H.D.: “If she went away [from Pennsylvania] her spirit would break; if she stayed, she would be suffocated” (11)

(11th in a series of posts on H.D.)

Finding H.D.: A Community Exploration of the Life and Work of Hilda Doolittle

The next event in this year-long series is a panel discussion on “H.D. and the Natural World,” Tuesday, April 16, 6:30-8:00pm at the Bethlehem Area Public Library.

Gadfly is following this wonderful program on Bethlehem-born world-renown author H.D. (1866-1961), the Lehigh Valley’s most important literary figure – who most of us, Gadfly included, know very little about.

Here again is the full recording of Prof. Mary Foltz’s lecture on “Challenging Limited Understandings of Gender and Sexuality” on March 6.

After the intro by Jennie Gilrain, Mary introduces the overarching questions we should think about during her talk (min. 2:30), introduces H.D.’s The Gift (min. 5:01), discusses and interacts with the audience about two poems by Rosa Lane for context (min. 8:04 and min. 20:54), and concludes this context by showing how the Lane poems set up four themes that characterize H.D.’s work (min. 30:25). Mary turns to The Gift for the main focus of her talk (min. 32.18) and the Q ‘n A follows (min. 1:14:50).

So now let’s think about the second slice of Mary’s lecture.

Gadfly is straight.

How can he know what’s it’s like to be . . . not straight?

How can he know what it feels like to be lesbian, gay, bi-sexual, transgender, queer?

Literature is a way of knowing.

Mary tells us that H.D., the Lehigh Valley’s most important literary figure, is a bisexual feminist poet.

How can Gadfly understand H.D. and her criticism of the damages of sexism and patriarchy?

Mary fosters that understanding of people like me who “will not know the pain of encountering others’ hatred as you express femininity or masculinity because you’ve been assigned a sex at birth that does not match your gender” through a discussion of two short poems by lesbian poet Rosa Lane.

Poetry must be heard.

Gadfly encourages you to read the Lane poems printed below along with listening to them read by members of Mary’s audience — people just like you.

H.D. 3

Read them. And think about them for a couple minutes. Then listen to Mary and her audience talk about them.

Rosa Lane, “Tomboy’s Toggle to Love”

Rosa Lane, “Boats Named Women”

Rosa Lane 2

Mary took the poems individually, got the audience talking about them, and then pulled things together in her words.

Gadfly would love to think you have the time to listen to the segments on each poem – but you must, YOU MUST listen to at least one!

So here are audio clips of the full segments on each poem with some teasers from Mary’s wrap-ups.

1) “Tomboy’s Toggle to Love”

“The child expressing lesbian desire in this poem, the longing to share love for another woman, feels like an alien in her own home. . . . What she is looking for is a community, a tribe, of others that can affirm her desire as beautiful and valuable. She sends a message in a bottle, but hears nothing back from the world, nothing washes ashore, that indicates she is not alone in her difference. . . . the desire for another woman is not something that she feels could be erased, her course is set from childhood to be lost to her community and family because of her difference.”

2) “Boats Named Women”

“This poem addresses how women are the vessels that support men in their journeys through the world in this fishing community. Women’s bodies. . . . are gutted hulls, not subjects in their own right, but bodies devoted to pleasuring men. . . . sexual intimacy here is described as the mother chopping off a part of herself to give to her partner.”

Mary then finishes her introduction to H.D. by setting out four themes that characterize H.D.’s work.

  • institutionalized sexism limits possibilities for white women
  • normative heterosexuality defines women’s sexuality as being objects of desire for men rather than subjects of desire
  • documenting the desire to surpass limited understanding of what women’s bodies are for
  • imagining and enacting alternatives to gender norms for women

H.D. 5H.D., Mary tells us, felt suffocated in Bethlehem and Philadelphia even as she loved her family and community.

“If she went away her spirit would break,” H.D. wrote of herself, “if she stayed, she would be suffocated.”

That tension tears Gadfly up.

Another slice of Mary’s lecture to think about coming in our next post. Moving there into a discussion of H.D.’s work itself.


Remember: the next event in this year-long series is a panel discussion on “H.D. and the Natural World,” Tuesday, April 16, 6:30-8:00pm at the Bethlehem Area Public Library.

H.D.: “the challenge to create new narratives” (10)

(10th in a series of posts on H.D.)

Finding H.D.: A Community Exploration of the Life and Work of Hilda Doolittle

The next event in this year-long series is a panel discussion on “H.D. and the Natural World,” Tuesday, April 16, 6:30-8:00pm at the Bethlehem Area Public Library.

Gadfly is following this wonderful program on Bethlehem-born world-renown author H.D. (1866-1961), the Lehigh Valley’s most important literary figure – who most of us, Gadfly included, know very little about.

039

Here is the full recording of Prof. Mary Foltz’s lecture on “Challenging Limited Understandings of Gender and Sexuality” last Wednesday.

After the intro by Jennie Gilrain, Mary introduces the overarching questions we should think about during her talk (min. 2:30), introduces H.D.’s The Gift (min. 5:01), discusses and interacts with the audience about two poems by Rosa Lane for context (min. 8:04 and min. 20:54), and concludes this context by showing how the Lane poems set up four themes that characterize H.D.’s work (min. 30:25). Mary turns to H.D.’s autobiographical narrative The Gift for the main focus of her talk (min. 32.18) and the Q ‘n A follows (min. 1:14:50).

As we’ve done with the lectures by Profs Moglen and Atwood, we’ll ration out Mary’s presentation in blog-worthy-size slices between here and the next event in the series — the panel discussion April 16. But you do have the full event on audio above for immediate reference.

In her intro, Jennie Gilrain spoke of her past experience with Mary’s “Whoa!” and “Wow!” questions. And Mary served us up a heap of ‘em with her first breath of introduction.

Listen (above, the first 5 minutes of the lecture on audio) and look (below).

And do your Whoa! and Wow!

“What does it mean for us here tonight and for our city to rethink the history of our community and the central values of our community through engagement with a bisexual feminist poet? How would placing a woman poet at the center of our civic identity change the historical narratives that we share about Bethlehem and our visions for the future as we imagine the city we want to become? How might H.D.’s criticism of the damages of sexism and patriarchy (societies in which men hold positions of power within and outside of the family) challenge us to see our city—our history and our present-day institutions—with fresh eyes, awake to the legacy of devaluing women’s lives, voices, and contributions and the persistence of sexism? How does this poet’s work call us as readers, as her newest ‘kin’ in the city that she once called home and that haunted her throughout her life, to engage with the hopes and promises of Moravian ancestors that imagined egalitarian communities in which multi-ethnic, multi-racial citizens created a shared economy to support the well-being of all members and valued the intellectual, spiritual, and physical contributions of women and men?”

Prepare to think new.

The new and used editions of H.D.’s The Gift on Amazon are kinda pricey unfortunately, though there is an inexpensive Kindle version, looks like, but even if you can’t follow along in the text, you will learn a lot from Mary’s presentation.

We’ll take up another slice next time.

Remember: the next event in this year-long series is a panel discussion on “H.D. and the Natural World,” Tuesday, April 16, 6:30-8:00pm at the Bethlehem Area Public Library.

18 miles for Ron on Day 5!

(2nd in a series of posts on Ron Yoshida)

https://88-photos.com/

Yoshida 5

And yet he had strength for this reflection:

“The walk provides plenty of time to reflect and enjoy the environment, specifically gardens. I have come upon wonderful examples from highly manicured to seemingly very natural gardens. Common to all of them is the absence of grass lawns. Rather, gardens are filled with trees and perennials or are planted with seasonal vegetables and fruit trees, I have contended that grass lawns are one of humankind’s worst land uses – wasted person hours cutting grass and the overuse of pesticides and herbicides. Perhaps we can learn from these examples.”

Comments you EAC folks?

Ron’s photos are beautiful!

Follow along?

https://88-photos.com/

On the road with Ron

https://88-photos.com/

Many Gadfly followers know Ron and Sharon Yoshida.

Ron was my boss for a while. yoshida

He is a great talker.

He talked me into things.

But now Ron is a walker.

As I write, he is a day or two or three into the arduous 88-Temple walk in Shikoku, Japan.

A multi-site pilgrimage of 88 temples associated with the Buddhist monk Kūkai (Kōbō Daishi), who lived c. 800.

A walk that will take about 60 days.

And not always on flat rail trails.

Temple 3Temple 1

 I knew he was walking. For exercise, I thought.

I had no idea what he was really walking for.

What IS he walking for? (See his T Minus 3: 27 February 2019 post)

He will reconnect with his Japanese roots.

I get that. Like many retirees, Gadfly has turned to genealogy, producing small books on each of his parents. And hoping to go back further.

Yoshida 3But there’s something more.

It’s contained in the answer from an Australian finisher of the walk to Ron’s question about what effect the journey had on him: he said that the pilgrimage “restored his faith in mankind.”

I get that too. There must be (for want of a better term) a spiritual dimension to Ron’s journey, his “pilgrimage.”

I envy him the quest for that goal. And hope for its completion.

So I’m going to follow Ron like he’s been following Gadfly.

Hoping something will rub off.

https://88-photos.com/

Join us, won’t you?

Buddha: “I am the awakened one.”

H.D.: Wunden Eiland and “Litany of the Wounds”

 (9th in a series of posts on H.D.)

Finding H.D.: A Community Exploration of the Life and Work of Hilda Doolittle

The next event in this year-long series is “Challenging Limited Understandings of Gender and Sexuality” by Lehigh University’s Mary Foltz, TONIGHT Wednesday, March 6, 6:30-8 at the Bethlehem Area Public Library.

Wunden Eiland, where the ceremony in H.D.’s vision took place and the controversial and ultimately “sifted” “Litany of the Wounds” are two of the most intriguing elements of the H.D. story told by Prof Atwood.

Let’s linger on them for a moment. Gadfly loves this stuff.

Here is H.D.’s vision:

This, I could remember, letting pictures steadily and stealthily flow past and through me. When the terror was at its height, in the other room, I could let images and pictures flow through me, and I could understand Anna von Pahlen who had been the inspirer of the meetings at Wunden Eiland when the unbaptized King of the Shawanese gave his beloved and only wife to the Brotherhood. I saw it all clearly.  (The Gift, 134)

And there was an actual Wunden Eiland (Island of the Wound), in the Monocacy — gone now — but down behind Brethren’s House on Church St. in the 18th century.

You can see it on this 1766 map. Follow the Monocacy heading down the left side of the map toward the Lehigh River. See Wunden Eiland on the left just after the Monocacy turns right toward the bottom of the map. Tip o’ the hat to Scott Gordon for the reference.

004

Now here’s a taste of the graphic “Litany of the Wounds,” an example of the hidden, sifted liturgy at the original core of the Moravian Church that attracted H.D.  (For the whole thing, see at end of Craig Atwood, “Zinzendorf’s ‘Litany of the Wounds’.”)

wounds 1

wounds 2

wounds 3

Now on to Mary Foltz’s lecture. Tonight! Be there!