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Georgina Emerson

Poésie - « Mails » - Blog

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Née à New York, Georgina, s’échappe après des études au Darmonth College, en venant à Paris. Elle passe trois ans à étudier le français, le moyen-âge et les français, sans grands résultats. Elle préfère participer à des scènes de poésie régulières comme le Spoken Word Paris ou The Link Paris East Edge.

Actuellement, elle continue d’écrire poèmes, récits, fantaisies et réalités semblantes depuis New York City.

Georgina nous grattifie d’une rubrique régulière. Venez retrouver son humour, suivre son parcourt en attendant de la revoir un jour prochain ou immédiatemment via son site internet

Poésie


Poèmes présents sur le site :

"Man in Forest"
"My baby is drawn in the dark"
Untitled


"Man in Forest"


Watch as he

alone in a field

next to a bush

bathing in blue sun

eats a thick, hard carrot.

Teach this man to cook and

watch the carrot

dissolve sweet and warm

through his rough fingers

he'll eat for a lifetime.

Now, snap those colors out

the trees puff smoke

the grass sharpens

into silver blades

and print the negative.

Observe how

his raw almond soul splits

down the middle

with a lightening flash

his pupils are as white as apples.

Look at

the smooth fingernail

he uses to caress

soft, cobwebs like hair

the space that's left.

Notice

as he traces a dusty shadow

of a women's breast

soft and pink in

his empty palm.

Watch

as he lays like a ghost

seeing her face

in the black-veined clouds

while his stomach eats itself.

publié dans Issue.Zero


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"My baby is drawn in the dark"


My baby is drawn in the dark.
Under silk sheets and pony feet.
I close my eyes
and mold a clay nose
not out of mushrooms
like me.

But out of black clay
like Osiris.

Only with hair like Elvis.

I glaze him with my sweat
and cook him with my breath.

I give him blue scarabs for eyes
and he presses spiked cotton into my cheeks

He spins me down a river
caught on the tip of his little finger.

There are leaves so big
you can wrap yourself in them.

His fat lips glisten
over clean teeth like ivories.

I ply them like keys:
one finger, one note.

We rock down river
in this twin bed boat.

I grab at his neck.
He laughs in my throat.

My hands cramp
on the oars and my toes

Until my sweat is set and
my breath is too wet
to start a fire.

My baby melts back to mud.

So I lay like a carrot
under a clean sheet
to stare
at silly poney feet.

publié dans Issue.Zero


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Untitled


drips

make

me

think

of

the sea

my arms held up wrists wrapped in leaves

toes waltzing across the water

my belly button

my belly button

has a cherry inside

every freckle a constellation

a hunter

shoots across my belly

in a cradle of cotton

Salute like a sailor!

makes hers eyes into waves

Salute like a sailor!

unbutton

show her your chest

cut like a pebble

reach up to the soft bark of her neck

paper creased at the joints

a bad bridge

two seas

contract like a cat's eyes

Salute like a sailor!

your

hands

fall

meat

in a gutter

publié dans Issue.Zero


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Mails


Louder Arts... Not Spoken Word Paris

January 9, 2013

Dear Paris

That I miss you should go without saying. So I’ll just dive right in. Helene has invited me to write to you over there in Paris about what is going on here in New York. The mission is deliberately vague, just the way I like my missions.

This week I interpreted it as an excuse to go a poetry reading on Monday Nights at a place near Union Square called Bar 13. It’s an open-mic reading. It’s Monday night. I couldn’t help but desperately miss Spoken Word Paris.

Thank God there is no more effective line in America than "I just got back from Paris ".They love it. That along with the fact that I haven’t washed my blazer since coming back from Paris (long story) gives me a certain fascinating, disheveled air.

I walk in. I am nervous, so I make sure to look especially relaxed, take a breath, relax my shoulders and push the door open.

"Hey, how’s it going ?" says a man to my right with a huge triangular grin. I look over my shoulder for his friend and realize he’s talking to me.

"Hey, not so bad, and yourself ?" I say and go to the bar without waiting for his answe

"Hey, how’s it going ?" says the bartender.

"Hey, not so bad, and yourself ?" Do I look like someone they know ? I should play it cool but I don’t. "It’s my first time here. Is this for the poetry reading thing ?"

"You’re in the right place. What can I get you?"

I order a whiskey soda and she looks simply elated to get it for me. The same way I stopped noticing how foul waiters in France could be, the glow of thinking everyone in America is so fucking nice is going to wear off. So I sip my whiskey soda and bath in superficial friendliness. "Hey, how’s it going ?"

Within three minutes I am talking in depth with a guy named Jon who inquires about my interests and seems delighted to know that I just came back from Paris. The room fills up to about 30 people. At the back, they’re selling copies of NYC’s Best New Poets of 2012. Turns out there’s a cover. That’s what that first "How’s it going ?" was about. But they don’t make me pay it.

Poetry at Bar 13 is serious business. It’s hosted by an organization called Louder Arts. The organizer called herself a "curator" and, you know what, I’ll call her whatever she likes. The curator was surprised and delighted to know that word had traveled to Paris about their poetry night. She seemed genuinely humble. But then, don’t they always ? The reading apparently starts at 7pm. They consider it sort of late that it doesn’t usually get started until 7:15-ish. This blows my mind. Who would ever show up to Chat Noir before 9 ? Did we ever start before 9:30 ? America is a punctual place.

The demographics are different from Spoken Word. Half the room is black. We Parisian Bohemians were a primarily white crew. I had that moment where you think everyone knows each other. But actually, there were plenty of loner-types hidden in the shadows.

Now for the poetry. I care less about poetry than I do about fiction and pay correspondingly less attention to it. I’ll do my best. There was no fiction read. No intermission. Little banter. Just poetry, pure and simple, served up to you with a little ditty from the DJ between poets. This, along with the two-for-one drinks, was the coolest part of the night.

In general, the poetry was that kind of confessional, slam-style poetry with less emphasis on rigorous consistency of metaphor and more emphasis on flow. The poems seem more autobiographical. Some border on narrations of events. The word "ekphrastic" was thrown out like we should all know what it means. Most people do, I ask around and it means, "inspired by a work of art".

I forget sometimes how strong an influence race has in America. There was a poem where a white dude evoked Malcolm X (who was referenced 3 times during the evening) and talked about how he couldn’t blame some black kids for hating him. He was white in America and to be white in America is to fuck over black people.

The vibe is less self-conscious than Spoken Word, less about performance and more about the work itself. My friends and family here always say things like "I don’t know what a good poem is", or "I don’t get poetry". I’m pretty sure a good poem is one that moves you or evokes something. This is something most of the poems from the book of best new poets did.

Everyone has an ipod or an ipad and read their poems from there. The post-paper apocalypse has arrived to the New World. This, one poet tells me is not pretentious, it’s environmentally friendly. Sure.

The poetry didn’t seem to be about poetry. It was about issues, lonliness, relationships, the world. Each poet featured was given a grand introduction with diplomas and previous publications. This is a place where the poetic endeavor is honored and respected. Right on. Plus they were friendly.

No one sought to disgust and delight in the manner of Troy Yorke. No one was so romantic as Alberto or David. Kate Noakes and Mandoline, there was nothing like what you do going on. Lucy Gellman, you know this scene. You are a master of this scene. No one was hilarious. But they weren’t trying to be. Everyone seemed to have recently bathed.

I felt like an outsider- but a welcomed outsider. It’s a wonderful thing that in a digital, global age, a place, its specific history and culture, still shape how art happens there. Nothing I have written would really fit in at this night. I have a tendency to absorb what’s going on around me and start mimicking then doing it for myself. That means if I watch stand-up comedy, I start making up a routine in my brain, and post-musical, I am always creating my own alterna-version of "Defying Gravity".

I had never written a poem before I went to Spoken Word in 2010 and met David Barnes and, later, Alberto and many others. But hearing how people expressed themselves and my own desire to participate (I am not a good spectator, I don’t know what to do with my hands) made me want to get the heck up there. I suppose, if I keep going to this, I will absorb a bit of slam-style and learn some new ways of taking people on a journey with words in 5 minutes or less. But that’s the thing, the poetry at this place wasn’t about the performance, it was about the words on the page. That is both a relief and a more grave task.

No one hung out afterwards. It was very much so, thank you for your performances and listening (and there was no heckling, I assure you) please go to bed now.

Perhaps they took Oscar Wilde to heart when he said that good poets are boring to talk to and "inferior poets are absolutely fascinating". Over the course of the evening, three separate people used that word for me. Shit. Let’s hope they were just being nice.

Better an inferior poet than no poet at all. I’m going to go back next week and bring some poems and a copy of The Bastille and then go check out Ginzberg-Gainsburg.

Love,

Georgina

Georgina Emerson


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My First Slam Poetry Event

January 15, 2013

Dear Paris

Last night I went to my first Poetry Slam. It was at Louder Arts at Bar 13.

Slam is technically a structure for spoken word events. It was started in July, 1986 by a man named Marc Smith to shift the focus of poetry readings away from the ego of the poet towards the enjoyment of the audience. In its most basic form, 3-5 judges are chosen from the audience to give scores from 0 to 10. Participants are eliminated in successive rounds until one poet reigns supreme. There are of course variations involving time limits, improvisation, black people, music and all sorts of other things.

Harold Bloom has called it the death of art. I try to disagree with Harold Bloom at least twice a day: Nothing is the death of art and sometimes I like slam-style poetry

Up to this point I had only ever heard Lucy Gellman and Griffyn Payne do what I consider slam-style poetry. They are both very good poets and very good performers. For me, Slam-style poetry is a broad category of poetry that usually involves most of the following: mixed metaphors, autobiographical narrative, visual fluidity bordering on the surreal and the frank portrayal of personal pain. When it’s good, it builds up energy in increasingly large ebbs and flows to culminate in a powerful emphatic emotional experience for the audience. When it’s bad, it makes you pity the poet twice: once for her dead mother and once for sharing such shitty art.

No one last night was very good, but each had a few good moments. Topics included: obesity, sex-change operations, sexual alienation, disrespectful male lovers, one dead mother, a scarring truffle shuffle, the difficulty of citing one’s sources when editing Wikipedia, racism, xenophobia and rape.

While the slam made the night last too long, three hours, no break, there was a lot of great poetry. There were fragmentary moments of beauty, images, and turns of phrases that evoke beauty and violence. But they weren’t tied together by anything other than the order in which they were presented. So they, sort of like this Blog entry, felt like a list of poetic things, rather than poems.

The strangest thing about the competition was that the guy who won was the worst poet out of the bunch. He yelled the loudest and shared the most humiliating things about himself. As is his right, I suspect he bent the truth a bit. For instance, I do not believe he has ever had a girlfriend. In a reversal of traditional quality-measures, participants received higher scores for lower quality. In fact, the higher the pity factor, the higher the score. I sound judgmental and negative, actually, I think this is great. The slam affirmed that competition in poetry (and maybe even in art) is silly. No one cared who won, because it truly didn’t matter. The whole point was just to make poetry happen. Marvelous.

I will write another about that night in particular, including about the awesome featured poet, Mara Jebsen, in another letter.

Love,

Georgina

Georgina Emerson


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Ginsberg-Gainsbourg and a bit of Practice

January 23, 2013

Dear Paris

I had the pleasure of stopping in at Ginsberg-Gainsburg last Wednesday night. It is the sister Spoken Word to Spoken Word Paris. Its structure is the same, 5 minutes to do whatever the heck you want with the two microphones they have in the basement of Lolita Bar.

There was an inundation of Stand-up comedians that I am told is not always typical. There’s not much I want to say about the Stand-up comedians other than, keep going, guys, and maybe someday you’ll get good. I’ve seen it happen.

What I do want to talk is one performer than read excerpts from her notes on a play that she is writing. I am not against sharing drafts or "raw art" or whatever you want to call it. I have occasionally done it myself.

But I dimly perceive that there are people who think that somehow this way of presenting unrevised, unpolished work is somehow more authentic than revised work, which some see as easily cliché or conventional.

I think it’s understood that free-writing is a bit like "writing improv" that can produce spontaneous genius the way rehearsed or revised writing cannot. It’s a free ticket into the authentic experience of the artist’s mind.

I disagree. I free-write a lot and rarely share it for the following reason: The results are often too disjointed to be meaningful to anyone but me.

Whatever medium of expression you’re using, language, paint, wood, fashion, thread, film, metal, clay, the body and blood of Christ, the substance of your art exists outside of your own mind. If there is a substance native to the human mind, that is a substance to thought, I do not know what it is. Art is a conduit of communication between your mind and the minds of others.

So when you pick your medium, you must be conscious of its conventions and physicalities.

Especially in performance, even 5-minute performances in dingy basements.

The reception of your audience has been shaped by what has come before and what is happening now. If you are conscious of this, you do not need to worry about being cliché. Clichés are things that have been used so much and in so many varied contexts that where they once meant just one thing, they meant many things, then too many things, and now, nothing at all. A work that is produced mindfully and imaginatively cannot produce a cliché because mindfulness and imagination require being present in this place, at this moment, which has never existed before and will not exist again.

It’s well-known that Shakespeare (I’m going to take a leap here and assume Shakespeare revised his work) coined more than 2000 words and many more phrases. I have read scholars who attribute something more like 15,000 words to Shakespeare. Let’s stick with at least 2,000 neoligisms since it is more than enough to impress. Nearly every new usage is unique: It was born of a single, apt context.

That context wasn’t Shakepeare’s mind, it was the events and the poetry of his play, which he carefully crafted so that we might experience the intricacies of his thought. Each situation, each phrase was an original invention for a unique situation You can read about this in many places, including the introduction to this book.

People who present their drafts as if they deserve attention should keep this in mind. Everything you create is new. Congratulations. But to make it unique, to make it seem new to other people, you have to be conscious of your piece as a whole, you have to imagine specific contexts that haven’t been imagined yet. The effects should seem spontaneous, but really they are the result of careful thought and deliberate construction.

As for conventions, they are useful to know and fun to play with. They guide how your art will participate in all the art the audience has seen before. There are a million and seven examples of this. The common example: Joyce’s Ulysses would not exist without the narrative conventions of The Odyssey. The contemporary example : Girls would not be nearly so interesting if we weren’t constantly comparing it in our minds to depictions of the female body and sex in shows like Friends and Sex and the City. The obvious example: Everything Quentin Tarantino has ever done. Ever.

I’m not saying it’s bad to share drafts at Open Mikes. Do as you like. Maybe it helps the creative process or impresses a cute someone in the audience. Maybe it helps you get over stage-fright. Whatever. Thank God, we all only have five minutes.

I find my mind coming back to those stand-up comedians. Poor bastards. Nowhere is polish more necessary and more difficult than in stand-up comedy. You have to rehearse your jokes so that they rise above the level of everyday funniness, but the jokes will fail if they seem rehearsed. It’s not an easy task to take what comes spontaneously to your mind and to transform it into something worthy of repetition, attention and (fingers-crossed) laughter.

A bit of polish - editing, rehearsal, practice, anything really - can make whatever creative chaos springs from your brain into a powerful shared experience, which is the point of art in the first place.

Ginzberg-Gainsberg is every other Wednesday night at Lolita in Soho. It starts around 8pm, which still feels early.

Like a fool I missed Patrick Hipp’s Spoken Word New York last Sunday. It’s the... uh... other sister to Spoken Word Paris. The sororial relations of open-mike nights are an endless adventure. I’ll be there next month and in the meantime, I’m checking out other venues.

Love,

Georgina

Georgina Emerson


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Harlem Edition !

January 30, 2013

Dear Paris

I’ve moved to Harlem: 145th and Adam Clayton Powell Boulevard to be precise.

Now, I’m from the Upper East Side, so Harlem is a cultural experience for me.

There are several signs that I don’t belong. Black cars keep pulling up beside me asking me if I need a ride downtown. Yesterday I stepped out of my apartment and took a moment to think about which grocery store I should go to buy my rice and I guess I looked bewildered. A large lady with a thick Jamaican accent stopped me and started telling me how to get to the subway, " You’ll be looking to get downtown, aren’t you honey ? Just walk up straight. Don’t turn, don’t look to the side. Just walk straight ".

Just then another lady in a doo-rag came up and said, " What do you mean ? The 145 street stop is right over there, it’s only a block ! " She hit the only real hard, dragging out the " o ".

Jamaican lady: " Don’t confuse the girl, she’s just trying to get downtown ".

No I wasn’t. I was just trying to get something to cook up in my sweet new airbnb.com pad but I felt obligated to acknowledge the Jamaican lady’s kindness by faking that I was going up to 148th to take the subway. I thanked her and nodded like a foreigner and headed north a block then looped back on the other side of Colin Powell* Ave. to get to my apartment. When I looked across the street the doo-rag lady and the Jamaican lady were still arguing.

I didn’t mean to cause such a stink. But I keep doing things that make it clear that I do not belong here. It’s not just my white skin (although that’s possibly at the root of everything else). It’s my general manner. I am walking around with a leather briefcase, a passive, big smile and good posture. It’s the debutante mode I adopt on the streets and in select professional situations.

Now, I’m pretty sure the only people who read this blog are my friends, and none of you has ever been to Harlem. So let me lay it out for you a bit.

It’s just like the Upper East Side with a few key changes. Instead of Starbucks, they have churches. Hundreds of Churches. The Evangelical Lutherans are across the street from the Santa Theresa-ians and the Puerto-Rican Baptists share a wall with the Church of Blacker day Saints**.

Instead of nail places, they have pawn shops.

The BMW X5’s have rims.

The payphones are only 25 cents.

In a cruel joke, there are dozens of travel agents and tax advisors. I can only assume it was someone’s bright idea to train a bunch of people in these professions just before the advent of expedia.com and TurboTax.

There are 24-hour credit unions. This, ladies and gentlemen, is the American-fucking-dream. Credit at 4 am !

In Harlem, the avenues stop being numbers and get names of important African American figures. 8th avenue becomes Frederick Douglas Boulevard. 7th Avenue becomes Adam Clayton Powell Jr. Boulevard. Malcolm X has the honor of Lenox Avenue from 116th to 125th street, which is for a quick stretch is dubbed Dr. Martin Luthor King. Thank God we haven’t bothered to honor these niche figures with anything more than northern fragments of lesser avenues. Otherwise people outside of Harlem might get wind of the important role these people played in our country’s history. Disaster.

What is shocking is that there are almost no bars. Where’s a nice girl like me supposed to get a whiskey soda ? Is this a question of disposable income ? Cultural differences ? Land ordinances ? Can a bar not to too close to a church and since there’s a church on every block, there can be no bars ?

The signs of gentrification are there. First of all, there’s my presence. Then there’s the Starbucks on 145th street and one of those Duane-Reade-of-the-Future’s with a facade of space metal. There’s a financial literacy center. It seems to be moving west from Riverside and north from 125th street. But when you get to 127th and 7th, the wind changes; a hobo somersaults across your path : You are in ghetto. That means loitering. That means few women on the street. That means momma’s buying turkey tails in bulk at the grocery store.

I am hesitant to go beyond the snarky here and make broader characterizations about the culture of Harlem. First of all, I have been there exactly one week and I am hesitant to make the sort of surface evaluations that bloggers and white people like making about a new place. I come to Harlem with so much racial and socio-economic baggage that I can’t see anything other than the exotic and strange when I walk down the street and go into the grocery store. That says more about me than it does about the neighborhood. I carry my whiteness and my rich upbringing where ever I go, so that probably no matter how long I stay in Harlem, I’ll stay outside of it. I’ll stay Upper East Side. If my mother knew, she’d be so proud but I didn’t dare tell her my address. She thinks I live in the West Village.

I will say that the signs of gentrification seem primarily corporate-Starbucks, Dunkin’ Donuts, Bank of America, Chase, credit unions etc. Rather than focused on small businesses or alternative cultural spaces- y’know the kinds of stuff white people love to bring to sites of recent drug raids. The cultural needs, the public places where people can meet to do something more than buy things, are met exclusively by churches.

I’m for keeping Harlem Harlem. That’s why I’m making an effort to adopt the local dialect. I have a tendency to have an accent that is somewhat High-Fulootin’. Now that I live between Moma Janet’s Gumbo shop and the shop " What you been missin’ " (I can’t tell what they sell. Fake hair ? Real tutu’s ?), I’m changing some of my key expressions.

Where I once said...

I now say...

Guys, I’m stressed. Can we get some Pinkberry, please.

Shit. This mother fucker needs some Popeye’s.

Fuck God.

Lord Have mercy

That dumb whore...

IShe be the devil’s little sister.

I’m really into you.

I’m checkin’ it.

Half-caf, skim latte

Con leche y sucre, por favor.

I’m happy to announce that whenever I say any of these things, everyone is offended, regardless of race.

It’s getting dark out. I’d better get home. My skin glows in the lights of the 24-hour credit union.

Coming soon : I’m checking out The Inspired Word NYC on Thursday for some literary shizz.


Love,

Georgina


* It’s really Adam Clayton Powell. But I was confused for the first 5 days.

** This last one was the only name I invented.

Georgina Emerson


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Getting Press at 3 Literary Events

February 16, 2013

Dear Paris

New York City is a place to make connections. Lots and lots of connections. An exhausting amount of connections. In the last 7 weeks I have made a Linkedin profile, a professional Facebook page, an OkCupid Account (fist-pound), sent out over 30 resumes and applied to 7 graduate programs..

Gross. All this took time away from my writing and lead me to a minor existential breakdown when I was walking home through the snow last week. That’s why I haven’t done an entry lately. I was busying wallowing. I felt like a sham, a phone and a failure. I was having trouble distinguishing any semblance of self through all the bullshit and nonsense I was writing about myself. This leads me to this letter’s topic: Getting Press at three different literary venues.

It’s a strange conundrum that those who get press don’t really need it and those who need it, don’t get it. I had the luck to be at three networking/promotional/artistic/just-buy-our-stuff events in the last two weeks. They were, in chronological order: A Press event organized by A Tout France, a Spoken Word event called Ginsberg-Gainsbourg and finally, a Barnes & Noble event wherein three authors discussed the Art of Character.

Each was painful and enlightening in its own way.

Let’s start with A Tout France. I was invited by a friend who is already in the travel-writing business and very generously wants to share the wealth. The night began with a series of painful videos. In a clever marketing move, France annually features three regions that are somehow special that year. I cannot help but think of Ezra Pound’s Modernist battle cry: Make it new. For France is so incessantly sold as a tourist destination that it stuns me to think that they can ever think of anything new or interesting to say about it. Nonetheless tourism in France inflates a good 3-4 percent every year. God help us all.

The highlight of this smug display of corporate prowess was Kristen Scott Thomas speaking for a line of corporate hotels who disguise themselves as cozy, local establishments. She recited her lines naturally and smiled vaguely for the camera as if to say: "Wouldn’t you do it to stay free in all these lovely places?" You know, Kristen, seeing as I am at a French Press event for the free champagne and the bouef, I probably would. (fist-pound)

I schmoozed. I networked. I spun my genuine dream of walking across Europe from Paris to Compostela into a luxury fitness getaway for the Press Agent from Rail Europe. I applied the following tactic: To be interesting you have to seem interested. It got me like seven business cards. That’s just the problem at these things, it was almost impossible for me to act natural. I had the feeling I was a sham again.

Amidst the talks about how lovely Provence is and how driving over ice is the new adventure sport, I made a futile grab at sincerity by talking to people I didn’t think could do anything for me. You know: Old people.

An old guy in the corner reminded me of my neighbor. So I talked to him for a while. Look at me, hot and young, wasting my time on a geezer. I felt like I deserved a pat on the back, or at least another glass of Cote du Rhone. I left him to talk to woman of a certain age who seemed to be nice.

She turned out to be the head of head honchos. We talked about what it means to grow up between two cultures. I know from an ex-girlfriend that these sorts of individuals like to be called third culture kids. I regurgitated some of what my ex had told me and the lady seemed struck by my candor. But it was more than anything else the posture of sincerity rather than sincerity itself.

The night left me drunk and bad impression of myself and of France. The press were sending out endless variations on the same theme. This is France. This is luxury France. This is the other France. This is the hidden France. This is the other hidden luxury France, permutations ad nauseum. Sincerity was impossible and even undesirable in this atmosphere. Did I want to be a part of that?

On the bright side, I did get to ask out out the editor-in-chief of the most widely-read sapphic magazine. (fist-pound) She said heck no. Whatever. I didn’t mean it anyways.

Two days later I am at an event for which no press has been successful, Ginsberg-Gainsbourg and sincere art abounds. Nobody goes to this open-mike night. Probably because they don’t know about it. Probably because there are a million open-mike nights.

I get to Lolita Bar late, and my friend (psydonym!) Model D was there, waiting for me on a pleather bench. We catch up on everything, talked about how we miss the scene in Paris and how much we love various bearded Bohemians.

The event’s founder and host, David Fishel, comes up and speaks to us. We also met in Paris, but we were never tight. I like his work- which as far as I know tends to be nonfiction funny-tragic stuff. Mostly I remember him for having a swell mustache and a certain angular charm. He looks like I could fold him up and tuck him under my seat.

"No one who gets press needs it," he says. Model D and I agree. "I tried the Village voice, but with those hipsters you need to know somebody. I don’t know anybody."

"We support you, David!" I say. He smiles. We both know it doesn’t matter. I tell him how when I started Unstrung Letters in Paris, we had such low attendance a few times that they threatened to shut us down. He says the same thing has happened to him. We commiserate and talk about how much easier things were in Paris.

"There was only one scene so it was the place for everyone to be."

"In New York it’s like there are 100 people lined up in front of you ready to do the exact same thing you’re doing-"

"-Only better. For less money."

Then the bell tolled for 8pm and the end of Happy Hour so we ran for more beer and to go down and listen to the 4 guys who turned up to share some art.

It isn’t great art. David, rather heroically takes the brunt of the first 5-minutes to warm up the audience. Often, you need to ease yourself into the potential magic (and sincerity) of storytelling and poetry. After all, this is a poetry reading, we’re all embarrassed to be here. But then a guy gets up and shares one of his favorite poets and reads it with an accent so soft and smooth that I think I could love this man. Even if he is talking about bugs in Alabama. There’s another woman who reads about a beach and e.e. cummings. We take a break, because we can. Two guys come back and make hilarious jokes about bogus laws that are still on the books throughout America. Some guy gets up and tells his first story to an audience. It doesn’t go great. But then, first times rarely do. Patrick Hipp shared his manic Sci-Fi. I like Patrick Hipp. You can tell him I said that. I shared two poems.

Afterwards, I tell Pat and David how I am reading the Corrections and want to kill myself just to not have to finish it.

I say, "It’s great writing. Okay, I don’t dispute that. It’s just that he doesn’t make me want to keep going. I don’t like his characters. I like his set-pieces. No one ever talks about his set-pieces. But I don’t like his characters..."

Pat says, "They’re just versions of himself. I liken it to Eddie Vedder and the guitar..."

The conversation continues and engages several of us. It’s just a bunch of writerly nonsense about technique and passion and you know: stuff. Those who don’t want to listen leave.

We giggle for a while then Pat and David go to get drunker and talk and I go to make out. (fist-pound)

I care about about Pat and David as people and believe in them as writers. But more importantly, I believe in creating spaces where sincerity is definitely not a posture. That’s why I want to talk to people about getting it promoted. That’s why I am writing about it here. But then those spaces can only exist for so long as unknown places to get together and share art and artistic nonsense before they are so well promoted that they become just another marketing venue. A place to make connections and promote yourself.

A few days later, I go to the mothership of literary marketing venues: Barnes and Noble on the Upper East Side. There I listen to David Corbett, the author of a book called The Art of Character, speak about how to create memorable characters. Take a moment to look at his site and gag.

During the talk, the amount of smoke coming out of this guy’s ass stings my eyes. He manages stop drop the following facts about himself in less than an hour: He’s a former actor, criminal defense case worker and, private eye; he’s Catholic; his wife has passed away. He’s now a teacher. I can’t hold it against him that he spoke so much. The fools at Barnes and Noble gave him a microphone. I wish what he was saying wasn’t so hokey and cliche: "Success by failure people! Likability is an overrated word. Give your protagonist a past."

But then, what the hell else is he supposed to say? He’s getting great press. He’s talking a whole lot of repetitive nonsense to get people to buy his book. That way, he can keep teaching so that he can keep writing. Maybe someday he can take some cool vacations and write some more. That’s the dream: To somehow find a middle ground between the marketing machine behind French tourism and the total lack of attention at Ginsberg-Gainsbourg.

For now, it’s nice to want sincerely to help a friend like David in a way- with little fear of doing it for self-promotion. It’s nice for now, that is. Because, really, none of us want it to stay like this. Pat wants to get published. David wants people to come to Ginsberg-Gainsbourg. I want to be famous (or at least rich and pretty). Why else are we doing all this? Writing is a solitary activity. We do all this other stuff to connect with people. To feel less alone. To cry out and get a response.

And if that response is big enough, maybe, just maybe, we’ll get to be those three assholes talking about story structure at Barnes and Noble with a rapt audience. People will listen to us as if the nonsense coming out of our mouths sincerely meant something.

Next week, I’m getting back to the point of this blog and checking out a reading at a KGB/Lit bar. New York has everything.

Rutger’s Reading Series: 85 East 4th St. 7pm. Bam.

For an good list of NYC literary events, check this out.

Paris, I miss you. Write back.

Love,

Georgina

Georgina Emerson


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Money and Poetry

February 28, 2013

Dear Paris

I want to live in a world where the poets don’t have business cards and you don’t have to pay to go to a poetry slam.

I’m having a bit of trouble making ends meet. I just had to negotiate the guy at the internet cafe down from 3.25 for printing my resume. I paid 40 cents. Thank god I have good smile - or do I just seem that desperate ?

On Monday, I ventured once again to a poetry slam. Those motherfuckers made me and everyone else pay 5 bucks at the door. This is not a lot of money but my account balance was $17.57 at the time with three days left in February.

I am basically at the point where if I were a man, I would sell my seed. But because of biology (thanks, God) I could masturbate all day and ain’t no one going to pay me. Pay inequality in terms of selling one’s kin is the ultimate glass ceiling. It’s actually quite a racket around Columbia University whose newspaper is funded by ads seeking healthy, slim-built 100% Koreans to carry babies. But I’m getting distracted by these gloomy economics.

Which is what I wanted to write to you about. I’m sorry I have been neglectful, it’s just that I have been seriously poor and it’s distracting. When money is absent, it makes everything a problem. Even open mic nights.

Although New York Open Mic nights are a specific mix of whim and networking. I watched two artists compare business cards. I could think was: How much does it cost to get paper-stock that firm ? I could not even really focus on whether or not the picture was cool.

The charge at the door and discussion of business card put me in a lousy mood. I lost my temper and got pissed at every one: The performers, the organizers, business card designers. They were a bunch of sell outs and I was the one, true poet who refused to address such marketable subjects as rape and racism.

As the poetry commenced, I calculated the value of each one.

Prison-time pain ? 20 cents.

You had a rough childhood ? 10 cents.

Oh, it was because you were a boy born into a girl’s body. 15 cents, then.

To the girl who says her mom is like an empty refrigerator, you keep hoping it will provide you nourishment. You are a dime a dozen.

I’d give the guy who brought out the line, "There are niggers in Paris", 50 cents because showmanship counts for something.

This was not a productive or meaningful discourse. But man, when you’re broke, it’s all about the money. I went to Louder Arts in hopes of making an escape from myself and instead I just got faced with a bunch of other people’s pity and pain. I was too worried about the five bucks I had just spent to let the art transcend the salacious personal details being listed on-stage. I tell myself you can’t always be in the poetic mood, sometimes you have to focus on how to feed yourself.

The struggle between money and art is not a new struggle. How poets and writers make their living is an obsession of mine. Hemingway married money - to a certain extent. He would have lived beyond his means had he not had Hadley and Pauline. Cervantes was a permanent nomadic guest to his rich friends. In what now seems a bizarre reversal, Chekhov supported himself through medical school by writing. Money matters determined the structure of Dickens’ novels. Virginia Woolf’s uncle died. Lucky girl. We all know how Fitzgerald and Zelda fucked up their finances. This list could go on.

Virginia Woolf called the humdrum logistics of living the "cotton" of life. My favorite Italian, Alberto Petit-Merde, called things like ironing and paying bills the administration of life. No matter what you call it, it is boring and necessary. I think of it like cleaning your room. As soon as it is done, you are ready to work again and get it messy.

Robert Frost touches upon the issue in his lovely poem, "Two Tramps in Mud Time" :

"As that I had no right to play
With what was another man’s work for gain.
My right might be love but theirs was need.
And where the two exist in twain
Theirs was the better right-agreed.
"

The point of the poem is that Robert Frost believed in doing what you love for a living (" My object in living is to unite / My avocation and my vocation / As my two eyes make one in sight. ").

I’m going to go ahead and take the above passage out of context and focus on the idea that where love and need are both present, need trumps love. If money and administration and bills and flossing are not given their time and attention, they invade every part of your life. Mr. Frost is also talking about the sheer love of doing in and of itself. This is a pleasure I have trouble connecting with when I am worried about money.

I love writing. But I need money. Unlike Mr. Frost, I’m not sure they should be united. The charge at the door made the night about money for me. No poetry was going to be worth the price because poetry is about a kind of beauty that does not and should not have a price. Open mike nights, no matter how well-known, should not have a mandatory cover charge. It works against the principle of this open art-form. Make it optional so that curious young (and broke) people can come and forget about money for a little while.

Sincerely,

Georgina

Georgina Emerson


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The Absence of Olive Sacks

Mars 5, 2013

Dear Friends,

My last letter left me with a bad taste in my mouth. It was a bit of a downer. Thank you to many who have responded with kindness. It is very difficult to create something that is critical, meaning well-though-out, without being cynical. Criticism and cynicism are two very different things that are too often equated. The result is a false separation in the world between things that are simple and admiring and things that are critical and cynical. In a lot of ways those last two or three letters were cynical. I don’t want to leave the impression lingering. So let me tell you about what happened to me on Saturday afternoon.

Sometimes a "literary event" is as simple as finding two books next to each other. This accident can create a connection that would not have otherwise been made. Last Saturday, I went into Book Culture where I found this book : Exemplary Comparison from Homer to Plutarch by Olive Sacks.

Medieval exemplary culture is kind of my thing. It could not be more informative, direct and dry. Somehow to me, it is very mysterious as well. Perhaps because I once dreamed of being a scholar, I am curious about the author: This Olive. The book must have been the result of many, many hours of labor and thought.

But skimming through it and notice it is written in many languages and alphabets including the Langue D’Oc with translations into the English. The introduction shows book’s organization as the result of sound, transparent logic. The pages are neat and full.

I search everywhere for some personal touch. Where are you Olive? The book is dedicated to one Michael Hawcraft. I wonder if the author is a man or a woman. The dedication to a man makes me think the author is a man. But that is just because I like to imagine these intense, forbidden and intellectually stimulating correspondences between tweed-clad gay professors.

This person is a tutor at Oxford. There is absolutely no indication, not even a pronoun, in the book of either sex. The absence of a reference to sex is usually the result of avoidance rather than chance. So that makes me think Olive is a woman. She is trying to be respected in a man’s world and that means hiding her sex. Just like J.K. Rowling.

These are the sorts of fantasies I have as I read through the book. I think about how I’d like to hang it upside down from my ceiling fan so that I could just watch the shapes of the letters, phrases and alphabets drift over my head. It is a silly plan. These are things that used to mean so much and now mean so little since almost no one can understand them any more. And there is no meaning without some one there to create it, right ?

I put the book back still making up lives for Olive. Who, I guess when I think about it, is probably a woman. I pick up the book next to it which is a modern criticism of the significance of bedtime stories in children’s lives. I did not write down the title and I cannot find it on the bookstore’s website. There are many books about fairy tales nowadays. What I do remember is that within the first three pages of the introduction, I knew this author was a woman with a harried schedule who started reading Grimm’s fairy tales to her children so that she could do critical research while spending time with her children.

The text felt so here, so now that I knew immediately what her life was like and why she had written this book. Hers is a wholly different endeavor than Olive’s. In some ways it is much less ambitious, for she writes for people now knowing that in fifty years, her research will seem dated and strange.

Olive on the other hand sought to create something that would last forever :

" ...it reaffirms the supreme importance of detailed textual analysis in the study of literary and stylistic phenomena. The establishment of the precise details of the particular then forms the basis for general conclusions... The results of such a study may thus transcend the boundaries of time, space and established cultural and literary traditions."

In some ways, something that is so lasting (I am not sure any work is eternal) requires the total elimination of here, now and the author. On one level, this makes the text dead because it is never alive.

But in other ways, it can live on in endless permutations among letters and alphabets and a blank space where the author never was. I left the story imagining lives around the empty space Olive Sacks left in her book.

Love,

Georgina

Georgina Emerson


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Subway Discount : Eat not so fresh

March 29, 2013

Dear Paris

My financial situation has forced me to make certain lifestyle adjustments, including a radical change in diet. I enjoy humus, Norwegian smoked salmon, Kashi Crisp and Kobe beef, all of which are off the current menu.

Thankfully, right near my apartment is an eatery that falls into my daily budget range (5-10 US dollars or, as I prefer to think of it: Roughly 600-1200 Italian Lira). I want to share this restaurant with you. Please tell only your poorest friends. A jump in customers could lead to a jump in prices. In which case, I would be screwed.

I live on 120th street and Amsterdam. To get home, I take the 1 Train to 116th. But when I am feeling hungry and know I do not have anything good at home, I keep on riding the train to 125th and Broadway. There, where the train is above ground, you’ll find two things that are rare in Manhattan : An open parking lot and a 24-hour McDonald’s. Take a left past the quivering golden arches and walk east on 125th. About twenty yards down the block you’ll find the Subway Discount.

Most people don’t know that Subway has a discount brand. Indeed, they might think that Subway is already cheap enough and that "Subway Discount" is a redundant name, on par with "Egg Omelet" or "Children’s Primary School". Those people would be wrong. Subway Discount is very much real and very much cheaper than regular Subway. I am not sure if it exists only in this particular location or if they have branches in other urban areas. The internet has yielded no results.

The sign looks just like a regular Subway sign, only there is the word "Discount" written at the same bold angle. Underneath where it normally says "Eat fresh" some clown has spray-painted the words "not so" in blue. Get it ? "Eat not so fresh". I no longer comment on the lame joke ever since the guy behind the counter told me it was a Crypt who did it. The guy behind the counter is a friendly person named Jamal. He assures me that, as long as I have no affiliation with the Bloods, I have nothing to worry about.

I go to Subway Discount most evenings after work in order to create the cheapest possible sandwich. To do that, I need to make a series of consciously bad decisions. I grew up listening to (and believing) propaganda about organic and free-range food. But quality comes with a price and these things are almost always more expensive. In fact, I always know which option will be the cheapest by asking myself, "Which sounds the healthiest ?" and ordering the other thing. That other thing may be filled with hormones, preservatives and carcinogens, but, hey, it is food.

Just like a regular Subway, you start with the bread. The options are slightly different: Seven Grain, White, Stale Seven Grain or Stale White. I know that the more grains something has, the better it is for you, so I go with the stale white. It’s sure to be mostly sugar, which is pretty cheap.

Then you pick your size. I always choose the six-inch. As I’ll explain later, it ends up being more food for less money.

Afterwards, you pick your meat. Despite being the principal ingredient in your sandwich, this is not an important financial decision. All the meats are the same price and bear the same tertiary relationship to the original animal flesh. The ham is just a little too slick for my taste. I like the turkey, which shines pleasingly like a baby’s cheek.

For vegetables, go with anything that is salted, pickled or both. Not because they are cheaper. All the vegetables are free. Rather choose only the preserved ones because you have no idea how long they have been there.

If you want to be decadent, get some cheese. Do not go overboard. Cheese is an easy place to add cents without adding much food. Select the cheese that most resembles plastic. I know from experience that it is the Pepper Jack, which is a mix of equal parts American cheese and Coca-Cola bottle. That’s what gives it those little flecks of color.

Next, add your sauces, which are free of charge. Go crazy and try the Ranch.

Now here is the key step. When Jamal asks you if you’d like anything else, say "yes". Say that you would like it "Subway-sized". (Obviously they ripped off McDonald’s.) They don’t advertise this service, but I saw a few Crypts do it the second time I came in. Anyone can do it. Super-sizing entails a few spritzes from a spray-can Jamal keeps hidden under the counter. Picture a Windex bottle only with Subway colors. The liquid inside is that yellow-green. Two spritzes from this marvelous bottle and your 6-inch sub elongates and widens to a good 4 by 8 inches.

That"s 32 square inches of sandwich. And what"s the price ? $ 5.27 including taxes. Jamal doesn’t expect a tip. "I’m a realist", he tells me. According to him, the Subway-Sizer contains roughly the same mix of hormones that they spray on McDonald’s cows.

How disgusting. But I eat it anyway. Afterall, it is food. On the bright side, I have grown a good two inches in height since I began eating at Subway Discount. I like to focus on the positive: Soon I’ll be able to dunk.

Georgina

Georgina Emerson


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So many ways to say " I quit "

April 21, 2013

Dear Paris

It’s strange but I find myself being far nastier in New York than I ever was when I was across the pond. Perhaps it is my way of keeping Paris with me always.
The phrases I have used to my boss in the last three weeks:

" I understand. I will try harder to make my circles less elliptical. "

" That strikes me as excessively fastidious. "

" When I said "any time tomorrow" I didn’t realize you would call me at midnight. "

" I’ll do better next time and answer your question whether I think it is rhetorical or not. "

" I can’t tell you why exactly I seem tired. That is private. "

" I understand that sometimes I speak quickly. It’s usually because I feel the point I am making is stupid and I don’t want to waste precious moments of my life on it. "

" Your personality so bothers me that I am not sure how much you pay me makes up for it. "

" (On the West Side Highway) That’s a lot of "one last things", Allen. I will jump out of this moving vehicle if you don’t stop talking soon. "

This blog is turning into a sad Down and Out in New York (as opposed to the happy original?). I think I am grumpy because I forgot to work less and read more.

Adr

Free art on Sundays:
SPOKEN WORD SUNDAYS
PROSE AT KGB BAR

Love always,

Georgina

Georgina Emerson


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Penny’s Open Mic

April 27, 2013

Dear Paris

I got there late - around 11 pm. I was meeting a friend at 2 am so I needed to kill a little time. 3 dollars ? Cheap beer ? At least 3 people wearing top hats ? I’m there.

It’s in the East Village, 8th and 1st Avenue. I know about it because a girl named Brooke took me there on a surprisingly tense date. That was two years ago. Brooke and I didn’t work out, but Penny and her open mic night are still going strong.

Penny (no last name) is a brave, compassionate soul who allows any one to wander in from cold and spend 7 minutes on stage. It’s a strict 7 minutes. You’ll be cut off mid-lyric. Penny seemed utterly delighted to have every single of the performers there. I was impressed by her spunk when I got there at 11 and was still impressed when I left at 1:30-ish and the night was still going strong.

I walk in and there’s a zaftig girl playing a catchy song called "I only use Facebook to stalk you". (I loved it. I’m still singing it.)

I sit next to a guy who is older than me so I assume he is a knowing and sophisticated sort of person. His head is so shiny. The man greets me and makes sporadic comments. I spend a little time during some one’s terrible comedy act (keep on keeping on) thinking of a hip way to ask him what kind of artist he is.

"What’s your jam ?" is too lame.

"So what do you do ?" Too corporate.

"Whattdya fiddle ?" Too hokey.

I settle for a smaller question: "So what are you going to do tonight ?"

"We’re gonna jam."

"Right on, sir."

There were a ton of acts. Some fantastic, some much less so. A beautiful Italian (who will act in Shakespeare’s Measure for Measure next week !) tells the story of her arrival in New York. It makes me wonder at the necessity of quality writing to create meaningful performance pieces. I often wonder the same thing about songs. Some times it sounds so good that I don’t think the meaning of the words really matters. It’s about the feeling you get from the piece as a whole. Sometimes any way.

That might not be the case for comedians...

This one red-head sang with a voice so raspy and deep that I loved it. I don’t remember what the song was.

Penny calls another name, "B.B.Q. Hoar ! Is there a B.B.Q. Hoar here ?"

The bald guy next to me gets up. He is none other than B.B.Q. Hoar. Now that he is on stage, his slick head reminds me of Nosferatu. During his set, which is a meddly about the vague threat of a maniacal Robo-Cop (what if ?), his accompaniment’s super-sized chin waddle fascinates me. He repeats the refrain enough that by the end we are all really wondering, what if they re-made Robo-Cop ?

After BBQ sits down and we all wipe the sweat off our foreheads, a guy who looks like he has just been dumped gets on stage. He asks some one in the back to turn down the lights. (I was impressed by the technical savvy behind Penny’s night. These are theatre folk.) The dumped guy sang us a few Paul Simon songs in the dark. Sitting there, listening, I heard the lyric "like a window to your heart. Everyone can see you’re blown apart" made me hurt.

Before you dismiss this feeling, remember you’re reading those lyrics on a blog. In your office or on your bed or even on the train. You are staring at a screen. You are not surrounded by the smell of beer and perfume. You are probably alone or with one of my aunts (they’re the only ones who read this blog). That is a terrible context for feeling something.

You and I have both heard that song hundreds if not thousands of times in various, disjointed situations. I think they play it at the Gap.

Try to imagine how I was hearing it on Tuesday night : in the dark, in a basement in St. Mark’s, sitting on a stiff chair with twenty strangers and a clanging heater. The dumped guy’s soft voice made the meaning of those words new to me again.I felt deeply sad. So did every one else around me. We all feel sad for this guy, for Paul Simon, for anyone who has ever been dumped, for ourselves.

It reminded me that the context for words matters. The delivery, the atmosphere (I refuse to use the word meta, which people throw around for any kind of reference outside of a piece), everything going on around it, the space where you experience words affects how you will feel them. Penny (no last name) has created a wonderful, dank space where you can feel what a song, a joke or a poem really means.

Except for the occasional terrible Robo Cop-inspired electro. That shit was just weird.

Penny’s Open Mic

Every Tuesday + 9pm-2am

St. Mark’s Theatre

8th Street, East Side of 1st Avenue.

Love,

Georgina

Georgina Emerson


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A Sorta End to a Sorta Relationship

25 Mai 2013

Dear Paris

I’ll never love again. Not that I was in love, but still...

This one was an Italian living in New York. She was nice and funny. When I’m honest with myself (why is that so hard ?) the sex was not great-not the greatest anyway. I think it was a combination of her inexperience and us both wanting to be on top.

But that makes it sound like the blame is mostly hers. Is that true ? It’s certainly not fair. I’m the one making the judgment and isn’t my perspective hopelessly compromised ? Of course I think it’s her fault. Anything I do say that is self-critical is only to build my credibility as an unbiased source of information. That way, you’ll take what I do say against her more seriously. Right ?

Still, she didn’t just relax and let me go down on her. That’s a fact. Nor would she speak during sex which threw me off.

" We meet on a street corner near the only bar

in New York City not showing the Super Bowl.

Turns out she’s Italian. Turns out I’m from New York.

We already know from OkCupid that we’re both writers.

Choosing the right wine is awkward.

Talking about how we’re the only ones in the bar is funny.

She’s the one who starts making out with me.

I’m the one who asks if we can hang out again. "

Probably the things I should learn from this - and I have to believe there is something to learn from this- are the following :

1) Keep your nails trimmed. (I have already purchased a set of nail files and I am going to do better.)

2) Feel out early on if she is looking for something serious or not and maybe don’t give her a chance if she’s not. (But am I looking for something serious ? Or am I just serious-minded ?)

There are things I definitely didn’t do wrong. I never drunk-dialed. I never mentioned a relationship. I never guilted her into hanging out. In short, I did not do any crazy-girl things.

I’m not sure entirely what I should have done differently. Or really, there are maybe things that I should have done differently... But that’s too easy to say. I should have been more beautiful. I should have been the perfect girl for her. (She wasn’t the perfect girl for me.) "Should" doesn’t seem like the right way to think.

But "would, that’s a different story. Would I have done anything differently under the circumstances ? Very few things. I was on the verge of completely broke when we went on our first date - I had 100 dollars and spent 50 of it on red wine. Then I was completely broke for about a week there after we went out and got drunk and listened to show tunes. I like to think that I didn’t let any panic show. But I’m sure it was sort of obvious that something was off when I kept suggesting cheaper and cheaper drinks at cheaper and cheaper bars ("How about a Miller High Life at 7-11 ?").

" On a date we run out of the bar laughing and I try to explain why grape-vining

is the only way to travel until we run into the window of a Starbucks

and start making out. It’s decided we will race to her place.

Only topless races count. Neither of us goes topless but it still counts.

I’m behind, way behind. This is shocking. I am 18 inches taller.

She falls like a trapdoor before I can catch up. "

The next morning, the doctors in the Emergency Room say her elbow is broken.

We had fun when we were out. I went to see her when she broke her elbow (see vignette number 2). But for all that fun we had, there wasn’t enough to maintain a connection. Through work. Through the lack of sleep our relationship must have required for her - and for me too. We didn’t sleep in together even once.

She was always having more fun without me rather than with me. She went out dancing. She went to New Orleans, Las Vegas, Atlantic City and San Diego while I was at home debating between rice and pasta for dinner and phone interviewing for tutoring jobs. I was always a little relived when she went away because then I didn’t have to pay for the subway to go to the West Village.

At some point, I felt her somehow less excited to see me. When I calculate it (breaking up always requires some calculation. Two weeks ago, we were sending cute texts. When did it go wrong ?), I remember registering some disappointment on her face that night we met late after she was at work and I was Penny’s Open Mic.

She blew me off some weekend. I don’t remember when. Before she went to New Orleans. She was sorry. When she got back, I told her it would be cool if we spent more time together and asked her out on a proper date to show I meant it.

She said yes. I think she was trying to give me a chance on that date. (Or did she "feel bad?") Possibly it was during that date that she decided she was over it. Possibly it was during that the sex that she decided she was over it. I know it was only okay for me and I bet the same was true for her. But how could I know ? Whenever I had inquired on previous occasions she was at best dark.

There was a strange moment afterwards when I got up and walked around the bed and turned out the light. It may have been the first time she saw me completely naked and standing up. We slept pretty much separately.

By the time I woke up she was doing all the things she did every morning-showering, blow-drying, putting on make up. I got up and got ready too. It was raining and neither of us had an umbrella so we had to run off in different directions.

That was it. Then some silence then an awkward text. There was nothing particular that went wrong that night. We had fun and played boggle and she told me things about herself that I didn’t know but that cleared up a few things that had confused me - I don’t like to pry into the lives of a girl I date until I know her a bit. There had always been something a little strange going on - some kind of secret love which she would occasionally refer. An androgynous girl who may have had tattoos and a coke problem.

The Boggle letters are covered in whiskey and we start talking about other things. She’s talking around something. I ask her to tell me what it is. She doesn’t want to but she’s doing it anyway. We’re both being polite. She’s talking through the story and I’m having trouble staying upright on the bar stool.The booze makes my vision of the bar blurry but I manage to keep her in focus. I feel how I do when I tutor or teach English, like I’m doing my job to draw out the student’s response: "And then what happened ? And then ?"

When she finished telling me, I don’t feel like a lover. It doesn’t feel like intimacy. It feels like I just practiced active listening and I can tell she’s not sure she’s happy she told me. But we’re sleeping together and that means honesty, right ? I express my condolences and we both change the subject.

She didn’t have time for a real connection. As comforting as that notion is, is that why it ended ? Or was it the sex ? Or the allure of this past relationship with that androgynous girl-the one she wrote a whole film about ? Or was it something that I have no way of knowing and could not face ?

It occurs to me, as I write all this, that I could never (never !) have said any of these things to her. That the time we spent together, laughing, joking, drinking, making out, had nothing to do with any of this. With her, I wanted to have a good time and forget my money and writing problems. I deliberately kept them hidden from her. That perhaps (perhaps !) is something I would have done differently.

Georgina

Georgina Emerson


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Why isn’t this fun ?

19 Juin 2013

Dear Paris

I went to a STORY SLAM on Monday. The first story was by a guy (female to male transgender). He was walking home from the subway late one night in Brooklyn, a drunk guy pissing on the sidewalk yelled, "Suck my dick" at him. He didn’t follow it with either "dyke" or "fag", so our storyteller "didn’t know quite how he meant it." The delivery of this line was the only funny part of a story in which he felt threatened as both a man and a woman because the guy sat on a stoop across the street. There he sat for a few minutes, smoking and watching our hero’s front door.

This is the kind of story that, if told by a friend, I would respond with sympathy and back-patting. But as a story on the stage, it falls flat. I feel mean when I insult it because it was so personal and particular. It’s as if I am insulting the story-teller and not the story. In this case, the two are so intertwined that, yes, I suppose I am insulting both. Sorry.

I am totally annoyed by this confessional, self-pitying art-form. I should probably stop going to Louder Arts, but something compels me to go back and try to find meaning. Sometimes I have a nice time. Sometimes there is excellent stuff. But other times I want to smack every single person in the bar.

Adr

I’ve delved into my own psychology and even my own moodiness for the reason I hate it so much.

Is it because it is all so focused on self ? That’s not it. I’m writing about myself right now and I just drooled over Alison Bechdel’s wonderfully solipsistic memoir, Are You My Mother ?

Is it because it is all so silly ? No. I am a huge fan of both Smallville and Buffy the Vampire Slayer. I love silly

Is it because I am a white, upper-class, ivy-league woman who can pass for straight and dresses like a shabby Republican ? This may very well be the reason but my subjective experience of my own life prevents me from addressing this question in any useful way.

So let’s talk about something I can address : The obsession with self in slam poetry as manifested by a preoccupation with race, gender, sexuality, linguistic group, class, age, weight, career choice and other easily identifiable personal traits.

Basically, what I am wondering is, why do all the black people talk about being black ? Why do all the Hispanics talk about being Hispanic ? Why do all the trans/gay/lesbian/whatevers walk about being trans/gay/lesbian/whatever ? And why, god, why, do the vegans make slam poetry about being vegan ? If I hear tofu used as a metaphor for self-determination one more time, I am expatriating.

This preoccupation with autobiography was especially obvious to me last week when I approached the curator of the show with a question about the upcoming Story Slam.

The conversation :

Me : So what’s the deal with the story slam ?

Guy : You get 5-minutes to tell any story you want. Then we score you.

Me : That sounds awesome but does the story have to be true ?

Guy : It’s like the Moth story series.

Me : Yes, but in the Moth story series, the stories are true. Can the stories next week be fiction ?

Guy : No one is going to call you out if it’s not true.

Me : Can they have fairies and dragons and be fantasy ?

Guy : If no one here knows you, they won’t know if you’re making it up.

Me : Okay, but I don’t know any dragons. Can the stories be fantasy or complete fiction ?

Guy : You just have to finish in five minutes.

We didn’t get very far. I don’t think the guy was an idiot. I think he was a bit distracted and that it hadn’t fully occurred to him that people wouldn’t be telling autobiographical stories. The focus is so much on the aforementioned self-focused poetry that it doesn&tdquo;t occur to anyone to do fiction. It’s the same way no one gets up and does sonnets at Louder Arts very often either.

I wonder why this is. Partly, it’s a legacy of African American Protest poetry (The Revolution will not be televised. But it might be Facebooked).

It was a rebellion against the white-centric, male-centric notion of poetry as aesthetic and useless. The separation of literary value and usefulness goes as far back as Horace’s dulce and utile (he thought poetry ought to be both useful and instructive). Later, critics came to disagree and take a kind of "poetry for poetry’s sake" approach (See : A.C. Bradley Oxford Lectures on Poetry, 1909). For a while there, good poetry could not be propaganda.

Nowadays, the line between use and quality in poetry is much more blurred. Anyone who says otherwise is pretentious (and probably a sissy). And yet... I am finding the use or the quality difficult to uncover in these confessional riffs. So why do people make them ? Why do other people like them ?

Here’s why : The poetry is the result of living in New York City.

Everyone is so obsessed with the superficial details of their own identities because, in a place like New York City, you are constantly faced with huge amount of people who judge you based on a moment’s glance. This style of poetry a kind of response to the hectic, overwhelming nature of urban living.

It’s urban poetry.

I’m going to use the imprecise term "urban" for lack of anything better. In this context, urban is NOT a euphemism for black or African American. I really do just mean poetry and prose produced in a city. The association with black culture is implied and deliberate. It’s urban poetry as opposed to rural poetry like Robert Frost’s or even suburban poetry like Anne Sexton or some of Sylvia Plath. (This way of categorizing literature makes me laugh. Where does Walden fit ? Pseudo-rural ?)

Urban poetry, in the grand tradition of Allen Ginzberg and Langston Hughes, deals with the experience of the city.

New York is such an overwhelming place to live. It’s loud and bright and in a crazy way, hyper-real. When something smells of piss, it stinks of piss. When the subway is loud, it roars. The buildings are so tall they make you dizzy. There is more happening than could ever be absorbed by one person. But more than that, in the city, we are faced with OTHER people almost all the time. These other people come from every country, speak every language and come from every social class possible. When you walk down the street you see y ourself constantly reflected in the reactions and solicitations of others. I was wearing my mom’s designer blazer and Chanel shoes the other day in Union Square and a guy followed me into the subway to give me his card, hoping I would buy some of his art. My black friends tell me that, at night, taxis won’t stop for them.

When that guy (ftm) walked home in Brooklyn and got followed by a creep, he saw himself as victimized by the drunk’s reaction to his identity (variously: white, artsy, faggy, dykey, trans, rich...).

It’s hard to get past the reality of yourself reflected back in countless faces each day. I think that many of the people at Louder Arts (and maybe people in general) get caught up in this reflection and don’t get beyond it to make meaningful poetry and prose. It’s fitting that all the pieces are spoken in the present tense. It creates an "in your face" effect and is apt for poems that don’t have much life after they are spoken.

The function of literature should be to imagine things that do not quite exist. Sometimes they never will and sometimes they are just on the horizon. It any case, it is a productive force for transformation (political, personal or both) that goes beyond the superficial details of the present. Many of these poets and storytellers are so caught up in identifying (labeling, observing) the present that they have are left with very little room for imagining something beyond themselves.

Love,

Georgina

Georgina Emerson


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Today’s hmm

Jun 20, 2013

Adr

Georgina Emerson


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First Dating

July 17, 2013

I got there late - around 11 pm. I was meeting a friend at 2 am so I needed to kill a little time. 3 dollars ? Cheap beer ? At least 3 people wearing top hats ? I’m there.

It’s in the East Village, 8th and 1st Avenue. I know about it because a girl named Brooke took me there on a surprisingly tense date. That was two years ago. Brooke and I didn’t work out, but Penny and her open mic night are still going strong.

Penny (no last name) is a brave, compassionate soul who allows any one to wander in from cold and spend 7 minutes on stage. It’s a strict 7 minutes. You’ll be cut off mid-lyric. Penny seemed utterly delighted to have every single of the performers there. I was impressed by her spunk when I got there at 11 and was still impressed when I left at 1:30-ish and the night was still going strong.

I walk in and there’s a zaftig girl playing a catchy song called "I only use Facebook to stalk you". (I loved it. I’m still singing it.)

I sit next to a guy who is older than me so I assume he is a knowing and sophisticated sort of person. His head is so shiny. The man greets me and makes sporadic comments. I spend a little time during some one’s terrible comedy act (keep on keeping on) thinking of a hip way to ask him what kind of artist he is.

"What’s your jam ?" is too lame.

"So what do you do ?" Too corporate.

"Whattdya fiddle ?" Too hokey.

I settle for a smaller question: "So what are you going to do tonight ?"

"We’re gonna jam."

"Right on, sir."

There were a ton of acts. Some fantastic, some much less so. A beautiful Italian (who will act in Shakespeare’s Measure for Measure next week !) tells the story of her arrival in New York. It makes me wonder at the necessity of quality writing to create meaningful performance pieces. I often wonder the same thing about songs. Some times it sounds so good that I don’t think the meaning of the words really matters. It’s about the feeling you get from the piece as a whole. Sometimes any way.

That might not be the case for comedians...

This one red-head sang with a voice so raspy and deep that I loved it. I don’t remember what the song was.

Penny calls another name, "B.B.Q. Hoar ! Is there a B.B.Q. Hoar here ?"

The bald guy next to me gets up. He is none other than B.B.Q. Hoar. Now that he is on stage, his slick head reminds me of Nosferatu. During his set, which is a meddly about the vague threat of a maniacal Robo-Cop (what if ?), his accompaniment’s super-sized chin waddle fascinates me. He repeats the refrain enough that by the end we are all really wondering, what if they re-made Robo-Cop ?

After BBQ sits down and we all wipe the sweat off our foreheads, a guy who looks like he has just been dumped gets on stage. He asks some one in the back to turn down the lights. (I was impressed by the technical savvy behind Penny’s night. These are theatre folk.) The dumped guy sang us a few Paul Simon songs in the dark. Sitting there, listening, I heard the lyric "like a window to your heart. Everyone can see you’re blown apart" made me hurt.

Before you dismiss this feeling, remember you’re reading those lyrics on a blog. In your office or on your bed or even on the train. You are staring at a screen. You are not surrounded by the smell of beer and perfume. You are probably alone or with one of my aunts (they’re the only ones who read this blog). That is a terrible context for feeling something.

You and I have both heard that song hundreds if not thousands of times in various, disjointed situations. I think they play it at the Gap.

Try to imagine how I was hearing it on Tuesday night : in the dark, in a basement in St. Mark’s, sitting on a stiff chair with twenty strangers and a clanging heater. The dumped guy’s soft voice made the meaning of those words new to me again.I felt deeply sad. So did every one else around me. We all feel sad for this guy, for Paul Simon, for anyone who has ever been dumped, for ourselves.

It reminded me that the context for words matters. The delivery, the atmosphere (I refuse to use the word meta, which people throw around for any kind of reference outside of a piece), everything going on around it, the space where you experience words affects how you will feel them. Penny (no last name) has created a wonderful, dank space where you can feel what a song, a joke or a poem really means.

Except for the occasional terrible Robo Cop-inspired electro. That shit was just weird.

Penny’s Open Mic

Every Tuesday + 9pm-2am

St. Mark’s Theatre

8th Street, East Side of 1st Avenue.

Love,

Georgina

Georgina Emerson


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My secret life

July 18, 2013

Adr

I have not been as diligent about this blog as I wanted to be when I started it (at Helene’s dreamy request). At first it was because I didn’t have a computer. I lived by using an iPod Touch and squatting computers that belonged to other people-my mom, my brother, my friends, my friends’ moms and even once some dude in Barnes & Noble.

Three weeks ago, I bought a computer. Now I have a new excuse not to write: Netflix.

If you are wondering where I am right now and what I am doing, I am probably on my bed watching Netflix.

It’s become a problem. Sometimes when I am out with friends or on an OkCupid date, it occurs to me that I would rather be at home watching Netflix. I compensate by making even more plans and even more OkCupid dates, so that no one will know that I would rather be at home watching Netflix.

It’s hard to explain exactly why I love these movies so much. It’s partially erotic, I guess (the girls are usually pretty). Partially didactic (so that’s how ladies do it). But mostly when I am watching movies like Desert Hearts or Kyss Mig, I have this very peaceful feeling. It’s as if I live in a world where it’s completely okay for women to love women.( Which I do, right ?) Or maybe it’s the joy of doing something completely private and secret.

My secret life used to be my gay life. Now that’s out in the open and I miss having secrets. I miss having something that was completely personal and didn’t have anything to do with a community or politics. I don’t even like talking about these movies with other gay women, not even with my girlfriends. I’ll laugh about them, share title and then watch encourage her to watch it separately. These movies are a part of my sexual and intellectual life that is somehow separate from my public, physical and actual life as a lesbian woman.

Is it just fantasy ? Is this how straight girls feel when they watch straight romantic comedies ? The men in in the movies don’t resemble the real men in their lives. Germaine Greer would probably say that we are being lulled with a fantasy so as to avoid facing the problems of reality. Maybe. The safest kind of sexual fantasy is fantasizing not only about being with someone else but being someone else. Someone wrote eloquently about this in an analysis of James Salter’s A Sport and A Pastime.

Adr

Or, if we were to get less political and more psychological, maybe I am looking for a kind of acceptance from the world or a model for how to be in the world. But then wouldn’t I be more interested in finding real-life lesbians so that I could figure out how to be like them. You know like Eleanor Roosevelt or Gertrude Stein or some other broad lady in practical shoes. I never even found myself an older girlfriend or friend to teach me the ways. The only real lesbians I have ever fixated on have been Virginia Woolf and Nathalie Barney, both in a distant, literary way. No, I never wanted to have a lesbian model to follow. (Incidentally, I live an extremely typical sort of Sapphic life which you could accurately categorize with a number of stereotypes).

I love these movies for something else. They are all variations on a single theme. The first season of The L Word is a lovely example. There is a straight girl who is going through some sort of change involving marriage-engagement, the ceremony, divorce, etc... Then there is the gay girl who is beautiful and vaguely androgynous. There is seduction, hesitation, temporary separation and a final joyous reunion. There are some important exceptions, namely Bound, where both are gay (but one starts off with a man !) and some of the earlier films such as Lost & Delirious, where instead of a joyous reunion, one girl kills herself by jumping into a well of loneliness. Sniff.

Up until recently, (say 2005) these movies were poorly done. The plots were formulaic, the dialogue made me cringe. But I still loved to watch them.

On aime entrendre raconter les histoires d’un lointain passe, pourvu qu’elles soient bonnes et belles, plus encore que les nouveautés.

-Le Roman de Mélusine

These stories are like fairy tales not only in their distance in both space and time, but in that they are always sort of the same story. Even if the stories themselves are linear, there is a circularity to how we tell them. Once we finish one, there is another one, just like it but different.

This desire for the same kind of story explains why the vague conversion fantasy persists despite the reality, in most of the world. that gay women can live openly.

But in telling the story again and again, the story seems to take on another kind of meaning. It’s this constant re-making of a lesbian world-where things change and change, but they stay the same. There’s something about having to leave men behind-as nice as they are. But I don’t want to get too far from the point, which is the movies themselves, which I love watching. I like settling in and knowing exactly what will happen-memorizing the details of a scene, watching how well the women act, think about whether or not they are gay. I cannot believe how well some of these women fake orgasms. They do aftershocks and everything. I’m so impressed.

On that note, what do you think I am going to do now ?

Georgina


P.S.

10 Movies and something I like about each one

1) Kiss Myg : I love how grumpy the brunette looks for the first half of the movie. It starts out with the music and the lighting of a psychological thriller and ends in Barcelona. The music is excellently done. At one point, a character tries to lie to cover up the affair and completely sucks at it.

2) Desert Hearts : I got drunk over Christmas break when I was 17 and bought this on Pay-Per-View. I recorded it on a VHS and watched it over and over again. When I lost the tape the tape, I had nightmares about my brother finding it and knowing my secret. Kay is the young cavalier who seduces the older (and hotter ?) professor. Gia Carangi styled herself and her clothes after her. In fact, for a long time, Kay was the only positive, cinematic representation of an openly lesbian woman in America (who wasn’t also a vampire).

3) Jack & Diane :The lead brunette looks exactly like the first girl I ever fell for. Coincidence ? There is no such thing. Justin Bieber’s haircut is the inspirational center of a vortex of lesbian haircuts.

4) Nino Pez : The narrative is so confusing that when you finally do see some boobs and the lead turns into a bad-ass gangster killer, it’s a real relief.

5) World Unseen : This movie is part of a duet written by the same woman and with the same two leads. Despite the dialogue in either this or I can’t Think Straight, Shamim Sarif is a good writer. I love the idea that to make drama about two women getting together, she had to pair up two Indians in Apartheid South Africa. I’m sure it was tough. It’s quite beautiful.

6) Imagine Me & You : This movie is completely silly. The characters are al adorable and British. My secret reason for watching Game of Thrones is that Lena Heady is in it and I love Lena Heady.

7) Amour de Femme : It’s French and one of the actresses used to be a porn star. I like that the whole thing is sort of badly lit and dreary. This one you’ll have to watch online.

8) Bound : Famously, the director hired a lesbian sex coach for the love scene. The love scene itself is surprising because it’s the girly one being the aggressor.

9) Room in Rome : It’s Baroque and fantastic. Everything is a fetish in this movie: one is Russian, one Spanish, they’re in Rome with Frescos, amazing waxing jobs and an insane musical score. Constant nudity. I give it a 10.

10) Elena Undone : The Gay one is so hot. It’s like some one knew all the ingredients to a good movie and used too much off all of them : nutty supporting cast, testimonials from real couples, destiny, mean church-ladies. When it came out, it featured the longest kiss yet recorded on film. It is a good kiss. Whenever we cut the hot gay one, she is lying in her pool reading Curve Magazine. Love it.

P.P.S.

I just realized I forgot Fingersmith, a seminal movie for both me personally and the entire universe (obvi). It’s a BBC mini-mini-series in three parts. I won’t tell you what happens. See the movie first then read the book. The entire thing turns into this kind of parody of lame movies and their acting; but it still maintains a touching story. Both leads are excellent-perhaps the straight-haired one is excellenter.

Georgina Emerson


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I hate this blog

September 27, 2013

Dear Paris

I hate this blog. I hate writing it. I hate not-writing it. I hate that it is another thing on my to-do list. I hate that people tell me "I read your blog, It’s great." It makes it seem like I only do this blog to get compliments (Why else would I be doing it ?) I hate reading it. I sound either preachy or cynical. Both tones depress me. Most of all, I hate that it is a blog. I don’t read blogs (is that horrible thing to say ?).

I don’t mean I have never read a blog. I occasionally check out a literary review or a comedic posting and I think to myself : "Wow he/she is really funny and smart." (I only read blogs by hermaphrodites). But mostly I don’t have time to read blogs. I would rather do something else with my time (stare at my pores, watch French Erotic Thrillers, sleep). After all, blogs seem so self-promoting-which is such a sad and obvious thing to be (and necessary too ?).

That is perhaps why I find my own blog writing to be an onanistic (nice word for masturbatory) endeavor. I would kick a poet in the teeth if she/he never read anyone else’s poems. How selfish ! How Horrible !

Actually the real problem would be that not reading poetry would result in bad poetry 99% of the time.

Is the same true with blogs ?

Still, I think that my inner critic (who is an asshole) has gotten the better of me in my own blogging. I have ten or fifteen blogs that I half wrote and then discarded because I thought they seemed awful and lame. They might be both. I only started writing this blog because I thought I could justify it with the excuse that Helene had asked me to do it. But really, I just wanted the attention. I just wanted an excuse to have to write every week. (Why did I need an excuse ?) Then I made it into a rule-something I had to do. Then I hated it. Then I hated blogs in general. Really, none of these things matter enough to hate,

I remember a few of the blogs, especially the one about the Italian girl I dated, did make me feel better. Being in New York and poor and not-in-Paris and unsure if what to do was depressing. Most of the time, when I actually sat down and did it, this writing this blog made me feel better. Which is, I guess, pretty onanistic.

LOVE

Georgina

Georgina Emerson


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Erica Jong’s Fear of Flying

October 2, 2013

Adr

Jong, Erica. Fear of Flying. New York : Holt, Rinehart and Winston, 1973.

Dear Paris

Sometimes I wonder if Feminism has done what it needed to do. That sexism is, in many important ways, over.

Then I remember how I felt whenever my father helped me move into my dorm at Dartmouth. In these kinds of situations, my reaction is always the same when he hesitate.

There is a blaze of anger that ignites in my belly and I think, God gave you more muscles and society gave you more fucking everything and you can’t carry a mini-fridge ?! I feel the same way when my brother types a restaurant bill into his tip calculator. Move the decimal to the left, Daniel. Just move the decimal to the left.

When I calm down, I realize that sexism is hard for men too. Nowadays anyway. That was not the case in 1978 when Erica Jong published Fear of Flying in 1973.[1] Back in those dark days, it was Eliot, Auden, Pound and a bit of Nabakov that were being taught at Barnard College and women were banished to the periphery of literature to write things like historical novels or mysteries. You’d have a hard time finding any sort of respectable novel written in a women’s voice-you know except for "Zora Neale Hurston, Hortense Calisher, Belva Plain, Rosellen Brown, Mary Gordon and Anna Quindlen" - This list is taken verbatim from Jong’s afterword to the 30th anniversary edition of her book (p.432). It’s a testament to the fractured nature of the Humanities Curriculum (a lingering sexism?) in America that I had never heard of any of these women except for Neale Hurston.

Nor had I heard of Erica Jong. It’s a travesty really, everyone, man, woman, everything between them on the gender spectrum should have to read this book the way we have to read about the Holocaust: To remember how terrible things can get if no one pays attention.

Jong’s protagonist is called Isadora Wing and her problems are as alien to me as any medieval washerwomen’s. She is smart and literary (I can relate.). She grew up in New York (I can relate.). She is upper middle class (I can relate.). She is of Jewish descent, loves men, has no trouble coming so long as she has access to a penis or a hand. This might be the only thing I do not quite believe in the book : Her utter sexual madness for men.

Men who wipe shit on the bed, men who think they are god, men who knock her around like she is a blow-up doll. Men who are not particularly great or special. Men who just happened to be men-and therefore objects of desire and worship, erotic, intellectual, for young Isadora.

Adr

Jong in the early 1970’s

Despite her astounding weakness, I like Isadora, she somehow manages to describe it all in a convincing and charming way-even though she is implicated in the imbalanced worldview presented through the men-"You’re so oral!" Feminine intelligence reduced to a sexually-driven psychosis. It’s cruelty masked as science and she goes alone with it.

How could she believe, even for one second, that to be a woman is to be somehow psychotic and wrong ?

At the center of the book is a penis. A penis. The penis. Any penis. Usually two penis-that of her husband and that of her lover, Adrian Goodlove. Her husband’s penis is always hard. Adrian’s is always soft. And she loves the, both ! In fact, her husband’s ever-hard penis might be his only good quality. That and a depressive reticence. It seems that the greatest hope for Isadora’s marriage (all heterosexual marriages ?) is that her husband support her work, fuck her and generally leave her alone. As a practiquant of disastrous lesbian fusions, I have no idea what Jong is getting at.

The centrality of the penis is part of the drama. If Isadora didn’t have a really big problem, we wouldn’t have a really good book. Still, I can’t help hating her dependence on men: her weakness, her gullibility, her complicity in their illusion of male centrality and dominance.

Maybe I hate this about Isadora because it doesn’t seem unfamiliar. I can’t relate to her penis mania but I believe her total dependence on men because I have seen it so many times in real-life. Men might not be as dominant as they used to be-but they are still very central to women’s lives. Not just for relationships and sex-but for approval and validation. I even see echoes of Isadorarsquo;s neediness and contingent self-esteem in myself and my friends. In the way we doubt ourselves, our worth, our jobs, our okcupid accounts.

Jong’s book is dated, but it’s fun too. Reading it is a good reminder that not so long ago, smart, pretty, charming and artistic women could give in to a cruel masculine worldview this fucking easily.

Love,

Georgina

[1] My mother was 20 years old at the time, 7 years away from marriage and 10 years away from children. So there is a generation gap.

Georgina Emerson


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Do you like my poetry or my body ?

October 10, 2013

Dear Paris>

This question came up in conversation today. Not about me (la vie est dure) but about a young lady around campus who writes and dates. I had this worry a few times while I was in Paris (bon, ça m’arriva parfois). I can’t be the only one who sometimes asks herself :

« Would I rather be published in a book/magazine because the editor is my friend or because my writing is good ? »

It goes both ways.

« Are you sleeping with me because you like me or do you just think I am a good writer ? »

Such are the troubles of the simultaneously charming, talented and insecure. I never found an answer for myself. But I was always comforted by the thought that the only reason I ever wrote, performed or mimed anything was to sleep people. (Dieu merci, nous avons ces vérités éternelles.)

Just a quick thought, be well.

Georgina

Ps :

Coming at the end of the week : A visual deconstruction of the Proust Conference I went to last week.

Adr

Georgina Emerson


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Stop using the term "Slut Shaming"

December 26, 2013

Tagged bogus term, double standard, sex, sexism, shame, toronto slutwalks, women

...as if it were a progressive, productive thing to say.

I have heard this term a lot recently from people ages 18 to late 30’s. A google search yielded about 725,000 results and there is an urban dictionary and a wikipedia page for the term that defines it as follows:

"It is a neologism used to describe the act of making any person feel guilty or inferior for certain sexual behaviors or desires that deviate from traditional or orthodox gender expectations, or that which may be considered to be contrary to natural or religious law."

The vast majority of people who use this term seem to be on the side of women, women’s rights and sexual liberation. I think they and whoever created the Wikipedia page are wrong. Germain Greer is wrong. The people who march in "Slutwalks" are wrong too, or at the very least, misguided.*

Would you ever call a racist a "Nigger-hater ?"

Would you tell someone who is antisemitic to "stop the kike-bashing ?"

LGBT Activists don’t fight for "Dyke and Faggot Rights&uot;. (In fact, smart LGBT Activists are very careful about the language they use because they are conscious of how much hate and fear of homosexual activity are engrained in everyday language.)

None of these terms are used in the fight AGAINST hate. The slurs I just mentioned are horrible terms invented to shame and degrade various groups. These are not legitimate names for categories of people. Neither is "slut".

Words like "slut, bitch, whore, shrew, cunt", etc. were invented as weapons against women : to shame and subordinate them sexually (the consequences being political and economic and social subordination). I have been called a slut. I have heard many, many people call other people sluts. I have probably called someone a slut. I have certainly thought that I was one.

I was wrong. "Sluts" do not exist except in our own collective imagination. The word is a vestige of a time when women could not express and own their sexual desires. It is another way of saying "a woman with a lot of sexual partners". It is a harmful word rooted in sexism, hate, and disdain. To combat these larger evils, we need to invent new words, not appropriate old ones.

If you do not like it when a man is celebrated for his sexual exploits while a woman gets insulted, then change your language. Saying, "I think it’s great that Molly is a slut, she really owns it", is not productive. Say your resent "The Double Standard". Say you think that all human beings have the right to express sexual desire and enjoy consensual sex as much as they want.

You can even tell a man that shames a woman with hateful language that he is an "asshole". But it will not hurt him very much. The category of man, unlike that of woman, is not one traditionally associated with victimization. Better yet, throw a drink in his face and tell him to join us in the 21st century. If you hear a woman call another woman a "slut", take a moment to talk to her and ask her why she uses ugly words that perpetuate her own subordination.

In any case, "Slut Shaming" is an ill-informed and counterproductive term that I hope drops out of the lexicon in 2014.

Georgina

*The Huffington Post publishes articles in favor and against the term. Eliza Skinner is on the fence.

Georgina Emerson


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