Home/Birth: A Review in E-mails
by Carina Finn, Arielle Greenberg,Jiyoon Lee, & Rachel Zucker
Listen to Carina Finn & Jiyoon Lee interview Arielle Greenberg & Rachel Zucker here.
I think what I can’t get outside of is the context, how to write about a book of poetry that is inexorably linked with my embodiment, which to me becomes automatically an economic and a political act because of the way that I think about the world, about a book of poetry that is so problematic. I’m sitting at this table in your living room and my copy of gender trouble is sitting on the table beside my computer, and on the futon there are two books of poetry that are radical by which I mean perceived as somehow non-normative when what radical means is the root or origin; to touch upon or affect what is essential and fundamental; thorough, far-reaching.
we have been sitting on the futon looking at pictures of especially cute babies we know and my arms are sore because I spent most of my day playing with a baby. you made tea and I felt lame telling you about some game I played with the baby and my face hurts from smiling. you are standing in the kitchen cutting a melon and talking about artaud and I feel stupid writing this in this kind of narrative which is an issue both of the book and of this piece of writing we are trying to make.
I also think it is impossible to escape context. my/our/her contesting
bodies without organ.
my/our/her bodies covered in openings/wounds that are entrance and exit.
does that turn you on? is that/that is the way it is supposed to be.
That scares me.
My body is that. You'd hit that. that is/is that my body? the distance
I'm not sure I understand that. I'm not sure I could handle that.
You'd like to handle it theoretically and I don't know what to make of that.
The chair I lean against/The table you lean towards to look
I look at the ceiling/you look into that
I didn't know whether to read home/birth as poem or theory and I thought myself dumb for trying to make a distinction, as if that even matters or exists. what does matter and what I think is important is that before I read home/birth I thought birth was basically dying and now I'm starting to believe it can be something else.
it has taken us approximately the gestational period of a human child to write this essay and when I think about writing it I think I am going to die but somehow I am not dead and we keep writing.
Does body exist in writing?; Can body exist in writing?
Can body exist?; Is body alive? ; Is writing alive?
I/she cannot forget that time passes. Body reminds us over and over again.
Swollen breasts, swollen stomach, spilling blood, fetal position that
I/she assume in pain...
the particles of our writing unfinished, brooding without being born,
assuming fetal position...
As a girl I/she sometimes want to hide in writing when body becomes
burdensome. Writing is the space where I/she do not have to have a
As a woman I/she still sometimes want to hide in writing from my body.
The body follows me into my writing.
I still am not sure where body can be. we leave and we return to our
body again and again. our body is home.
Home/Birth: Our body that is severed from birth.
Home/Birth: Our birth that is severed from our home.
Home/Birth: Where we should return, our body, our home,
Our text connected to the circulation system with our body...
I want there to be communities, units, I want to talk about it. I had to come out to my family about birth like it was a dirty word and got shot down anyway. all I wanted was to break some silence or open a space. does that make me a radical feminist? I am in a book club we read this book about how gender studies students are changing themselves and the world. if I say I am a feminist can I “just” be a poet or am I required to change the world? if I don't identify am I a bad woman? maybe it's all this internalized self-hatred, like the way they taught queer theory in the early 80s.
I think of our body & text
I think of our aloneness.
self-hatred self-hatred self-hatred.
all the girls that write on livejournal pretending she is writing for herself.
sometimes I wonder if I/she is past "that phase".
can a text be "past all that?"
self-hatred instills aloneness in me/her, my/her body, and my/her text.
can a text weave those alonenesses?
before the aloneness trickles down into the darkness, our loneliness...
loneliness, our muffled mouth.
loneliness, she in a delivery room.
loneliness, the chill that she feels from the chair, from a stranger
with cold touch...
I want to say "whatever" and be over it I am so over it, I mean, sickness. like what if all of the women in america tried as hard to be whole as we try to fall to pieces: medicalization as a result of hysteria as a result of the white hot metal claws of everybody coming to judge you in the night. birthing beds are supposed to be a little sexy. we're supposed to paint arrows on our stomachs, have babies. "hurry up now it's time" but those words aren't for girls or little human-vessels. Poetry. what a giant thing. what a mahogany not-allowed.
I send texts because I cannot communicate properly. I am making a text & sending it, we are writing each other &/or writing in circles, like quilters, carrying on some grand old tradition. if we were having tea in a living room and having babies or not having babies we could talk about ideas they would still be ideas.
if I give you this blanket will you cease to be lonely? empty out the fluff in your head like popped sacs of gender-appropriate colored paint? maybe we don't have to make decisions about being active maybe everybody doesn't but some people must. if I pull at little threads, pretend to be awake, dress entirely in feathers or deliver-ance, par lance, can you hear me now?
impossible words & its hesitation becomes a lump, like the pregnancy
in medical context becomes a lump of constant precariousness,
something that may go awry, rupture in a wrong way (like a sac of
pus), something that needs to be successfully delivered in
Standard delivery is successful delivery; ineptitude should be
extinguished for the Child is the Future.
There is only One right way. The voice of the Father.
Our voices silenced, our will voided. There is void where we are
silenced, a dark hole.
lying on her delivery chair, she cannot see what is going on during
it will remain unknown.
what is happening down below her waist is covered from her with a
what is happening will remain dark, a hole in the memory, a hole in the body.
fuck the waif fuck the baby fuck the future it's my/your body and I am a part of the free world's economy. I am/my body [is] not a piece of furniture. what I am trying to do is build a great female folk song. we are not just going to sit in art galleries and talk about love while in videos teenage girls grin & vomit.
we are too familiar with this void;
girls vomit to void themselves,
avoid their body; we want to be body without organ.
motherhood is the opposite of that, labor is the opposite of that.
girls fear the swollen belly, swollen breasts.
girls want to be void; girls want to avoid...
this aversion toward birth...
this aversion towards our body...
let's talk about theory, how we hide in it, little heathen academics. when I said I wanted books instead of babies I meant it. once I sat in a woman's library in brooklyn she had made this decision she was happy lounging alone on her settee. let's be rhizomatic to the world, let's be books. we don't have time to make bodies we are busy making our bodies which are not ourselves they are a rendition of our intelligence. if you're smart enough to know you're smart you don't want to pass on that burden. my imaginary daughter is a son wrapped in tweed left on the steps of some grecian academy in a basket made of the fruits of my life.
We need to talk: What an obnoxious thing to say.
There are difference between talk vs. speak.
we can't just speak, 'speak' with autonomy, 'speak out' as a singular
being with this void in us: we can't "just find the Voice", like many
Guide to Creative writing tells us to.
The Voice, the phallic singularity.
girls' void cannot be cured with speaking.
The dark hole the women who gave birth without being part of it cannot
speak of it.
We need to talk. You know, we need to talk!
We need to text message. We need to gchat. We need to write to each other.
We need to weave our voices to see what is there in the darkness that
cannot be spoken (just yet).
To do that, we first need to talk.