Main : feminism, folklore, lesbian, poetry
This collection of imagist poems combines mythology, archaeology and translation. Susan Hawthorne draws on the history and prehistory of Rome and its neighbours to explore how the past is remembered. Under the guidance of Curatrix, Director of the Musæum Matricum, and Latin poet, Sulpicia, travellers Diana and Agnese are led through the mythic archives about wolves and sheep before attending an epoch-breaking party to which they are invited by Empress Livia.
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This collection is the ultimate in feminist poetry. Its breadth is mind-boggling, its vision grand ... Writing like this helps me believe that sexism — despite being so persistent and pervasive — is not insurmountable with so many voices speaking out against it. Writers like Hawthorne give me hope that women’s voices are growing with each generation, and that they will ultimately make themselves heard.Bronwyn Lovell, Lip Magazine
Susan Hawthorne, polyglot scholar and poet, invites you too to a party of countless women across the ages! The talk's torrential, the company fascinating, the cultural crossovers dizzying. Expect the unexpected - Pope Francis, Nauru, love-song and prayer, and Palaeolithic Lupa across the table.Judith Rodriguez AM
Who’d have thought that erudition could be so exotic, erotic and dazzlingly entertaining? In this triumphantly inventive excursion into feminist revisionism, Hawthorne is fully mistress of language and genre as she brings her Roman women into view in the diverse roles – lover, poet, prostitute, martyr – and the sometimes dark fates that await them as living instances of she-wolf and lamb.
Table of Contents
Preface by Curatrix
This manuscript has been drawn together in the lead-up to Livia’s party. Women from many times and places were invited; some, like Diana and Agnese, arrived early and so, in good feminist spirit, I enlisted the assistance of my intern, Sulpicia, to help them find their way around Rome and nearby parts. As with all travel there were interruptions, missed buses, eye-opening places to see and histories to hear.
They visited the Musæum Matricum where I have gathered a series of lost texts from many periods. Some are recently found texts which have been published in obscure journals; others have never before been made public or have only been read by a few visitors to the Musæum Matricum.
The women visited Sardinia with its paleolithic, megalithic and Bronze Age treasures – of the last the most spectacular being the nuraghe, stone towers built without mortar – and on Sardinia they also found those marvellous baetyls, small breasted stones. Indeed, a number of their travels involved breasted beings: birds, wolves, lions and more.
But then it was time to return to Rome and follow the stories of Lupa. These are retellings, some far more original than the ones we usually hear. Sulpicia became quite excited about the prospect of performing in a play and then reading aloud her own poems, which I have translated. And Psappha, too, joined us at the party to read her long forgotten poem.
Agnese said, it’s all very well about these wolves and plays and poems, what about the lamb story? The lambs, it turns out, had a tough time of it, especially those who decided to take on the new faith, this ‘Christianity’. They say it was quite different back then; women spoke sacred words, carried certain powers, especially the virgins. The stories are found in many languages, but we all have our mother tongue and we are more than capable of listening and learning. In this manuscript I have translated as much as is possible. And there is always the Internet!
Before the party there was time to convene witnesses from a number of places: some long past; some contemporary. These re-memberings were important ways of bringing together new arrivals to the party. Some had travelled from the other side of the world and from the other side of time. Many had never before met.
And so we gathered, talked, shared stories, admired one another’s hats, celebrated with food, drink, music and dance, argument and laughter and – as so often happens when feminists gather – a declaration was written up. This declaration represents our hope for the future.
throw me to the wolves
hop-on hop-off bus
tour of the lost texts
Lost text: Ooss: dog three bones has
what Lupa says
crimes of men
diary of a vestal virgin
Lost text: Śaurasenī and Mahārāṣṭṛi Prakrits: Sahī: a drama
Suplicia’s lost poem
Lost text: Latin: Sulpicia vii
Sulpicia’s grammar lesson
xyz says Diana
Lost text: Aeolic Lesbian: Psappha in slippers
Diana shears Livia’s flock
Agnese spins Livia’s clip
Curatrix to Agnese
Lost text: Vedic: edī and avidugdha
Santa Maria degli Angeli e dei Martiri
the world according to Santa Barbara
come to kill us
Lost text: Kartvelian: Medea's lambs
Santa Angela di Merici on the precative
Joan and the Johns
the calculus of umbrals
Lost text: Etruscan: ativu and antinacva
Angelic: ancestors of Curatrix
Domatilla and Priscilla
for Santa Cecilia
crimes of women
Sicilia: Santa Felice
Carthage, Tunisia: Santa Perpetua
Lost text: Akkadian: if I were booty
Australia and Italy: lupa girls
Palermo, Sicilia: inquisition
Tuscany: Il giardino dei tarocchi
Australia: sheep town
Lost text: Linear A: twenty-seven wethers
Delos: homeless Latona
Australia: memory’s labyrinth
Ġgantija, Malta: archaeology
six thousand years
Lost text: PIE: sheep and the women
they came in ships
they call women monsters
minder of the lost texts: Angelic: Curatrix
you can teach an old god new tricks
performance poem by Curatrix: slut but but
Lost text: Lupine: La Donna Lupa Paleolitica
friendship among women
tomb of the forgotten women
Demeter and Santa Dimitra
the calculus of lambda (λ)
A note on dates
Background notes by Curatrix
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