WHY HOW(ever)?

And what about the women poets who were writing experimentally? Oh, were there women poets writing experimentally? Yes there were, they were. They were there and they were writing differently and a few of them were chosen and did appear in the magazines for people writing in new forms. And then several women began to make their own experimentalist magazines. What about that? Well, they read each other. But we hardly ever heard about their poems where I was sitting listening. You mean in school? I mean where poems were being preserved and thought about seriously and carried forward as news.

And the women poets, the ones you call experimentalist, were they reading Simone de Beauvoir? Firestone? Chodorow? Irigaray? Some were. They were reading and they were thinking backwards and forwards. They were writing to re-imagine how the language might describe the life of a woman thinking and changing. And the poetry they were writing wasn't fitting into anyone's anything because there wasn't a clear place made for it.

They must have felt displaced. Yes, they must have. They must have felt unreal. Unrealized. Effaced. Did they know it? Yes, they knew it. Did they talk about it? Yes, they talked about it. We were sitting in a writing group two years ago and we talked about it. One year ago, we were sitting there talking about it. Last summer, I was walking around talking to myself about it and feeling displaced and I wrote to one of my scholar friends and asked her about it and she said you are right. There is this gap. But perhaps we don't know how to acknowledge something, how to think about something, unless it resembles what was already there. I thought of Dickinson. I thought of Stein. Woolf and Richardson. Slashes, anarchies, sentences, disruptions. I was listening and I said to her, but if we could somehow talk to you and tell you about us, would you be interested? Yes, she said, I would be interested.

HOW(ever) proposes to make a bridge between scholars thinking about women's language issues, vis-a-vis the making of poetry, and the women making those poems. HOW(ever) hopes to create a place in which poets can talk to scholars through poems and working notes on those poems, as well as through commentary on neglected women poets who were/are making textures and structures of poetry in the tentative region of the untried.

--Kathleen Fraser

A vehicle for experimentalist poetry -- post-modern if you will, to be thought of seriously as an appropriate poetry for women and feminists. The poetry feminists usually eschew, believing that now is the time for women to write understandable poetry about their own lives, and with feeling, with the heretofore undeveloped self in prominent display.

But the myths of a culture are embodied in its language, its lexicon, its very syntactical structure. To focus attention on language and to discover what can be written in other than traditional syntactical or prosodic structures may give an important voice to authentic female experience. Certainly one should be read side-by-side with the other.

Unhappily, most feminist publications have ignored the experimentalist work which women are writing now and have been writing since early in the century. And unhappily, most publications of "new" writing have had little interest in feminist language issues, although some of the women who appear in them have written brilliantly and movingly about their lives as women. We want to publish an exception, however.

--Frances Jaffer

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