I recently attended a poetry reading to support a friend and to read during open mike. I had attended this venue before though not for several months .... My main reason for staying home is that I have read as a featured writer for this particular venue but always left feeling “outside” the regular group of (white) men who all know and support each other, while tolerating women with the courage to read. Theirs is a style of writing that is clever, witty, and fast paced, with a kind of heartless verbal flippancy (I am being generous here) that does not speak to me. I have chosen to avoid it.
By organizing groups for women only, you have tapped into a deep vein of longing within me to be heard and appreciated BECAUSE I am a woman with experiences unique to women and where I don't have to adopt the verbal phyrotechnics and testoserone-laced punchiness of the male writer's clique. I remember reading a bio of Sylvia Plath and the behaviors that endeared her to her male colleagues, drinking, smoking, running in their circles. Still, she got away with writing about mothering, female sexuality and subjects men were not writing about.
The other night, one man walked around the room growling his poetry, singling out a pretty young woman for some choice lines. It bordered on offensive behavior, but the men loved it. Clever word play, allusions to jazz, mean streets, made-up characters etc. I hope you know what I mean. I would no sooner read a poem about birth or "womanly" things to these men than I would read naked. Women who grab their attention often speak in the same voice and I hear the same stridency. I hope you will post this on your blog. I would like to hear what others have to say on this subject.
Frustrated in Seattle