Poetry

Art After Trump: Turning to Women Authors

I revisited the books I read after the election and made a poem, or conversation, out of some of the things I underlined.

Books by Alejandra Pizarnik, Maira Kalman, Ellen Willis, Elizabeth Bishop, Maggie Nelson, and Simone Weil (photo by the author for Hyperallergic)

Editor’s note: Last week, Hyperallergic co-presented Art After Trump, a night of two-minute creative responses to the election at Housing Works Bookstore Cafe. This week, we’re publishing a few of those pieces.

Days after the election, I searched for books that would speak to the fear and despair I was feeling. I went to my shelf and grabbed a set of books — some prose, some essays, some poems. I’d read one passage intensely for a little bit and then move on to the next, underlining as I went, as though I were on some kind of search.

I decided to revisit those texts and make a poem, or conversation, out of some of the things I underlined. I have quoted Elizabeth BishopMaira KalmanMaggie NelsonAlejandra PizarnikSimone Weil, and Ellen Willis. All women.

Forgive me if it’s scattered, but I think it speaks to the fragmented spirit of the moment.

*   *   *

 

sexism combined with anger was always potentially fascistic

 

she is afraid of not knowing how to name
what doesn’t exist

 

if feminism had taught me anything, it was that the liberated woman
was a myth

 

But why bother with diagnoses at all,
if a diagnosis is but a restatement of the problem?

 

it is the longing for happiness that is potentially radical

 

How are we all so brave as to take step after step?

 

When I say “hope,” I don’t mean hope for anything in particular.

 

every party is totalitarian — potentially, and by aspiration

 

I guess I just mean thinking that it’s worth it to keep one’s eyes open.

 

Women in a patriarchy have every reason to
distrust male sexuality and fear their own.

 

Just when I thought I couldn’t stand it
another minute longer, Friday came.

 

There is nothing illusory in this tiny heaven.
I am silent with gratitude.

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