She Pushes with her Hands
Dale Going
Em Press
Mill Valley, CA
ISBN 0963208519
Out of Print
[24] p., 8 x 8
Edition of 60
for Susan Howe

Going is a poet who has faith,
not only in fragments,
but in the surrounding silence.
– Patricia Dienstfrey

Best Letterpress Book Design Award
Bumbershoot Arts Festival
Seattle, Washington


Some quotations and textual fragments are taken from letters of Fathers Jacques de Lamberville and Claude Chauchetiere in The Jesuit Relations and Allied Documents, vol. 60-65, and The Iroquois Book of Rites, edited by Horatio Hale.

Thanks to Myung Mi Kim, Peter Rutledge Koch, and Joyce Lancaster Wilson.

Handset in Centaur and Arrighi on Okawara and Banana Skin with Chiri Unryu endpapers, Otomi Indian Bark Paper cover and beaded spine. Printed letterpress in an edition of 75.

Printed on a Vandercook press at the Press in Tuscany Alley, San Francisco.

Audio and video recordings of Dale Going reading She Pushes With Her Hands and discussing the making of this and other Em Press books are available through the American Poetry Archives. The 1993 reading at the San Francisco Main Library, along with Joyce Lancaster Wilson of The Press at Tuscany Alley and Alistair Johnson of Poltroon Press, was part of the Poetry Center’s “Writing and Community” series, curated by Michael Palmer, who moderated a panel discussion along with Aaron Shurin.

She Pushes With Her Hands has been exhibited at the Bumbershoot Arts Festival in Seattle, Washington, in Beside the Sleeping Maiden at the O’Hanlon Center Gallery in Mill Valley, California, in the Members Exhibition of the Pacific Center for the Book Arts at the San Francisco Main Library, at the Leonard Library at San Francisco State University, and in Livres de poètes (femmes) at the Berkeley Art Center, Berkeley, California.

Working Notes
She Pushes With Her Hands is a long poem about Kateri Tekakwitha, a seventh century Iroquois-Alongquin woman who converted to Catholicism and is now one step from becoming the first Indigenous American Catholic Saint. I grew up in Amsterdam, New York, near the settlements on the Mohawk River where Kateri was born and where she was living when the Jesuit missionaries arrived. An earlier group of missionaries had been martyred at the same village, so the combination of Jesuit martyr saints and beatified Native American inevitably resulted in the site becoming The Shrine of the North American Martyrs, the seasonal local tourist attraction of my childhood. I spent every Sunday of every summer there. Because, in an era of pixie cuts, I wore long braids, I was constantly approached by the faithful and told I “looked just like Kateri.” On an autumn return to my childhood home a few years ago, I decided to investigate the cult of Kateri. I visited her shrines on both sides of the Mohawk and bought (almost) all things Kateri – the comic book, the holy cards, the sheet music, the biographies, the 45 single, the key chain, the magnet, the plastic statue, the beaded leather portrait, the holy water, the holy dirt. (I did not purchase the mug or the hundred pound concrete garden statue.) Reading up, I was startled to realize and remember that I had indeed known, as a child, the macabre details of her life and death, though their meanings and motives according to the Catholic scheme had diffused what I now perceive as their sadness and horror. On returning to San Francisco I researched the contemporary sources on Kateri Tekakwitha: The Jesuit Relations, a remarkable set of documents written by the Jesuit missionaries to their superiors in France. Inspired by Susan Howe’s poetics of retrieval from historical silences, I wrote She Pushes With Her Hands and dedicated the poem to Howe.

The making of the poem and the making of the book were an integral process. I was setting type before the poem was finished, which made for some frustrating moments at the job case but also a heightened editorial care for the precision of each word. Because I felt that Kateri Tekakwitha, despite or perhaps because of her objectifying fame, had been marginalized, I centered her on the page with a poem of narrow, centered lines in a wash of space representing the irretrievable. Quotations from
The Jesuit Relations, ironized in their appropriation of Kateri’s life and death to the mission of conversion, were printed as marginalia on separate, darker strips of banana skin paper from the Philippines (a later center of conversion and miracles), interleaved with the central text. The cover is made of fig-bark paper, a pre-Columbian paper of the Otomi tribe in Mexico. The pamphlet-stitched spine of the book is beaded. Beading was Kateri Tekakwitha’s written text, and, as a girl nearly blinded by small pox, so that she was only able to see close up, it was, along with a fatal religious masochism, her expressive skill.