A Letter from Perihelion's Editor

Solidari whaaaaaat????
The State of the Female Poetry *Inter*Nation

Putting together a poetry magazine featuring women's writing and gender issues in 1999 - long after I stopped burning bras, but not that long after I started buying spiffy black ones with underwires - long after I surrendered any illusions that among women, the gender cause is a transcendent one for women, but not that long after I entered menopause, and realized I felt more confident in my own body than I ever had back when my legs didn't have varicose veins -- not long after I realized that I don't really care if someone calls me babe, or honey or sweetie, unless I already want to kill them - but I really hate it if they call me Ma'am - it became clear there was no way I could call up the ghosts of the suffragettes and watch women march together into the next millenium. It is almost the year 2000, and supposedly, women have broken through that glass ceiling. But if they have, why do we still sometimes feel as if we have the shards of so many old causes sticking out of our scalps? And why are the track marks of sexual stereotyping up our backs as often made by stilettos as by work boots?

Being female has become incredibly complex. Many women who write today don't want to be perceived as 'women' writers. Some female poets didn't even want to participate in this issue when I first contacted them, because they thought it would 'ghettoize' women. But I don't believe publishing an issue of women writers is any different from publishing an issue of editor/poets. Who we are cannot help but inform how we look at the world. And like it or not, the fact that we are female does, I believe, affect our writing - look at what happened to a male poet who donned a female voice, and whose work is featured in this issue.

Sometimes that gender-effect is obvious, and the work becomes overtly political, at other times the result is more subtle, manifests in subtext, in point of view, in subject matter, image and vocabulary choice. By this I don't mean being able to type 'vulva.' I received a lot of 'dick' poems for this issue, most of which I turned away, for the simple reason that I believe being a woman in 1999 is alot more nuanced than being able to shout the word cock at a poetry slam. And it's the nuances I find most intriguing.

So this issue of Perihelion, and its companion at Conspire, are not going to sit anyone down and spell out the State of the Feminist Poetry *Inter*Nation, circa 1999. What it will show you is how incredibly multi-faceted women are when you get a chance to listen to their voices in concert. As in a symphony, where the high notes of the flutes echo off the low roll of timpani, and cellos slip octaves underneath the melody carried by the violins, women who write come in many shapes and forms. We have one thing in common. We are all instruments. Is this a sexist statement? Am I hinting that we are all vessels, merely filled by some outdated notion of the muse? Ummmm, not exactly. The collective editorial staffs at Perihelion and Conspire do hope you enjoy the music.

The fourth issue of Perihelion is now online.

* Net Premieres of new poetry by 28 Poets link=Poetry + selections in RealAudio

Caron Andregg, Anjana Basu, Jill Battson, Janet Bernichon, Joanna Bielobradek, Diane Bradley, Juliana Burgesen-Bednareck, Kate Chenier, Kay Day, Penny L. Ferguson, Claudia Grinnell, Beth E. Janzen, Juliette, Adeena Karasick, L. Kiew, Beth Lifson, Karen Masullo, Brigid McLeer, Sheila Murphy, Linda Sue Park, Sherry Saye, Margery Snyder, nathalie stephens, Trina Stolec, Cat Townsend, and Chocolate Waters. Special thanks to our translators, Jesse Glass and Ralph Bielobradek, and to Don Taylor and Mark Larsen, who were brave enough to be our representative male poets.

* The Untamed Nature of the 'Feminine Wilds' link=Discussion

Perihelion's round table features Daniela Gioseffi, Janet Bernichon, Wendy Carlisle, Johanna Drucker and Chocolate Waters as they talk about the many aspects of being writers and women.

* Perihelion Verbatim link=Discussion

Pinkie Gordon Lane -- Interviewed by C.K. Tower

* The Land of the Ice Medusa link=Practice

by Pamelyn Casto

* Couched in Ideas link=Theory

Gender and the Web, by Christy Sheffield Sanford

* I'm Nothing Without My Writing link=Theory Article II

An Essay by Daniela Gioseffi

* Canadian Women Poets on the Internet link=Theory Article III

by Paula Kirman


Perihelion ... where the synapse arcs and the uptake is uninhibited.

I would like to extend my thanks to all the people who helped make this issue possible, Barbara Fletcher, who is a wonderful contributing editor, C.K. Tower, who co-conceived this joint Women's Issue, and who continues to do interviews of real depth and meaning for Perihelion, Trevor Wilker for all the help he gave us with realaudio, all the Theory, Practice and Round Table writers and participants without whom Perihelion couldn't begin to exist, and most importantly, the poets, who trusted us with such remarkable work. This issue is dedicated to Jacqueline Ley and Mary Skarstrom.

Jennifer Ley, Editor

And we can't forget to thank Mike Neff for his continuing generosity.