Women in Translation Month

WITMonth15Did you know that August is Women in Translation Month? WIT Month was started in 2014 by blogger Bibliobio after she researched and found women writers represent approximately only 30% of translations into English. (Follow this link for facts and statistics.)This event was created to encourage reading and discussion and to increase awareness of this genre. (Follow this link for more info.) There are no “rules” for participating but I encourage you to do so by reading at least one translated book this month, by following the Twitter hashtag #WITMonth, by following the Women in Translation Tumblr,  and by sharing this issue with your friends and fellow bookworms. Where can I find a booklist, you ask? Why, at the Biblibio Database, of course. Do take advantage of this great list.

I’ve chosen three books to read in August in support of this event:

Aimez-vous Brahms by French writer Francoise Sagan

Drowned by Swedish writer Therese Bohman

The Door by Hungarian writer Magda Szabo

 

I thank French blogger Marina Sofia of Finding Time to Write blog for introducing me to WIT Month, for writing about Sagan’s work and for recommending Drowned (her review here). Marina is responsible for piquing my interest in writers from other countries and her blog is the place I’ve visited more than any other for book reviews and recommendations.

I’m looking very forward to reading my books and reading the reviews of my sister WIT Month bloggers. I hope you join us.

Review: Patient. by Bettina Judd

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Patient., by Bettina Judd, and published by Black Lawrence Press,  is a poetic historical account of the experiences of black women as subjects at the hands of male gynecologists. The poems tell the stories of Henrietta Lacks, Anarcha Wescott, Saartjie Baartman, and others who were “patients” of J. Marion Sims (creator of the speculum) and others as well as subjects of P.T. Barnum. Ms Judd’s own experiences at a teaching hospital adds a contemporary voice to the heretofore unheard voices of black women who historically suffered under the banner of medical treatment. Having worked for many years in the medical community I had a keen interest in this book and it didn’t disappoint. I don’t know what I expected it to be but what I found was as much a primer as a work of beautifully haunting poetry. I had heard of Henrietta Lacks but was completely ignorant of the other women featured in this fine collection. This was not an easy read. It was disturbing and, often, I had to reread an entry to grasp the nuances of Ms Judd’s writing. What was easy to see, though, was the passion and the intensity of her subject. The book is divided into four parts: “Pathology”, “Use”, “Treason of the body is….”, and “Parity”.

“Treason of the body is…”. begins with a quote that perfectly sums up this section and struck me as the key of this heartbreaking subject:

“What might link a surgeon-slave-master to a showman-ringmaster? Both exercise mastery over bodies…” — Terry Kapsalis “Mastering the Female Pelvis”

Ms Judd shows us with her brilliantly deft touch exactly how this point of view set the stage for treating these women’s bodies as chattel, as nothing more than an experiment on an examining table.

In the section “Parity” is probably my favorite poem of the collection, “How to Measure Pain II: Maggot Brain”. The poem unfolds effectively over seven pages, an inspired technique that adds brevity and drama to a wonderful yet sorrowful poem. The ending lines take my breath away:

how do you, daughter

measure pain?

By the length and width

of your black woman self

echo of a scream

muffled

under cupped hands

in wild eyes

graceful nods

smiles

you have found yourself

in each broken body

each elation

your mother’s scar

hers and

hers

and you.

As women, we’ve all felt vulnerable at the hands of our male doctors. But this collection surpasses our uncomfortable experiences and opens our eyes to the many instances of trauma that has gone before, to the women who bore the prodding of experimentation without cognizant consent. Ms Judd has done a great service in bringing this knowledge to light in a way that not only highlights but honors her subjects.

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Bettina Judd was born in Baltimore and raised in Southern California. She teaches courses in Black women’s art, Black culture, and Black feminist thought. She has received fellowships from the Five Colleges, the Vermont Studio Center and the University of Maryland. She is a Cave Canem Fellow and has been nominated for the Pushcart Prize in poetry by Mythium Literary Magazine. Her poems have appeared in Torch, Mythium, Meridians and other journals and anthologies. More about her can be found at www.bettinajudd.com and www.patientpoems.com.

A Warrior for Love

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Snowdrops in Mississippi / Photo by C.Hamrick

“You will learn a lot about yourself if you stretch in the direction of goodness, of bigness, of kindness, of forgiveness, of emotional bravery. Be a warrior for love.”
― Cheryl Strayed, “Tiny Beautiful Things: Advice on Love and Life from Dear Sugar”*

*One of the best books I’ve ever read. Ever.

Hot Reads for June 24, 2015 + My Latest Published Work

 

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The days are hot and languid and I find myself reluctant to go out past 11:00 a.m. I get up around 8:00 and do my outdoor chores: feed the cats, water the plants, do a few snips and sweep in the garden. I walk the dog around 9:30 through the silence of a neighborhood where most people have gone to work except for retirees and the occasional stay-at-home parent. Even the kids out of school for the summer are either still in bed or sent off to some camp or other by their frazzled parents. It’s a 20 minute walk that I look forward to each day. A time to think, to observe, to absorb the little treasures like the pink rose blooming in one yard, the little black dog who greets us with a bark through the fence, the Vietnamese lady pruning her hydrangea. Little moments that make up a life that so many never even see or think about but are like food and water to me.

From eleven-ish to five-ish is my  time for running errands or doing housework with little breaks for reading, surfing the net, and sometimes watching a movie or series on Netflix. Below is a list of awesomeness I’ve read online lately I want to share but first I want to mention two online journals that have published my work recently. I’m very happy to have poetry in Mad Swirl and, more recently, in the latest issue of Olentangy Review. Big thanks to the editors of these two fine publications which have published my work in the past, as well. I will also have poetry in an upcoming issue of The Miscreant and will post a link when that happens. Thanks to Amanda Harris, the publisher, for accepting my work. I recommend all of these journals for the fine writing they offer and I’m happy to be a part of them all. Also I was recently a guest columnist for Editor’s Eye on the Fictionaut website where I chose six stories or poems by the Fictionaut writing community for special mention. I hope you’ll read it.

Now for my picks of some other fine writing. I hope you all will follow the links when you’re ready for some good reads.

Wigleaf released its annual 15 Top 50 in Flash Fiction earlier this month along with its Long List which included Susan Tepper’s “Dear Petrov” in Literary Orphans.   I mentioned this piece in another post and I’m so happy it made the Long List. Susan also has five other Dear Petro “ flashes in the Summer edition of Changes Seven Magazine and they are mesmerizing. Don’t miss them!

Also in this issue is a creative non-fiction piece, “We Learned to Pronounce Prokofiev”, by Kathy Fish. It’s such a sweet story and, as I said in comments, it makes us realize how lucky we are to have people in our lives like the teacher she talks about in the  piece and writers like Kathy to remind us of them. There’s really good writing in this issue.

Another Flash Fiction piece that I really liked is “Doctor” by Gary Moshimer on Fictionaut.   This piece is so skillfully written I felt like I was watching it instead of reading it. I’ve become quite a fan of Mr. Moshimer’s writing since I found him and mentioned his piece, “The Heart”, in my Editor’s Eye column.

Sally Houtman, a New Zealand writer I’ve gotten to know via our exchanged emails, is a very talented flash fiction writer. She was recently interviewed by Radio New Zealand, in conjunction with NZ’s National Flash Fiction Day, where her exceptional piece, “At Barrett Reef”, was read. Click here to listen to the podcast. You’ll love it. Congrats, Sally!

And then there’s poetry. I highly recommend reading:

“Our Neruda” by Mike Bove in Rattle

“Bluetooth Headset” and “Magic Cell Phone” by Aaron Samuels in Amethyst Arsenic

“Hunger Family” by Laura Kaminski in Luna Luna Magazine

“Jealousy” by Mona Dash in The Lake  (scroll down)

“Jollity” by Gary Glauber in Burningword Literary Journal

And, finally, for a good laugh go read “I Have Been Sitting on Manspreaders for the Past Month and I Have Never Felt More Free: by Cassie J. in XO Jane. It’s a riot and I say good for you, Cassie!

That’s it for now, readers and writers. Have a great reading week!

June List of what’s Going On in My Reading and Watching World

 

I am shocked it’s June. I feel like it should still be February or thereabouts. Spring, my favorite time of year, is virtually over and the sun’s heat envelopes me on my morning dog walks. Sitting on the patio drinking coffee isn’t an option anymore. But, I won’t complain (much) because I’d rather this than winter cold.

So, it’s June 6 and I feel like a list even though I really hate them.

June List of what’s Going On in My Reading and Watching World (with a little bit of May thrown in)

Reading:

Ruling Your World: Ancient Strategies for Modern Life by Sakyong Mipham because modern life goes too fast and I want to slow down.

every_kiss_FINAL_storeimg_400wEvery Kiss a War by Leesa Cross-Smith – I started this a few months back, in fact, I may have written about it.  I pick it up from time to time, stretching out the stories because I like it that way. I read my favorite one so far last night, Whiskey and Ribbons. Every story in this collection gives you something to ponder. I guess that’s why I like to stretch them out instead of reading them all one after the other. These little flash fictions just sing!

Ordinary Genius: A Guide for the Poet Within by Kim Addonizio because I’m sliding down a writing slump and I can’t see the end. Actually, even though this book has some great advice and suggestions I’m procrastinating about reading it. When I think about picking it up I always find something else to read or something that needs doing. It’s not the book’s fault at all – I think it’s just that I’m in this slump and I’m just not interested in writing. It’s all about the reading, for me for now.

untitled Our Souls at Night by Kent Haruf – I just started this today. I’ve read great things about this book and so far it’s a very sweet story.

The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo – Yeah, I’m on the late train reading this one since I found out a whole thing has sprung up from this book. A movement, as it were. I read an excerpt when it was first published that completely intrigued me and I finally bought it last week. I bought the actual book instead of ebook because I think I’ll be doing a lot of high-lighting and referring back. I have high hopes this book will get me motivated to tackle the attic and a couple of closets. There’s stuff in there that hasn’t seen daylight in years. I mean YEARS. I haven’t actually started it yet but I will very, very soon. Really.

Watching:

I love Netflix, especially when there’s nothing on TV except reruns, like now. But I’m not a binge watcher, nope. There’s no way I can sit in front of the TV for 6 or so straight hours despite how much I like to watch it. Besides, where’s the fun in that? I like to stretch out a series by watching an episode 2, maybe 3 times a week. Right now I’m watching:

last_tango_in_halifax_1&2_600 Last Tango in Halifax – I love British TV and this seems to me to be a series about the quintessential Brit family. Well, two actually. It’s just a good, solid family drama with characters that are so real that I feel like they could be my friends. It’s messy, funny, sweet family life and it’s never, ever boring. Great writing, great acting. It doesn’t get any better than this. And I’m only on Season 1! I have 2 more to go!

The Fall – I finished this British crime drama last month but I have to tell you it’s the best crime series ever. No one does crime as good as the Brits and this is a shining example. It stars Gillian Anderson and who didn’t just love her in The X Files but, OMG, she’s even better in this. Don’t wait another minute – go watch it!

Grace and Frankie – So. A Netflix original starring Jane Fonda, Lily Tomlin, Martin Sheen, and Sam Waterston. Great cast, not so great show. I’m watching it but after every episode I wonder why. What should be funny is predictable, what should be touching is kinda cringe-worthy. But, there are spots of goodness here and there. So far I think the first episode was the best but I’ve only seen four so, who knows, it could improve.

Orphan Black, Season 2 – SciFi at it’s best. A Canadian production! That airs on BBC America but the first two seasons are on Amazon Prime Instant Video. Tatiana Maslany is amazing in this series portraying multiple and all very different women. I don’t want to give anything away but if you like the unusual, this series is for you. orphan-black-season-one-dvd-cover-59

I’ve watched a couple of movies recently that I’d recommend, as well:

11179969_ori The Shipping News is great if you haven’t already seen it and A Thousand Times Goodnight starring Juliet Binoche (whom I love!) and the gorgeous Nikolaj Coster-Waldau who I understand is in Game of Thrones but who was new to me – thank you, Jesus.

All of these books, series, and movies are great for whiling away a hot summer afternoon. Trust me. You’ll be happy.