I read a lot of stories that are without women. They are stories with men and brothers and husbands and male academics and office buildings and stories that reference other works of art that only contain men. Sometimes there are wives or girlfriends or daughters, but they exist only in reference to the man in question. Sometimes I feel like I’m crazy. Surely I must be imagining this lack of women.
Then when I try to write things about women I start to berate myself. No one is interested in such womanly things, I tell myself even though I am interested in those things. And sometimes in situations with writers I see other women berated for writing about women and I don’t say anything because I am afraid there will be a backlash against me. I want “Fragments of Persephone” where women can exist in writing and they can exist without any sort of backlash. Without people demeaning the interests of women or accusing women of something. I want writing about women to be enough.
I’ve been writing prose poems about the imaginary character “Marianne” since the summer of 2014 when I taught creative writing in a maximum security women’s prison in Alabama. One of my favorite books of poetry is Loose Woman by Sandra Cisneros and I’m always inspired by how fearlessly Cisneros writes about the experience of being a woman. With this project I wanted to face my fear of writing honestly about women and depression and political issues that women and their bodies face. I wanted to make things to please myself rather than to please those around me.
Tasha Coryell is an MFA Candidate at the University of Alabama where she is working on a novel about murderous sorority girls. Her work has been featured in [PANK], The Collagist, Word Riot and other journals