May 7, 2009

Suchwomen: d’hem fem & 5 pim: or / I am not strident no I am, all / the little faulty referent by Elizabeth Treadwell

Elizabeth Treadwell's books include Wardolly (Chax, 2008) and Birds & Fancies (Shearsman, 2007). She is slowly working on some long poems and a picture book. All the poetry here is part of her manuscript “fleece pimsy,” formerly known as “Virginia or the mud-flap girl” and/or “Ancient Celebrity Tune-rot”; the first bit also appears in Try, edited by David Brazil and Sara Larsen, with thanks to them.

Suchwomen: d’hem fem & 5 pim: or
I am not strident no I am, all
the little faulty referent


[fleece pimsy] (holly-hoo)

mine is no proper callback
cop-cop-coppering the girlish stone
heavy townslot circumstance hour
waterbeastly punk middling
the townslot her breasts her weener
her punk flimsy lowly box
its toxic mumble, set-debut
getting pounded by the local clerics
as thing 1 & thing 2 scritch across the scrunchy weave
yes doctor fur, pale citizens
of the league, yes pity lean-to
crabby narrow her breasts her fleas
reclamation’s privy set-list
in the townslot holly-hoo
under the shade of some annoying shade-tree, eh?
posit some confab!
en shva asp!



dang! that boyish certainty
duh! the dusty cock-eyed
darn! such o’er-directed art values!
omg! wtf!

a sharp credulity has gotten me this far,
in a mostly readable, parasitic state

plain-chant our (mercy hollow) mini-theory
inscribe our uniform career apparel
at the atrocity ball, downsizing the ruin
in gutterside signage
or even less viz.


rest in suchwomen

rest in suchwomen
my fleecy abs
such human nature
she’ll be willing to quote you back into the fields


“There are ideas without women in them.” –Sarah Anne Cox, Parcel (O Books, 2006)

“The deadening problem for artists is the poisonous myths that our society perpetrates about their social role. We are expected to ‘create’ instead of participate. The importance of art is nullified while art is placed on a silly pedestal. This is historically a recent and minority view about the purpose of art.”
–Jimmie Durham, “Creativity and the Social Process” (in A Certain Lack of Coherence, Kala Press, 1993)

“Greg Fuchs: Talk about feminism. Where do you situate yourself in the history of feminist discourse?
Eileen Myles: I don’t know what that means. I’m biologically female, but I’ve often felt like a man. But when you think about the place of rape in the history of the world, of the kind of mundane enslavement of women that’s part of the history of the world…. I have no idea what feminism means. It feels too small for responding to that large an offense.”
–from The Poetry Project Newsletter # 219, April-June 2009

“Women’s rights are the answer to so many global problems. But people will try everything else first.”
–Michelle Goldberg, interviewed by Christine Smallwood in The Nation, 4/13/09

“How devoid contemporary life is of spirituality; so devoid, that people seek it in the wrong ways in the wrong places, invariably going unfulfilled and mystified as to why. And yet, few, if any, suspect that this great void in their lives is a major portion of the price they are paying for the racism that taints everything American—every aspiration, dream, and religious credo.”
–Wanda Coleman, to Truong Tran, in Letters to Poets (Saturnalia, 2008)

“Food, dolls, stories, baskets, beadwork, silverwork, weavings, hand drums, flutes, songs and dances tell us who we are and teach us how to care for ourselves and our relations. Farmers, artists, wise men and women, weavers, dancers and singers invest their time and money living tradition, making a place for us in the here and now. They invest their resources in us and our future, creating and forging relationships that support us as individuals and as people. When we support them we support ourselves. When we purchase objects or services based in hate and exploitation we are funding hate and exploitation.”
–Reid Gómez, For Future Reference (


Elizabeth Treadwell is a radical feminist platform, little shorebird, little shore.

I am not a theory-based artist.

Take for example the recent McCain/Palin framing of the “pro-life” issue, especially McCain’s jaw-dropping scoffing at “the health of the mother.”

I am a mother.

I speak as a U.S. citizen, born and resident in the area currently known as Oakland, California, U.S.A., an existence borne of my ancestors bodies & motions through the Irish, English, and Cherokee diasporas, and other disputed mysteries, sharecroppers, secretaries, and the occasional drunken tennis ace.

Existence a cozy hand-me-down.

I am not a theory-based artist.

Obviously life begins, begins again, or rather continues, at conception. Also at birth. These are lively events.

Generally those called women exist as bodies usually capable of conceiving, gestating, birthing, and nursing children. It strikes me as self-evident that the final word on any decisions regarding such activities should rest within suchwomen.

[As a point of clarification, I am using “suchwomen” to mean biologically predisposed women and “allwomen” to refer to all self-identified women, the womanish, lovers of women, children of women, and those “in touch with their feminine side.” Seriously. And with love.]

Take for example the media’s recent usage of Nadya Suleman, the “Octo-mom.” I found it just another appalling instance of our society’s tendency to nosy contempt for all women. Even Rachel Maddow, whom I might expect to be a little more thoughtful, joined in the immediate and gleeful condemnation. (I guess she has to find ways to fit in with her frat-boy colleagues where she can. Great.)

Yes, Suleman’s situation is extreme, and brings up questions of ethics and common sense, but so do many decisions most of us get to make without media scrutiny (including the godforsaken former administration, forgodssake). Yes, I am unaware of the latest spinning punditry. Yes, I am in total sympathy with some of her remarks:

“I wanted to be a mom…. I love my children. I’m providing myself to my children. I’m loving them unconditionally, accepting them unconditionally. Everything I do, I’ll stop my life for them and be present with them. And hold them. And be with them…. That was always a dream of mine…. I just longed for certain connections and attachments.”

Once born, children here in the U.S.A. are routinely denied their full human rights and dignity, and instead taught painful lessons in tyranny, destruction, stupid and wrong-headed authority and conformity, fake intellectual standards, weird ways of (de)valuing their own and others existence, racism, sexism, classism, consumerism, institutionalized boredom and restriction. It is a sickening treachery.

Take for example all our corporate storytelling and our profit-driven notions of beauty. What if the energy and resources currently spent on these consumerist abstractions were instead reserved for the localized articulation and idiosyncratic ornamentation of our stories and selves? Imagine how this might blend naturally as a girl grows up into a practical and compassionate society that provides all suchwomen full respect, care, and information throughout their years of reproductive potential.

It’s hard to call a system that fails to fully attend to the most basic facts of our lives – birthing, nurturing the young, caring for the sick and the old, dying – a society.

Obviously life begins, begins again, or rather continues, at conception, and again at birth, as mentioned. Any arguments around defining these occurrences merely serve as a distraction when it comes to the implementation of governmental/societal/medicinal/religious control of women. A full articulation of allwomen’s existence might help lead to states of health, justice, and beauty that in my experience of this time, place, and culture we can only begin to hope to tend. Such tending is one of the main purposes I humbly feel in my writing.

Existence a cozy hand-me-down.

Such tending.


[fleece pimsy] (treatisy)

all the little fevers of the gods
all gods little forebears
all gods little bounty joysticks
the stinky little bastard stars
which hold the skies in tune
bedevilled groves of dreams & sorrows
through which we tote our childhoods & our luck
all the naggy sunshine &
the mean & stupid fucks
moonbeam the clanging dairy farms of yore
score my father’s wooden teeth
all the cans of hatespray & the tinny manicures
I’m stinky in this garden of shit & sin decay
strike all the little fevers of the gods


[fleece pimsy] (eco echo)

echo what bug-eyed
what bug-eyed homily is this
such freak imposter of the league
not to play in the gardens of some imaginary colisseum
but to breathe in this milky eco


becca said...

I literally gasped when I read this: "Take for example all our corporate storytelling and our profit-driven notions of beauty. What if the energy and resources currently spent on these consumerist abstractions were instead reserved for the localized articulation and idiosyncratic ornamentation of our stories and selves?"

We should have a forum where everyone contributes one "practical" idea re: how to do this. And then we'll have a guidebook. And we all have paper and printers and staplers already, right? To the bathroom stalls of America, then!

et said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Lemon Hound said...

ah, very nice idea, both of you. would like to see that.

et said...

Dear Danielle & Becca & Lemon & all,

After reading the first 2 days of posts, I felt like I needed to add a P.S. to mine. I'm a bit haunted by some of the struggles described because they are both familiar & tedious, and I hate to think of so many young women going through them endlessly.

It is incomprehensible, outside of certain creeping contexts, precisely how the presumption of maleness, along with several other presumptions & stereotypes, came to be embedded in the word "poet," so that the phrase "woman poet" becomes a fraught & common marker while the phrase "man poet" is rendered unnecessary; so that young male poets starting out have access to a glorified version of their gender-based forebears while young women poets starting out have access to only glimpses of a discredited version of theirs.

Attempting to alter one's behavior/self in order to avoid/subvert "ghettoization" is a futile distraction, because "ghettoization" is at once arbitrary, systemic, erratic, and imposed from without.

It reminds me of western medicine, where a historical preoccupation renders the "male body" "the norm" and so the "female body" becomes problematic and the pregnant female body even more so, although these are perfectly ordinary states.

Race, class, and other queernesses come into it too. The question remains who is doing the othering, and to what ends.

Love, Elizabeth