Jane Eaton Hamilton

"At the bottom of the box is hope." – Ellis Avery.

Tag: Lidia Yuknavitch

Marissa Korbel: “The Thread: Down Girl”

 

Marissa Korbel wrote her essay “Down Girl” to address a bad review by Alexandra Fuller of three female-authored memoirs received in the New York Times: Pam Houston’s ‘Deep Creek;’ Reema Zaman’s ‘I Am Yours, A Shared Memoir;’ and Sophia Shalmiyev’s ‘Mother Winter, A Memoir,’ and, more broadly, to discuss pandering and misogyny in literature.

“[The reviewer] basically called their books therapy,” one of my dinnermates summarizes. By which she means: the writers were doing something for themselves more than for the readers, writing to save themselves rather than to demonstrate that experience on the page as literature, as art, worthy of praise, writing that could be construed as private, emotional work, journaling of some sort, embarrassingly displayed for the world, a tumble of private details which do not—in the reviewer’s opinion—rise to literature

“Three women’s memoirs criticized for oversharing? I’m sure I’ve read this review before, and yet all three books are brand new. I’ve read two out of three of them, and I’ll take home Houston’s Deep Creek tonight. I take out my phone and search “NYT review Zaman.” Because Reema Zaman, a Portland-based writer, performer, and friend, is one of the reviewed.”

The Thread: Down Girl

““Confessional Writing” Is a Tired Line of Sexist Horseshit, And Other Insights”

Michele Filgate photo from LitHub

Yonder at LitHub, an edited transcript from Red Ink’s panel discussion on literary misfittery. Recently Lidia Yuknavitch’s book The Misfit’s Manifesto dropped (a book based on her TED talk). Red Ink is the quarterly panel curated by Michele Filgate.

“Lidia Yuknavitch: I think a piece of misfitting has to do with our bodies, and living in a body—and this could be all kinds of people—that is literally pained by the cultural narratives coming at it. And in some ways, maybe that’s everybody, because the cultural narratives coming at us are idiotic.”

 

 

Lidia Yuknavitch’s Survival Guide for Writers

A while back, the electrifying Lidia Yuknavitch talked to Anna March at Bustle. Two more recent of her books (The Small Backs of Children, The Book of Joan) weren’t published when this interview took place, but the article remains a wonderful piece to guide the working writer back to sanity, and I recommend it.

Bustle

Because we love your work and we thank you…

A lot of people included only men on a best-of-writers list going around FB, so other folks mentioned these women/genderqueer and trans folk as their recommended/favourite/influential writers. (There are some repeats.)

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Annie Dillard, Virginia Woolf, Toni Morrison, Mary Oliver, Jamaica Kincaid, Rebecca Solnit, Terry Tempest Williams, Alice Walker, Olga Broumas, Virginia Woolf, Emily Dickinson, Zora Neale Hurston, Eden Robinson, Louise Erdrich, Alice Munro, Alice Walker, Margaret Atwood, Lee Maracle, Toni Morrison, Stephanie Bolster, Mavis Gallant, Joyce Carol Oates, Ursula K. Le Guin, Joy Kogawa, Elyse Gasco, Charlotte Bronte, Lucy Maude Montgomery, Frances Hodgson Burnett, Sylvia Plath, Miriam Toews, Vendela Vida, Maya Angelou, Danzy Senna, Han Nolan, Nancy Gardner, Maira Kalman, Anchee Min, Louise Fitzhugh, Bett Williams, Laurie Colwin, Jane Bowles, Colette, Sappho, Marilyn Hacker, Heather O’Neill, Eliza Robertson, Marianne Boruch, Emily Dickinson, Gertrude Stein, Alice B Toklas, Adrienne Rich, Denise Levertov, Sylvia Plath, Tracy Smith, Ruth Ellen Kocher, Virginia Woolf, Louise Labe, Marguerite Yourcenar, Olga Broumas, Jeanette Winterson, Moniq Witting, June Jordan, Fleda Brown, Irene McPherson, Virginia C. Gable, Alice Walker, Lidia Yuknavitch, Kate Gray, Maya Angelou, Gloria Steinem, Joy Harjo, Zsuzsanna Budapest,Toni Morrison, Monica Drake, Leslie Marmon Silko, Alice Walker, L.M. Montgomery, Alice Munro, Dionne Brand, Joy Kogawa, Sharon Olds, Sylvia Plath, Toni Morrison, Elizabeth Hay, Adrienne Rich, Isabel Allende, Marge Piercy, Sappho, Anais Nin, Simone de Beauvoir, Nina Bouraoui, Nicole Brossard, Kathy Acker, Sylvia Plath, Adrienne Rich, Jeanette Winterson, Zoe Whittall, Marnie Woodrow, Marilyn Hacker, Lydia Kwa, Gertrude Stein, Olga Broumas, Monique Wittig, Marguerite Duras, Joy Kogawa, Jamaica Kinkaid, Lidia Yuknavitch, Maxine Hong Kingston, Beryl Markham, Jane Smiley, Alice Walker, Ntokake Shange, Margaret Atwood, Octavia Butler, Katherine Dunn, Cheryl Strayed, Lidia Yuknavitch, Toni Morrison, Mary Shelley, Emily Bronte, Jamacia Kinkaid, Amy Tan, Rebecca Skloot, Amanda Coplin, Miriam Towes, Rene Denfield, Louise Erdrich, Joyce Carol Oates, Mary Gordon, Annie Dillard, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Ann Patchett, Sharon Olds, Arundhati Roy, Toni Morrison, Amber Dawn, Eden Robinson, Warsan Shire, Annie Proulx, Ntozake Shange, Mary Gaitskill, Shirley Jackson, Eudora Welty, Gish Jen, Ann Beattie, Flannery O’Connor, Shani Mootoo, Tillie Olsen, Miriam Toews, Lorrie Moore, Mavis Gallant, Alice Munro, Nathanaël, Sappho, Anna Kavan, Sylvia Plath, Myung Mi Kim, Bessie Head, Caroline Bergvall, Anne Carson, Lisa Robertson, Liz Howard, Soraya Peerbaye, Jean Rhys, Clarice Lispector, Nella Larsen, Brecken Hancock, Audre Lorde, Emily Brontë, Natalee Caple, Natalie Simpson, Larissa Lai, Gertrude Stein, Unica Zurn, Sarah Waters, Maureen Hynes, Andrea Routley, Jane Byers, Tina Biella, Wendy Donowa, Emma donaghue, Rita Wong, Ali Blythe, Jane Eaton Hamilton, Betsy Warland, Daphne Marlatt, Persimmon Blackbridge, Gabriella Golager, Dionne Brand, Chrystos, Lee Maracle, Robyn Stevenson, Monique Grey Smith, June Arnold

We’ve left out far more stellar writers than we’ve included. I love that there are a few I haven’t heard of/many I haven’t read. I also love that if I could read no one else but the above-mentioned for the rest of my life, I’d be in superbly talented/skilled hands.

Thanks to: Sami Grey, Susan Briscoe, RF Redux, Ann Ireland, Celeste Gurevich, Cate Gable, Lisa Richter, Ellen K. Antonelli, Rene Denfield, Nikki Sheppy, Arleen Paré

The Body is Problematic over at Electric Literature

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There’s a great interview up at Electric Literature between Lidia Yuknavitch, author most recently of “The Small Backs of Children” and Anakana Schofield, author most recently of “Martin John.” Two of North America’s most kick-ass writers coming together to chat.

Enjoy it here.

Start with Lidia Y

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sketch: Jane Eaton Hamilton

Lidia Yuknavitch, author of such esteemed books as “The Chronology of Water” and “The Small Backs of Children,” extends to we fortunate writers a talk about Corporeal Writing on You Tube. Just launched, Corporeal Writing will show us how to write out of our bodies. Body as library–body as the repository of memory, of metaphor, of what matters.

Corporeal: from the Latin “corpus.”

The first exercises, described here in this first video, are gratis. Have a listen!

Corporeal Writing

Here’s my attempt, first at the 3 sentences, then at the longer exercise (though woefully short of 3 pages):

“Heart beats outside my chest. Blood shushing through veins. Birds click-clocking across asphalt, all things I can experience without moving from a chair.

I want you but I might as well try to rope air because you aren’t solid anywhere I touch. My hands go right through you, you with your scaffolding of hollow bones, you with wing stumps on your shoulder blades. Honey I see you on an orange mountain, the wind buffeting, and I know you’re going over, I know you’ll fly. Shear stress. I can slip down your body from your mop of tangerine hair to your Aeolian nipple to your zapped thatch to your bandaged knee to your sandals clamped around skinny feet. Honey you are 96 pounds of freedom. I know you’ll lift out of the soles of your shoes completely barefoot, with kisses hickeyed across your chest crying SOS SOS save me oh save me, even as you go, and I won’t have the wherewithal or even, maybe, as the sob loosens inside me, the willingness to try.

My heart’s been in eclipse, honey, and it’s moving out of earth’s shadow.

I step from the cave, safe, safe, dull into light, notice the bars caging me, the people on the other side of estrangement yaberling and throwing peanuts. I lie on my aorta and pump red. I’m squeezing through my 12 left ribs and blowing this container. The zoo’s quiet after hours, oyster concrete, turn left, turn right, I just ramble. I can roam, roam on these legs on these knees on these bursitic hips on this rocking pelvis, on this anginal chest. How to name a tree when you’ve never seen one? Say oak. Touch craggy bark that splits into ravines, runnels, rivulets. I can touch climbing. Sensations I’ve never felt, roughness, scrapes, feather of oak leaf, tick of acorn, higher, higher into full summer canopy, up where wind. Up where parachutes. Smells I couldn’t sense in the cave, smell of leaf, smell of leaf veins, smell of insects, shush of their subterranean life. Smell of birds, smell of night song, smell of peeps, smell of oviducts and just laid eggs and even hickeys, salt blood rising to air?

You flew off a mountain and landed here, these altitudinous branches your elevated catacomb, your reckless goodbye? You smell of marrow, of click clicking bones. Oh, Orange, no matter where my heart leads, ka-thump, ka-thump, it can take you along. Gather your osseous matter. Come close, honey. Closer still. Grab my pulmonary veins, baby, hang on tight.

Don’t ablate, sugar. We’re gonna beat.

Shouts go up. Loudspeaker. Animal awol! Catch the animal! Animal loose on the streets of Vancouver!

Blood is slippery.”

 

 

 

 

 

Who’s missing from “the best of” lists this year?

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sketch: Jane Eaton Hamilton 2014

Here, from Lit Hub and Bethanne Patrick, is the latest round-up of women left off on the prize lists this year:

10 Great Books by Women Overlooked in 2015

 

The Adequate Writer: Your work is crap

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sketch: Jane Eaton Hamilton 2014

We’ve all been there on the receiving end of rejections that are ill-conceived and thoughtless.  Your work is crap, these notes say, in whatever arguably neutral language they couch this in.  Your work made me vomit.  Go shovel walkways.  Go work at Goonies.  Just go away and please, please, please, and whatever you do, stop writing.

They aren’t actually that bad, and most of them aren’t bad at all.  But we feel like they are, right?

It may be that, in fact, our work is crap.  It happens to the best of us.  After 35 years at this, I still write reams of garbage, and, sometimes, I send it out.  But regardless of the status of my submissions, good or bad or in between, the stats for rejection/acceptance stay about 20-1.  Which means that I get one acceptance per couple dozen rejections.

Does being queer enter into that?  Of course it does.  Pieces aren’t judged only by merit.  Unless there’s a push for affirmative action at a magazine, an article/story/poem that is even tangentially about being queer is often overlooked.  Oh, we published a lesbian piece last month.  Not quite for our demographic.  A little too avant garde for us.

Do I care?  Yeah, a lot.  I hate homophobia, and at my age, it’s a tired old saw.  Go play with knives, already.  Get over yourselves and ask more of your readers.

But even so, if I send a piece out–no matter what kind of piece it is–for long enough, with enough diligence, it will eventually find its home, and that won’t be the bottom of the barrel, that’ll be at a magazine/journal/online site where I’ll be proud to publish and they’ll be proud to have you.

Most of being a writer is showing up, keeping at it, being persistent when the whole damned enterprise seems keyed to shutting you down.

Here’s what I know, though.  You can do one thing better than any other writer anywhere:  you can be yourself.

Authors might have talents and skills you don’t have, but you have talents and skills they don’t have, as well.  That’s the thing that strikes me over and over in this long-game:  No one can write like I do.  Often I whine and grumble about that–how I can’t stop being me for five minutes in order to write as brilliantly as, say, Eudora Welty–but really, ultimately, my uniqueness is a good thing.  In fact, in an over-crowded marketplace, it’s the sum total of what I’ve got.  My idiosyncracies?  Those are my only commodities in publishing-land.

Do I wish I had other styles, other skills, other talents?  Of course I do.  Absolutely I do.  If I could write like Arundhati Roy, or Karrie Higgins, or poetry like, say, Alice Anderson or Jane Hirschfield or Marilyn Hacker, or essays like Roxanne Gay, or one true sentence the way Ray Carver could, or a Lidia Yuknavich short chapter, I would die a perfectly fulfilled human being.  If I could turn a sentence like Rebecca Brown or Lorrie Moore or Mavis Gallant or Toni Morrison I would be incandescent.  But I can’t.  That’s them.  That’s their kick at the can.  It’s not supposed to be mine.

Mine is the bit I got.

And that’s a lucky thing.  Because if we all wrote like each other, reading would be a grim task indeed.

Your work is crap?  Make more crap.  Do it the Beckett way:  If you’re going to fail–and you are going to fail–fail better.

 

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