Translation: Jesusa Laparra (1820-1887)

Here’s another chapter of my thesis. I hope someone enjoys this or finds it useful! Someday I’d love to spend a few years traveling around to different libraries in Spanish America looking up old issues of these journals, finding and collecting and translating poems.

Jesusa Laparra (1820-1887)

Jesusa Laparra and her sister Vicenta, originally from Guatemala, founded and edited a women’s journal, La Voz de la Mujer, in the mid-19th century; started a literary magazine, El Ideal; and wrote for other progressive and feminist journals. Jesusa wrote poetry on mystic, romantic, and religious themes. Her books include Ensayos poéticos (1854) and Ensueños de la mente (1884) (Méndez de la Vega).

Her sister, Vicenta Laparra de la Cerda (1831-1905) was a poet, playwright, and essayist on the rights of women. With Jesusa, she published several journals. A mother of eight children, Vicenta was known as a singer and soloist, collaborating and performing with other artists for benefit of the Teatro Carrera. She is also known as the creator and founder of the Teatro Nacional in Guatemala. Her political essays in El Ideal resulted in her being forced into exile from Guatemala to Mexico, where she founded a school for girls. Vicenta published books of poems, including Poesia and Tempestades del alma; plays such as “La hija maldita,” “Los lazos del crimen,” and “El ángel caído;” the novel La Calumnía (1894); and other works of history and literary criticism.

The Laparra sisters and Vicenta’s husband went into exile again, from Mexico to El Salvador and Costa Rica, where they continued their commitment to teaching women “self-improvement.” Jesusa and her sister fought not only for the rights of women but for the rights of Native Americans. Though she was partially paralyzed and in a wheelchair for many years, known as “La poetisa cautiva” or ‘The Captive Poetess,’ she continued her careers of writing, teaching, and public speaking (Laparra de la Cerda).

The Laparra sisters’ political and literary circle included María Cruz, Elisa Monge, J. Adelaida Chéves and her sisters, Dolores Montenegro y Méndez, Lola Montenegro, and Carmen P. de Silva. There might be connections between the Laparra sisters and another set of interesting sisters: the Guatemalan poets and editors Jenny, Blanca, and María Granados, who wrote for El Grito del Pueblo and who founded the magazine Espigas Sueltas in 1929.

Many, in fact most, Latin American anthologies and biographical dictionaries that I consulted did not include information on the Laparra sisters despite their extensive international publishing and editing history. A small selection of their verses can be found in Acuña Hernández’s Antología de poetas guatemaltecos (1972).

“La risa” (1884) is written in redondillas, that is, rhymed quartets of octosyllabic lines de arte menor. It describes the emotions behind a laugh of despair and the impossibility of communicating grief and pain in words.


La Risa


Hay una risa sin nombre,
sólo de Dios comprendida
risa sin placer ni vida,
risa de negro dolor;
funeraria, envenenada,
más dolorosa que el llanto,
porque es engañoso manto
donde se oculta el dolor.

Risa que, al salir del labio,
para animar el semblante,
deja una huella punzante
de amargura y sinsabor.
Infeliz desventurado,
es aquel que así se ría,
que esa risa es de agonía,
es de muerte, es de pavor.

Como el esfuerzo supremo
que estremece al moribundo,
al desprenderse del mundo
para nunca más tornar:
dilatada la pupila,
ríe con indiferencia,
despreciando la existencia
que por siempre va a dejar.

Así es la risa funesta
de un corazón desdichado
por un dolor desgarrado
que no se puede arrancar.
Lleva la muerte consigo,
y ríe sin esperanza,
porque nada, nada alcanza
su martirio a disipar.The laugh


There's a laugh that can't be named,
that only God understands;
a laugh without life or joy,
a laugh of black sorrow;
funerary, dripping venom,
more painful than a lament,
because it's a cloak of deceit
to hide pain and grief.

Laugh that, as it leaves your lips
to liven your face,
leaves a heartrending trail
of bitterness and discontent.
Unlucky devil,
that's why you laugh;
it's a laugh of agony,
of death, of terror.

Like the last throes
that shake the dying
when they give up this world
never to return;
eyes open and staring,
you laugh with indifference,
despising an existence
you're leaving forever.

That's how it is: the fatal laugh
of a heart undone
by clawing pain
that can't be rooted out.
You endure your own death,
and you laugh without hope,
because nothing–nothing could match
or dispel your martyrdom.

Photo of Vicenta Laparra de la Cerda – Jesusa’s sister

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Translation: María Luisa Milanés (1893-1919)

María Luisa Milanés was an ardent feminist and Cuban nationalist who killed herself in part because of an unhappy marriage (Davies 58). She wrote poems that were deep critiques of patriarchal culture and that were expressions of solidarity with other women and all oppressed people.

Her poems were sometimes published under the pseudonym Liana de Lux. Her passions were philosophy, music, and literature. Her works include Autobiografía, published though unfinished. She destroyed many of her own poems and essays before her death. Amado Nervo was said to be her favorite poet and a great influence on her work.
She read French, English, and Latin, writing in and translating from French, Spanish, and English, publishing in the journal Orto (Fajardo). A 1920 volume of Orto gathered a selection of her verses and was dedicated to her memory (Lizaso and Fernández de Castro 299).


Hago como Spártaco


Ya decidí, me voy, rompo los lazos
que me unen a la vida y a sus penas.
Hago como Spártaco;
me yergo destrozando las cadenas
que mi exisitir tenían entristecido,
miro al mañana y al ayer y clamo:
¡Para mayores cosas he nacido
que para ser esclava y tener amo!

El mundo es amo vil; enloda, ultraja,
apresa, embota, empequeñece, baja
todo nivel moral; su hipocresía
hace rastrera el alma más bravia.
¡Y ante el cieno y la baba, ante las penas
rompo, como Spártaco, mis cadenas!I’ll do what Spartacus did


I've decided: I'll go, breaking the ties
that bind me to life and its sorrows.
I'll do what Spartacus did;
I'll stand tall to destroy the chains
that have saddened my being,
I'll look towards morning and the past and declaim:
I was born for greater things
than being a slave and having a master!

The world is a vile master; filth, insult,
snare, mind-numbing, soul-narrowing, below
all moral standards; its hypocrisy
makes the bravest soul despicable.
And considering the mud and slime, considering sorrow,
I break, like Spartacus, my chains!


No puedo comprender . . .


Me abisma no entender, bello Narciso,
la ingenua admiración que te arrebata
y te fascina en la onda azul y plata . . .
Claro, que para ti es un paraíso
mirar tus ojos bellos y tu boca,
tu sonrisa, tu frente y tu figura
llena de majestad y de dulzura . . .
Pero ¿no piensas que haya algo de bueno
que distraiga tus ojos y tu mente,
fije más alto tu mirar sereno
y entretenga tus horas dulcemente?
¡Quisiera comprender mi alma sencilla
la perfecta hermosura de tu frente,
donde jamás el pensamiento brilla!


I just don’t get it . . .


Lovely Narcissus, I'm afraid I don't understand
the naive admiration that grips
you bewitched in the blue and silver wave . . .
Sure, for you it's Paradise
to look into your own beautiful eyes and your mouth,
your smile, your brow and your figure
full of majesty and sweetness . . .
But don't you think there's something better
that might amuse your eyes and mind,
might direct your calm gaze to something higher
and fill the hours with sweetness?
My simple soul longs to understand
the perfect beauty of your brow,
where no thought ever sparks!
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María Eugenia Vaz Ferreira: Las ondines

I promised a poem or translation this week, to balance out the political posts. Here’s a couple of my translations of poems by Uruguayan poet María Eugenia Vaz Ferreira. They were published posthumously in 1924, though I am fairly sure they were published in Uruguayan or Argentinian magazines much earlier in the century. I’ve mentioned Vaz Ferreira a few times before in this blog, including a funny moment where I was irked at a critic: Damming with Faint Praise and No Space.

María Eugenia Vaz Ferreira

Enjoy!

This poem “Vaso Furtivo” was lovely to translate. If you read it over a few times, and let it sink in, or let yourself sink into it, you’ll begin to get what Vaz Ferreira was all about.

Vaso furtivo

Por todo lo breve y frágil,
superficial, fugitivo,
por lo que no tiene bases,
argumentos ni principios;
por todo lo que es liviano,
veloz, mudable y finito;
por las volutas del humo,
por las rosas de los tirsos,
por la espuma de las olas
y las brumas del olvido . . .
por lo que les carga poco
a los pobres peregrinos
de esta trashumante tierra
grave y lunática, brindo
con palabras transitorias
y con vaporosos vinos
de burbuja centelleantes
en cristales quebradizos . . .

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 . . .

What could be more in tune with my own beliefs than this defiant celebration of ephemera! I worked hard to convey her floating and delicate line breaks. This translation of “Vaso furtivo” was published a couple of years ago in the journal Parthenon West.

In the next poem, I felt that Vaz Ferreira was deliberately evoking Sappho. As many of her contemporary women poets did, Vaz Ferreira wrote about the ocean and dynamic chaos as essentially feminine.

The ondines

At the shore
where the cool and silvered wave
bathes sand,
and the shining stars
flare and die
at dawn’s first rays,

from sea-foam
the ondines lightly leap,
swift curves
and forms,
ethereal dress of ocean nymphs,
fair visions.

They roll onward, clear green,
resplendent as emeralds,
the bright waters
that lend color
to their polished shoulders,
snow-white swan . . .

Some wrap themselves
in diaphanous blue mists
dressed in dawn,
others in the wind
let fly light floating gauze
the color of heaven

and the fair ones sink
svelte forms of sonorous ocean
beneath the waters,
and over the waves
their hair snakes
like rays of gold . . .

Here’s the original poem:

Las ondinas

Junto a la costa
donde la arena tibia y plateada
bañan las ondas,
y los lucientes
rayos primeros de la alborada
brillan y mueren,

de entre la espuma
surgen ligeras de las ondinas
las raudas curvas
y los informes
trajes etéreos de hadas marinas,
blancas visiones.

Ruedan, verdosas,
resplandecientes como esmeraldas,
las claras gotas
que se destiñen
en la tersura de sus espaldas
de níveo cisne . . .

Unas se envuelven
las vaporosas gasas azules
del alba veste,
otras al viento
sueltan los leves florantes tules
color de cielo

y hunden las blancas
esbeltas formas del mar sonoro
bajo las aguas,
y serpentean
sobre las ondas cual rayos de oro
sus cabelleras . . .

Here is some background and commentary straight out of the enormous poetry anthology I compiled and translated a few years ago. (It was my thesis.) I had thought I’d send it around as a book proposal, and I put out some feelers. No one really wanted to take on an enormous anthology of poems of dubious copyright status from 14 different Latin American countries. Some of my translations from this book have been published in little magazines or online journals.

Vaz Ferreira was a member of the “Generación del 1900” of Uruguayan intellectuals, which included José Enrique Rodó, Julio Herrera y Reissig, Ernestina Méndez Reissig de Narvaja, Florencio Sánchez, Samuel Blixen, Alberto Nin Frias, Horacio Quiroga, and Carlos Reyles (Verani 9). She began publishing in 1894. After her illness and death in 1924, her brother, who published her book, La isla de los cánticos, downplayed the friendship between María Eugenia and Delmira Agustini. In 1959, her unpublished poems were printed as La otra isla de los cánticos.

Biographical notes on Vaz Ferreira often paint her as a frail, waiflike young maiden with a posthumous “slim volume of poems” who had a tragic illness before her early death (Jacquez Wieser 8). Her illness is sometimes alluded to as mental: Sidonia Rosenbaum implies that Vaz Ferreira, embittered by Delmira Agustini’s fame, lost her mind because of jealousy and a combination of caprice and frustrated, “sterile” sexuality (50). However, other sources emphasize her positive, charismatic qualities as a rebel, speaking of her literary and intellectual influence, her fondness for wearing men’s clothes, her shocking bohemian manners, and her notorious love of practical jokes. She was the first woman in Uruguay to fly in an airplane, in 1914, at the Fiesta Aérea, a public event. Juan Carlos Legido describes her as one of the most cultured, sure of herself, famous, and popular women in Montevideo’s social circles (Legido 6). She was a literature professor at the Women’s University of Montevideo, along with Dr. Clotilde Luisi. Vaz Ferreira was also a dramatist, composer and pianist. Her works were often performed at the Teatro Solís (Rubenstein Moreira 12). Vaz Ferreira was especially fond of Heine and other German poets and philosophers.

The critic Alberto Zum Felde counted Vaz Fereirra among modernista writers, influenced by the Mexican writers Salvador Díaz Mirón and Manuel Gutiérrez Nájera (Rubenstein Moriera 46). Anderson-Imbert, in Spanish American Literature, refers to her as “the nucleus of Uruguayan poetry” and of modernismo; then he calls her “a solitary voice, solemnly religious, although capable of creating sharp images on a high level” and goes on to discuss Julio Herrera y Reissig, “not a great poet . . .” for several pages. (Andersen-Imbert 279). The general pattern is for literary historians to call Vaz Ferreira’s work brilliant, and then to pay more attention to the work of poets who are men.
With typical blunt condescension, María Monvel says of Vaz Ferreira:

Interesante “caso” de mujer, de letras, esta uruguayana, que a pesar de haber nacido en 1880, tiene en sus versos todo el acento libre de la mujer nacida en pleno siglo veinte. Gran poeta lírico, con algo de reflexivo y meditativo a la vez, esta mujer es uno de los más finos cantores que ha tenido América, y tal vez es su influencia la única perceptible en Delmira Agustini, que la superó en pasión y en arrebato lírico, pero no en cultura y sensibilidad. (Monvel 63)
Interesting “case” of a woman of letters, this Uruguayan, who despite the burden of being born in 1880, has in her verses all the free tone of a woman born right in the 20th century. A great lyric poet, with something of reflexivity and meditativeness at the same time, this woman is one of the finest poets that America has had, and perhaps her influence is the only one perceptible in Delmira Agustini, who surpasses her in passion and in going overboard with lyricism, but not does not surpass her in culture or sensitivity.

My translation of the title of “Vaso furtivo” was a difficult choice. The poem is toasting and drinking to impermancence, lightness, madness, surfaces and illusion. “Sly toast” does not work in English, and “Furtive glass” does not convey the meaning of a toast. The poem itself celebrates qualities that have traditionally been attributed to women. Considered in this light, it is a radical feminist aesthetic statement. “Las ondinas,” a poem about the beauty of ocean waves at dawn, emphasizes feminine beauty, impermanence, and dynamic movement; Vaz Ferreira’s poems often celebrate an ethereal world of ideal beauty, writing modernista aesthetics from the viewpoint of a powerful woman, as in her poem “Yo soy la Diosa de las azules, diáfanas calmas” ‘I am the Goddess of all blue, diaphanous calm” (Vaz Ferreira, Otra isla, 57-58).

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Who are we women bloggers?

We know where we are. But who are we? What are we as a group? Are we a thing? Are we a group?

This might sound weird from a feminist anarchist geek. But I had an epiphany at work during a marketing meeting.

Gina, our head of sales, was trying to describe to the rest of us what it’s like to explain blogging to Fortune 500 company ad executives. They’re used to putting people in demographics, and defining types of people who they recognize as categories. There are understandable archetypes like “soccer mom”. There are “communities”. The companies know that things can be viral and that online advertising is the way to go and that blogs are cool. But how to explain what we are? Who we are? Why we’re powerful? Why we’re not a fad?

Digression: At the first couple of BlogHer conferences I was not convinced that the conference sponsorships were a good idea. They didn’t sway me. I felt marketed-to in a way that wasn’t quite comfortable, or that felt slightly off. I wondered why it wasn’t like other tech conferences, other blogging conferences. Why because we were women, didn’t more big tech advertisers or companies come to us and sponsor us? Where were Apple and Microsoft trying to sell us laptops or giving us cool schwag – after all, we were hard core bloggers and geeks enough to go to a blogging conference.

And yet, the conference was fabulous, and I felt that even the companies who didn’t get it, I had some respect for them just for showing up and putting up some cash. Maybe we were an experiment. They were trying to get in on this rumored wave of online stuff even if they didn’t know how. This year, things were different. There were insane levels of corporate sponsorship, but the way it was done mostly didn’t feel odd or wrong or presumptive that all women were a certain way. It felt like they were *getting it*. I didn’t feel alienated. I was charmed. While it was strange to be having a KY sponsored party in Macy’s lingerie department while drinking chocolate vodka and eating cookies, there was no way not to be charmed by the strangeness and by the free 1GB flash drives. Rather than showering us with glossy, expensive brochures we would just throw away, they put their product ads on flash drives that we’d find useful. That gave me a warmer feeling than the cayenne in the hot chocolate vodka. (Despite the perturbing heteronormativity of the lube’s his and her packaging, which gossip I will repeat that hippietastically we had asked them to offset with equal amounts of her and her packaging but the ball got dropped somewhere.) It was smart marketing to women who love their computers – whose computers are important parts of their lives. Same with the clever presence of PBS Kids. They gave out stuff that you’d actually want to give to your kid – again with the flash drives, this time as bracelets. Mood rings. Stickers. Comic books. And even if you didn’t have a kid, you were a kid once, and might like to see Grover and Grover’s puppeteer in person in the studio that PBS set up inside our conference. iRobot had demos and a raffle for Roombas, and also sponsored a latte cart. How civilized is that — don’t just market to me: make me *like you*. Free lattes at a place that I was fairly desperate for nicer-than-hotel-coffee was smart.

That’s very different from the old wave of internet advertising and marketing, the clumsy approaches that feel like this: We guess who you are, without listening. Then we tell you why you’re interested in this thing. Then we beg you to blog about it. Then we measure our success by click-throughs.

Think of radio advertisements. A sponsor takes a ball game, something that people want to have. And says, “Hey. We’re cool like this. We love baseball. We make Blahdeblah Product. We’re helping it be so that you get to hear this baseball game on the radio.” Internet ads need to be more like that. Radio advertisers didn’t have little implants in our brains that gave them precise metrics of whether we *that second* turned our eyeballs to look at a Blahdeblah Product. Instead, they banked on our experential happiness, our participation and investment in the ball game. We’d have a good feeling about the game and our enjoyment, and associate them with it, like a friend. Instead, bad net marketing grabs your head, forces it into a vise clamp and makes you look away from the game and at them while you fill out their survey. It’s intrusive and untrusting, essentially unfriendly.

What I realized during our meeting: we aren’t a consumer demographic. We aren’t the metrics. We aren’t defined by what we consume in the mental model of 20th century markets. We’re cultural producers. Through our blogs, we have open, mass access to the means of production. We’re unmediated and unfiltered, if we want to be. We’re also banding together to control how we’re mediating and filtering. A big medical company might try to hire writers to tell their “true stories” of being moms with cancer. But they would never hit the grass roots authenticity of Motherswithcancer.wordpress.com. I can read that site and completely trust that it’s not the zombie brainchild of Big Pharma. I read BlogHer and trust that, while it’s got ads on it and (now) big corporate sponsors, it’s not a department store mannequin’s version of “what women want”. It’s what women actually got together and said they wanted to do. It’s not a marketing category.

We are something new, a category not quite defined but still coalescing, something like Bluestockings or the French revolutionary feminists who ran their own newspapers in the 1830s. But unlike those tightly knit salons of intellectuals, we are a mass movement, a populist movement, with plenty of muscle and — collectively — economic power. We are not quite like what some people are trying to define us as:

* “the Association of University Women, who also shop”
* “the white 30-something soccer moms who write cutesily about only diapers”
* “men with boobs and social skills, who influence their network of friends”
* “sort of like journalists, but with no self esteem and you don’t have to pay them”
* “computer geeks lite, who want a pink iPhone” (okay, maybe that one)

Or whateverall they seemed to think we were.

What we are: a mass social movement of women who are moving into the public sphere. We are not depending on authority to tell us what or who we are. If we don’t fit into a demographic or a marketing category, that doesn’t mean we don’t get a public voice. We are redefining “what women are” in our society and the shifting marketing and ad markets are evidence that our redefinition is being heard. Publishers can say “Your story is too harsh. It’ll alienate readers. Change it. Your main character can’t be a black woman. Write about something else. That story about your special needs child is too depressing. ” Sure, they can say it – and they do. We tell those stories anyway and find they are deeply wanted and needed by other women.

We’re more like the women of the 1800s who started to be able to make a living from their writing. (Though men generated an enormous backlash against them and trivialized their work as being from a pack of scribbling women… babblers and amateurs who appeal to the crude taste of the masses and are not Literary Enough (for… what exactly?).) Have we hit critical mass, finally, with blogging? Can we end run capitalist patriarchy? Are we successfully changing it as it co-opts us?

Older feminists are standing back in a mildly skeptical way. Oh yes, we’ve heard this before, now is really the moment when we can all tell our stories, across class and race and gender and all barriers, and our histories won’t be lost. Right. We’ve never heard *that* one before. I really believe it’s true this time. We have to fight to keep it true, and to keep control and power in the hands of regular people, accessible to everyone. Keep that access to the means of production, cultural production, out there, and keep spreading it.

And by that I mean things as simple as: fight your local library not to block MySpace from their public access computers.

I also felt this deeply at the Global Voices Summit in Budapest. The technology is to the point where mobile phone are ubiquitous in developing countries. A protest happens a country’s mainstream media can’t cover it because of censorship or a threatening political environment, and yet videos go up on YouTube. Fighting for universal access to a decentralized Internet is crucial to our future, and all areas of this fight need to tie together and be allies.

So who are we and what are we? Women who are speaking, who are consumers who talk, sort of like journalists, sort of like authors; we are conscious, individually and, more and more, collectively, of our power to speak and be seen in the world of public discourse. We have jobs and we’re in public, we’re out of the domestic sphere, but our thoughts, the way we’re framed in public conversations, in the media, isn’t yet all the way out of the domestic sphere. My point is that we are no longer containable by old style media. We aren’t an elite of “influencers” to be courted and co-opted. We’re journalists who write about who we are, not what we’re told to write, like a million mommy-blogging Hunter S. Thompsons writing The Curse of Lono instead of their assigned sports article.

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Butch as hell sys admin hacker women who will kick your ass

From a few completely different sources I have heard of nascent conferences to train women how to talk at tech conferences. From everything I have seen, women know perfectly well how to talk at technical and computing and web 2.0 conferences. But I still see posts like Stowe Boyd’s in puzzlement asking “Where are the women speakers?”

I would like to offer myself as a resource for tech conference organizers who can’t figure out how to find “the most qualified” women speakers on particular topics. Ask, and I will help to hook you up. If you find a speaker you are happy with based on my recommendations, then pay me per successful connection. I propose as well that if you usually lean on the few geeky women you know to diversify your conferences, pay them in the same way.

So, back to that issue of speaker training. Great idea, valuable service. I’d like to question the idea that women don’t know how to speak at conferences. Wait, I thought we were the communicators, the ones with the social skills, the teachers and professors, used to being heard by an audience. It’s not just about women who don’t know how to present themselves – it’s also about people who are so complacent in their own circles that they don’t know how to listen to the qualifications and capabilities of amazing women.

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Carmen Berenguer wins Ibero-American Pablo Neruda Poetry Prize

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Happy Poetry Month! Congratulations to Carmen Berenguer who has won the 2008 Premio Iberoamericana de Poesía Pablo Neruda.

I am very happy for her!

And for everyone who will now read her marvelous poems!

It makes me extremely happy that work so radical, experimental, feminist, and wild, has been recognized and honored.

carmen berenguer

“Es una sorpresa por la poesía que yo hago, que de pronto puede ponerle trabas al entendimiento y al sentimiento. Mi poesía es sonora, interna, musical, digo cosas increíbles”, comenta. “Soy una mujer combativa, vengo de los conventillos, de la pensión y esos argumentos hicieron que me fijara en las injusticias”, agrega.

*
It’s a surprise because of the poetry I write, that can suddenly put up blocks to understanding and feeling. My poetry is echoing, internal, musical, I say unbelievable things. I’m a fighting woman, I come from the projects, from poor neighborhoods, and that background fixed my thoughts on injustice.

Berenguer often breaks words and form, with poem titles at the bottom of pages or strangely broken across two pages, like this:

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and she ranges into concrete poems in her early work such as Bobby Sand desfallece en el muro as well as in later work such as the poem typeset to look like the Chilean flag. You can see a glimpse of that poem above.

I have translated some of her work over the last few years.

So far, I have spent the most time reading A media asta and La gran hablada. While I love her short poems, I am most fond of her longer work which sprawls and rants and sobs and screams across the page, long poems that build me up to a peak of understanding. It is not “leaping poetry” in the way that Bly meant, with graceful elisions. It is broken, unclear, obstructive, difficult, obstreporous. And, that is suitable, that is what is right, when you write about political violence, about gendered violence, about bodies, oppression, about Chile under Pinochet, as Berenguer does.

Carmen Berenguer

That is what I love best in poetry. I love when it has physicality, when it fights with sense, when it has elbows that stick out, when it feels like wading through mud or struggling to make my own broken body act and endure. It is poetry that rewards effort just as bodies do. Really kick ass poetry, seriously ass-kicking, rejects easy understanding, the facile Hmmmm and nod of agreement. It is perturbing! Bothersome! Berenguer’s work is all that. I think of her work as mixing up the neobaroque/neobarroso with écriture féminine.

I want to quote some of her poems and post my translations, but I am trying to get them published in journals at the moment. So here are a few excerpts. This is from “Bala humanitaria”, “Humanitarian bullet”.

…..Ese dardo
Penetra rompiendo la piel disparado a cien metros
Rompe la piel en sugundos el dedo gatillado
Rompe el silencio y lo dispara
Ondas sonoras irradian el campo comprometiendo el sonido
Interlocutor del suave murmullo El dardo penetrando
Los ojos abiertos y un ojo semicerrado afinando la puntería
El hombre acaricia el gatillo con deseos
…..
*
….. This shaft
Penetrates breaking the skin shot at a hundred meters
Breaks the skin in seconds the trigger finger
Breaks the silence and shatters it
Sonorous waves irradiate the compromised field of sound
Interlocutor of the smooth whisper The shaft penetrates
Open eyes and a half-closed eye sharpened the aim
The man caresses the trigger with desires
……

Here I thought for a long time about how to translate “dardo” and though “dart” or arrow would be more literal, I think “shaft” gets the phallic imagery properly into the poem. It is important because it is a poem that links rape and violence, that takes a gendered view of the sort of violence that can consider it right to make international law about the correct way to kill people with proper bullets. The lines on penetration and holes are not an accident… Further, I would say that it is good to note how Berenguer speaks about sound, about echoes and fracturing; this comes up elsewhere in her work and I think it is right to think of it as the Howl, as the song of the poet, the fundamental sound, poetry, art, creation — broken deliberately in order to reveal multiple truths. So, this is a poem about international politics and humanitarian bullets, violence; but it is also about gender, violence, rape; there is an industrial note, recalling thoughts of metals and mining, global industry; and it is also about words, poetry, logic, speaking, art, creation. That is the kind of poem I can get behind, 100%.

I feel inspired to go work on my translation of “Mala piel” now… and will post some excerpts from it later this month.

a media asta

It is maybe just a particular pleasure for me that poems like this have been honored in the name of Neruda. While I love Neruda’s poetry very much and honor him, I have some difficulties as a feminist with the way he writes about women’s bodies and how they become his male dominated metaphor of art and life and love, his landscape to traverse and discover and see. In fact, Neruda-worshiper Robert Bly is just the same for me sometimes with his graceful, easy “leaping”. For me as a poet, having spent years thinking about this in the way that poets do: I say fuck the leap. It is like cheating. Get your feet on the ground, dudes! Stay in your body! Go fast, but stay dirty! Thus it is particularly sweet to me, for a fantastic strong political woman who writes from and of the body, who makes words really embody, to win a prize named after Neruda.

Links:

* YouTube: el ojo no es un territorio, a video-poema.

* Palabra Virtual: The text of selected poems including a small fragment of one of my favorites, “Mala piel”, and a recording of “Desconocido”.

* YouTube: Berenguer en Chile Poesía

* Chilean wins Neruda Prize for poetry

* Carmen Berenguer, Ibero American Pablo Neruda Poetry Prize – with brief intervew.

* Pablo Neruda Prize 2008 to Chilean poet

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Poetry Month: Day 2, Enriqueta Arvelo Larriva

enriqueta arvelo larriva

Happy Poetry Month! Today I have been thinking about Enriqueta Arvelo Larriva, a Venezuelan poet from the 20th century (1886-1962). Her poems are small and odd, but huge internally, like a pocket universe captured and studied from all sides; a bit abstract and philosophical. This, at a time when it seems to me like the way to be a famous woman poet was to blaze passionately forth in a sort of meteoric scandal of words. Arvelo Larriva’s positioning of herself is at the same time very personal and connected to the specific landscape of the Venezuelan llanos, the central plains — a tropical prairie. But at the same time she positioned herself as a very abstract, analytical, point of human consciousness.

Arvelo Larriva began writing and publishing around 1920 that I can verify (but I have also read she was a poet beginning at age 17, much earlier). Most of her poems that I’ve translated were published in the 1920s, but I don’t have all the research done to know exactly when they were written.

I’d like to point out a pattern I have found in looking at the work of women poets in Latin America. Their poetry was often being published little by little in journals, the same journals as more famous men who were their peers, who were in their same literary circles. But the men became famous more quickly, had books published earlier. I think this is one reason that books of literary history tend to describe the women as footnotes, afterthoughts, imitators, or as not quite catching the wave of a literary movement. It appears from short biographical notes on Arvelo Larriva that she began publishing in 1939. This is not true — she was publishing as early as 1918, and certainly throughout the 1920s, and was part of the Generación de 1918; and was part of the Vanguard of the 1920s student movement as well.

Why do I care? Well, because histories talk about those movements – but leave her out, or only mention her 20 years after her vital, early work. The elision of 20 or more years of her publishing history means that she is also cut off from politics; her brother and others of her political circle were jailed in the 1920s. She remained in their hometown on the prairies. My feeling is that the story of her life might be quite interesting and complicated, but that complication is not represented in any descriptions I’ve seen — which just marvel at how she could write clever poems even though she lives out in the sticks instead of in the exciting capital.

Her work persistently reminds me of the somewhat better-known poems by David Rosenmann-Taub from the 1950s. I’ll talk about his poems later this month and connect back to this post on Arvelo Larriva. I also think of some of the short airy poems of García Lorca.

So, onward to a few poems. They might not be your cup of tea. But I get very excited over their depth and over how different they are from other poems of the time. They stand out to me. Also, since I have read a bunch of her work, I am able to see some things in a larger context. So if it seems that I am reading too much into a tiny poem, try to bear with me.

Destino

Un oscuro impulso incendió mis bosques
¿Quién me dejó sobre las cenizas?

Andaba el viento sin encuentros.
Emergían ecos mudos no sembrados.

Partieron el cielo pájaros sin nidos.
El último polvo nubló la frontera.

Inquieta y sumisa, me quedé en mi voz.

Destiny

A dark impulse burned up my forests.
Who is left for me from the ashes?

The wind roamed alone, meeting no one.
Echoes emerged, mute, unsown.

Birds without nests divided the skies.
The last dust clouded the frontier.

Anxious and meek, I dwell in my voice.

“Destino” can be read in light of the Venezuelan llanos and the prairie burn-off of the dry season. Yet, like many of her poems, it can be read as a political commentary. There is the “dry season” layer, specific to the geography of Barinas, where she lives; the tangled, thorny groves are burned with controlled fires in order to clear room for new growth for vast herds of cattle. The poem could also work as a personal one about philosophical and spiritual renewal. However, the “pájaros sin nidos” ‘birds without nests’ can also be read as the journalists, students, and poets who had to flee the country under the rule of Juan Vicente Gómez, after the 1927 student uprisings or other political clashes.

Enriqueta Arvelo Larriva

The creative act of the word, of poetry, is presented as a solution to the problems posed in “Destino” as in many of her other poems. I see her as writing with intense vitality about violence, revolution, politics. But as encoding those concepts within a sort of personal artistic framework, where the poet’s voice breaks out of everyday life, a jailbreak from reason and order.

To be honest here on my translation, I am not happy with those birds without nests. Well, how long can one stare at the page muttering, “homeless birds… birds without nests… nestless….. no, dammit” before one just goes with whatEVER. Sometimes, I will be driving down the highway and a line of a poem I translated years ago will pop into my head — one of this sort of line, where my English is clumsy and graceless — and the perfect, beautiful phrase will come to me in a flash. From what people say, this happens to all translators and that is why we are always revising. I can work very hard on a translation, and feel in the groove for 90% of it, but that other 10% that just wasn’t inspired, is a torment.

I am also fond of this poem:

Vive una guerra

Vive una guerra no advenida. Guerra
con santo y seña, con la orden del día,
con partes, con palomas mensajeras.

Guerra pujante dentro de las vidas.
No digo en las arterias; más adentro.

Ni un estampido ni un rojor de fuego
ni humo vago dan desnudo indicio.

Mas paz de tiza la refleja entera.

And I will give you the first bit, which I think is interesting to translate. Try it yourself as a challenge, if you like.

A war lives

A war lives, unheralded. War
with saint and sign, with the order of day,
with parts of things, with messenger doves.

War throbbing inside whole lives.
I don’t say in the veins; deeper inside.

“Vive una guerra” continues the internalization of violent metaphors, with war metaphors to represent existential and philosophical struggles.

Someday I would like to really do her poetry justice, and translate her first two books. Just the little bit that I do know about her family (which included many poets) and her life and about Venezuelan politics, history, and geography, illuminates the poems for me. If I could do the original research, find the journals where her work first appeared, read her poems in that context, I imagine that I could translate them better, explain them, present them in a context that would help other people see where the poems lead.

There is more to say about the ways that Arvelo Larriva was framed as a woman, and about the gendering of literary history as it happens and in hindsight. I guess I’ll go into that more in future posts as I talk about other poets and their lives.

Enriqueta Arvelo Larriva

What I truly wish for is the ability to get some good, lowdown, dirty gossip. I’d like to know the poets I translate, who have been dead since before I was born, in the same way that I know the poets who are alive now in my city; what do people think of them, really? What are they like? Would I have liked hanging around with Enriqueta? Was she rude, kind, radical, bitchy, boring, pedantic, vindictive, wise? Was she more interesting when she was young? What was the course of her life? With many poets, I do get a sense for the arc of their lives and careers. With Enriqueta, I barely know a thing. And am not likely to get it in this lifetime. Maybe I’ll find an old journal or two, or a letter; her letters with Gabriela Mistral and Juana de Ibarbourou. Just knowing those letters exist, changes everything for me.

Maybe someone who knows more will write a longer Wikipedia entry. More likely, some boorish great-nephew will write to me and go “My god! You’re talking about old Aunt Netty and her insane scribbling! I didn’t think anyone cared about that! Blah blah blah, all those poetry readings, grande dame of Barinitas… She smelled like dusty lavender and dead mice… But, she made good cookies.” I can’t romanticize my dead poets too much, because I always imagine out those great-nephews who have become excellent dentists and who have healthy lives and perspectives lacking in poetry, who knew only the human being and not the metaphysical point in space and time that was the free-floating philosopher poet.

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Highly trained girl-monkey sys admin bait


geeking at the conference
Originally uploaded by Liz Henry

I was saddened and angered recently at a geeky gathering, to hear a very annoying and sexist story about women at techology conferences. A young man was talking to another guy and a couple of women who also looked to be in their 20s. He was laughing and telling a story with a tone of “Wow, listen to this hilarious amazing thing!”

According to this poor little dude, it is hilarious that it has become common that at sys admin and other tech conferences, big companies send women in undercover to do stealth recruiting. His story laid out how the big companies “specially train the women to sound like they know what they’re talking about”, priming them with lessons in the correct use of technical jargon. They send sexy women who are basically “high class call girls” to flirt with the valuable (assumed unquestioningly to be male) sys admins and programmers and get their information, and to figure out which ones are good and know their job. Then the Trained Monkey Fake Sys Admin Whores pass that information on to their superiors (also assumed in the story to be male) who actually know what computers are, for them to do intensive recruiting.

“Hahahaha!” laughed the young women at the party.

“Wow, hahahah!” laughed the guy listening.

“It’s totally true!” said the young spreader of poisonous, sexist, urban myths. “I even know guys who have slept with them!”

Oh for fuck’s sake. Let’s just undermine the legitimacy of technical women at conferences just A LITTLE BIT MORE with our messed-up “booth babe” stories, shall we?

If this even had a grain of truth to it, what would it sound like, framed differently? “Some companies send technical recruiters to technical conferences.” That’s it. There is nothing newsworthy there. I mean, DUH.

But, as soon as there are WOMEN in the story, it is given a misogynist spin, which is assumed to be hilarious and titillating and to make the listener feel superior. Because the technical recruiters are female, they are sluts, or “call girls”; definitely sexually available and exploitable. Because they are female, they are assumed in the story to be ignorant of computers, technology, sys adminning, and programming; any knowledge they DO have is “fake” because it is is artificial “training” given to them as a thin veneer just to mask their real goal which is sexual predation on the sys admins, run by mythical “big company” pimps.

I was super amazed to hear this crap coming out of someone’s mouth, at a party which was chock full of skilled, amazing, geeky women, and men who are sweet feminist allies. But, on the other hand, I was not amazed, because this is exactly the sort of thing people say all the time about, and around, technical women, or any women in male-dominated fields. It is part of the background of undermining and de-legitimizing women, that poisons the fucking air we breathe, that makes people assume we suck, that makes us women have to prove ourselves in every new professional context, to everyone we meet, that means we have to be 10 times better than a man in a comparable context before other people believe in our professional credentials.

Just think about that next time you hear a bunch of dudes arguing about why there aren’t more women in programming and engineering, and, quit looking for your biological explanations, and go check your own assumptions, and the kind of stories you tell and tolerate in your communities.

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Annoyingly sexist framing of Google VP Marissa Mayer


Photo
Originally uploaded by thisgirlangie

As an inoculation to what I am about to expose you to, here is an awesome photo of some ubergeeks from the Google-sponsored Geek Girl Dinner organized by Angie Chang from Woman 2.0. From left: Sumaya Kazi (Sun Microsystems & The Cultural Connect), Katherine Barr (Mohr Davidow Ventures), Irene Au (Google), Rashmi Sinha (SlideShare), Angie Chang (Women 2.0)

By some quirk of fate, a copy of San Francisco Magazine arrived at my house today. If you’ve noticed this vapid glossy magazine for aspiring Not-LA and Not-NYC socialites, you will know why I was automatically tossing it in the trash. But there on the cover were the words “Google’s geek goddess”, and I had to look, knowing how annoyed I was about to become.

Oh, it was so much worse than I imagined!

According to SF Magazine writer Julian Guthrie, Google’s employee #20 and first female engineer Marissa Mayer is “not what you expect.”

What the hell do you expect? Who is “you”? Some drooling dinosaurish idiot who not only thinks the important thing about women is a mix of prettiness, girliness to the point of infantilization, sexiness, etc but who also thinks that “we” the readers of the article would expect a gazillionaire engineer-turned-corporate-executive to be some kind of Hollywood Geek Girl stereotype with unkempt hair who needs to take off her glasses and stop being obsessed with computers to become pretty.

Soooo how are we framing the opposite of what “we” expect? Mayer “looks Grace Kelly gorgeous, a tall, blue-eyed beauty with blond hair pulled back from her fresh face. She is much livelier than you might imagine, and her clothes are anything but humdrum.” This assumes “our” default expectations to be the opposite; female software engineers as humdrum, boring, un-lively, certainly not beautiful and maybe not blond.

You can see two assumptions set up here:
* Women who like computers are ugly.
* It fucking matters.

You know why it does matter? It matters because sexist and misogynist assumptions do still have a lot of power in our society. And we need to change that, by pointing out that misogyny and sexism are stupid, wrong, and undermine social trust and gender relations.

The article descends further into idiocy, still on page 1 of framing Mayer as a person and as a professional, by quoting some Valleywag posts calling her a social climber, implying that she got her job or position by dating Larry Page, and “using her looks”.

Guthrie quotes a Valleywag editor saying, “Marissa is surprisingly pretty in person. That in itself is a rarity in Silicon Valley, and you’d have to be naive to think that doesn’t color people’s views of her.” Great. This is a rhetorical strategy common to misogynist bullshitters: undermine a woman’s achievements by claiming her main “achievement” is being pretty, or worse, implying she used her sexuality to get a little dollop of fake power and status from someone Actually Powerful who deserved it. When powerful smart men are friends with other powerful smart men, those personal relationships aren’t framed as devaluing their talents and skills. But as soon as a woman has a personal relationship with a man, the power imbalance is assumed to be there along with a host of other assumptions about sexuality, the stereotype of a woman sleeping or flirting her way to her status. It’s tokenizing; it’s like suggesting women are only in tech because of Affirmative Action By Boyfriend. In other words, we are not “allowed” by history to have our own status. We only have status by proxy as given to us by men who have sexual access to us, real or implied sexual access.

I’ll list through a few more of the sexualized and sexist terms used to describe Mayer. Her “throaty laugh”, how she’s “the only blonde in a room packed with mostly dark-haired young guys”, she “acts goofy and girly”, has a “ballerina posture”. There’s a weird setup where Mayer is described as a geeky robot, “mechanical”, precise, unsexed, but then that unsexed-geek-girl stereotype is defused by her “personal passions” and “coming-out party of sorts for a new kind of Silicon Valley star.” That hypothetical ghost of a robotic passionless scruffy geek is contrasted with the girly, giggly, sexy, cupcake-baking, fashion-loving, non-threatening woman who sometimes shops for purses.

“Mayer is fiercely competitive. She wants to make the best cupcake, wear the prettiest dress, have the coolest penthouse.”

SIGH.

I think we can all enjoy cupcakes and fashion without being freaking defined by it. I’m not objecting to anyone’s hobbies of geektastic cupcakes, knitting, wearing pretty skirts made for super rich people, or whatever. I’m not objecting to femminess and the deliberate, or just automatic because that’s how we are, geeking up of things that are supposedly traditionally feminine.


me & Liza Sabater at SXSWi, photo by Rachel Kramer Bussel

BUT. The implication in articles like this is that women NEED a specially feminized presentation of self in order to prove that it’s okay for women to like computers. That’s completely stupid!

There is another problem in this article, and in the general pattern of media attention on powerful women in male-dominated fields. It’s isolation and tokenizing. An article will frame the tech world as if there is only one important woman. She is always presented as the Lone Woman in the midst of techie guys. Tokenizing! Context is important. And my own context, as a woman in this field, is that it’s full of heroic efforts of women in computing to make professional and personal connections with each other. Consider Mayer in contexts with other women:

* Webguild
* Grace Hopper Celebration 2006
* Blogher Business

Those images, for me, are much more powerful and meaningful than the one Guthrie paints of the Lone Blonde Chick at the party full of men. Journalists should not “disappear” women in tech by canonizing one saint who they love and hate, praise, objectify, and revile. There are a lot of us here!

To be overly generous, I would like to mention that after the first 3+ pages of utter crap, Guthrie did write a good, interesting, middle section to the article, which straightforwardly describes Mayer’s background in computer science, her interviews at Google, and her early work experience there, including the sort of oh so wacky “Nudist on the Late Shift” geek-culture stories about Wacky Startups that we can’t really avoid and that I do still enjoy hearing about and living in the midst of. So I’m not slamming Guthrie’s basic competence as a journalist and writer, and the article is not all fluff; it’s way less fluffy than you’d expect from SF magazine, that society rag for the more droolingly idiotic of the rich and famous.) Then we hit some more stuff about being a party hostess and cupcake making, Mayer’s childhood doll collection and background in “precision dance team” which must be a lot like what in Texas was called “drill team” and meant cheerleaders doing dance; and more bilge about underneath her Geekitude and corporate executiveness Mayer is “still that geeky super-normal enthusiastic girl”. What? I’m still trying to decode what “geeky super-normal enthusiastic girl” means. The effect to me is of deliberate girlifying of a brilliant, competent, powerful adult, in other words infantilizing them in order to make them less threateningly powerful-seeming.

I can’t even dignify the paragraph about Mayer’s dating life with a quote; it was just dumb. FFS.

But the end! The end was the worst! “Does Mayer ever see herself going completely low-tech and focusing (professionally or otherwise) on art, entertaining, baking, or fashion? ” You know, what would have to be wrong in an interviewer’s head for them to ask that question? What the hell? Why would anyone ask that question of one of the most powerful engineers at an extremely successful company, a person with a couple of degrees in computer science and many years of experience in the industry? “Oh… just wondering… have you ever thought of forgetting about this lil’ ol’ computer thing and sticking to cupcakes?”

I can”t wait to hear what my colleagues on Systers, BlogHer, and Linuxchix have to say here. I was also thinking that as a response we could add some good detail to Marissa Mayer’s Wikipedia page.

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Liveblogging for She’s Geeky

I’m at the She’s Geeky conference in Mountain View, and I’ll be liveblogging in very raw format. Later this week I’ll come back and clean up this post to make it more coherent and to take out the typos and add links.

I’m having a great time here. There is a very pleasant spectrum and range of people who are sort of hard core programming or hardware geeks plus the web 2.0, entrepeneur, blogging, marketing crowd. So it’s a great mix for me. People in general seem excited and inspired! The Computer History Museum is gorgeous, and I can’t wait to come back and go through it all. It is also a great place to have a conference.

*****

Open source lunch table conversation

Tori Orr, Susan Gerhart, Liz Henry, Ursula Kallio, Kim Wallace, Akkana, Margaret Rosas.

Open source stuff we talked about: Ubuntu 7.10, Drupal, LAMP in general, Joomla, Drupalcamp, Linuxchix, Ubuntu Women, the recent O’Reilly series, Python
Someone (someone who is a marketing person) was saying that we need to do more marketing for open source, joomla is marketed better, more consumer accessibile. Businesses aren’t realizing how valuable open source stuff is, they haven’t realized it yet. They don’t know how to listen to something without an authority figure or a hierarchy they can recognize. Also it is not made slick enough for them. But when it is, they’ll go for it.

Someone else mentioned wishing that there was an open source enterprise-level shopping cart.

Kim W. drew us diagrams to explain her release process for her company, which was pretty interesting for me because I was just going through the whole release process at mine.

Akkana talked about having a hackday and said to talk to Gloria W. about grrlcamp and other events.

I met Gaba, who was there with her 6 month old baby, and who talked about working for crabgrass, and about programming.
Also, Ursula and her partner Wiebke, I think both programmers but now I can’t remember what they do.

Someone else, I think Tori, talked with me about librarians and wikis, librarians and CMS, people still trying to figure out tech and cms. We agreed that people don’t realize the depth of the problem of managing knowledge, keeping and maintaining and using it. It is not a trivial problem! I had an idea: exposing the dead links in your years of blogs. How about an app to do that and then helps you find a live link for those dead link, in the internet archive AND other places. This would be a really great application. It should be built into ecto and other multiplatform blogging clients.

Another idea we talked about: make Moodblast do your location. Or something to let you talk to Doppler very quickly to update your location. General agreement from half the table that Dopplr is slick, and ears perked up around the other half of the table. (This was the case in nearly every conversation I was in, all day!)

Kaliya’s opening intro.

She mentioned some Stanford researchers – researching US. and reporters, like Mike – our “guy” from the San Jose Mercury News, plus Karen, the photographer

Julie from Wired News was also mentioned and got a huge cheer
c.?? from GigaOm (I did not hear her name.)

Kaliya mentions that the lunch trash is all compostable – but we need to find someone to take it somewhere that they compost stuff. Anyone ? Someone from google volunteers. Oh, California, where else would we find this funny and sweet and wondrous behavior?

Susan Mernit talking now, about Lillian (last name?) in animation in the 1930s, refused entry to animation school because women don’t do that sort of creative work.
What’s changed and what hasn’t? Things are shifting. We’re here at this moment in time. Yet they are not shifting enough. We are in an unbalanced environment, seen as an exception, exception b/c of being an engineer, doing back end work, or because of things like having to take care of everyone on the team. Everyone’s really comfortable if you do that, but if you don’t you’re the bitch. “You’re so amazing you’re not one of those tight sweaters” “what?” you now those really cute girls who work in pr and marketing… or “put your name on it or no one will believe you contributed.” or “Hey how did you come to be (engineer)” etc. or “Are you married? What does your husband think” These aren’t the reasons we’re here today, but this is an environment we all function in. We do it to each other and ourselves too; we have to fight to be as comfortable as we are.
Here we get to really talk, Linux, back end, systems, biotech, whatever you are passionate about. Also our stories of things we have to deal with.

Question from audience: Is anything being recorded? Can we watch this later? (Answer: Maybe – the videobloggers here are doing some recording.

Nonprofits session

Beth Kanter – circuit rider, learned html early, started blogging to keep a work log of things fixed
Elizabeth Perry – works at a school – accidental techie – came out of feminist literary theory background. School environment, adoption, you get computers but teachers aren’t sure how to make use of it. Inefficiency, confusion, concern. Elizabeth wrote a tech plan, interviewed to get best practices, then got a job doing that development, how to use tech to develop curriculum. New ways of using tech. Tech evangelist, one on one to help teachers use technology in their teaching. Technology integration specialist.
Beth: shoulder to shoulder learning
Eliz: ideal for people who love projects and learning new things. Teachers don’t know the tech but are great learners. What was cool for you in middle and high school? What can we do for girls? Eliz’s background is in community organizing.
Beth: the role of translator, an important skill.

Ursula K. Music industry, help musicians promote with tech.
EP: look at higher education and doing a gig teaching a course in how to do this.
Beth K: Webinars, for Rockefeller Foundation, supporting independent musicians, the business of music. Beth was out looking for people who work with musicinas and taught those things.

Ursula: often the valuable thigns are the Small details like don’t send a jpg that’s more than 120 pixels wide because it will give a bad impression.

Beth Cameron – sacramento. started out as admin asst and ended up doing al the techie stuff like setting up networks and fixing computers. getting peopel on listsev. Califo assoc. of health facilities. every time i go to any sort of training or anything I”m one of 2 women if even.
Beth K: it’s an important point, small interventions go a long way. the flip side is that there is a lot of resistance and adoption issues.
EP: I just learned this thing last year! Why do I have to learn another thing!
Beth C: Change is hard. And our org is mostly female except for the CEO of course (laughter) a little cynicism, glass ceilng… So I teach people how to send their first email, how to blog, back with AOL. Try gmail! and so on.
EP: they are passionate about something other than technoogy. because their mind is not on that they make careless or foolish mistakes and therefore they get really frustrated, and so it’s like therapy, lowering their stress level around technology. creating passionate users. those rewards, like video gamers levelling up rewards, kathy sierra. first you show them the blog entry, then the microphone, hey you could record something.
BK: You can’t overwhelm them, can’t use any jargon.
Akkana: takng time off from Silicon Valley rat race, looking for something more worthwhile. I know women who work in np as sys admins. I’m more of a programmer. Is there a space for things other than sys admin?

BJ Wishinski: quit high tech job to work for year for anita borg (wow) Graphics programmer, manager of education services around technogoloy. Software for designing integrated circuits. one of the more masculine ends of tech you can possibly be in. i’m so tired of that enviornment that I don’t want to go back. so I gave notice. I just went from grace hopper conference to here, to anita borg, now I have a year to figure out a paying job doing something to build support structures for women in tech industry and a new career

susan gearhart: interested in baby boomers who are going to be losing vision. I have a vision loss program. as i’ve been goin ghtrough this transition I am understandng what boomers will need from technology. women who could get together to develop assistive tech that in an open source mode . then, t here are other really great tech ideas but theya re really 2 or 3 generations behind. how can we bring that new stuff into the attention of the rehab organizations that work for states, counties, schools, to make much better tech available for everybody of all ages. Is there an org anywhere, or way to form one, develop better assistive tech. Existing rehab organizations.

BJ: Center for Independent Living?
Susan: Bookshare
Liz: no really awesome ones around.

blond woman: boomers, next phase, silver something. using tech, patents. “Hearrings” earrings that are hearing aids.

(We all get rather excited about Hearrings. Fancy hats with veils and flowers with all that stuff built in…)

Susan’s blog:

me: I worked in K-12 school, universities, in tech. worked in search at excite, back end, perl, went off to get degree in comparative literature and translation, blogging, blogher, now at socialtext, wiki software, i manage the open source release of this wiki software . pbwiki, socialtext, wikipatterns could be very useful for educators and nonprofits. I love what Beth said about the small interventions.

Beth: watch people work, see how you can intervene.

Wiebke Mueller, from germany. accessibility, e-learning. training people on computers, web developer, trainer.

Liz: This site, a woman I met at BlogHer, keeps this blog which explains step by step everything you have to do to make a blog accessible, on various blogging platforms.

http://allaccessblogging.com

BJ: also interested in access. We are all going to be disabled at some point if we live long enough. Older people using email and the web more.

Wiebke: Dragon, it has become much better in version 9.

Anne Holden: Science education, communication. http://www.natcenscied.org/default.asp
Describes many issues of nonprofits and education. Donors, grants, professors. If there’s a big court case we get a lot of press and then new members. Was working in research, thought the profs aren’t getting their research out there enough for the public.

Amy Jussel – new media, non profit, non partisan, creative director. It’s all about content. “Shaping youth” is her blog. Girls for a Change (conference?) Her background is CEO, productize this, make it open source, get it out there. Viral, counter-marketing, constructive. Readergirl. I get offers from companies who want to sponsor, but they just want my people. Kraft Foods, Walmart, all the biggies that are trying to change their colors but I’m a little cynical. I’m Trader Joes not Walmart. I’m looking for advice, how to integrate positive media but maintain an indy voice, how to be nonprofit, and open source, as a social entrepeneur.

EP: New Mexico media literacy group. Be afraid, be very afraid. Critical consumers.

BJ also mentions Girls for a Change. The girls really take it into their own hands, make a web site, put stuff on YouTube.

BK: about being an entrepeneur, are you workingn with a non profit?
AJ: I am a nonprofit.
BK: so you’re frustrated with the structue you set up?
AJ: Have easy turnkey kits for teachers to download. then i decided, why charge 50 bucks for this? why not make it free and open source?
BK: have a small board, that can work really well, you can then move faster
AJ: we could go after grants, i dunno, the blogs become time sinks. be a vital resource, but pay the bills. how not to have big folks declare they’re your partner and not take you over.
Abbey Patterson: company is Sooner. duke, harvard, partnership, unesco, columbia, healthcare. Music, hip hop.

I have lost the thread of what Abbey is talking about.

Katie – free technology services to small grassroots nonprofits. just getting a web site, the over the shoulder learning, etc. grassroots.org

American Cancer Society –
The Click Heard Round the World – Rickomatic – MacArthur, nonprofit and best practices paper.

Lightning talks. Danese

Slides are online:

* be clear what you are talking about
* don’t think of yourself as a public speaker, it’s regular conversation
* humble and funny
* nothing bad is going to happen
* don’t overprepare. be real
* your audience wants you to succeed. watching you fail is excruciating.

what’s your goal? not necessarily there to say what you’ve been told to say.

* (I have more extensive notes on the lightning talks sessions which I’ll post on Thursday. I took notes on nearly all the 3 minute talks, and I gave a talk myself on How to Deal with It When You Don’t Know What To Do (about bugs, and applications not working, and failed installs, and broken computers) and another on How to Make Your Wiki Not Suck.)
* The extra time for eating and breaks was a fantastic part of this conference
* I got some fun stickers from google and firefox, and an O’Reilly tshirt
* I talked more with Danese which was super fun
* I talked about my workplace and what I do and demo-ed my wiki for people
* I hung out with my kick-ass sister, who is a web dev and blogger
* I also talked with Z. about open document format, she showed me some linux translation efforts which I marked to blog about later, and we talked about nooxml.org
* I caught the first bit of Heather Gold’s stand up comedy which was great, but I had to leave
* Did I mention, the food was good?
* I talked with 2 people from Atlassian, which was fun (their company also sells enterprise-level wikis)
* I promised lots of people cards and “Wiki Way” tshirts and more talking and information the next day when I would be less tired
* and there were so many people there I wanted to talk with, old friends and new people to meet
* BUT THEN that night I got nastily ill and spent the whole day 2 of the conference in bed throwing up. DAMN
* So I didn’t get to give the fun long version of my talk “How to Make Your Wiki Not Suck So Bad”
* I was very very sad about being sick and missing the rest of the conference
* Mad props to Kaliya and team for a great conference and a great job organizing!
* Note to self and others, go add your writeups and information to the wiki! Yes, this means you! Link them from either the Monday page, or Proposed Topics, or the nearly totally empty Notes page which I hope we will populate and organize. The main thing is to put up your notes. Someone else will come along and fix things and organize it later, that is what wikis are all about. But this was a great conference that deserves to have a record of what happened there set out coherently.

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