I am in bed this Sunday morning, back in Durham, with a fever and a cough and my voice lost, so I will engage in a bit of l'ecriture automatique in terms of notes of AWP, in order to post my talk for the panel, context, as it were, as I promised some I would, but since I am feeling lower, less stirred, although so excited and stirred all the past two days, this might be dull.
The panel, on women and sexuality, or feminism and fucking, I don't know, was quite well-attended, surprising, there was like 120 people there, and I looked at the girls in the audience, the 20-somethings or young 30-somethings, and I realized more than anything how I write for them and to them because I am them or was them. This solidified for me this weekend. The sense of writing for the girl who was once a fuck up or fucked up or fucks. Or the boys. Not for the sophisticated poetics coterie, but for the passionate, messy reader, as I am a passionate, messy reader. I do not like panels, in general - too institutionalized to really spark and fly and get somewhere meaningful, too self-promotional and dull. I did not attend any panels, except the one, I was on, it was awe-fill I think - that is how I would describe it. I had no idea how far I've come from traditional feminist thought until that panel. Someone in the audience asked: why do you say Fuck and use those words and no one else did? Is it something like generational? I said: Because I am vulgar usually and this is how I talk and so this is how I write. And: Sometimes it is about fucking. There was some dialogue about sex versus fucking. I had to say, No, you know FUCKING. The annihilation. A certain sort of thing in hole. Sometimes it is fucking and it is nothing else except FUCKING. More hazy thoughts: That there are truths of the female body and experience that are considered unliterary, still, to write about. And the wrong, that wrong, should be written. So despite the endurance of that experience it really stimulated something radical, so tame and bourgeois as to make me want to write even more like a fucked-up freak.
Jackie Wang and Bhanu Kapil attended the panel. I was so glad for them, as witnesses, for the whole general event. Lovely that kindredness - have been thinking for the book about Bataille's notion of communion, that was really Laure's original notion of communion - and I think of this blogspace like that, and I think of these one-on-one meetings with kindred souls like that - so important to revive oneself on and then go back into the hole and try to think and live. Bhanu said to me after of my talk: I have almost never heard people speak like that in public. The highest compliment to me. Bhanu the glorious marvelous criminal. That is how I blubbered all over her introducing her at the Prose Event. Her texts and her life - and how they all bleed into each other - so sacred and profane and bonkers and marvelous. We had gin and tonics after the panel and spoke of Virginia Woolf's body walking into the sea, considering that movement. And madness. Bhanu who had me in stitches and made me feel, joyously, like a laughing girl in high school. I think I lost my voice because of how much deep undisguised laughter when I saw her. Bhanu who stole the Jhumpa Lahiri poster. Bhanu who later, after, I left, took over the abandoned PEN/Faulkner, with copies of her Belladonna chapbook, and postcards in which she wrote: "Read Kate Zambreno instead. She is a vibrational Faulkner." And took pictures and videos and sent them to me.
Worried, obsessive, the whole time, over the Prose Event with Eileen, Vanessa, and Bhanu, annoyed everyone around me at the bookfair worrying over how to introduce them - wrote blubbering, me-filled narratives, that oozed - that felt the most right to me to be completely wrong - and I feel it was very well attended, and I met Ariana, which I was glad for, and I feel it was a good event, it was wonderful seeing the three of them together read and talk, although for now I am glad to return, away from the social, the public. Afterwards I wandered around for a bit with Mike Kitchell and Jackie and that was a relief, in a way, to be with people and just talk about books, as opposed to the stuff around books, like Cixous and Tel Quel, and as always when I read their blogposts I learned about new writers and figures or were reminded of new ones.
And I met Mathias Viegner, a writer who is Kathy Acker's executor, and good friends with Lidia my publisher at Chiasmus, who also knew Acker well and Chiasmus will at some point be publishing some of her letters Mathias will be editing, and he crouched down at the Belladonna table and we talked about archives and Laure's intent with her writing and Acker and who reads Acker and it was this personal epiphany, again, for me - I read Acker before I read anyone because I was a fucked-up girl, and how I desire to write for these fucked-up girls, to them and for them and through them, the ones who came up to my table, the one after the panel who said she wanted to audition for my best friend, like VWoolf writing for the girls who seemed so frightfully depressed. And on the 7 hour train ride home - stopped along the way - it was a paralytic trip - I was so overfatigued and underfed and crazy menstrual and starting with the chest cold and so I feverishly wrote in my journal notes towards Deenie: A novel by Judy Blume, which I realized was an ode and homage to Acker, and to teenage girls, and to reading and writing like a teenage girl, and writing the unhygenic and disgusting, and I've started to record in a notebook everything that is wrong or unliterary or disgusting to record, the excrement under the fingernail, and that will be in this book, plus all the stuff on the body I couldn't put in the other book, it is a book I will cheat on the other book with, I think, and it will be memoir and essay and fiction, and I filled up like 20 crazy pages, and when I get home without being prompted John announces he discovered all of Acker's papers are down the street at Duke, and there is that.
It is too much to post the talk, so I will post it later.
I am not going to apologize anymore for being ridiculous, how I'm navigating this public space, in so many ways, the public space (being an author, the conference, this blog). I have never disavowed being a ridiculous human being. I think part of this experience - posting in public - is often about the disappearance and the return. All I can say is that I missed all of you, and felt I had to return, for a bit, to think about these ideas of communion.