Citizen Divas: Women, Art, and Social Justice

A Panel in celebration of International Women's Day

Free of charge, open to the public

Saturday March 6th

MOCA- The Museum of Contemporary Art, AUDITORIUM

250 South Grand Avenue

Los Angeles, CA 90012

For further information: buchanan@calarts.edu, wertheim@calarts.edu

Organized by Nancy Buchanan, Christine Wertheim and students from CalArts ID 517

This symposium focuses on social, geographical and conceptual arenas where the power of women to speak on behalf of themselves and their peers is strongly, radically asserted through works of art and activism.

12.00-12.30 - Introduction by artist Andrea Bowers

12.30- 2.30 - Lourdes Portillo will discuss the making of her film, Senorita Extraviada, Missing Young Woman, a documentary examining the mystery of the hundreds of young women murdered in Juarez, Mexico.

+ Claudia Bernardi will talk about a collaborative mural, Tapestry of History, which she organized with Guatemalan survivors of the massacres that took place during the long attacks on indigenous villagers. These women came from Chajul, Nebaj, Chimaltenango, Ixil, Ixcan and Rabinal to share their stories.

3.00- 5.00 - Andrea Liss, Art Historian/Cultural Theorist and author of Feminist Art and the Maternal will discuss the radical mother-artists featured in her book.

+ Activist Margaret Prescod will discuss the work of grassroots women in her presentation, Women, Haiti and the Struggle for Democracy.

There will be additional short presentations by the organizers.


Andrea Bowers has explored individual expression within society at large in her ground-breaking installations, video and drawings. Her work offers a uniquely feminist critique, eliding dogma for dissent and exploding simple notions of radicality.

Claudia Bernardi is an internationally renowned artist who works in the fields of human rights and social justice. She has witnessed monstrous human tragedies, yet speaks of these horrors in ways that communicate the persistence of hope, undeniable integrity, and necessary remembrance. In 2004, Bernardi was awarded grants to support her project to create an Art School/ Open Studio in Perquin, a rural community in El Salvador.

Andrea Liss is The Contemporary Art Historian and Cultural Theorist at California State University, San Marcos, where her teaching focuses on feminist art and theory, photographic theory and representations of memory and history. In addition to Feminist Art and the Maternal (2009) she has published Trespassing through Shadows: Memory, Photography and the Holocaust (1998).

Lourdes Portillo is a Mexico-born, San Francisco-based filmmaker whose work examines issues pertaining to Latino and Latin American culture, society and politics through a richly varied range of forms, from investigative documentary to satirical video-film collage, often combining the personal and the political in a radical, idiosyncratic way. Over three decades, she has completed more than a dozen films, including Las Madres: The Mothers of Plaza de Mayo (1986), La Ofrenda: The Days of the Dead (1988),The Devil Never Sleeps (1994) and SeƱorita Extraviada (2001), that have received awards around the world.

Margaret Prescod came to independent radio station KPFK with years of experience as a women's rights and anti-racist activist, including having represented the voice of grassroots communities to UN conferences and providing consultations on many issues. She is co-founder of the Global Women's Strike, and the host of Sojourner Truth, a public affairs show on KPFK.


James Finnegan on New Poetry explanded the easy dichotomies I noted earlier and beyond raw / cooked. I changed them and added

he'd written more plain / usual antonyms (thank you Roget) than poetry ones

clear / elusive
plain / fancy
concrete (general, not concrete poetry) / abstract
sequential / disjunctive
narrative / non-narrative
syntactical / asyntactic
closed / open
controlled / loose
easy / difficult
coherent / fragmentary
simple / complex
grammatical / ungrammatical
line breaks for punctuation / punctuated
meter & syllabics / breath based lines
inspiration / craft

now, I don't think using dichotomies is a great way t teach or think after high school, although that's something I ought to spell out -- it is not as though they should merely be replaced with dialectic and discourse, but -- maybe that's ok for undergrads!


Amy's asking some questions about SoQ.

I have thinking of some characteristics of what's not good about SoQ (which I understand as a more Bell / Kinnell / and Iowa 80s poets waslking across corn fields, hunting (problematically), baking grandmother's bread recipe, or drinking whiskey out of juice glasses in the kitchen with not a spouse) AND what I consider contemporary confessionalism, Levine/Laux, etc. style.

While many may think of "quietude" as being perjerative, I think it is fairly descriptive. But I think there is a quietude which is valuable to have around in poetry. And then, see 1) one which is not (but not limited to the so called SoQ)

1) A poetry of accepted ideas. Think Oprah topics: recovery/detox/rehab/12 stepping, a vague but discernably protestant christian spirituality (I realize this is a step), genetics "DNA" family inheritance, "disease," victimhood, etc. Good poetry is a poetry of independent thought, even if the poet happens to be in NA.

2) A concern with "lying to tell the truth." This can verge on the poetry equivalent of serial killer stories: poems with victims who are not the poet told from the first person, etc. Privileging "emotional truth" perhaps not discovered in the course of real events over other types of truth, fiction, or more nuanced understandings of fact, fiction, version, experience, pov, etc.

3) A concern with subjectivity vs objectivity and/or specificity vs universality/generality as the first most important dichotomy or to the exclusion of other ideas about poetics.

4) Abuse of "-ing."
now, another tactic for this innovation thing is surely to compare it to what at least was called "technology early adopters" -- the first two get hdtv, or get rid of cable in favor of online streaming, or -- etc.

younger innovative poetry circles very much favors technology early adopters -- both poets and readers (likely poets, but, hey).

this strikes me of something of a shortcoming, that not ALL artists are technology early adopters, and in fact poets are pretty famed for being off the grid throwback types

yet, poets and artists showed companies all about social networking and twitter for pr (and -- a corporation is not a person -- why on earth would ANYONE want to friend a company, or get all the new metal roof tweets?)


some comments on books I have a conflict of interest commenting on (because I did not win the contest they won, or because I don't care about the book enough to keep it)

Carol Quinn

1) Carol is from So Cal!
2) Carol thanks a lot of Houston faculty (she got her PhD there). Were they really that supportive?

3) The opening poem (labelled "Proem" -- the book is sectioned) is fun (ex. to follow?), appropriate, but VERY, VERY SERIOUS:

Afterimage (ie, "burned in")

This FUSE (emphasis mine) may weld or wed...
other alliterative..., as it ... does
what fuses or more properly "flux and fire" do...

including the last line

"blinding those it lures."

(the eye attracted to light -- the book, Acetylene, as in acetylene torch).

Are the next poems good? Yeah, but not as tight, not as formalesque a briefly yet completely developed image in free verse.

The near rhymes of another poem are nice, "inhere" and "fur", "polyphonies" and "chase" (although, is more than one polyphony required?) and "recall" and "whole".

The poem following that in the book unfortunately gives me a reason to talk about the idea of necessity in poetry. The idea is beyond using a bunch of words about necessity instead of necessary words only, but here Quinn gives us baggy lines:

They'll tell you how they live without the one
thing you thought necessary for all life

This first, in this poem: well, the line break is ONLY interesting if the division between "one / thing" is interesting. The ONLY reason the line "They'll tell you..." is interesting is that it ends in the word "one"! Following that with "thing" to revise the previous line -- well super cool materialist girl, BUT -- then six "trash garbage NECESSARY waste yadda blah" follows. The poor poem continues begging missed opportunities, such as "They miss the" (those banal people living without what's necessary) "break of dawn."

I send it out to the universe that necessity and precision relate. But a different suffering is exacted when "For X... is y (for these slobs)" is used rather than "X... is y for *them*." Why the anachronistic, baggy usage no one mistakes for being literary? Ok, here, I am just being unfair. It is not that it is not going forth in a knowledgeable way, though it isn't. Is it just that the first poem was TRENDY and clever on and theme, and these next are dull (at least they make sense -- though they are abstract in a way that gives abstraction a bad name, about which I need to explain, fer sure).

And here: I have loads of just such poems, had I known this was the publisher! I wouldn't have sent what I sent to the contest.

Here is my "ye old Daly woman don't use "that" lecture" in context:

why not

Waves reach us.
We send waves; layers coalesce,
tree rings, mother
of pearl

rather than

There are waves
that reach us and waves that we

send out. Layers coalesce
like the rings of trees, mother

of pearl

I like the incantation of "Caisson"
the first foray into convection fried chicken a mixed success: did soak in milk and chili oil overnight, but the upshot is still gotta egg wash and crunchify (cracker crumbs) not flour.
for the first time in two years, I pruned the side boxwoods -- I am hoping to let them escalate, though they won't get as high eventually as the last house's privet, they could reach 8 ft. they are at abt 5 now.

anyhoo, this -- pruning -- often gets me thinking about form

as I recently finished THE MAN WHO MADE LISTS, a book my parents gave my husband (rather dull, unfortunately, btw), this made me consider: how did rhyme and form change from before there was a dictionary and after, from before dictionaries and a theasaurus, and after?

a corollary with etymology, but I think that's older.

also, open question re: word hoard (obviously an interest of mine, given TO DELITE AND INSTRUCT)
in answer to Amy King's query about innovative poets (on new poetry list)

well, many innovative poets reject the term experimental because an experiment CAN go awry

another reason is that the query the utility of the scientific method in art making, which "experiment" can refer directly or indirectly to that

still another reason some prefer "innovative" is for the "nov" part -- they are following the Pound dictum, "make it new"

in this way, it is easy to consider that what is new is not always good, or an improvement -- however *useful* innovation as a practice or habit or value may seem

I would put as a list of poets who are younger than the language group:

flarf poets (though many are sculpting toward form)

conceptual / performance art-rooted poets (though in this group, people like the Antins and Kenny G and Bergvall are/were "newer" when they started than the now-conceptual poets, although Craig is an interesting case since he is so innovative for his institution they -- at least during and exchange I had with him when I was about to visit Utah -- didn't consider to be a poet (aside from Paisley)

new form poets -- Jena Osman and Juliana Spahr -- and I am listing them after "the conceptual poets" because new form is largely CONCEPTUAL form

I things some other interesting poets who are younger than the language group are:

Adeena Karasick: although her use of theory and sound/semantics is perhaps not new, in combination it is, and she is first doing what she's doing who is doing this now

myself, because I think I'm doing a variety pack of new things: but I consider myself experimental rather than innovative, because I don't think there's much that's completely new, especially in the arts and humanities

"born digital" poets such as Jason Nelson and Stephanie Strickland and Janet Holmes' F2F

among the visual poets, I like David Baptiste-Chirots stuff and Mikel And's stuff -- I think it is new and fresh (though they've been doing it for quite sometime)

among the collaborationists, I think those with a music background, Like Sheila Murphy and Jukka Pekka Kervinen are doing something "after Coolidge" that few others have pursued

some thoughts while on hold:

this first I had yesterday while cleaning up after dinner, tho:

one of the things which unifies many of the younger innovative poets is *innovative process" -- thinking in relation to Strickland's useful "born digital" term, certainly any use of computers, hypertext, code, and internet is going to involve a different process of composition -- a new one, at least varying from babbage to turing to mac hypercard to internet search to web 2.0 new -- unless old games/tools, now available online, are used

I place flarf firmly here as well, even if the born digital or google sculpy is ultimately in service of a NY 3rd gen poem. or a formal poem, it is made in a new way

this IS related to my thought while pruning about roget, johnson, and changes in word choice, rhyme, meter, etc. but that is also a change in access of information

anyways, new PROCESS as a subsection of innovation -- this also relates to experiment, which is a process-oriented idea (though can involve experiments in content/subject as well as...)

back to change of access to information, this changes things like relation to source of course, and we are seeing a migration toward more researched projects, a stronger relationship to other texts, but also this is part of the larger change in the zeitgeist

but also -- poetry. new news -- guess what? people get news differently now.

so looking briefly while on hold at Silliman's blog -- most recent post: is all history a record of change? is vision mostly a perception of movement?
lovely bot has sucked in the vauxhall book description on a vauxhall cars site



March 21, 2010
1 pm to 5 pm
Tarzana Community and Cultural Center
19130 Ventura Blvd. Tarzana, CA 91356















Book Sale and Signing (portion of proceeds go to VCP)
Celebration, Snacks and Mingle
Nan Hunt and Friends
The Founder of the Valley Contemporary Poets
Reads Poetry with VCP Past Directors:
Mary Armstrong, Brendan Constantine, Elizabeth Iannaci
Rick Lupert, Sherman Pearl, Jackie Tchakalian,
and more…..
Airplane Book Review: The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo

1) I read all the lesbian pathologist books two years ago
2) This was recommended to me by Ron, who knew it was on the best seller list, they are fighting over Larsson's estate, etc.
3) reading another book --- not trade paper -- I picked up subsequently -- this is well written by comparison

The unfortunate thing about this book is that -- despite the fact that the serial killer story doesn't kick in until halfway through the novel, and it is wrapped up 3/4 of the way through -- this is undoubtedly the reason for the success of the book. It is comared to Silence of the Lambs, etc. because it is a gruesome serial sex murder thing, of the type that is weirdly popular here in the U.S. Serial murderers who just happen to have killed a number of people? Bah. What we really mean by serial killers is sex/torture/kidnap/murderers with some psychological weirdness.

Now, Larsson's also praised by writing, in this book, a financial conspiracy thriller, and DOUBLE or TRIPLE sex crime. He's got two detectives, but it is the detective of the title who continues to the next book in the series. There's some weirdness in his handling of this 24 year old female character, BUT he does a few things rather brilliantly: his facts and figures about domestic violence / crimes against women in Sweden -- the chapter heads -- are well contextualized by several different aspects of the story -- it is not just linear, literal. AND this character is a ward of the state beyond majority, and suffers the abuse of the system, plainly because she suffered -- and her mother, and her absent sister (there's a doubling of the absent sister theme) -- from some serious abuse that "made her who she is." This last part is far weaker than Larsson's criticism of the system designed to protect young people, and obviously not protecting them.



Announcing the premier of a new kind of poetry reading

Brendan Constantine presents RED(D)RESS, an experimental series
dedicated to creating a dialogue among poets of all styles & experiences.

In addition to presenting their own work, each guest will be asked to name
three more poets for a future event. Upon agreeing to perform, these guests
will also be asked to name three more, and on and on. RED(D)RESS will
offer an ever changing series where no single region or style prevails.

for our inaugural reading as we present:

Guest MC and musical accompanist RICK LUPERT

Admission $7.00 – it’s worth it!
Please support Beyond Baroque and this new series
It might go on forever or down in flames

Beyond Baroque Literary Arts Center is located at
681 Venice Blvd. Venice, CA 90291 For information
please call 310.822.3006 or visit them on the web at