Everything is Real001
Everything is Real Except the Obvious
Sari Broner, Margaret Butterfield, Gisèle Charlebois, Dale Going, Aífe Murray, Denise Newman, Christina Sunley
Introduction by Kathleen Fraser
Em Press
Mill Valley, CA
ISBN 0-9632085-0-0
101 p., 9 x 6

Seven women writers pushing up through language. New growth. No ideal authority sits at the center of this collection; these are strong voices, powerful, demanding autonomy and the right to their own truth. Feminist guerillas whose fresh, multivocal works challenge the anachronistic status quo of the patriarchy. These seven different stories, seven different points of view are forays, cultural and personal investigations across dark borders into unmapped geographies.
– Maureen Owen

Ways words manifest. Make manifest. “Setting tesserae.”…These are indeed Pleiades – brave, open, shining selves.
Rachel Blau DuPlessis

Cover art by Susan Marie Dopp: Little Beasts, Real and Imagined, ©1991; Mixed media on gesso panel 28x26, in the collection of Jonathan and Geraldine Whitman. Book design by Dale Going. Typography and cover design by Dale Going and Sari Broner. [Offset printing on Mohawk Superfine.This is the first Em Press publication.]

          “Everything is real except the obvious,” Denise said. She was drawing a conclusion, temporary of course. And everyone laughed. We were eight women poets feeling the absurdity of describing the elephant. I’d worked individually with these women, I knew each had at least one hand on the beast and a foot poised entirely elsewhere in her own interior space. I wanted each to hear the others’ desires and to find a way to turn urgency and frustration into the articulate.
          During the period of this book’s writing, we had Stein’s “continuous present,” her non-schematic eruption of associations, as a kind of model. We had, also, H.D.’s invitation to the unmarked white page. Yet resistance lurked, was in fact part of the elephant in everybody’s description. This collection of poems and prose pieces is work in a state of flux, work that couldn’t have emerged until methods of self–censorship were uncovered. Disclosure: the making of the writing itself became a primary part of the investigation.
          The writing by these late twentieth-century women – with the extraordinary chaos and fragmentation that this location implies – found that it needed very wide margins, patient sifting, resistance to subtle hype from every quarter, permission to reinvent the elephant in its recombinant dance. These works are presented as caught perceptions whose shadowy movements had not yet been allowed voice or presence. Their materials are intentionally scavanged, patched, reassembled and asserted as made things. The “Working Notes” accompanying each section take their inspiration from the journal HOW(ever), whose poetry texts are always preceded by a statement of working method as a way of inviting the reader into the mystery of the investigation and the intentionality of the construction.
Kathleen Fraser, San Francisco, January 24, 1991

Dale Going: Working Notes
          Wanting to respond to, to acknowledge the notetaker. Myself as notetaker as caretaker. Secretary, waitress, witness. Record, order. The ways in which this is chosen, given, understood, a role. In which I am un&comfortable. Taking notes in class, voices speaking spark tangents. Notebooks full of material inexplicable from the text, irrelevant to the test. Buying notebooks so satisfying. Making lists. Notes in the margins of every book I own. Post-it notes in every book I’ve borrowed. Notes disembodied from context reveal mysterious precision. Conversation with Sari a year ago about place, how we’ve never, in any situation or category, chosen the center. Peripheral in religion, income, politics. (No one I’ve ever voted for has won.) In being artists. In writing poetry, the only art form with zero possibility for making a living. As poets, feminist, experimental. Marginal. Sari, we’re not even marginal, we’re unknown. Yes but, she says, excited, we’ll be marginal soon! Then laughing, laughing, at a truth of us: we aspire to marginality.
          An ongoing poetic project: Stolen Poems – words heard or seen. Stolen a plainer word than appropriated. Dismay that politics & media misstate, disinform, can’t recall. No one ever says, “He lied.” I stole. And attempt, am tempted, often, to tell, confess whose words are imbedded in the text. (See acknowledgements).
          Present project: exploration/celebration of notes. Excerpts from “Fifteen Thousand Useful Phrases” is a distillation of notations from conversations. Or Less, process of expansion/ contraction: masses of notes written with the screen off or with an ancient manual typewriter (methods intended to circumvent self-censorshp), then somehow contained. I resisted the assignment as though someone had given it to me. I set irritable limits: market express line (9 items or less) contest rules (25 words or less). The marvelous moment… is a physical containment, an object: a small basket full of individual lines on curled strips of newsprint. Their fluidity was important to me; I did not have the heart for a static arrangement. This particular version, this time, according to the order in which I pull lines from the basket.
          I am working notes. Unfolding. Opening. Attending the inclination.

Dale Going: Biographical Note
Since I could, I have. Poetry has been the transept, steadying horizontal. Always my heart has opened through it, only recently my throat. (Nearly dying woke me.) To revel, reveal, enfold and extend, intact and fluid. The impossibility otherwise, the necessity. While admitting hell, allowing heaven – this cottage where I live and write, surrounded by roses, Philip in the next room, fat cat on desk. Family, friends, working with the seriously ill, women and men, reminders. The phenomenal etceteras of being alive.