In the Stacks with Sarah Fox: Excerpts

In the Stacks with Sarah Fox: Excerpts

Published on Tuesday, August 20, 2013.
Cover of Heresies: Women's Traditional Arts, The Politics of Aesthetics

Cover of Heresies: Women's Traditional Arts, The Politics of Aesthetics 

Ed. note: Minneapolis-based writer and poet Sarah Fox is the second resident in Coffee House Press' Writers and Readers Library Residency Program. For the past several weeks we've posted dispatches here as Sarah responds to working inside the ACC Library. In the post below, Sarah shares some excerpts from a journal she has kept during her stay.

For more on Sarah Fox's residency, join us this Thursday, August 22, at 7 p.m. for this fall's inaugural Library Salon Series, where Sarah will share stories, materials, and skills she has learned throughout the residency process.

Exerpts from books, journals, and exhibition archives intuitively gathered, as listed in my notebook (7/1/13)

Cheri Gaulke (from Power of Feminist Art): “Performance is not a difficult concept to us women. We’re on stage every moment of our lives. Acting like women. Performance is a declaration of self - who one is - a shamanistic dance by which we spin into other states of awareness, remembering new versions of ourselves. And in performance we found an art that was … without traditions governed by men.”

Monique Wittig (from Lés Guérilleres, as quoted in Heresies… Why haven’t I ever heard of her?), “By the lakeside there is an echo. As they stand there with an open book the chosen passages are re-uttered from the other side by a voice that becomes distance, and repeats itself… I say that that which is is. I say that that which is not also is. When she repeats the phrase several times the double, then triple, voice endlessly superimposes that which is and that which is not. The shadows brooding over the lake shift and begin to shiver because of the vibrations of the voice.”

From Heresies, “‘By the Lakeside There is an Echo’: Towards a History of Women’s Traditional Arts,” by Valerie Hollister and Elizabeth Weatherford (quote texted to Dobby Gibson): “2 questions remain: what is the deeper meaning of a ‘golden age’? An age is ‘golden’ in contrast to the generations of dross preceding & succeeding it. An age is ‘golden’ because cultural achievements complement political strength and together give the impression of an ideal social harmony.” [*golden age of minneapolis poetry*]

From The Power of Feminist Art - “1970s declared ‘The Decade of Dames’”

1971: “Everywoman publishers observations by Judy Chicago, Miriam Schapiro, and Faith Wilding on ‘central cavity’ imagery, theorizing a feminine aesthetic.” [!] “1978: one of the first Take Back the Night rallies is staged in San Francisco in response to the prevalence of pornography and violence against women.”

“1980: In Minneapolis, WARM Journal [?], a quarterly, is founded. On the committee are Elizabeth Erickson, Susan McDonald, and Alice Towle.”

In “Recovering Her Story: Feminist Artists Reclaim the Great Goddess,” by Gloria Feman Orenstein, Gerda Lerner quoted: “women were denied knowledge of their history, and thus each woman had to argue as though no woman before her had ever thought or written. Women had to use their energy to reinvent the wheel, over and over again, generation after generation. Men argued with the giants that preceded them; women argued against the oppressive weight of millennia of patriarchal thought, which denied them authority, even humanity, and when they had to argue they argued with the ‘great men’ of the past, deprived of the empowerment, strength, and knowledge women of the past could have offered them.”

Also, in Orenstein: “…a quest for the presence of Goddess energy…manifested in nonhuman nature, in the cosmos, and in female bodies, both at ancient sacred sites where the Goddess was once worshipped, as well as in our minds when in an altered state of consciousness in which past-life memories could be accessed […] All these mythic resonances show the ways in which contemporary artists may use ancient Goddess memories to transform our perception of the natural world from patriarchal to matristic […] According to architect Mimi Lobell, ‘To go through the temple will be to experience an initiation into the mysteries of the feminine and activate a prelogical consciousness.’”

“Queen of the Witches…”

“All new truths start as heresies,” Susan Sontag

Sarah Fox co-imagines the Center for Visionary Poetics, serves as a doula, and is a teacher of poetry and creative writing. She contributes posts on feminism, mysticism, astrology, and poetics to the blog Montevidayo and has won grants and fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Bush Foundation, the Jerome Foundation, and the Minnesota State Arts Board, among others. Sarah is the author of The First Flag (Coffee House Press, 2013) and Because Why (2006).