Sara Ahmed

Handle with care

A study in (poetic) fragility

“Letraset’s rarity and fragility give it a transient quality; coupled with the intimate hand to page contact of its application, the medium itself challenges the masculinist impulse for permanence, immortalization, and enduring legacy in poetics and makes room for vulnerability and even grief.” Adaptation of a photo of Letraset in American Typewriter Bold, by Flickr user harleypeddie.

get out the letraset and a blank page. rub on an M. rotate page. rub on an X. rotate page. rub on a g. rotate page. rub on a line using a border. rotate page. think that y should maybe have been an A but then do it anyway. lament half-rubbed on letter until i own it as part of the thing. rotate page. rub on a J but make its tail kiss an i.

I think of feminism as a fragile archive, a body assembled from shattering, from splattering, an archive whose fragility gives us responsibility: to take care. — Sara Ahmed[1

And with such force in their fragility; a fragility, a vulnerability, equal to their incomparable intensity. — Hélène Cixous[2

'a few 'strong wrinkles' puckering the / skin between the ears'

I suggested in my previous post that poetic irritation, or maybe irritability (who, after all, is being irritated here?) has something to do with a tediously citational female word-labor, antithetical to poetry in the case of Nella Larsen’s constantly irritated fictional character Helga Crane, and the very “raw material of poetry in all its rawness” in the case of Marianne Moore. “[W]e discern Miss Moore being a librarian, an editor, a teacher of typewriting: locating fragments already printed; picking and choosing; making, letter by letter, neat pages” (Kenner 98).

That unnoticed & that necessary

On the reproductive labor of self-effacement

Inscription inside my copy of Tell Me A Riddle

One thing I really admire about women is that we’re able to put up with a lot of shit while still smiling. That takes a lot of discipline and strength. But we all have our limits, and sometimes we have to learn how to tell the shit to fuck off. Tillie Olsen’s 1978 book on Silences keeps coming up in conversation lately. The chapters explore various kinds of silences in literature, with references to Rebecca Harding Davis, Thomas Hardy, Willa Cather, Jean Toomer, Charles Baudelaire. Olsen’s book argues how a writer’s circumstances, as produced by society’s delineations of race, class and gender, can stifle creative expression.

One thing I really admire about women is that we’re able to put up with a lot of shit while still smiling. That takes a lot of discipline and strength. But we all have our limits, and sometimes we have to learn how to tell the shit to fuck off.

Tillie Olsen’s 1978 book on Silences keeps coming up in conversation lately. The chapters explore various kinds of silences in literature, with references to Rebecca Harding Davis, Thomas Hardy, Willa Cather, Jean Toomer, Charles Baudelaire. Olsen’s book argues how a writer’s circumstances, as produced by society’s delineations of race, class and gender, can stifle creative expression. Silences is best-known for its attention to gender. A consecutive sequence of chapters bear the titles: “The Damnation of Women,” “The Angel in the House,” “Freeing the Essential Angel,” and “Wives Mothers Enablers.” 

Are you a mother? Do you know a mother? Are you the child of a mother? Then you should probably read this book.

Syndicate content