Saturday, May 30, 2009

Blog Blog Revolution - Women's Voices

(Click the picture to see the new moon.)

It's the weekend - and (with Peter away for a while) I can just browse and ponder this expanding world, the blogosphere, that I've plunged into. And it does feel rather like a plunge. In reading these blogs and comments, I've felt there was something familiar about the give and take, the self-expression and response, that I finally identified as very much like the experience I had for many years as a member of the Women Poets of the Twin Cities (later Women Poets and Writers of the Twin Cities).

We started when I was a college kid, and the first meeting (if I remember correctly) was held in my scruffy apartment on Grand Avenue, a block from my school. This was (it dates me) the beginning of the Women's Movement, as we called it then, and women writers in my burg were just beginning to recognize that they had been second-class members of the writing community, or felt themselves to be. The journal editors - the creative writing professor/gurus - the international poets coming in for readings and booze-drenched parties - all were men, and we writing women came along for the ride. So some of us, who had met each other at those booze drenched parties (and sometimes shared the same booze-drenched writers as romantic interests), decided we were interested in - each other, each others' voices, each others' ideas, experiences, wisdom.

This group continued to meet, once each month, and did occasional readings and published at least one or two collections over the years. A couple of women who started with us moved away into lives of being full-time professional writers, feeling perhaps that the group wasn't up to their level, or not appreciating that the primary purpose of the group was not so much to hone the craft as to share lives at a deep level through the writing that people were doing. There was one woman in the group who was a particularly influential mentor to me in the art of being a mother and continuing to have a creative spirit. I needed that model when I started my own family.

Alas, I couldn't continue to meet with the group (though some of the members are, I believe, continuing to meet even today, more than 30 years later). Raising children - working full time - teaching occasional college courses on top of that - and trying to finish my degree on top of THAT - consumed more than a decade of the prime turf of my green and growing years. I also found that what discretionary time I had was spent with my Quaker meeting (serving on committees, being involved on the planning group of our regional Spiritual Nurture program for some years).

But - now my young 20-something men are (more or less) launched - at least out of the house for the present. After wanting to find some way back into writing that offered more than the insularity of my journal, I finally started blogging.

I had read blogs - usually blogs of some of my favorite authors, which I found when I researched them on Google. These bloggers seemed to have so much fun doing their blogs, and they had such lively, affectionate blogging correspondents. I thought it was something that could only happen to published writers, or - I don't know. People living in London.

But plunging into it myself, I find that it is a very open community, much like the Women Poets used to be, where each voice is given attention, whether or not it is polished. We used to give feedback of the sort and level appropriate to the sophistication of the writer, and always with kindness and empathy. It never was a "professional writer" sort of place, but a community of soul-builders, supporting the development of self-understanding and the strengthening of our women's voices, through calling out what was strong and good in what was shared. That's what I'm finding now in the blogosphere - hundreds of women (and men, too, but I gravitate to the women's blogs), all communicating facets of their lives, from the hilarious to the trivial to the heart-breaking, and receiving, for the most part, thoughtful and warm-hearted responses.

My Women Poets group started out as part of a revolution - thinking we needed to give voice to the previously unvoiced women's perspective to bring the world into better balance (remember this was at the end of the Vietnam War). I love that women now have places to share their lives - old and young, home-schoolers and professionals, mothers and artists living on the bohemian edge. And creating community with others, full of laughter and sometimes tears.


Minka said...

Can't comment on that - you've pretty much said it all.

Mel said...

Yup, I"m with Minka...thanks for this...I sometimes need to remember why I do this...

~much love~

Eco Yogini said...

I found my way here from Mel's blog, and she was right- this is a powerful and thoughtful post.

I have just started blogging and found it more positive than my previous feminist meetings I participated in grad school. I have yet to find a women's group that I feel like fits, but then I have a feeling grad students may be more removed from life.
Very insightful :)

Mary Ellen said...

Thanks folks - my thoughts on "what's up with women blogging" are still coming together, but I am finding it a rich experience. Also - looking for an image for the Women Poets, I did a google search and found a listing of the 1975 anthology for sale, and also a Web posting of Colorado poets including my dear friend/mentor mentioned in the blog with contact information (I hope it still is current).

Cam@Journey Wildly said...

Mary Ellen-

Like Eco Yogini, I found myself here via the light & love that Mel shined your way. I must say that I am so glad she did, and I will be back again. Just like you, I have found within this blogsphere, a community of wildly talented & deeply insightful women. We are all on various stops along the path, but something familiar can be found in almost any post. That feels comforting to me.

Thank you for sharing these words, Mary Ellen. And, it's nice to meet you!

♥ Braja said...

I like your observations about women blogging and the community it creates around them; I love it, actually...:)

Nice to meet you, Mary Ellen :)

Mary Ellen said...

Great to meet some new friends - and I've already found my way to a couple of your blogs. Hope your day is a bright/shining as mine is today!

Lynne said...

"a community of soul-builders, supporting the development of self-understanding and the strengthening of our women's voices"

I just love the way you put that! Really enjoying your blog.

Mary Ellen said...

Thanks! And welcome!

Beverley Baird said...

Hi Mary Ellen - I too found my way via Mel - she has been an inspiration for me in many ways.
I found your post very powerful. It certainly resonates with me. I am finding so much sharing and positive feedback and just plain community here.
Thanks for putting it in such powerful words.

Mary Ellen said...

Thanks - I agree that Mel is inspirational. Welcome!

julochka said...

i think it's really neat to read your take on this and to realize that this blog world is just the latest evolution of such communities of writers. what i love is that it has extended the community to a truly global space. i've been living outside of those communities and culture(s) in which i was raised and was missing just this sort of contact with like-minded, like-cultured indivduals, but have definitely found that in the blogosphere.

thanks for stopping by my blog so that i found you.


Ruth said...

I'm tickled to find you - after you visited from Lover of Life's post. This is well stated and insightful, something I hadn't thought of.

I lived in Istanbul 3 years with my family, and I have come to think of my blog - and blogging generally - as a salon for gathering around tea and crocheting, something women still do in Turkey and in many parts of the world. How civilized!

Now I'm going to follow you. Yay!

Kim said...

This is timely for me, as my blog "Creating 52 Weeks" launches this evening. I made time for art all week, often saying no to other people's desires for my time, because I had the goal of getting something ready for the blog post. It felt SO GOOD to paint again.
I got the idea to start the blog after a dream in which I was crying because I wasn't making art. I woke up aware of the grief that comes from neglecting one's true calling. The idea of the blog as a tool for motivation was close behind.

San said...

Thank you for visiting my blog. I'm glad I've found yours. I like what you have to say about our blogging community--the support is special.

Let's continue to visit each other!

Mary Ellen said...

Yay! More connections! Ruth and San, I'll be happy to stay in touch. Kim, I'm excited that you're launching your blog! Writing this piece inspired me to phone Nancy, a dear friend I've lost touch with from the Women Poets group. Last spring she had a concert performing with friends (she's a wonderful soprano and voice teacher - sang at our wedding) in honor of her 70th birthday. We visited briefly then I didn't follow up. I won't let that happen again.

Lover of Life said...

We just moved from the Twin Cities. We lived in Prior Lake for about two years. Lovely area, and I knew what you were talking about when you mentioned Grand Avenue. Through your terrific writing, I could just see your group meeting and discussing poetry and the happenings of the day. I agree the blogosphere is a unique and wonderful entity. Inclusive, not exclusive.

Glad to meet you!

Reya Mellicker said...

I've been blogging for a long time (had a 3 year blog prior to The Gold Puppy). All this time I've been trying to understand the form, what it's doing, what it's for. I keep saying to myself, "blogging is like ... a 21st century salon! It's like a gathering place for writers and artists. It's like a book of oral histories. It's like ...

Anytime I visit an unfamiliar landscape, I always do that. I say, "This is like San Francisco," or whatever.

The truth is, no one really knows what blogging is just yet. It's kind of like a lot of things that give voice to individual viewpoints, but it isn't exactly like any of them.

It's brand new and I'm so thrilled to be a part of it!

SO glad you're "here" (wherever here is).

GREAt post. Thank you!

Leone said...

The first time I was introduced to the support of women was when I read The Circle Of Stones by Judith Duerck. I cried when I read it. We live in such a patriarchal world it is hard to find the feminine and you are so right about blogging being a place to connect, like a circle of women, just quietly being there. Thanks for you comments on my blog.

Mary Ellen said...

Leone, I've read the Duerck book too (and her second one as well) and they still resonate. I see a lot of the nurturing / affirmation of soul-building she depicts going on in the blogosphere - but of course much more (information sharing, humor). Glad to be a support to your creative unfolding!