Postcard is an edited and continuously up-dated section of brief comment received on work in recent issues of HOW2, as well as excerpts from letters circulating privately among writers/readers and with HOW2 editors/writers. Your postcards and excerpted letter exchanges on literary questions appropriate to this journal’s focus are welcomed. Please send to Kathleen Fraser <>


9/19 /02

from Kristen Hanlon

Journal announcement & a bit of historyXantippe, a print-based journal, is looking for submissions for its debut issue. Innovative poetry of all stripes is welcome, including prose poems and longer poems/sequences. Reviews (500-800 words) of recent books/chapbooks published by university and indepedendent presses are encouraged. Postmark deadline: October 31, 2002. Xantippe, c/o Kristen Hanlon, P.O. Box 20997, Oakland CA 94620. Queries may be sent to

Hi Kristen,

How did you find How2 ? The "postcard" has been more intended as a forum for exchange on work in recent issues... & related questions. We have, however, run a few announcements recently that have come from our contributors and are beginning to run some very short comments on books of poetry of particular interest to our readers. Can you fill me in a bit on your project, and context?

thanks, KFraser

Dear Kathleen,

Sometime in the early 1990's, when I was an undergrad at SFSU, I was in the Poetry Center looking for a particular book when I came across some back issues of HOW(ever), which by then had ceased publication. I remember being very intrigued by the 'working notes' that accompanied poems; it was the first time I'd seen anything like that. Flash forward several years, after I'd been to grad school (got my MFA from St. Mary's in 1998)--it's the summer of 1999, I'm using 'downtime' at my office job to surf the web, and once again, looking for something else, I find that HOW(ever) has been resurrected as How2.
Since then I've turned to it often. I loved the Forum in the second issue on class and innovative writing, since I come from a working-class background and often felt shut out from the 'innovative' scene for many reasons, and the responses in that forum helped me put words to experiences I'd had. I suppose
I've never contributed to How2 (unless you count spreading the word that it existed as a contribution) because I was under the impression-- perhaps mistaken-- that work appears there mostly by solicitation.

As for my 'context': I'm a poet, and in the past few years I've been lucky to have my work published by
magazines I've long admired, including Volt, Colorado Review, and Fourteen Hills. In 2000 I received the
Phelan Award for my manuscript-in-progress [which is still, two years later, very much 'in progress'!

What I hope for Xantippe is that it can be a forum for poetry of many stripes-- there's no one formula or
'school' that I adhere to, and feel that innovative writing comes in many different forms and from many
different voices, some of whom might not readily claim the mantle 'innovative' for what they do. I've already received some work (or promises of work) from poets including Christine Hume, Elizabeth Robinson, D.A. Powell, Megan Pruiett, Kimberly Johnson, John Beer, & Cheryl Burket. I'm hoping that by posting my request at How2, I will receive interesting work that I didn't directly solicit. My other hope for the journal is to publish reviews of small press/university press books and chapbooks; I want my readers to hear from their peers about what's out there, and hopefully seek out books they might not have heard of otherwise.

I hope this clarifies why I sent the posting to How2--


September/ 02

from Dee Morris

TIR WEB/ A journal of New Media and experimental writing and art
NEW MEDIA POETRY: a conference on Aesthetics, Institutions, and Audiences

TIR WEB [The Iowa Review Web] is published at the University of Iowa with support from the Department of English and in collaboration with The International Writing Program and the Iowa Review.

Volume 4, Number 5 (September 2002)

current issue featuring NEW MEDIA WRITING by Stephanie Strickland


A preview of Stephanie Strickland's new poem V (Penguin 2002), featuring V's
Web section, V: VNIVERSE, an interview with Strickland by Jaishree K. Odin,
and a critical essay by Odin on "Image and Text: The Ballad of Sand
and Harry Soot."

All at:

NEW MEDIA POETRY: a conference on Aesthetics, Institutions, and Audiences

October 11-13, 2002

Conference website:

The conference will focus on digital and New Media poetry, exploring cross-disciplinary and cross-cultural accounts of this work in the broader context of contemporary digital arts and culture. Our aims are to look at the possibilities for poetry offered by the electronic convergence of words, images and sound; highlight the changing contexts in which literature is produced as a result of the electronic word; examine emergent reading possibilities and strategies; and consider some of the new forms of distribution and archiving made possible by new media poetry. The conference is the first devoted exclusively to the critical study of this emerging literary practice.

Collaborative in nature, the conference seeks to establish and support ongoing conversations about this emerging field, to foster a community of critics, writers, students and teachers, and to showcase various critical models, works-in-progress, and on-line projects.

Conference Participants

The list of speakers includes N. Katherine Hayles, Marjorie Perloff, Giselle Beiguelman, John Cayley, Al Filreis, Loss Penqueno Glazier, Alan Golding, Kenneth Goldsmith, Jennifer Ley, Carrie Noland, Katherine Parrish, Martin Spinelli, and Barrett Watten. Poets who will show their work include, in addition to the speakers, Miekel And, Stephanie Strickland, and Talan Memmott.

Conference Organizers
Dee Morris (English)
Thomas Swiss (English and POROI)

(Conference sponsored by The International Writing Program, with support from the Obermann Center, the English Department, and the Project on Rhetoric of Inquiry)



from Poets House/ NYC

A day for remembrance

On September 11, 2002, the Poets House Reading Room
will be dedicated to remembrance. Please join us for
an afternoon of quiet reading and reflection.
"Poetry is the most indelible testimony we have of
the adventures of the spirit." --Stanley Kunitz

Poets House | 72 Spring St., 2nd Fl. | New York, New York

Poets House is open Tuesday-Friday, 11-7 & Saturday 11-4
Please call (212) 431-7920 or visit our website for more information.


from Steve Dickison/SFSU Poetry Center

September Song/Lorine Niedecker program

Jenny Penberthy is coming down from Vancouver to do a program for The Poetry Center/San Francisco, celebrating Niedecker's work & the new book, Lorine Neidecker/ Collected Writings (UC Press 2002), on Saturday Sept 21, Unitarian Center, 7:30 pm. Five scholars and poets will join Penberthy, with short comments.

Steve Dickison


from Phil Usher, editor ANNETNA, NEPO

Multi-lingual poetry journal seeking work by women

Dear Ms. Fagan,

I came across the great website for How2 via a link
from I am a founder and co-editor of
a multi-lingual poetry journal based in Boston (USA)
and Paris (France), and we are currently putting
together our second issue. We print poems in all
languages, and are really trying to widen geographical
horizons, and to actively seek more female poets'
participation. If you know of any people/communities
who might be interested in contributing, or would be
able to add a link to our site from yours, either of
these would be really great.

Many thanks in advance for any help,

Phil Usher, editor ANNETNA NEPO.

July/ 2002

from Harrison Jeff

Thalia Field's "Deep Ears":

Thalia Field's "Deep Ears" is, taken by "line-to-next-line" units, two types of writing, each giving an impression that they may exist in a relation other than proximinal. Rather than many disparate bits (cuts?) given on the page, there are two cuts of writing interacting with each other in more than a visual context. Is writing purely visual (read, if you, like "material")? There is the matter of intent, of the author's thoughts, even if at the instance of composition the author is mainly thinking of something other than her writing. So what then of the words - or, here, in "Deep Ears," the cut phrase as line and line as constantly projecting unit - that exist outside the author's intent (though it could easily be argued that all ready-made words exist outside an individual author's intent)? Do the words in "Deep Ears" arrange their own supra-visual context? They give the impression of meaning in their proximity, it is true, but does the fact that the words themselves have in the past been arranged into more traditionally meaning-freighted sentences, even sentences that have changed lives and altered world history, lend supra-visual import to "Deep Ears"? I would claim that the lines in "Deep Ears" are their own past, and the field they occupy is not one of linguistics per se but of poetry -- something visual more like a pre-manufactured "natural" phenomenon than a work of art. It is poetry's special provenance to be neither art nor nature, nor that which lies between (i.e., nature). Each unit of "Deep Ears" leading into and forming the next is a type of writing discrete from the next such unit. Hence, there are always two types of writing in this poem. It is the act of writing visible AND intellectual. The intent in this poem arises from the thrust of the structure inherent in "Deep Ears."


from Sawako Nakayasu


seeks submissions for its inaugural issue.

PLAY will publish work that radically rethinks the life of plays on the page. While plays and performance texts of all lengths are welcome, short pieces in particular are encouraged. Conventional play formatting is not.

Please send work, accompanied by a letter of introduction, to:

Sally Oswald, Editor
8116 Brookside Road
Elkins Park, PA 19027

Deadline: August 1, 2002

Perdita Among Us

A poet, a scholar and a biographer remember Perdita Schaffner, daughter of the poet H.D., who died on December 26, 2001.

Barbara Guest, "...about Perdita"
Susan Friedman, "Memories of Perdita"
Edward Butscher, "Perdita Schaffner, a eulogy"

May/ 2002

from Barbara Guest

...about Perdita

I admired Perdita and she was my friend. Our relationship in New York where we shared an apartment was harmonious. We were at times oddly alike, having the same likes and dislikes, although she did prefer second-rate novels. I believe it was a way of relaxing. Her children are consistent readers. One could say it was a literary family.

I shall continue to miss her. She possessed a sudden humor, unlike anyone else I knew. She lived in a literary, sophisticated household in her youth, and I benefited from being near her humor and her style. She was a child of H.D. the poet and that says much. I read a book on the history of music by her real father, Cecil Gray, and it is brilliant and subtle. One always wonders how her life might have changed, had her real father once appeared in her adulthood. She told me she “once saw her father walking on the beach on Capri, with a famous opera star, pearls floating on his back."

Barbara Guest’s HERSELF DEFINED. The Poet H.D. and her World—originally published in 1984 by Doubleday—will be reissued by the Schaffner Press (Tucson), in July, 2002. Guest is the auther of the novel Seeking Air and numerous poetry collections, including the forthcoming Miniatures and Other Poems (University Press of New England, Hanover). Guest’s essays on art, Durer in the Window, American Art of the1950s and 60s will be published by Roof Books in 2003. Wounded by Joy, Selected Literary Essays, will be out soon from Kelsey St. Press, Berkeley.

May / 2002

from Susan Friedman

Memories of Perdita
Reflections on Perdita Schaffner [Excerpted from a letter written for her surviving children, Val, Elizabeth, and Tim.]

March 22, 2002

...Your mother’s picture hangs on the bulletin board above my computer.... She is standing in a turquoise smock, her gentle eyes wrinkled in shy smiles.... Her kindness shines out of that photograph. Somehow I believed that she would be there forever, bemused and tolerant guardian of all of us many people who poured over her mother’s life and work, inspired and curious and moved and forever fascinated.

...I thought I’d share my memory of my first meeting with your mother in 1978, around the time of the first screening of Borderline in New York City, an event held in conjunction with the celebration of Paul Robeson’s life. I met her first at the reception and then later in more relaxed surroundings in the old brownstone. It was not too long after the death of Norman Pearson and her decision to take on the heavy and all so very public responsibilities of being her mother’s literary executor. At the reception, she looked somehow ravaged, as if the public assumption of the role of being “H.D.’s daughter” was more than she wanted to bear. She was stiff and quiet and almost speechless standing next to your father and maybe even some of you children....

People milled and streamed about and there she was in the middle of it all, so very publicly “the daughter” alongside Robeson’s “son”.... I was enthralled and even more shy than she to meet her. She kindly told me to come by to see her the next day for an “interview.” THAT was surely intimidating, though she herself didn’t intimidate. She looked too unhappy and uncertain to terrify even a young uncertain scholar like me.

The next day I dutifully appeared on the doorstep, where she set me at ease immediately in a comfy, homey environment, where the somewhat worn furniture and informal signs of family life everywhere told a story of resistance to upper crust displays of status and connection. She eyed me curiously, taking her new responsibility seriously. Suddenly, I realized I was to be evaluated, looked over, sized-up—perhaps dumped or denied access to H.D.’s “shelf” at the Beinecke. Would I know enough? Would I say something stupid about H.D. and not pass muster? Would I offend with my questions? Would she want to shape what I wrote? Give me some kind of litmus test before giving permission? Suddenly, she was a very new factor in the just emerging world of H.D. studies. And I was very afraid—terrified.

Your mother’s first questions were about my children, then 4 and 7 years of age. “What are their names?” she asked. I said, Ruth and Joanna. She sighed and said, “How nice. How ordinary. What nice ordinary names.” She told me your names—Valentine, Nicholas, Elizabeth, and Timothy. And she said that it was very important that I understand that her mother had never stood at the kitchen counter making peanut butter sandwiches for her daughter. That she, Perdita, never had other companions to play with; that she, Perdita, was forbidden school and schoolmates. She said to never forget that H.D. loved the idea of motherhood more than she could bear the messiness of it all. I could sense her quiet defiance, her determination to create a home for her four children that would be more ordinary, more filled with friends and peanut butter sandwiches and station wagons and stories about school. I imagine now that she would have been—or at least wanted to be—the perfect “soccer mom,” driving you kids here and there to this lesson and that lesson, this friend and that friend.

As we settled into the warm sofa with the fading brown cover—I seem to see in my mind’s eye shades of brown and tan and fading green or blue—with tea in hand, she brought to life for me a childhood filled with melodrama, with talented, driven, somewhat crazy artistes flying in and out of rooms, slamming doors, staring moodily, fiercely private or intrusively bossy—all at Kenwin, the villa above the lake, a modern Bauhaus where art was made. She—the child—never quite sure who would be in her life or out of it at the next moment, didn’t know what the storms were all about, just that the storms blew her one way, then the other. The alternative? Stuck at Audley House, stuck in white gloves and rules rules rules. Shuttled from Kenwin to London, opposite lives. And her two mothers—the one, distant, adored, with not enough but very precious moments shared with special intensity and privacy; the other, fierce and domineering, the Steam Roller. She said “My Two Mothers.” She said “They were Platonic lesbians.” It took me many years to understand the wisdom of her seemingly casual remarks.

With her talk, Perdita brought a world to life for me, perched me on the windowsill of a world I could scarcely imagine by myself, no matter how much I read in the still uncatalogued papers stored in the bowels of Beinecke, waiting for the meticulous and inspired and tender curation of Louis Silverstein. What a gift—her gift! One of her many gifts.

I flew out of that brownstone sensing that Perdita would be behind me, standing in the wings of what I wrote and trying to understand, never a censoring spirit, but a bemused one nonetheless. As time passed, she assumed the public mantle of H.D.’s daughter with great dignity and generosity, growing into it, having the wisdom to let a hundred flowers bloom, let anyone have access, let anyone say what they would say or write what they would write. Wrongheaded? So what. Stupid? So what. Off on cloud nine? So what. Incomprehensible? So what. Involved in its own world? So what. But always, she gave permission. So often, she wrote kind notes, patient with the excesses and enthusiasms of others.

Her answers, criticisms, disagreements—all came in the form of the stunning essays. Her gift to bring us all through her words to that time, that place, those people, herself in the center, never lost in the shuffle. Her writing has the detail, the rootedness of Bryher; the grace, rhythm, and insight of H.D.—her two mothers braided into a style uniquely her own. We all begged her to write more, and more. Anything. She too is a writer among writers. She hinted she would, she might, she was—writing: then out would come into print another gem, another pearl. Are there, were there, more?

I feel bereft, as you all must, at her passing. I feel inconsolably sad that when I’d finally managed to finish the edition of H.D.’s and Bryher’s letters about psychoanalysis...that she would not see it...and daydream bemusedly and curiously about those lost times and the people today who would read of them....

Susan Friedman’s edited volume, Analyzing Freud: Letters of H.D., Bryher, and Their Circle, will be published by New Directions in the fall of 2002. She is currently the Virginia Woolf Professor of English and Women’s Studies at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. The full text of the above letter first appeared on the HD Society website. To find the HD Society website, go to:; to send a query to the H.D. listserv, go to HDSOC-L@uconnvm.uconn.

May / 2002

from Edward Butscher

(Eulogy delivered at the Bay Street Theater, March 31, 2002)

My wife Paula and I first met Perdita and John Schaffner back in 1977 and were immediately charmed and intrigued by them, by Perdita’s aura of constant British amusement over and bemusement at a terminally insane world and by John’s more serious, somewhat regal sense of self and function. Both were generous hosts in their different ways and gracious dinner guests. At home, amid a pleasant shuffle of tall children grown up and often going or coming, as amiable as their parents, Perdita was the Lady of the Perpetual Meat Loaf, which she claimed to have shaped into a delicious centerpiece from odds and ends found loitering in the fridge or larder, even table scrapings, and John, encased in his loud All-American chef’s apron, presided over a metal basin of steaming clam shells and other seashore salvage.

I still treasure the visual impact of Perdita, the Dutch cap of black hair, the quick, wise, almost childlike smile, the sudden wave of a dismissive hand when a disdained name or subject (usually political) came up in conversation, the general impression she gave of a convivial benevolence—fused with a deep-rooted shyness, arm frozen at the ready to ward off surprise attacks, however clearly pleased to have people enjoying her cat-patrolled house and grounds. It was easy to see how her tall, self-assured husband must have given her a necessary sense of safety—she told me on more than one occasion that she liked the “big bear” aspect of my bulky presence (much bulkier then, than now) when I showed up to take her back to our house for lunch or dinner or when she joined us going to one of the inevitable and endless Hampton lawn parties, poetry readings, gallery openings.

Of course, I had known of Perdita before we met her, having done research in areas of literary history that intersected with the career of her mother, the poet H.D., who had given birth to her while in the throes of double pneumonia. I was aware of the hectic household she grew up in, dubbed “the lump” in her infancy by its melange of egocentric, variously talented artist types as contemptuous of gender roles as of bourgeois conformity, a household strange enough to make my own dysfunctional nest appear semi-normal. And I marveled at her serene survival and major achievements in subsequent life tasks, mastering three languages, serving at Bletchley during the war, emigrating alone to America afterwards to acquire a new citizenship, a literary agent husband, and four bright, highly individual children. Fascinated from a biographer’s perch, urging her, like many others, to write an autobiography, I was curious about the flesh and blood specifics of her rich past, which included a cast of extraordinary characters that ranged from D. H. Lawrence (once suspected, like Ezra Pound, of being her father) and Aldous Huxley to the outrageous Sitwell clan.

She did indeed try to preserve her past with the pen throughout the 1980’s, taking workshops and turning out prefaces and brief memoirs for reprints of her mother’s books. It was in one such, a contribution to Michael King’s 1986 anthology, H.D.: Woman and Poet, that Perdita confirmed the difficulty she faced as an author, recalling that her two mothers (H.D. and her partner, Winifred Bryher) “were writers, which indeed I knew all along. . . . Maybe I’d become a writer too. No. I couldn’t compete.” What she did write, however, was inevitably deft and perceptive, if reticent in a shrewd minimalist fashion that painted much more than was on the page, self-deprecatingly honest and capable of a sly wit but forever tolerant of the foibles of her family and other strangers.

In her 1983 introduction to H.D.‘s novel, Bid Me To Live, Perdita is quite candid about her biological father, the composer Cecil Gray. Noting that she had been legally adopted by the Macphersons in 1927 (Bryher had wed Kenneth Macpherson after divorcing Robert McAlmon), she recounted the sole meeting she had with Gray twenty years later, which passed pleasantly without a single mention of their relationship. “Let sleeping dogs lie,” was Perdita’ s prescription for healing peace, here and elsewhere. “Don’t disturb the profound animal.”

Such a prescription, which comes at a high cost, to be sure, had its origins in an ambivalence-shaken childhood, cradled in great wealth but wracked by fierce contrary emotional winds. Perdita’s “Sketch of H.D.: The Egyptian Cat,” done in 1980 for the reissue of another H.D. novel, Hedylus, gave the first of several capsule views of her lonely early years: “We lived in Switzerland . . . isolated from the world. Visitors came by from time to time; mostly writers, adults only. I never consorted with other children, other families, other mothers.” In the same memoir, H.D. is limned as “a tall figure of striking beauty ...and frequently overwrought, off in the clouds, or sequestered in a room, not to be disturbed on any account.” Later, happily, according to Perdita’s account, once free of “the pressures and conflicts of motherhood,” H.D. “became a much better mother. . . . We were adults together, and friends. “

Yet the dolorous refrain haunting the prefaces and introductions Perdita produced for her mother’s reissued books was a dirge of sorts for a childhood denied, as in the 1986 preamble to H.D.‘s Nights that summons up the imposing Bauhaus on Lake Geneva where she entered her painful teens: “We were terribly ingrown, a volatile microcosm in the vastness. I was caught up in it, and trapped, yet an outsider, a gawky adolescent without a clue as to what was going on. I missed a lot, but I will never forget the tensions.” Without a father, or too many of them, Perdita’ s core self split and reforged itself in the crucible of two contending, if not antithetical, female forces: the adored rejecting poet goddess and her earthbound opposite, the plain, blunt, kindly Bryher, rebelling against her own distancing parents, avant-garde in her artistic sympathies but common-sense firm in her nurturing practicality. Perdita’s “Pandora’s Box,” written in 1981 to provenance her mother’s HERmione—Hermione was, of course, mother to the charming Perdita in Shakespeare’s Winter’s Tale— Perdita articulates the anguish and outrage of every artist’s offspring ever forced to sit outside a closed door while her or his parent is obsessively pursuing the Muse: “Hush, Hush, whisper who dares. ‘Your mother is working.’ In her room, behind a locked door. . . . I wanted to be in that room. I resented being hauled away.”

It is here that Perdita dramatizes the pull of the female spirits that would shape her into the human paradox she became: “‘Hippo, hippo,’ [Bryher] would yell, pursuing me with a hippo hide whip. And I was stood in comers, and deprived of dessert, like any bad Victorian child. Well warranted, I have no doubt. . . . In their different ways, both mothers gave me a lot of affection. . . . I just never knew what was going to happen next. “ The Perdita whom Paula and I met and came to cherish seemed very much an amalgam of her two mothers, a lover of books and literature, a fond mother and grandmother, a graceful survivor of the natural disasters inflicted by irrational fate, including the death of John in 1983 and her son Nicholas in 1991.

The latter blow sought minor relief in yet another verbal cameo, this one, “His Mother’s Tribute,” appearing in Out of Season (1993), Paula’s anthology of pieces by and for people who died before their time, and following several of Nicholas’s own poems and Timothy’s adroit elegy for his brother. Again, brevity and the fertile unspoken prevail. “‘Love you,’ one of us would say, countered by ‘I love you too’ by the other,” is how she begins, going on to isolate his specialness: “not the oldest, not the youngest, not the girl”—and to salute his dedication when critically ill at winter’s start, keeping “hard at work with final revisions, proof corrections, captions” for his final book. The tribute ends as it begins, circling to the last visit, “‘Love you,’ I said at the door of his hospital room. ‘Love you too,’ he replied with that wonderful smile.”

In retrospect, one can appreciate the heroic attempt to hang a full portrait on a single peg, and the unbearable sadness of the tears that always sear deepest and endure the longest, the unwept ones. Her consolation in her last years, besides the evident joy in her grandchildren, Timothy’s sons, Wyatt and John, and Val’s two girls, Kaya and Lia (Perdita died before Pada’s birth but knew he was on the way), was in accepting her beacon-like place in her mother’s lengthening public shadow: “Late in life,” she wrote, “I’ve come to a new career, or rather, it has come to me: keeper of the flame, a daunting responsibility.” It was also a career she patently relished. I remember running across her one winter in Houston, the odd venue for that year’s annual MLA Convention, and being warmed by the evident delight she took in the session and panel devoted to her mother’s work.

One of Perdita’ s finest literary miniatures is “A Day at the St. Regis with Dame Edith,” which was published in the American Scholar (1992) and recently reprinted in The Pushcart Book of Essays (2002). It cleverly and with gentle humor depicts the extravagant behavior and dress of Edith Sitwell on one of her rare visits to New York but pauses amid the fun to observe with typical acuity: “I realized how intensely vulnerable she was, underneath the flamboyance, beyond her spectacular facâde.” Like Perdita herself, no doubt, a vulnerability I witnessed during my last glimpse of her on Main Street in East Hampton, when I met her as she emerged from one of that avenue’ s notoriously overpriced boutiques. Some doubtless flippant remark of mine elicited that trademark “Oh, yes,” that Cheshire smile and dismissive wave of a hand as she waited to be helped into a car by the solicitous Catherine, obviously enfeebled but still refusing to accept the brutally unacceptable.

Perhaps the best manner in which to say goodbye to Perdita is to remember the brilliant wood violets that spangle the Schaffner fields each year and share the opening poem of H.D.‘s 1921 collection, Hymen, which was dedicated to Bryher and Perdita:

They said:
she is high and far and blind
in her high pride,
but now that my head is bowed in sorrow, I find
she is most kind.
We have taken life, they said,
blithely, not groped in a mist
for things that are not—
are, if you will, but bloodless—
why ask happiness of the dead?
and my heart bled.
Ah, could they know
how violets throw strange fire,
red and purple and gold,
how they glow
gold and purple and red
where her feet tread.

Ed Butscher is a poet and a biographer of Sylvia Plath and Conrad Aiken. He lives in Amagansett, New York.


from Tatiana Petrovich Njegosh (U. of Macerata)

Networking Women : Reti di Donne

New bi-lingual ResearchWebsite for Modernist Studies


The project

Networking Women focuses on a number of women writers, intellectuals, artists, and art patrons (among them Dora Marsden, Harriet Shaw Weaver, Bryher, H. D., Edith Craig, Nancy Cunard, Margaret Anderson, Muriel Rukeyser, Susan Glaspell, Katherine Mansfield, Una Marson, Tillie Olsen, Meridel LeSueur, Elody Oblath Stuparich, Carlotta Kaderl Beck, Wanda Wultz, Anita Pittoni) who have, through their different initiatives: a) proposed, built, asserted an autonomous female subjectivity; b) radically redefined male and female sexualities, the social roles of men and women, and the changes in sexual relationships as a starting point for a modern history and a new culture; c) worked for the emergence of a cross-ethnic, international and supranational culture.

Far from being considered as new pawns on the modernist checkerboard or as exceptional personalities waiting to be canonized, they have been studied in their roles as founders of magazines and journals, creators of salons or theater groups, or as social and political activists. From this perspective, they are links connecting and promoting a vast array of human, political, cultural and literary relations. Their first rate intellectual production, moreover, has constantly been related to the sociopolitical movements that characterize the time from the last decade of the nineteenth century to World War II.

The research project has been conceived as an intervention in the ongoing international debate on the culture that produced modernist and avant-garde practices. Through a re-reading of the rich intersections of art, life and history, and of diverse positions and practices, the project intends to re-construct and recover for present investigation the multiple directions that were open in actual history but were either abandoned or reduced and flattened out by subsequent critical and historical narratives and theories. A key thematic and theoretical aspect of the project is the reconstruction of the maps of real and lived spaces as well as of the new maps of experience and cognition generated by interpersonal and intercultural exchanges.

The web site. Database, metadata element set, thesaurus, search engine and forum

The Networking Women database, metadata element set and search engine have been designed and programmed as an hypertext to archive and retrieve data. The Networking Women metadata element set is based on the Dublin Core metadata. For further information on our version of the Dublin Core metadata, see the GUIDELINES in the WORK AREA.

The Networking Women web site features:

  • the database;
  • metadata records;
  • documents (the button ìdocument attachedî on the upper left side of each metadata record indicates that a document is attached to that record);
  • the thesaurus, based on an enlarged version of the European Womenís Thesaurus, International Information Centre and Archives for the Women’s Movement (IIAV), Amsterdam, 1998;
  • the search engine;
  • the forum.

The documents are archived through a hypertextual indexing. The subject element of the metadata element set features15 subjects. Each subject can be associated with any keyword of the thesaurus. The semantic area of each metadata record can feature up to 100 hot words (subjects and keywords) linking metadata records with identical subject or keyword.

The Networking Women’s thesaurus includes all the terms of the IIAV thesaurus and a list of terms selected from the project’s documents— names and relevant terms such as “modernism,” “modern,” “contemporary,” “new,” etc.

Reti di donne/Networking Women Subjects


Wo/men are Networking Women women and men. By Places we intend a broad range of spaces where cultural events took place and where contacts were made such as clubs, salons, estates, prisons, pacifistic associations, political parties, theaters, publishing houses, journals, persons, etc.

The Networking Women project uses the Modern Language Association (MLA) documentation style. Software requirements: the site is designed to work with Internet Explorer 5 and Flash 4.

Copyright information

All the materials contained in the Networking Women web site and database and the application itself are subject to the rules and regulations of the owners of the material and intellectual rights.

The Networking Women application and all the materials in the Networking Women web site and database, when not otherwise stated, are material property of the University of Macerata (Università degli Studi di Macerata, Italy). All the materials are provided for scholarly, didactic and public use. Any commercial use or publication without authorization is prohibited.

All the documents reproduced as attachments to the metadata records are citation copies, complete or partial, of the original documents. They are used by permission of the material and intellectual right owners and they are provided for the personal use of students, scholars, and the public. Any commercial use or publication without authorization is prohibited. For more information on the owners of the material and intellectual rights of the documents reproduced as attachments, please see the element ìrightsî in their metadata records.

As for “The Freewoman. A Weekly Feminist Review,” “The Freewoman. A Weekly Humanist Review,” “The New Freewoman. An Individualist Review” and “The Egoist. An Individualist Review,” we fully acknowledge the British Library as copyright holder of the microfilm images. The images reproduced from the above mentioned publications are copyright of the British Library Board.

The Networking Women project makes every effort to comply with applicable copyright and other intellectual property rights laws. Any actual or suspected violation of the legal rights of any person or entity should be reported to Marina Camboni, the coordinator of the project at

The Networking Women web site is maintained by the Department of Modern Languages and Literatures (University of Macerata, Italy). The Networking Women web site, first initiated in October/2000, was last updated March 2002 by Oscar Peli. For any further information contact Tatiana Petrovich Njegosh at