I started missing my art.
Because I’m busy trying to launch a business, while continuing to work my day job, I’ve had precious little time left over for Creative Me. I started feeling depressed, but couldn’t figure out why at first. I felt an intense void.
It went on for more than a day before I realized why. I hadn’t had time to write! I hadn’t even read any poetry, let alone written any. And I certainly hadn’t had time to paint. I’ve discovered I really don’t do well if I’m separated from Creative Me for too long.
I have had time to read, however. It’s so easy to sneak in little snatches while waiting for something else: standing in line, waiting for someone to get ready, riding the bus, etc.
I’ve been reading Anathem by Neal Stephenson. It’s a science fiction story that is centered around a main character who is a kind of monk/philosopher/agnostic/rebel. The story is set on another planet, in another time. It’s fascinating! The book is 932 pages long, and I’m only on page 382, so I have a ways to go. But this book is my little friend for the next several weeks.
However, I’ve still been craving poetry, so I decided to share a poem that I read today. The poem (below) is called Case in Point. It was written by June Jordan and can be found on page 121 of the anthology Poems from the Women’s Movement, edited by Honor Moore, published by American Poets Project, The Library of America, 2009.
The poem is painful, and comes with a ****TRIGGER WARNING**** as it contains graphic references to rape. But this is an important poem. It elucidates the common experience women have of lacking a voice – and, therefore, power – in many aspects of life, particularly when it comes to control over our own bodies.
Men are bigger than us, louder than us, control almost all of society’s institutions, and sometimes use violence – both physical and verbal – to reinforce their dominance. Every woman has experienced the voicelessness that comes from being shouted down and dismissed by an egocentric male. Most women have also had cause to be afraid of a man at some point.
These events can be frustrating on the light end – and terrifying on the heavy end. Sometimes poetry, art, and music are the only ways to have a voice in a world that cannot always hear us. Interestingly, the speaker in the poem is arguing against the point of another woman – a woman who has apparently bought into society’s view of women. This, too, is common among oppressed groups – the desire to side with the oppressor.
Case in Point
by June Jordan
A friend of mine who raised six daughters and
who never wrote what she regards as serious
tells me there is no silence peculiar
to the female
I have decided I have something to say
about female silence: so to speak
these are my 2 cents on the subject:
2 weeks ago I was raped for the second
time in my life the first occasion
being a whiteman and the most
recent situation being a blackman actually head of the local NAACP
Today is 2 weeks after the fact
of that man straddling
his knees either side of my chest
his hairy arm and powerful left hand
forcing my arms and hands over my head
flat to the pillow while he rammed
what he described as his quote big dick
unquote into my mouth
and shouted out “D’ya want to swallow
my big dick, well, do ya?”
He was being rhetorical.
My silence was peculiar
to the female.