Utopian Turtletop. Monsieur Croche's Bête Noire. Contact: turtletop [at] hotmail [dot] com

Friday, July 15, 2005


Leaving town again, this time for 10 days, to Canada, for the 3-day Vancouver Folk Music Fest, then a week of camping and touristing on Vancouver Isle & the Gulf Isles.

Elsewhere in Blogville, Jane Dark says, beautifully, I want to be music, and wonders how, with music in the world, she can even drag herself to the office. I say “she” out of deference to the author’s wishes; I have it on good authority that Jane Dark is the pseudonym of a male poet who publishes poems under his male name.

Brief history of male poets publishing pseudonymously as women:

Pierre Louys, late 19th century France, publishes “Songs of Bilitis,” purporting to be translations of poems by a female contemporary of Sappho’s. Louys starts the tradition of male poets pretending to be women when they write, and then writing about their vaginas. Sings “Bilitis,” about nymphs: About their separated thighs, slow circles spread. . . (Ellipsis in original.)

After Louys, the most famous male poet to pose as female was Kenneth Rexroth, who midway through the 20th century presented short original poems of his own as translations by a contemporary Japanese woman named Marichiko. Like Louys’s, Rexroth’s inner woman likes to write about parting “her” thighs too:

You wake me,
Part my thighs, and kiss me.
I give you the dew
Of the first morning of the world,

I don’t have an example at hand, but a recent book of poems by Clayton Eshleman includes a batch of poems he published in magazines under guise of being a woman; if memory serves, Eshleman’s inner woman wrote about “her” privates much more often than Eshleman’s public man wrote about his.

Some time between Rexroth in the ‘50s or ‘60s and Eshleman in the ‘80s or ‘90s, Andrei Cordrescu published poems pseudonymously as a woman, but the sense I got from the handful of poems I read was that his inner woman was not genital obsessed.

I’m happy to say that “Jane Dark” hasn’t to my knowledge written about “her” vagina and that the male author seems to be in the Cordrescu tradition more than the Louys/Rexroth/Eshleman tradition. Not that I have anything against females’ privates! It just feels presumptuous for a dude to pretend to be a woman and then to be all into her own genitals. “If I were a woman, I could have sex with myself whenever I wanted! Cool!” Maybe more Beavis & Butthead than presumptuous, really.

I’m guessing that “Ms.” Dark took “her” name in hommage to the Maid of Orleans, Jeanne d’Arc, who’s usually Anglicized as Joan of Arc. Like “Joan,” “Jane” is an English feminization of the name “John.”

Like the old song says, “Joan of Arc with the Lord to guide her -- she was a sister who really cooked.” As a stance for a poet, it calls to mind Artaud’s vision of the actor burning at the stake, signalling through the flames.

To use the vernacular, “Jane Dark” is often On Fire! Seriously. The passage, to which I linked to start THIS post, about wanting to BE music -- beautiful.

Have a good 10 days -- see you on the flipside.
Here is another good source for researching the life of Joan of Arc. Very extensive website: Joan of Arc - MaidofHeaven.com
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