Note: in this final issue of HOW(ever) we've saved our postcard space for brief comments by former poet/editors, at some time associated with its vision and production since 1983. Questions regarding H(er)'s project--its formation and marginality, vis-à-vis established contemporary literature were proposed as a starting place.


Women wrote, "Thank god for HOW(ever) " They (we) read each other's work. I'm glad we refused to define "experimental;" the consequent variety and originality exposed new ground. But I wish we had been able to generate a greater impact on mainstream feminist publication and critique. What mainstream recognition there was was gratifying, but infrequent.

Hindsight says exactly what foresight said. From the beginning, the quantity and quality were impressive. I think the magazine was needed and received.

--Frances Jaffer

As if the performance on the page is ever private or the body ever featureless
The economics of visibility: it costs to be seen.
The woman editor, doctor, one who opens her mouth in public.
There is no invisibility on the vacant scenic page. We have been thinking about this for a length of time that now renders many summary statements redundant. That means that some of our purpose has been accomplished. HOW(ever), has served as proposition and permission.
I have put my hand inside the diorama and adjusted the vanishing point.
I have seen many women pass through corridors where before I saw only the ghost in a red dress holding a candelabra up to a curtain corner.
As an institution that is not a home or house, HOW(ever) has been a sanctuary in which to hone, flex, inquire, from which to venture out. There is no longer the possibility of the disclaimer that there are no qualified women to appear in the table of contents. Through corridors now habitable they pass as if hands free for this work can be assumed--and in that motion illumine how much it hasn't always and how we shore up pages of signatures against famine time.
Reminded that those who curate the exhibition of the page also always appear cast in gender.

--Susan Gevirtz

what passes is completed for the time being the time in which this public correspondence has passed has been (1) a time in which the seamless noise from day to day (2) the constant silence (3) the litter of dying & (4) innovation in the streets (the sale never ends) this being the stage of history on which this private correspondence and sometimes

works of beauty deep grace or thought or generous anger the wish to be awkward unformed suspended rising in fragments the wish to be young how(ever) to be in a time of reversals has crossed or passed & is suddenly completed already passing into that time in which what world may we wonder will receive it "not my own but ours from the beginning."

--Beverly Dahlen

HOW(ever) was a bridge between underknown modernist women and ourselves. It continued radical modernism. It was a space of positive resistance to and powerful critique of the period style in poetry, making a formal and intellectual critique which did feminist cultural work. It was a space for heterglossias, for conflictual discourses. It was a space for radical eagerness, for swift shifts, for coupure and splicing. It was a place in which one felt comfortable, buoyant, testing many genres (ode, pensée, essay) and many arts (sounds, as if music; visual fields, as if collage). It was a space for a sisterhood of exploration. I am grateful to have had it--grateful most especially to the generosity, brilliance, and labor of Kathleen Fraser, its founder and editor. I see the fruits of its experiment in many places now. But still, I am sorry that its time is up.

--Rachel Blau DuPlessis


continuous, indefinable

In the beginning we were writing and we were "the unwritten." In that sense, nothing has changed. The urgency of H.D.'s vision has remained constant--"the pages, I imagine, are the blank pages / of the unwritten volume of the new." In 1983 we felt unfamilied, without a place in which to find or assert our own particular hybrids. Unpredictable by definition, "the new" seemed to have become quickly over-prescriptive in journals shaped by various male-dominant poetics or a feminist editorship whose tastes/politics did not acknowledge much of the poetry we felt to be central to our moment--the continuously indefinable, often "peculiar" writings being pieced together by women refusing the acceptable norms. We wanted to make a place for these writers. But we weren't fond of the grip of rules nor the territorial claims of the male manifesto tradition. We had no collective program, except the love of being surprised; our choices came out of individual enthusiasms and serious dialogue. We were interested in how works were freshly constructed and language reanimated within the experience of "female"-gendered lives.

"we hear the masculine other with anxious ears what's dangerous is he doesn't hear us," Gail Scott wrote in 1985. We found our courage--and our family--by re-examining the innovative texts and role models of the known and barely-known modernist women writers we'd largely been denied in our traditional educations. Our project, HOW(ever), was built on that ground. We began to hear ourselves. Then others listened. It is still dangerous.

--Kathleen Fraser

go to this issue's table of contents