FLORENCE HOWE

activist, writer, and founder of the Feminist Press




Florence in Words

Where Have I Been? What Have I Been Doing?

February 6, 2015

Troubling Borders
Readers (if any, and wherever you may be), I owe you, perhaps once again,an apology for my silence. No, I’ve not been depressed or ill. Nor have I been traveling and thus too busy to write. No, No, No. I’ve been spending my physical time visiting doctors, taking x-rays and other tests, and trying to solve a physical (not a medical) problem: my legs are no longer the same length. One half inch separates the longer left leg, which has had a knee replacement, from the shorter right leg, which used to be my “strong,”dependable leg, and which now has problems.

I now understand that this sometimes “happens” to people having knee or hip replacement, but it has taken almost a year for the six doctors I’ve seen to firmly diagnose and figure out how to deal with the condition. I now have a half-inch lift inside the three pairs of new shoes I can wear, and I am trying to get used to that condition. And I am going back into “rehab,” along with a weekly medical masseuse to help overcome the effect on my muscles and tendons of the inertia it has suffered. And I’ve been told that in six to eight weeks—when spring comes—I should be able to take a decently long walk without back pain.

So what else have I been doing? Do you know the Korean journal, Asian Women’s Studies, that comes out of Ewha Women’s University in Seoul, Korea? I have been trying to write a (brief) review for that journal of Troubling Borders: An Anthology of Art and Literature by Southeast Asian Women in the Diaspora, published by the University of Washington Press—in color. It deserves a long review, and I tried four pages, alas. I will try to include a copy of the cover, front and back.

Troubling Borders back cover
Troubling Borders back cover


I have also been writing my “journal poems,” and I’d like to know whether you (whoever you are, if you exist at all) would like to read some of them, even the sad ones, though I’d start with the funny ones, like “Talking to Myself,” which I wrote yesterday. Here is the poem:


Talking to Myself
Most nights, as I prepare for bed,
I’ve just noticed, I fall easily into
Conversation with myself.
No, not in my head, this conversation
Is out loud. Someone listening
Might imagine that two people were
Preparing for bed.

Yes, I talk to myself most nights.
Yes, out loud. In a conversational tone,
I say, “You should be more careful,
Or you should not have risked a fall,”
Or walking barefoot into a dark room,
I say gently, “That was not intelligent,”
As though I were the mother I never had,
Or perhaps the older sister I never had,
loving, gentle, and concerned.

Sometimes it’s different, more like a
Discussion, perhaps about something
coming up the next day.
Should I do this or that?
Should I speak or remain silent?
It’s good to hear the words spoken.
It’s like reading out loud a sentence
you’ve just typed out on the screen
to test whether it makes sense, or whether it
needs revision.
And when you live alone,
you have to try things out
on the only person in sight.

I’m not embarrassed about talking to myself.
I’m wondering how many people
living alone, have fallen into this mode.
I know that when I hear myself
stating two positions,
and sometimes even three,
I can decide which makes sense,
And which is wishful thinking, or just plain
Nonsense.

Besides, it’s cosy, this chatter,
And it reminds me of a time
Seventy years ago, when I wrote an essay
Called “Me, Myself, and I,”
As though I were three different selves
Housed in one body. I’ve long lost the
Essay but not the memory, and it’s
Still fun to visit the three people
Inside me, the meek little “me,”
The warm-hearted “myself,”
And the formal, seeing “I.”

Select Works

"Everyone concerned about global feminism, women’s contributions, and humanity’s future will be enhanced and enchanted by A Life in Motion.”—Blanche Wiesen Cook, author of Eleanor Roosevelt: Volume I and Volume II
Lecture delivered by Florence Howe on January 8, 2011, at the Modern Language Association Annual Convention
“It is impossible to imagine women’s studies without Florence Howe. Myths of Coeducation shows her vision and courage, insight and dauntlessness.”–Catharine R. Stimpson, Rutgers University
A revised and expanded edition of the classic groundbreaking anthology of 20th-century American women's poetry, representing more than 100 poets from Amy Lowell to Anne Sexton to Rita Dove.

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