I decided a few weeks ago to email Daphne Gottlieb to let her know that I would be writing about her and to ask if she had heard of (and/or was influenced by) Helene Cixous since I saw a definite connection between the two. Much to my amazement, she got back to me a week later and said that my hunch was correct! It was very exciting because it gave my project and ideas more validity, and eventually gave me the courage to do this blog…

kate gramlich to peek [Mar 6]

Hi Daphne, my name is Kate and I’m a graduating senior in sociology/women’s studies at Southern IL University in Carbondale. I’m currently taking a class on sexual diversity and for our semester paper I wanted to do a linguistic analysis of some of the poems in Why Things Burn. I was wondering if you have read anything by Helene Cixous, a french philosopher from the 70s, because her concept of writing one’s self and writing the body is what I’m mostly focusing on in context of your poetry. If not, I would definitely suggest checking out The Laugh of the Medusa 🙂 You don’t need to respond if you’re busy, I mostly just wanted to let you know that I’ll be writing about your work and that I’m a huge (new) fan.

Thanks for your time, have a great weekend!
– kate


Daphne Gottlieb to me [Mar 13]

Hi, Kate-
Thanks so much for taking the time to write — I’m honored that you like my work. I do indeed know Cixous (and her Laugh of the Medusa is one of my favorite pieces of writing, bar none)! I’m sorry to be brief — I have repetitive strain which makes it difficult to respond at all — but I wanted you to know how delighted I am by your email.

Good luck with your work —


found this via therumpus.net under “spoken word memories”…

I met Daphne Gottlieb first at the Cafe Du Nord poetry slam and we had something resembling violent sex down the street in the bathroom stall of the Lucky 13. She sat on the toilet looking down on me as I lay on the floor, touching her boot.

“Usually,” she said. “I’m a lesbian.”

I admit to having struggles already with the blogging format in this assignment.  I feel so connected to the linear style of writing and so comfortable with the relatively rigid academic formatting guidelines (Limit usage of personal “I!” Don’t interject “I think/feel” sentences! Follow citation rules! Keep everything neat and tidy!) that subverting or queering them for the purpose of this little textperiment/sexperiment (har) seems off. Don’t get me wrong, I adore blogging and love using it as a medium for my personal and poetic writing, but combining it with academic text (which is the point of this) is like writing with the wrong hand (or, to tie in some Cixous, masturbating with it.)

My main concern is that this will be confusing or too jumpy, or on the other hand, that it’ll end up too rigid and conventional… it’s a damned if I do/damned if I don’t situation that only I am creating for myself. Perhaps this is one of the mental roadblocks that queer or progressive writers face: how do we balance? how do we avoid being “too extreme” AND “too boring”?

I feel like both Gottlieb and Cixous would be shaking their heads and saying “Fuck ’em, just go for it.”

Just wanted to insert this little footnote from my original paper proposal:

The word “woman” is used in Cixous’s The Laugh of the Medusa (1976) inclusively to mean both woman-as-woman and woman-as-person. She states that man must write him self as well: “it’s up to him to say where his masculinity and femininity are at,” which in turn will cause them to “[open] their eyes and see themselves clearly” (877).  Cixous sees men as victims of the oppressive patriarchal state just as women are: “the way man has of getting out of himself and into her whom he takes not for the other but for his own, deprives him, he knows, of his own bodily territory” (877). However, because language and speech are explained and seen to be “governed by the phallus,” the concept of femininity remains the default in her essay as well as my own (881).

Also: In class, we discussed the gendering of pronouns and using gender-neutral language, and while I can recognize that using woman-as-person (with the disclaimer about men) excludes individuals who do not subscribe to or fit into the neat little boy/girl gender boxes that we have socially constructed, I do appreciate her early use of the female pronoun as opposed to the typical male default.