July 17, 2010

Physical Translating, session 2

We met in the kitchen today because it was raining. And we started earlier, at 9 am. A couple people did not make it, I think because they had to work; Monday is some kind of holiday. The cat Shushi slipped in and out and took up residence in laps and chairs.

We talked a bit about the descriptions of first getting one's period in Audre Lorde's "Zami: A New Spelling of My Name" and of the piece "Wetness" by the anonymous author in the Meem anthology. Both described physical details of the experience, but they also referred to menses as a time when one is "becoming a woman". Everyone sort of spontaneously spoke about what it had been like for them. It seemed to be a common experience to not have really been told or taught about it. We wrote about either this experience, or the concept of becoming a woman. After we read, people commented more on what they liked or what they wanted to hear more about. This took up most of our time. I was planning to do more, but I have to factor (language) translation into the time it takes to do exercises.

We also talked a bit about documenting, though our discussion was less about style and more about content. I ended with some summaries of Audre Lorde's and Virginia Woolf's views on women writing: breaking silences and "killing the Angel in the house"; both of them have to do with a certain type of freedom of the mind: that you can't be free till you break silences, and you can't really write till your mind is free. I thought it was important to bring this up as we'll move into writing more about ourselves in the present, rather than in the past.

Something interesting came up: myths of the body. What had people heard about their bodies that turned out to be untrue? So we decided to use that as an exercise during the week. I also asked people to write someplace they normally wouldn't, so that they might become more aware of their body or physical presence.

Lots of discussion, cross talking, excited words, and different perspectives in the kitchen.


  1. It was a great discussion; I really enjoyed it! One thing though: this is the body-based writing workshop not the physical translating workshop, n'est-ce pas? ;) See you all next week for our final session!

  2. i wish i was there...i am missing a lot this summer :(

  3. oops! my bad. the workshop is called "physical translating" (which is a lovely title, by the way ;)