Gone in five seconds

And their words seemed to them as idle tales, and they believed them not
Luke 24:11 KJV

So all that spiteful back story erased
by my birth to a woman,
and my walking with women,
and my resurrection revealed to women
and it takes about five seconds
for the old dispensation to reassert itself.
Idle tales; how they will rewrite things
and take the story into their dumb hands
and make idols of themselves
and never learn to listen
and pray, noisily, to a one-eyed God.

P.S. Cottier

So that poem is a bit of a whinge written as if in Christ’s voice. Who saw the resurrected Jesus first varies between the gospels; but it is always a woman or women. And the men don’t trust her or their report. Classic!

Of course, some notable Christian churches still don’t allow women to be priests.* You can’t get rid of poverty unless you see women as fully human, including spiritually. Just sayin’.

And of course, Jesus would have voted yes in Ireland, for all couples to be able to be married, despite the religious conservatives who align themselves, theoretically, with Christianity.  Well done you Irish! Love is love.

Now I don’t know if any other Tuesday poets have written on religious themes this week, or feminist ones, or on sexuality or justice. Read the works of the other Tuesday Poets around the world by pressing here. I intend to have a look presently!

*Bizarrely, that includes the Sydney diocese of the Anglican Church, as well as the Catholic Church. Radically freaky stuff!

Tuesday Poem: Global Farms

December 2, 2014

Global farms

Stock cubes
are sent to sea, flavoursome squares
of mutton flesh and bone, seasoning,
woolly sardines.

Between pasture and knife
the blue stretches, and the yellow,
as rivers soak downwards,
contained in time.

No truck of guilt to turn from,
met on sudden road. Squalor
bleats over dollar’s equator,
safely unseen.

P.S. Cottier

That poem (published once before on this blog, in 2011, and written in 2008) about the horrors of the live export trade is a way of working through the feeling of surprise I had recently in re-reading something that I wrote twenty or so years ago.

I stumbled across an article by me that is seemingly in favour of fur coats. I am now tending more towards the vegan with every passing year.  (Not there yet, because….cheese.)  I wrote the article back in the early 90s to provoke the sort of person who decries self-expression through clothes. To quell any left over Old-Style Communist or inflexibly Green tendencies that renounced fancy endeavours such as hair dye and high heels. I recount some experiences with some fairly ugly types. (The article was published in the Australian Left Review, probably the last organ of the Communist Party of Australia. I used to have a column in it, mostly about food.)

Re-reading the article, I am struck by how far the central tenet seems to far be from what I think now, and, indeed, thought at all earlier times in my life. I first became vegetarian when I was eleven or twelve, although I have lapsed, sometimes just for days, sometimes for much longer. I can remember one of the first stickers I ever displayed was in favour of a ban on ivory.

Here’s the link to where you can go to read the article. The writing is quite good, in a few parts at least.  The article seems to have been a little unusual at the time in linking feminism and questions of personal appearance in this way. That has become far more familiar, now that it is fuelled by social media. (In the days I am talking about, we had the occasional etching and miniatures in lockets, which gave a little more time to think.  I think.)

But the fur thing? The article reeks of me being sarcastic, and I have never thought that fur was a desirable or ethical choice. Perhaps I should have included a sarcasm alert? Or a reminder, that would have unfolded twenty years in the future?  (‘Penelope, you always liked tickling a little too much.’)

On a trip to New Zealand last year, a Maori woman who was a guide at Te Papa (the museum in Wellington) explained that the use of the introduced possum to produce fur products was a positive development, in her opinion. The possum, introduced from Australia, causes damage in New Zealand, just as the fox, rabbit and cane toad do in Australia.  She obviously knew more about the environmental issues that I did. (It is also relevant to mention that Indigenous people have been utilising the meat and fur of Australian animals for tens of thousands of years did so in a way that caused no damage to the land.)

But can I see myself wearing a cane toad cape, to return to the feral? No, not really. Although I haven’t totally weaned myself from cow leather, so my position is totally hypocritical. And, if I had to choose a garment made from an invasive species, it seems hard to place a toad on the same level as a fox; the latter being only a leap from a pet dog. Farming animals for fur, is of course, a revolting practice.

So strange not to recognise oneself fully in a piece of one’s own writing. There are a couple of other things in the article that my position differs from now, but I remember the changes in my thinking for those.

Cutting wit has its limitations…I hope I remember that I was being sarcastic about one or two little stanzas that I wrote this year if I last another twenty years!  At least one attentive reader will know what I am talking about there.

Just as that person, and indeed other readers, will recognise that poetry knows no borders.  Here is a link to the poetic output of other Tuesday Poets.

Poems read at the Dead Poets’ Dinner in Canberra, July 22, 2014

Colin Campbell / Thomas Blackburn ‘A Smell of Burning’ and ‘Hospital for Defectives’
Marion Halligan / Yeats ‘Sailing to Byzantium’
Joyce Freedman / Siegfriend Sassoon ‘Everyone Sang’
Hazel Hall / Hilaire Belloc ‘Tarantella’
Chris Dorman / William Baine ‘The Archery of William Tell’
Kathy Kituai / Muso Susaki ‘Sun in Midnight’
Nicola Bowery / Sarah Broom ‘About Me’ and ‘That Moon’
Wendy McMahon Bell / Seamus Heaney ‘Digging’
P.S. Cottier / Catherine Martin ‘The Mouse Tower’
Geoff Page / Seamus Heaney ‘From the Republic of Conscience’
Laurie McDonald / David Meyers ‘Fencing in the Dark’
Carmel Summers / Janice Bostok ‘Amongst the Graffiti’
Moya Pacey / Elizabeth Bishop ‘One Art’ and Louis MacNeice ‘Wolves’
Rosa O’Kae / Seamus Heaney ‘Skunk’
Sue Edgar / J.L. Borges ‘Mirror’ and Sylvia Plath ‘Mirror’
Adrienne Johns / Hugh McDiarmid ‘Vanitas’ and ‘Balmorality’
John Stokes / R.F. Brissenden ‘The Whale in Darkness’
Mary Besemeres / Wizlawa Szymborska ‘View With a Grain of Sand’
Sarah Rice / T.S. Eliot excerpts from ‘Little Gidding’
Emily Rice / Ted Hughes ‘Tractor’
Annie Didcott / Keats ‘Ode to a Nightingale’
Tony Williams / Neruda ‘The Dead Woman’
Arlene Williams / J.J. Bray ‘Address to Pigeons in Hurtle Square’ and William Carlos Williams ‘This is just to say’
John Van de Graaff / Seamus Heaney ‘Follower’ and D.H. Lawrence ‘Piano’
Adrian Caesar / R.S. Thomas ‘The Owl’
Michael Thorley / Thomas Hardy ‘Channel Firing’ and ‘They’
Andrew McDonald / poems by two Scottish poets (Norman McCaig?)
Lesley Lebkowicz / poems by Soseki
Alan Gould / a song by Hamish Henderson
Alinta Leaver / Kenneth Koch ‘Variations on a Theme by William Carlos Williams’
Richard Scutter / Auden ‘Musée des Beaux Arts’ and Hopkins ‘Inversnaid’
Martin Dolan / Dylan Thomas ‘Prologue’
Marlene Hall / Thomas Wyatt ‘Whoso list upon the slipper top’
Melinda Smith / Francis Webb ‘Cap and Bells’ and ‘The Bells of St Peter Mancroft’
Ruth Pieloor / C.J. Dennis ‘The Austra—laise’
Janette Pieloor /Gwen Harwood ‘The Secret Life of Frogs’

37 readers chose poems to read by dead poets. 7 women’s poems were chosen. Please check and see if I got that right, as numbers and I rarely speak. I can’t work out the percentage, not being at all like the remarkable Ada Lovelace pictured below.

We continue to shape the world with the words of men only.

Poetry is an art form where many women work, and have done so for centuries. There are lots of works by ‘dead women poets’.

Are our aesthetic judgements so very narrow? Does thought spoil poetry?

I did get a giggle out of ‘The Dead Woman’ by Pablo Neruda. In one sense women are more dead than men, in that their/our poetry seems more easily buried. In another, it seems that they are not dead enough to qualify as Dead Poets, that is, those who are part of the pantheon.

I just don’t understand.

Apart from the retrospective silencing of women, it was a very enjoyable night.

Bias in the sciences and bias in the arts

Bias in the sciences and bias in the arts