Lately our numbers have been down, or at least it seems like they have been. We’ve been getting less comments, and I’ll admit that while I can think of many likely reasons–end of term, too much grading, hope of summer–ultimately I find myself fretting about it. I find myself thinking, what’s the point if we’re/I’m not garnering commentary? And more generally I find that I start turning my concerns onto myself: am I not pulling my weight? Should I bow out? Forge a new writing style? Have more links? Spend more time crafting my posts? Spend less? Am I going to regret publishing a post? Will it come back to haunt me? Worse, will it go unnoticed? These are just a few of the questions that run through my mind on a Sunday afternoon.
Granted, I worry about most everything, and I’ve worried about letting readers know that I worry about whether or not you’re reading. However, I find it reassuring and incredibly interesting that Sina Queyras aka Lemon Hound who, in my opinion is one of the most important women currently blogging, has expressed concerns about taking up public space on the internet. Here’s what she wrote in 2005 under the heading “Women blogging women”
Back in September I posted a note that said I was likely going to end my blogging adventure. Clearly I have decided not to. There are a number of reasons why, but the most important one may be–dare I say it–a question of gender. Tired old dialogue that it is, I noticed there are not enough women engaged in the discussion of poetry and poetics. Over and over again the voice seem to be male, shouting about this or that school or lineage…deciding what is important and what not in such confident and reductive tones as to shut out more cautious or considered voices.*
Now Queyras is obviously writing about discussions of poetry and poetics, and she’s writing this in 2005. Much has changed, certainly, but I cite her here to underscore some things that haven’t. Namely what she calls cautious or considered voices. Are those women’s voices? Queyras thinks so. In answer to her own question ‘where are all the women?’ she writes,
I have my theories. Look to the deletions, the hesitations, the reflective responses… the women are still out there thinking, their voices not quite up for the bombastic and instantaneous responses.
Hm. I’m certainly slow to respond most times, even here on a space I’ve helped to create. I’m still wondering how to agree and encourage and consider Heather’s post about post-term tristesse, or how to respond to Aimée’s most recent post about the performance of gender in a male-dominated field. It seemed relevant that my partner, who is a car enthusiast, send me a link to the latest Waterloo gender debacle from one of the car sites he reads, but I wasn’t sure how to work it into a pithy consideration of the post. In fact, I remember when Sina invited me to write a post for Lemon Hound; I very nearly backed out because I didn’t feel I had put enough work into it. She encouraged me (which I’d say falls into categories of both unpaid emotional work and mentorship), and she also told me to speak up.
Creating a space for dialogue and community is a collaborative act. Here is what poet Emily Kruse Carr has to say about it:
Collaboration is the most sincere form of adaptation.
By which I mean: vulnerable, requiring blind faith, solicitations for admiration, involvement, reciprocity, empathy. It is something like being in love: as a strategic mode of aesthetic presentation & performance.
Social coherence versus coherent self identity. Ok. That’s the problem.
Collaboration holds these tensions in play, rather than wistfully papering them over or simply & improbably wishing them away. It destabilizes the individual into an assemblage that is spatially & temporally contingent.
Collaboration is adaptation as animation: to move mentally, to excite an action at the neurochemical level. A waltz, for example, or a molecular mosh pit. Hypothesis building on the level of synapse.**
Which is to say that comments or no, there is no telling what kind of collaboration is happening here. And that it exciting. Or, to put it another way, perhaps fast feminism sometimes appears to be slow in the way we want the academy to be: considered.
But if you’re hesitating to join the conversation because you feel like what you have to say is unimportant, obvious, or passe, let me tell you: we’re here, and we want to know what’s on your mind.
*You can read this post and more in the beautifully produced Unleashed which was published by BookThug‘s fantastic Department of Critical Thought.
**This is an unpublished excerpt of a collaborative project Emily and I are working on entitled The Sonnets Project.