September 10, 2010


I'm listening to Mazzy Star as I type this. So good. Hope Sandoval's voice = a bow being pulled, slowly, carefully, across the violin of a dream. She lent vocals to everyone from Air to Massive Attack to The Chemical Brothers to Jesus and Mary Chain, back in the day.

A few weeks ago I signed on to work with VIDA: Women in Literary Arts (formerly WILLA), which is run by the indefatigable duo of poets Cate Marvin and Erin Belieu. I will be one of several "sheriffs" of a new blog, "Her Kind," which will be launched in October. The goal of the blog will be to pair writers (ideally from different genres and cultures) for the purpose of moderated dialogues--probably 10 days to two weeks in length--over major issues facing women today. One of the inspiring features for "Her Kind" can be found here (a conversation between Erin and Cate hosted by She Writes, another vital community-building site for women writers).

I'm a little terrified of taking on a new project right now. But as someone who has reaped the benefits of programs and institutions striving to empower women--it is the Barnard Women Poets Prize, after all--it's my responsibility to give back. And it helps when you admire your new colleagues. Just reading Erin's fierce and illuminating essay, "Full Disclosure: I Was A Teenage Poetry Bride," reminds me of the importance of speaking out/up for the generations that will come after us.

Interested in finding out more? Check out VIDA's brand-spankin' new website, or this essay, posted over at Slate, which ties into a VIDA project called "The Count." "The Count" evaluates statistical evidence for what otherwise might be dismissed as generalizations--or even fear-mongering--about gender disparities in publishing. I there wasn't so much data to be gathered, but the numbers are (sigh) a bit damning. Between June 2008 and August 2010, of 101 books that received The New York Times' one-two punch (review in both the daily edition and the Sunday Book Review section), 71% were written by men. 71%!

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