Fired! in Barcelona 18th October 2018

José Luis Regojo and Dick Edelstein are pleased to announce a new series of free trilingual poetry readings, Poémame en el Raval, held bimonthly at the Cafè de les Delícies, sponsored by the digital poetry publishing platform and critical review Poémame, featuring local poets, known or unknown, and guests from nearby and far away.

On Thursday 18 October at 8 pm — we pay homage to Women Writers Day in Spain (III Día de las Escritoras: mujeres rebeldes y transgresoras en la Biblioteca Nacional de España), celebrated three days earlier. We also celebrate the upcoming first anniversary of the successful Fired! campaign to gain recognition for historical Irish women poets. After the readings by the featured poets, we will be reading a few poems by historical and contemporary Irish women poets, followed by an open mic session. The lineup of featured poets follows:

María Antònia Massanet in Catalan

Geraldine Mitchell (Killadoon, County Mayo) in English

Gemma Rabaneda ( Ze Pequeño) in Spanish

The invisible women poets club; the feminisation of the literary canon in Spanish

THE FEMINIZATION OF THE LITERARY CANON IN SPANISH; ‘The invisible women poets club’

La Vanguardia, 3 March 2018
By Xavier Ayén Pasamonte
Photo CreditXavier Cervera

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Various anthologies and projects are revising the canon and bringing to light important works

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“One night I dreamed an octopus loved me. / Oh, the unspeakable anguish of that aberration! / I have never suffered so much; when the day dawned / he said he had lost his mind …”

We don’t know what the author of that poem, the Barcelona poet Elisabeth Mulder (1904-1986), would have thought of such issues as empowerment of women and visibility of female writers. Or, indeed, whether women’s poetry exists. She is one of the fifty-four authors included in the Antología de poetas españolas (Alba). That collection proposes a radical revision of the canon—from the fifteenth century to the “generation of 27”—in order to restore the position of many female writers unjustifiably excluded from critical volumes. This is not the only initiative of this sort. Elena Mede is getting ready to publish a forthcoming anthology with Ariel: Todo lo que hay que saber sobre poesía [Everything you need to know about poetry], featuring one hundred women poets of the twentieth century. She notes, “They suffer double marginalization—as poets and as women. When I was young, I couldn’t find any women poets in the library and I couldn’t understand why; I now know many existed—the canon is broadening .” Thanks, for example, to the Genialogías collection (Tigre de Papel), which aims to make great writers more visible, bringing out two new titles a year, a project undertaken by the eponymous poets’ association.

Miriam Reyes acknowledges, “When I started writing, I had practically no references to women: educated in a patriarchal environment as I was, with the exception of  Juana Ines de la Cruz and Rosalía de Castro, it took me a long time to find out about them.” The editor of Alba’s anthology, Gonzalo Torné, confesses, “I knew very few of the authors included—except Saint Teresa and a couple of others, of course, even though I thought I had read a lot of poetry. Many of these women should have been read in secondary school—not because they were women, but because of their quality of their work—as Virginia Woolf had wanted, asking to be judged as severely as a man. Some people want to eliminate machista or racist authors from the canon, but ideological criteria in literature are very complicated: we could say that Jane Austen’s novels support slavery or that Aristotle has written unpalatable texts denigrating slaves and women. Ideally, we should be guided by quality and then explain that such and such was a trait of that person or of his or her time. Twentieth-century women have written a narrative in which, for the first time, what is portrayed belongs to us.”

“Poetry now plays the same role as in the third century BC”, says Ana Gorría (Barcelona, ​​1979). “Looking towards the horizon is not productive.” Thus, “When neoliberal policies and criteria of profitability structure us as individuals and as a part of society, [we should] distance ourselves from the ideology of mere performance, [we should] play, enjoy ourselves, observe without expecting anything in return; this is no small consideration.

The term poetisa [poetess] is rejected today by many people on account of its association with a certain disparaging attitude. To Concha García (La Rambla, Córdoba, 1956), “Too much has been written about suicidal women poets, as if that and disease were the emblems of our poetry”.

As for the current cohort of poets, it is impossible to talk about groupings or tendencies, but Sergio Gaspar, a former DVD editor, notes “We can identify common themes, such as the body; erotic desire with women as a subject, rather an object; abortion; and child care.Isabel Navarro emphasizes that “Increasingly, more is being written about motherhood because we have re-appropriated an experience that was previously not considered relevant to culture. Twenty-first century women are writing a new narrative concerning female identity, in which the pieces still do not fit, but—for the first time—they are ours.” On the other hand, to Teresa Shaw, “What is biographical has no interest in and of itself unless it leads to a clear understanding of what is knowledge, ‘Poetize knowingly and understand poetizing’, as the philosopher used to say”. Begoña Ugalde believes that women’s poetry exists, because “There is a feminine sensibility, not exclusive to women, that has to do with being in the world from a more receptive, less competitive stance, distant from the winners who have the power, with a particular experience of one’s body and a keen awareness of being a source of life”. Social reality is also a factor: Navarro writes poems about the real estate bubble. Esther Zarraluki does not like to talk about “women’s poetry” and hopes that “Soon they will stop calling on us to contribute to anthologies of women poets, or to include our work simply because we write in Spanish while living in Catalunya, and they will include our work only because of the quality of the poems in question”.

Awards

“Some 84% of the jurors judging poetry awards or competitions are men, and the recent national awards have been given to five women out of forty.”

Genialogías analyse all poetry prizes with awards of 5,000 Euros or greater: 84% of the jurors are men. Prior to 2016, the Loewe Prize had been given to one woman and to twenty-seven men; the House of America Prize went to two women and fourteen men, while the national awards went to 5 women out of a total of 40 laureates.

García believes that women poets in Spain and Catalunya “have not had a generational replacement—there are hardly any now. We are institutionally residual, we feel like we are in no-man’s land”. She laments that “In recent years there has been a very deep cut in funding on account of policies that confuse [our presence in Catalunya and language preference] with manifestations of Spanish imperialism.”

There are several anthologies of women, such as A: woman, language and poetry (Stendhal Books). The most recent is Sombras di-versas [Di-verse Shadows] (Broken Glass), in which Amalia Iglesias selects seventeen current women poets. These include Reyes, Gorría and Medel, as well as Pilar Adón, Raquel Lanseros, Leire Bilbao, Berta García Faet and Luna Miguel. These women are examples of the vitality of a genre that many consider has an old-fashioned image. But these observers ignore the fact that this vitality is manifest today in songs and publicity and that poetry hybridizes with technology—even though the results might be difficult to understand. There is an infallible antidote to such prejudice: read contemporary poets, for example, the women shown in the photo above.


A few names of Spanish women poets to include in future textbooks:

FLORENCE OF PINAR XV Century

Little is known about the first Spanish woman poet. She was a lady of the court of Isabel I of Castille and she took part in literary competitions. Her verses were included in the General Songbook (1511) by Hernando del Castillo, which preserved them from oblivion.

HIPÓLITA DE NARVÁEZ XVI Century

Very little infromation about her is available. One of her sonnets begins like this:

Leandro, with gallant effort, breaches
the confused sea as it bellows magnificantly;
and the sky, between lightning bolts, spills
heavy rain with violent fury. [my trans. — DE]

[Leandro rompe, con gallardo intento, / el mar confuso, que soberbio brama; / y el cielo, entre relámpagos, derrama / espesa lluvia con furor violento.]

SOR MARCELA DE SAN FÉLIX 1605-1688

Daughter of dramatist and writer Lope de Vega and the comic actress Micaela Luján, she retired to a convent in Madrid when she turned 16. There she received frequent visits from his father.

ROSA GÁLVEZ 1768-1806

Malagueña moved to the United States with her husband, a militia captain, whom she later divorced. Also a dramatist, she maintained a close relationship with [Spanish Prome Minister] Alfredo Godoy, who protected her from accusations of immorality and used public money subsidise the cost of publishing her work.

CONCEPTION OF ESTEVARENA 1851-1878

A Sevillan and orphan of very humble origins, she moved to Jaca, where she became ill with tuberculosis.

ÁNGELA FIGUERA 1902-1984

This parapatetic Republican from Bilbao is “the great Spanish poet of the 20th century”, according to Elena Medel, who adds, “She published very late in life like so many others, whose emergence usually coincided with their release from family responsibilities.” Her work ranges from landscape poetry to social themes, passing through existentialism and the experience of being a wife and mother. She published Belleza cruel [Cruel Beauty] in Mexico to avoid censorship, and her Complete Works were published in 1986.

DOLORES CATARINEU 1914-2006

A Madrileña, her poetic champion was Juan Ramón Jiménez. She was married to the painter Hans Bloch.

SUSANA MARCH 1918-1990

A Barcelonesa and also a novelist. Together with her husband, Ricardo Fernández de la Reguera, she continued the series of historical novels Los Episodios nacionales by Benito Pérez Galdós, which enjoyed great public success.

MAROSA DI GIORGIO 1932-2004

A Uruguayan. Her collected works are published in the two volumes of Papeles salvajes [Wild Roles] (1989 and 1991).

PALOMA PALAO 1944-1986

A diplomat from Madrid, her published works include El gato junto al agua [The Cat Beside the Water], Contemplación del destierro [Contemplating Exile] and the postumous Hiel.[Bitterness] She died in a car accident in Eivissa.

CHUS PATO Ourense, 1955

One of the most important current Galician poets. She transgresses genres to go beyond the traditional concept of poetry. Hordas de escritura [A Cache of Writings] was awarded the Premio de la Crítica 2008 [Critics’ Award 2008], and her Poesía reunida [Collected Poems]. Volume 1 collects work from 1991 to 1995.

In the photo: 01 Neus Aguado (Córdoba, Argentina, 1955), 02 Lola Nieto (Barcelona, ​​1985), 03 Laia López Manrique (Barcelona, ​​1982), 04 Belén García Nieto (Seville, 1982), 05 Teresa Shaw (Urioste , Uruguay, 1951), 06 Marina Oroza (Madrid, 1960), 07 Miriam Reyes (Orense, 1974), 08 Carolina Jobbágy (Buenos Aires, 1975), 09 Begoña Ugalde (Santiago de Chile, 1984), 10 Isabel Navarro (Petrer , 1977), 11 Anna Roig (Barcelona, ​​1976) and 12 Esther Zarraluki (Barcelona, ​​1956)

Translation © Dick Edelstein / Image La Vanguardia

Book review: ‘Autonomy’ by José Luis Regojo (New Binary Press, 2018)

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Book review: Autonomy by José Luis Regojo

New Binary Press, Cork Ireland, 2018.

 
The people of Ireland, today, in the twenty-first century, are engaged in a debate on the right of women to make decisions concerning their own bodies. On May 25, the Irish people will have the first opportunity in 35 years to modify one of the strictest laws in Europe on the voluntary interruption of pregnancy: abortion is currently permitted in Ireland only when the mother’s life is at risk.
 
Irish voters will be asked whether they wish to repeal the Eighth Amendment to the Irish Constitution, approved in 1983, a text that equates the right to life of a pregnant woman and that of her unborn foetus. If the voters approve the referendum, this amendment will be replaced by a provision enabling Parliament to pass legislation regulating the termination of pregnancies. In this climate of debate and discussion in Irish society, New Binary Press has just published an anthology entitled Autonomy. Launched on 6 April in Cork, this book is a compilation of poems, stories and essays collected by Kathy D’Arcy, a poet who completed her academic work in women’s studies at Cork University. She has published two volumes of poetry, Encounter (Lapwing 2010) and The Wild Pupil (Bradshaw 2012).
 
The texts in this volume share a common element: respect for the autonomy a woman must have to decide for herself and freely make her own choices on the fundamental issue of the control of her own body. Such choices may not always prove to be the right ones, but every woman must be allowed to make her own decision,
 
Unwanted presence in my body
Cells the size of a sesame seed
In MY womb.
Not the womb of Irish politicians
Who will never know
Of the pain previous pregnancies ravaged on my body
The decade of sleepless nights
Of worrying about having money to pay for school trips and shoes
And wrapping kids in sleeping bags during freezing winters
When I had no money for oil.
Of the increased chances of something being very wrong
At my age.
14 years in jail I face
Because Ireland expects women to bear
The costs,
The responsibility,
The care,
The trauma
Of carrying an unwanted pregnancy to term.
I tell my teenage daughter
And she is scared.
Not of abortion pills
14 times safer than pregnancy
But of her mother going to jail.
Irish politicians
Making an already distressing
Situation worse.
 
Pregnant in Ireland by Taryn de Vere

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The publication of these texts helps women and men recognize and fight for a right whose existence should be self-evident: a woman’s right to choose. Reading these poems and stories has taken me back to something that occurred in Spain in the 70s when a friend who was pregnant asked me for help. Since I was the only one in our social circle who knew English, I contacted a London clinic for her and negotiated the required procedures. When my friend returned, the men in the group stopped talking to me. They looked on me as a traitor because I had helped my friend to act on a decision that she had taken freely, but which was against the wishes of the father. That was one of the first times I was branded a “traitor” to the male cause (if such a thing exists).
 
I know a woman
Who made a choice
Whose reason is her own
Her country sent her across the sea
The State didn’t want to know.
—From I Know a Woman by Yvonne Aherne
 
In her introduction, D’Arcy recounts how she came across a school assignment written by her aunt, who had interviewed her mother as part of a project. From this interview, D’Arcy learned that her grandmother had always wanted to study, but as a woman had been unable to do so—only her brothers were permitted this option. Instead, she had 16 children. D’Arcy goes on to say that she will be the first woman in her family truly able to decide whether or not she wants to be pregnant (in 2018!). She dedicates this book to her grandmother Alice and to all the women who have had to leave their country in shame, who have risked ending up in prison because of an abortion; all the women who, when facing a difficult situation, were in need of understanding and affection and were met only with cruelty and ignorance.
 
The essays, poems and articles in this anthology offer differing perspectives on what ‘autonomy over one’s own body’ means for ordinary people (LGBT+ people, migrants, mothers, intellectuals, people with disabilities, and others). Its publication is part of the effort to ensure that the May referendum will make Ireland a freer country and, in doing so, will achieve a freer Europe as well. Since our magazine deals specifically with poetry, I have selected a few verses and short poems to illustrate the content of the book:
 
Each time we pass that hill
I see a pregnant woman
On her back,
The valley of her neck
Orbed belly to the sky
Green pelt, forest limbs
Howling the language of birth
 
—From Kindling by Sinéad Gleeson
 
Fógraím cogadh feasta
ar fhearaibh uile Éireann,
ar na leaids ag na cúinní sráide
is iad ina luí i lúib i gceas naíon,
a bpilibíní gan liúdar
is gan éileamh acu ar aon bhean
ach le teann fearaíochta is laochais
ag maíomh gur iníon rí Gréige
a bhí mar chéile leapan aréir acu,
is fogran cogadh cruaidh feasta.
—From Labhrann Medb by Nuala Ní Dhomhnaill

War I declare from now
on all the men of Ireland
on all the corner-boys
lying curled in children’s cradles
their willies worthless
wanting no woman
all male boasting
last night they bedded
a Grecian princess –
a terrible war I will declare.
 
—From Medb Speaks by Nuala Ní Dhomhnaill (Translated by Michael Hartnett)
 
the first time your boyfriend
thrusts
his burning penis in your hand;
when he waits until you are
drunk enough
to teach you the ways of men
pats you on the head, afterwards,
calls you a ‘good girl’
 
—From Matryoshka by Nicola Moffat
 
Dear Frank,
I don’t like when Uncle Martin stands too close to me. I’m glad I have lives in the basement. He’s wobbly and his breath smells like Chlorox. I’ll tell Dad when we’re driving to church on Sunday.
 
—From Frank by Sue Norton
 
But you need to remember,
You are not measured by the number on the scale
Because you can’t put a number on greatness
You will always be greater than,
Not equal to less.
 
Bruises and scars are so unladylike
But so was speaking out of turn.
 

It was unladylike to have rights
It was unladylike to fight
It was unladylike to go out at night.
Being ladylike has gained a new meaning
Being ladylike is being breakers of glass ceilings
Being ladylike is expressing my feelings
So how dare someone try to confine me
When I came out kicking and screaming

 
Ladylike by Megan Cronin
 
We must stand together
Only then can we defeat them
Monsters and men who claimed our bodies
Each one taking a different piece of us and now it’s time for
them to stop
Never must we indulge the silence they left us in
 
Anyone who hears us will support our plea
Rest assured you are not alone, there are many more like you
& me
Equally broken but ready to reclaim what was stolen from us
 
Strength will scare them
Truth will eat them alive
Rights will be made at last
Oblivious eyes will be opened
Never will they stop our endless plea
Gone are the days when they owned us, now I own me
 
W.O.M.E.N A.R.E S.T.R.O.N.G by Chloe Warmington
 
Where are the women?
I ask the Strongman, the Acrobat, the Horses,
I ask the government, the comedians, the judiciary,
the scientists, the directors, the discussion panels,
the engineers, the decision-makers, the speakers,
the board members, the professors, the media,
the reviewers, the curators, the sports stars,
the technologists, the military, the leadership,
where are the women?
but no one tells me where the women are.
 
Yet to Be Found by Kate Dempsey
 

Horoscope
 
Fortunately, you didn’t read
that day’s horoscope
in the morning paper.
 
Great prudence was urged
for Sagittarians pondering
important decisions
regarding their future.
 
If friends entertained doubts
about a single woman over fifty
Adopting a new young daughter,
they kept it to themselves.
 
Fortune and will played
their own parts intertwined.
The stars were propitious
and the gods benevolent.
 
You wrote your own horoscope.

Horoscope by Dick Edelstein

Again, I re-iterate it’s not all men,
but caution comes naturally to women when
vampires have ventured to vacuum our voice,
now the venom is wearing off.
Slut. Tramp. Bitch. Whore.
These words will be hissed no more.
The 5th wave is roaring from the shore.
 
Of Mice and #MeToo’s by Shaunna Lee Lynch
 
Anna doubted that something as tiny as a lima bean could feel pain, even if
it did have a heartbeat.
She was positive that she could feel pain.
And she was certain that she could hide it, too.
 
Void by Sue Norton
 
In a recent blog entry entitled “Poema reflexiona con … Aristotle”, published a few days ago, I cited the following African proverb: “Until the lions have their own historians, hunting stories will always glorify the hunter”. The same could be said for women: they will write their own story only when they are capable of doing so—and they are—and able to decide for themselves.
 
Finally, we can only wish Irish society as a whole—not just the women—good luck on 25 May. Their decision will have repercussions on Europe at a time when a climate characterised by reductions in individual freedom is sweeping the continent.

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Profits from the sale of this book will go to support those working to ensure that all women have access to the full range of reproductive healthcare, including the possibility of safe, legal abortion. Click here to order the book from New Binary Press, Cork, Ireland.

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Published 11 April in Poémame (Spanish digital poetry publishing platform and critical review)
Translation: Dick Edelstein

The Seven Sisters reading in Ennis

The Poets Corner, ‘Seven Sisters’ reading at The Record Break Café in Ennis on Saturday 17 February.

 

Writer and café owner Sinéad Nic Síoda has been holding music and poetry events at The Record Break Café in Ennis for some years. The café is a home from home to the Clare Poetry Collective, some of whom were readers, and several of whom were in the audience for the ‘Seven Sisters’ reading.
When Sinéad asked us to join the event I sent her links to FIRED! and ‘Take the Pledge’, which she was delighted to support. Thanks to Maria McManus for sending on the FIRED! slides. The café is hosting an art exhibition at the moment, but Sinéad was able to display them on the sloping ceiling behind the writers.
I gave the audience a brief introduction to the impetus for FIRED! and invited them to visit the website and take the Pledge. And I made sure that they took in the slides! Then, it was into the readings.
Due to illness, we were six sisters: Deirdre Devally, Deborah Ryan, Ruth Marshall, Sinéad Nic Síoda, Mary Ellen Fean, and Karen J McDonnell. Apart from our work, we read poems by Paula Meehan, Kerry Hardie, Doireann Ní Ghríofa, Eavan Boland, and Eva Gore-Booth – each reader giving a reason why they had chosen a particular poet.
The café was full, the coffee was good. The buzz of conversation after the event was proof that it was a success. For myself, it was lovely to hear Sinéad read her poetry. She’s usually busy looking after customers and other performers. It was great to have her behind the mic instead of the coffee machine!
Here’s to the next FIRED! gig!
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The White Blackbird; Laura Loftus at The Honest Ulsterman

The White Blackbird; The Marginalisation of Irish Women Poets from Literary Magazines During the 1980s

by Laura Loftus

This neglect of Irish women poets stems from something deeper within the Irish literary community that has prevailed for generations. The establishment of an Irish Free State in 1922 provoked a drive to create a unique Irish literary identity. This newly envisaged Irish literary culture held very particular ideas relating to the proper medium for creative expression. The occlusion of women from debates relating to the shape of Irish national literature during the early twentieth century resulted in the Irish poem and the methods of critical evaluation remaining highly masculinist and ultimately resulted in the curtailment of women’s poetic agency until as late as the 1980s. Critics working from postcolonial theory have argued that the male domination of Irish literature is a consequence of Irish colonisation which caused Irish culture to develop a kind of hyper-masculinity where men who were colonised felt the need to regain their sense of masculinity by creating a literature culture built on a system of male literary inheritance.

s200_laura.loftusRead the complete article at The Honest Ulsterman.

The Fired ! Ó Bhéal Readings January 22nd 2018

Readers: Raina J. León, Chris Murray, Nicola Moffat and Kathy D’Arcy reading the works of  Eithne Strong, Geraldine Plunkett Dillon, Mary Devenport O’Neill and Rhoda Coghill

All images of The Ó Bhéal Fired! Readings of 22nd January 2018 are © Linda Ibbotson

In the fifties The Oxford Book of Irish Verse was published, edited by male poets Lennox Robinson and Donagh MacDonagh. The anthology contained work by eighteen women, which was pretty good going for the time. In 1986, Thomas Kinsella edited The New Oxford Book of Irish Verse. It contained work by one woman – from the Irish, in translation. Kinsella was the translator.Irish women poets are coming together all over the country to host Fired! readings, discussions and events. This is not an isolated event, but part of a disturbing pattern which has emerged in Irish literature over the decades. This year, the publication of the Cambridge Companion to Irish Poetry has been something of a last straw. We will be reminding the Irish literary world about the beautiful work and talented poets who have been erased from the canon of Irish literature. We want to discuss why this happened, and how we can stop it from happening. We want more than anything to celebrate these women and their words. Audience members will have the opportunity to participate and read at the open-mic, and work by forgotten poets will be available to read from.

 


Raina Léon
Kathy D’Arcy



Poet Biographies Via  Ó Bhéal


Raina J. LeónCave Canem graduate fellow (2006), CantoMundo fellow, Macondo fellow, and member of the Carolina African American Writers Collective, has been published in numerous journals as a writer of poetry, fiction and nonfiction. Her first collection Canticle of Idols, was a finalist for the Cave Canem First Book Poetry Prize (2005) and Andrés Montoya Poetry Prize (2006). Her third book sombra : (dis)locate was published in 2016 as was her first chapbook profeta without refuge. A founding editor of The Acentos Review, an online quarterly, international journal devoted to the promotion and publication of Latinx arts, she is also an associate professor of education at Saint Mary’s College of California.


Chris Murray is an Irish poet. Her chapbook Three Red Things was published by Smithereens Press in June 2013. A small collection of interrelated poems in series and sequence, Cycles, was published by Lapwing Press in autumn 2013. A book-length poem, The Blind, was published by Oneiros Books in 2013. Her second book-length poem, She, was published by Oneiros in spring 2014. A chapbook, Signature, was published by Bone Orchard Press in March 2014. A Modern Encounter with ‘Foebus abierat’: On Eavan Boland’s ‘Phoebus Was Gone, all Gone, His Journey Over was published in Eavan Boland: Inside History (Editors: Nessa O’Mahony and Siobhán Campbell) by Arlen House in 2016.

 


Born and raised in South Africa, Nicola Moffat has spent the last nineteen years trying to become a Corkonian. She is a regular attendee of the Ó Bhéal open mic nights and has been published in Ó Bhéal’s annual Five Word Challenge anthology. She was also invited to contribute to the 2016 Ó Bhéal Winter Warmer Festival and her reading can be found here: youtu.be/bSaiAiH9mho

 


Kathy D’Arcy is a Cork poet (Encounter 2010, The Wild Pupil 2012) currently completing an IRC-funded Creative Writing PhD in UCC, where she teaches with the Women’s Studies department. In 2013 she received an Arts Council Literature Bursary for her poem Camino. She has worked as a doctor and youth worker as well as teaching creative writing. Her play This is my Constitution was staged in 2013 at an Irish parliamentary briefing on gender. She was 2016 editor of the Cork Literary Review and is current editor of Rhyme Rag (an online poetry journal for young people). She is currently involved in the Irish Pro-Choice campaign.

For more about Kathy visit kathydarcy.com

José Luis Regojo introducing Fired! in Barcelona

Poémame Magazine: Mujeres poetas irlandesas: Crónica de la lectura poética organizada por Poémame en Barcelona (18/enero/2018): (Read José Luis Regojo’s lecture here)

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This is a translated article comprising José Luis Regojo’s introduction to Fired!  It notes the inherent sexism of the Spanish greats. Thanks to Dick Edelstein for the translation and for the Public Dropbox Link.


Public Dropbox link

Fired! at Café de las Delicias These files include ‘The North Wind’ (Geraldine Plunkett Dillon) as well as ‘Now I am a Tower of Darkness and ‘The Welcome’ (Freda Laughton) read by Inés Caravia. Also included: Intro to the session (José Luis Regojo) –A Commentary on Machismo in Spanish Poetry (Sp)+ additional commentary by Rafa Aranda (Sp).

Barcelona Poetry Reading Supporting the Irish Fired! Campaign

Poems of Tomorrow and Yesterday

Text of José Luis Regojo’s introduction to Fired !, english translation, Dick Edelstein.

The initial idea for this poetry reading arose while Ann King, Dick Edelstein, Concha Catalán and myself were having a beer, and it has ended up becoming a platform to give voice to an Irish campaign called  Fired! Irish Women Poets and the Canon.
Fired! represents a call to reduce and eliminate the gender imbalance in Irish poetry circles, and we here particularly want to be a part of an international echo in response. Recent events were detonated by the Cambridge University Press publication of The Cambridge Companion to Irish Poets (2017). That was just the tip of the iceberg, a sad indicator of a much harsher reality. This book, presented as the Bible of Irish poetry, makes women poets invisible in Ireland or portrays them as a mere sideshow supporting the reigning male poets of the moment. Even worse, if such a thing were possible, during the preparation of this book, no one questioned the gender gap— neither editors nor writers: no one.
For those individuals, unfortunately, there were no Irish women poets in the eighteenth, nineteenth or early twentieth centuries. And we hardly need mention working class women poets, they simply do not count. Thus, the Fired! manifesto calls on everyone in the spheres of literature and publishing to make a commitment to balancing this gender mismatch in Irish literature. The absence of women in anthologies, research and other areas related to literature alters history, distorting the way we perceive the reality of contemporary poetry.
But if this was the call to which we responded in solidarity, it also prompted us to take a jaundiced look at a few examples of the machismo that prevails in the world of Spanish language poetry. In an article published on January 16 in El Español, journalist Lorena Maldonado made good use of the unfortunate occasion of the death of poet Pablo García Baena to remind us of some of the bizarre hidden realities of this world. We might naively think that a man who is a poet must be a sensitive individual, but this is not always the case. That great, recently deceased poet has left us a legacy of few pearls of wisdom, such as this one: in referring to contemporary women poets like Raquel Lanseros as ‘trite’ ‘They write what people want, vulgarity.‘ He adds that ‘when a couple of women are on jury for a literary prize, until they reward one of their own, there is no way to shut them up’.
The poet Felix de Azua revealed his attitude towards Barcelona mayor Ada Colau in no uncertain terms when he said ‘She should be working in a fish stall’. This charming individual branded as feminazis the women who demand that election to the Real Academia Español should comply with the 2007 Equality Act since women occupy just 8 of 46 seats.
‘In I confess that I have lived, Neruda confesses that he raped a young cleaning woman, treating her as if she were his property just because she came from the lower classes. ‘One morning, in a mood to do whatever I felt like, I grabbed her tightly by the wrist and stared at her face to face. There was no language I could speak to communicate with her. She let herself be led by me without a smile and soon she was naked on my bed. Her skinny waist, her full hips, the overflowing cups of her breasts, made her a peer to the millennial sculptures of South India. The encounter was that of a man with a statue. She kept her eyes open all the while. Impassive. She was right to despise me.’
Nietzsche, when he was a poet, wrote ‘If you go with women, do not forget the whip. Wilde quipped, ‘A bigamist is man who has two women, just like a monogamist‘. Quevedo carped, ‘Oh what a plague, what boredom, what boredom is having to deal with them longer than the brief moments when they are good for pleasure‘. Who today knows Gertrudis Gómez de Avellaneda? What about Bécquer? Well, she was more successful than he was even though he alone has gone down in history. And the few comments that have been made about her are of this sort: ‘This woman is quite a man’.
The machismo of Juan Ramón Jiménez shut out the brilliant Zenobia Camprubí. Gerardo Diego ignored the women of the Generation of ’27 in his Spanish Poetry Anthology 1915-1931. Concha Méndez, a distinguished poet of that generation, was known as Manuel Altolaguirre’s ‘woman’ (meaning wife). Cela said ‘Women are to be enjoyed, then some you leave, others not … it depends on the province where they live‘. I’ll finish with the misanthropic writer Paco Umbral:Violent hatred is the most peaceful way that a husband, a lover, an enchanted man has to express his love’. All of the above are a few choice examples from the phallocentric world of poetry and literature assiduously researched by Lorena Maldonado (who documents in her article quite a few more chilling ones), in which the role of women is reduced to that of a muse.
During the introduction to the reading, Rafa Aranda added to the analysis above his personal note on the officially unrecognized but conflictive etymology of the Spanish term poetisa, noting that, once he made his discovery he could never again use this beautiful-sounding word because it has been sometimes used in a derogatory sense: ‘The ugly poetess, when she does not achieve the category of poet, is generally nothing more than an ugly woman making love to herself in verse.’ (Realist novelist and celebrated journalist Clarín in Solos de Clarín (1881) Solos de Clarín, Madrid, 1971, 86).
But during the poetry reading sponsored by Poémame on January 18, 2018 at the Cafè de les Delícies in Barcelona, ​​it was forcefully demonstrated that, thankfully, that such a sad scenario does not always prevail, even while the attitudes and behaviour described above may still be prevalent. A report on this event even found its way into an article on the Fired! website entitled A Reading of Irish Women Poets in Barcelona ).The session featured Francesca Castaño, Kymm Coveney, Inés Caravia, Dick Edelstein, José L. Regojo, Michael Bunn and Magda Seoane. Edelstein, in his reading themed People you know, places you know included a tribute to the recently deceased Neil Middleton, a distinguished Irish-based former publisher who regularly visited Barcelona and was known for his commitment to and activism in favour of women’s’ rights,.Also included was a poem inspired by a contemporary Irish women writer known to a large part of the audience and a poetic tribute to pioneering computer programmer Ada Lovelace entitled “To Ada With Love”, read by Ann King. Inés Caravia presented a well prepared, highly dramatic reading of poems by her late friend Juana Bignozzi, the Argentine poet, and by Irish women poets Freda Laughton and Geraldine Plunkett Dillon.
Readers may wonder how the work of these overlooked early 20th century Irish writers would be judged by a contemporary audience. Just listen to the sound file attached below, to the fervour of spontaneous applause from an audience hearing them for the very first time, and wonder at how it came about that we managed to let these talented writers slip into oblivion, and how a group of diligent contemporaries has now, thankfully—and to our great benefit—drawn them back from an unmerited abyss.
In closing, we must add a big thank you to Josep and Laia and all of the owners and staff of the Cafe de les Delícies, who helped facilitate our extraordinary event!

José Luis Regojo is a member of the editorial board of the Spanish digital magazine and poetry publishing platform, Poémame. He has translated or contributed to several volumes of poetry and essays by Gary Snyder published in Spanish and Catalan. Based in Barcelona where he teaches English, he is a Research Fellow at The Center for Gary Snyder Studies at Hunan University in China. He has published a number of books in Spanish, including the children’s book Max y su Sombra. Actively involved in many civil right causes, he is a long-standing member and former executive board member of Amnistía Internacional Catalunya.

Poesía es machismo: Pablo García Baena y otros poetas que despreciaron a la mujer Poesía es machismo / El Español January 16 in El Español,