Posts Tagged ‘delmira’

and another nice thing

Another lovely thing is that the bibliography I ordered came in. Oh, exciting! It’s a dusty acid-papered paper-covered edition called “Marí Eugenia Vaz Ferreira: 1875-1975”. Not that she was alive that long; she died in 1924 under what I think are slightly mysterious circumstances, which I’ll explain in a minute. So, the book lists her publications – something I’ve been trying to find out for a year. I got it used for 10 bucks, the merest fluke of a whim to search abebooks for her name, because I do that once in a while hoping to find something for sale. I am fascinated by her life and her work.

About her death. Some sources, the first ones I came across, talked about her frail health. She was painted as a frail young spinster, or a frail young girl, even, waiflike, a sort of hermit. Which turned out to be so wrong it was almost funny, as many more sources talk about her robust jolly bohemian ways, how she was famous for playing obnoxious practical jokes at literary salons and on the other women professors at her university; her cigar-smoking and her rebelliousness… And she died when she was 49. Then I started finding mention of her mental health – and her brother having control over her poems – and how he was paranoid that she would suffer the same fate as Delmira Agustini (not getting shot, but having a Bad Reputation from her Scandalous Poems.) So… my burning questions are many. Was she publishing close to when she died? Or not? What about the mental health? Was she so wild and scandalous that her brother forced her into confinement in a mental institution? Or was she really going nuts, or really sick, or both? I’m sorry to malign him with my suspicions! But I long to know what happened. Also was she a lesbian? Bi? Getting it on with Alberto Nin Frias? I must know!

The bibliography, which I read in the doctor’s office while Moomin read Clan Apis and What’s Michael comic books… it’s clear she was publishing in 1923, so, right up to her death. Hmmm.

my pretty poets

Oh, my not-quite-modernista poets! How could I have deserted you for months?

Today, translating Mar1a Eugenia Vaz Ferre1ra and reading whatever I can find about her life. All the anthologies leave her out, yet she is fucking awesome. And the one anthology that doesn’t leave her out, the one anthology that’s a bit like the one I want to make, of just women poets in translation… it describes her as a frail, quiet, retiring young woman, whose brother published a book — no, not a book, a “slim volume” of her poems in her memory after she died.

NOTHING COULD BE FURTHER FROM THE TRUTH about her life as far as I can ascertain truth from other sources. Oh for god’s sake it is too fucking ridiculous. She was a cross-dressing, exuberent, scandalous university professor in the big city at the biggest women’s university in Montevideo. She wrote for newspapers and magazines. She is described as a wild woman, a practical joker, an influential member of various literary circles, a rebel from her youth onward; she was the sort of outspoken “mannish” literary-woman that guys in 1910 really liked to make fun of. She liked to shock people and is “not prudish”. And there’s all sorts of sly references to how no man could conquer her, or she would never submit to the love of men, or whatever. Hello.

And this bitch who made the 1970s anthology had to un-lesbianize her and un-butch her and un-sex her, forcing her foot into Emily Dickinson’s glass slipper? WTF for? Like some nympho lavender menace was going to queerify all of latin america’s women writers?

I think I might have put this on-blog earlier but here it is again in her memory.

A quick drink

To all that’s brief and fragile,
superficial, unstable,
To all that has no foundation,
logical argument or principles;
for everything imprudent,
quick, mutable, and finite;
to spirals of smoke,
to thyrsus-stemmed roses,
to foam on the waves
and forgetting’s sea-mist …
to all that’s nearly weightless
for the wandering folk
of this transient earth;
grave, moonmad, I drink to all that
with transitory words
and heady wines
sparkling with bubbles
in the most breakable glasses…

This is not frail, dreamy, and melancholy as in fainting corseted ladies swooning on couches; it’s a wildly erotic carpe diem poem that does not so much say seize the day, as “Riot through the day”.

Other poems of hers so far are.. well they get fairly dreamy and melancholy, but not in a hermit way – in a “wild grief” way, and can we ignore the long poem where she’s writing to her dead girlfriend and saying that they’ll sleep together in their grave, united in an eternal embrace?

Also – she was at least 50 when she died. (I say at least because every other women writer I’ve seen from this time lied about their age by around 5 years. So contemporary sources say they’re younger and only after they die does their real age come out.) Anyway, a far cry from that “frail young woman” who was too fragile to organize her own poems for publication. One more hideous note in the story: before she died she lost her reason. This could mean ANYTHING. Syphilis? Actual insanity? Or did her brother have her committed for being too outlandish? What happened? And another hint that her brother somehow suppressed the publication of her work till after she was dead, because of the scandal that surrrounded Delmira — Delmira whose sexy poetry and scandalous marriage, love affairs, and murder made it scandalous to be a writing-woman in all of Lat. America.

I’m burning to go to Staffnord library and look for some real biographies.


My research yesterday went insanely well.

The book I want is expensive: poetisas de america so I will have to go back and carefully xerox it all.


I read tons about Emilia Bernal and I like her poetry! And she’s not in any of the anthologies since 1950 or so and yet she is just like de Ibar. and Agust1ni and maybe cooler and weirder. She likes to be torn apart by the thorns of roses and the fangs of wolves; her pearl necklace falls apart into the swan-lake fount of modernist creative inspiration; she whips ghosts in the Alhambra with roses and leather. As far as I can tell she had 4 kids when she was incredibly young and then left her husband in 1909 and became a famous writer (in Cuba, traveling around to NYC and I think other places) and I can tell she is cool because she was also a translator. Yay Emilia! Nice to meet you!

I feel a surge of soul-filling confidence that my research and ideas will be good and right and worthwhile!

The thing is all the critics just erase these other “minor writers” that are women so that Delmira and Juana look like aberrations. Oh look, a rare writing-woman! Where did she come from? But no. The world was full of poetisas and I am reading all about the 19th century ones too. I mean DUH. So it is just like england/u.s. literature-world where everyone fans themselves and says what a shame it is that there’s only the rare odd writing-woman who pops up now and then in history but then when you really look they mean “only the rare writing-woman who’s any GOOD” and actually the world was full of them and at the time everyone knew it and read them and actually the ones who weren’t any GOOD are the most interesting and quirky and only the lame-ass Longfellows survive (and here only in awful translations).



exhaustion… mildly listless… school registration woes continue… I am going to have to run around on 2 or maybe even 3 separate days to get all the signatures I need. 6 signatures necessary and 4 of them have very specific office hours.

I did some looking at gr@nts and awards and things like that. The transl@tion one looks like they want way more hip edgy stuff than what I do and from more obscure languages. They also look like they cream their jeans over theory and if there is anything I sure don’t want to translate it’s that!!

So for grants:

– the UC-Ickvine one (evil theory hipsters)
– the Brattish Literature Ass. Dryhump Award
– the Notional Endowment for the Ass grants (which I don’t qualify for yet but will by next year or the next, and then, eat my dust!)

That’s pretty much it. Everything else I’ve seen is for already-published books.


In theory I now have 3 more classes plus my thesis left. I’m not sure if I can manage to do the thesis plus a class especially a hard class taught in sp@nish by what I hear are the most jerky old sexist dinosaurs (oh, so familiar from u. of Taxass!) So it could maybe be may 05 but i think more likely dec. 05 for me to finish. I could drive like a maniac for may 05? but i want my thesis (transl. of j. de ibarb. and maybe also delmira) to be super good and i want to find it a real publisher.

I could try the Stafffnord Stegasaurusgner residency thing one more time; I think I might not like it very much as workshops give me the heebie jeebies. but they do support you and in theory maybe it would be good. Maybe I’d have a shot at it this time. I have better rec letters and credentials than I did 2 years ago… also better writing. I’m not sure where it would really get me in the end other than time. Snootability? Snooterifficosity? Snootatiousness? Would it kill my soul? I’d be embarrassed by it if I did get it. Talk about not “keepin’ it real”.

I could also go for some generic “writing” or “humanities” awwards here and there. I have a fabulous gpa right? should be able to crank something out of that? Mess about with forms and rec letters and writing a cheesy essay for $500 and a snifter-snooter-licious totally nonimportant addition to one’s awfully pointless-feeling CV? The glory of Winning? The usefulness of 500 bucks that I will blow through in 1 month of groceries?

A beloved friend of mine who is in some ways a successful writer with a bunch of books published and occasional live royalties called last night freaking that her p0ems were rejected from a tiny journal, the only journal she had sent to in the last year… the tiny journal that is the mouthpiece of her p0et-community… I felt her pain and shame and humiliation… when is enough success enough? I would guess never.


I have been trying to think about narrowing my goals. Even as I do things like start writing enormous novels and the list of projects grows ever bigger. What I realized is that the project is not the goal.

Goals i.e. “what I want” in some broad sense (2-3 year):

get more stuff out into the world
be more known as a writer, do readings in diff. places
it would be nice if people asked me for stuff rather than me having to pimp it all the time
be a more versatile writer
continue being an editor/publisher and get better at that – better at layout, distribution, etc
a book that can bring actual royalties, even a little bit
book of my own poetry not published by me
get up to the goal of 48+ pp. of translations published, so I can apply for NE@ gr@nts in 2005
get other grants or awards
get some more teaching experience
get my possibly pointless masters
talk at more conferences
be more expert in the things I like
speak better spanish


1. T@lking D1rty book – (this is now my high priority thing. i should have finished it a year ago.)
2. RP book with Rook
3. translations. stick to the plan of all public domain and immediately send them out. immediately.

4. Finish translating L.V.’s little book – I have committed to do this!
5. annotated bibliography of “flavors of Sp@nish” regional/national dictionaries (for @LTA conf.)
6. research delmira’s homie girls from turn of century Urugu@y/Argentin@ (for @LTA conf.)
* writing lots of poetry (this doens’t need a priority as it happens no matter what else is going on, sort of automatically, but as i allocate more time to it, i tend to like the results better and write more complex things)
* blogging/diaries (obviously, this doesn’t need any special effort either)
* Z.M.’s poem cycle. finish translating it.
* Feminary – finish it gradually over time. post the long essay up there.
* b1lingual poetry annotated bibliography, possibly on-blog
* Morrigan book/ event – (i think this gets abandoned. maybe could instead offer J.Gr@hn to make a cool booklet of it thru t0llbooth? a tiny book just for her, like a pocket poet one? i lust to publish that one poem.)
* translation reading series (this, still possible but i haven’t moved forward. maybe quarterly, not monthly?)
* teach a rec center class – on making books/zines, on feminism and mythology. one on buildilng characters and worlds. how about on blogging!? o yeah. do in library comp center, make them blog right there as i crack signal whip over their heads.
* publishing more little books
* putting G.H.’s book “Whoregasm” on the web as i promised i would
* reprinting G.H.’s book “Fl@me People” – SO GOOD.
* making c1d corman’s wen fu translation in print or web (i have permission from him! and i started typing it up, and I also started recording myself reading it last year… why did i forget this cool project?)
* My own book (M0ther Fr@nkenstein)
* past books – getting them available
* keeping up with local scene, go to p@lo alto slam, w@verley, etc.
* make across the @cheron project realer by calling the publishers to get rights or collaborate with them, hell, get paid by them or something

I was thinking again about teaching writing. I hate the “industry” of it. But on the rec center or high school level it might not be so bad and might not make me crazy. I did notice that I had spontaneous instant advice for McCoot on how to improve his story. it wasn’t going to fix the awfulness of the story, but it would have made the basic writing level better. I also instantly came up with writing exercises for him.
I analyzed Professor DJ’s teaching style for a year (not in writing, but still) and summed up what he did that I thought worked well – short in-class exercises in 3-5 minute sections and then doing round robin of results and asking for a lot of high-level summaries of difficult material. That was v. cool. It made people feel pressured and insecure but over time they got over it.

Actually I’m liking the idea of doing a rec ctr class on blogging. It would tie in with all my ideas on writing as collaboration and community, and I like encouraging people to have diaries. Must investigate. It woudl be nearly effortless, it’s not like i’d have to kill myself making lesson plans or lectures.

I think once i get the MA then all will be reassessed, I’ll work on making more money, etc. but this year and a half is going to be all about wedging foot firmly in a few doors – one toe in each door or something –

2 crucial things

1) hi speed free wireless in balboa park in front of natural history museum! Rawk on! and electricity at bench at bottom of stairs.

2) i am retranslating Delmira @gustini as of last night. a. c@ceres translates like a dead, retarded robot. Christ. What a travesty!

No, three things.

3) kids when taken to difficult expensive fun places specially made for them, would always rather play in a cardboard box or a tiny empty plot of grass. they Know about these things.

random encounters

Ah… suburban girlie’s Day Out in the Big City. I felt like Cherry Am3s in New York City — all the modern conveniences of taquerias, used bookstores, cafes, and genderqueer eye candy as I frisked about happily on V@lencia and 16th! Take that, coiffed, pantsuited preschool moms – I can fake it for a whole afternoon! I love my people! There is somewhere I belong – yes. But I don’t live there, because I feel that my personal utopia includes a parking space, a grocery store, and a back yard without shooting up or people pissing all over everything.

In Muddy W@aters – relaxing – translating L. V.’s poem “Yo So Un Br@ssiere” and wondering what “covachitas” means. I noticed a cute butchy late 80s s/m dykey sort of person come in. But why was she smiling? And waaaaaait a minute. That is not at all a san francisco s/m dyke even if this is NOT 1990. that is a nerd wearing her best black t-shirt with some sort of Buffy ironon from a convention and a leather bracelet from hot topic. Scribbling in a moleskine-ish notebook and shyly grinning at me. Totally staring at my hot-pink spandex-coated, braless, reasonably perky boobs. I felt like a total imposter AND just like some jaded Parisian guy from Balzac who notices a pretty young seamstress from the provinces who has just got off the train and is bewildered by the big city – whose clothes cleverly mimic the “latest fashions” which are actually quite out of date. Awwww – why don’t I sit with her? It turned out she was reading a sort of Baedekker to SF and was incredibly pleased to sit with me and had in fact just gotten off the airplane. “I’m getting my BA in cre@tive writing at U. of Ut@h.” Can I call it? Oh yeah. And was in a punk band. I love this girl instantly. She quotes K@thy Acker and R1lke’s letters to a young p0et at me. I believe she was upset that it was not in her backpack – she left it in the youth hostel. I don’t know if anyone reading this blog would understand how absolutely charming that is to me.

If it were 15 years ago, or perhaps 15 years into the future, I would have been screwing her silly in the bathroom of Muddy W@ters in about half an hour. Because I was — and who knows, potentially could be again given the stimulus of menopause — just that kind of total sleazebag. As it is, I asked her to come along with me and Quilty to dinner and this talk at V@lencia St. Books on science fiction and literariness or something. Benevolent tour guide R us.

SF talk made me nearly scream. I believe the proper way to describe it would lbe to say that at one point, a strangled cry escaped my throat, and then I swooned.. something about “But that’s just NOT TRUE. Gothic romances! Mrs. Radcliffe! Mary Shelley? aaaaaagh!” and then I stuffed myself into a bag and sat on myself — the disorderly, squeaking guinea pig was suppressed.

Oh! pompous windbags! misogyny! ignorance! inability to say the words feminism and capitalism! irritating conflation of naturalism and literaryness and both with “quality” and total inabilty to see “naturalism” or “the novel” as a Genre — and in fact as the Genre of imperialist capitalism or capitalist imperialism or however you want to put it – my horror at the setup of the 3 mr. award winning authority white guys with not a postmodern bone and no awareness of The World In General or anything not establishment – as if they represented some sort of broad spectrum when in fact, they seemed like the same species of fighting cocks from slightly different barnyards – teaming them up with the 20 years younger non-caucasian girl with no particular credentials and who is an mfa student – Well, thank god she was smart, articulate, and had her head on straight and was at least able to throw in a non-us-centric sentence or 2 about “magical realism”. (Quilty felt she was a little overacademic, but I don’t mind the word “reify” now and then – a perfectly good word.) For god’s sake. I actually got VERY AGITATED and felt that I was desperate to flee the room and began having asthma.

parenthetical aside, I ran into A. from Chicago, now apparently Mr. A. or shall we say M. A— of intederminate beardedness and identity location, who picked me up and swung me around with wild, reckless disregard of the state of my bladder and the effect of motherhood on my musculature Down There. Ran for bathroom. Apparently A. “works” at the store, which appeared to be on its last legs as a bookstore – very sad. I can tell these things. A. funny, nerdy, wild-eyed, just the same as ever.

My soul was saved by:
a) the charming enthusiasm of the darling butch girl from Utah who will certainly be a Writer someday and probably already Is
b) the thought of Rook’s certain outrage if he heard the vile discussion of genre, “marketing” and the ass-licking of the east coast “literary establishment” vs. the equally vile and out of date patriarchal SF establishment
c) the knowledge that Quilty, next to me, was also grinding her teeth and rolling her eyes
d) the extremely fizzy Ch@rlie who introduced the whole event. you know the thing where roald dahl says that he expected c.s.forester’s head to be whizzing with green sparks but it wasn’t and he just seemed like a normal, shy, quiet little man in glasses and an overcoat? I didn’t know this person but their head was definitely whizzing with green sparks. Wildly hysterical genius-like ranting extended meta-metaphor about supermarket checkout of swooping reality across the scanner thingie until the thingie bleeps and it becomes a metaphor. But it was all meta. get it? I nearly died at the extended and apparently spontaneous riff on Astr0phil and Stella’s sf comic book sequels and the resulting slash with Britomart. That was fucking funny. I knew reading the F@erie Queene would come in handy some day.

Somehow, I did not explode in my truck on the way home down 280 as I imaginarily argued with the Catastrophe Wheel guy and the Made of Meat guy. I didn’t bother arguing with the McSwiney’s guy, as he would be the first up against the wall when MY revolution comes. Marketing. Ugh! Vile mouthing of “border” and “pleasure of reading” watered-down fake theory scumminess!


I’m back in the suburbs now, fat and sassy. Maybe I had a little too much coffee.

Settle down… focus… CATCH UP. Think of my Wittig database project, and translating Delmira, and making Moomin’s lunch in the morning, and taking a nice hot bath right now and reading more of You Know What, volume 5.

One more thing re: the quality of the writing read rather than the discussion.
Made of meat guy: story familiar, funny, classic, v. 1955.
Twilight zone catastrophe guy: best actual writing, subtle, enjoyable. not earthshattering.
mfa girl: perfectly competent amusing irony laden mary-sue-ish slashy fic. not earthshattering.
mcswiney guy: overwritten horridness. indescribable. “Twee”. fake steampunk. my teeth were grinding. workshoppy and self-conscious. the epitome of why i can’t stand to read new writing.

granted i’m hard on everything. what would make me happy? Delaney? Piserchia? Pullman? Well, yes.