is bad

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