Friday, April 8, 2016

G is for Sue Goyette, Artemisia Gentileschi

My theme this year is the ABCEDARIA of Women who have inspired me.

G is for Sue Goyette, poet.

photo by Katherine Wooler

Look at her! My heart could burst with delight that this poet is my pal. She has inspired me for going on 14 years, both by her writing and by her passionate and endlessly inventive life. If you haven't read her poetry - get thee to a bookstore or library immediately. Her last book of poetry is called The Brief Reincarnation of a Girl. I cannot adequately describe this work to you but I will try. The Brief Reincarnation of a Girl follows the true story of a four-year-old Massachusetts girl who had died from a prolonged exposure to a pharmaceutical cocktail prescribed by a psychiatrist to treat ADHD and bipolar disorder.  Her parents were convicted of her murder. Goyette sets the narrative poem in the courtroom but it is a court you've never seen before. Poverty shows up as a mean-hearted bully, the ghost of the girl is there and her protector - a large bear. Although you may feel at times like throwing the book down in frustration at a system that could have created such a disaster - stay with it. There is a kind of redemption in the madness.

Ocean is the name of the book of poems Sue wrote before The Brief Reincarnation of a Girl. It was short-listed for the Griffin and for those of you who aren't either into poetry or not Canadians - this is a huge honour. It is the largest poetry prize for an work in English in the world. There were only three poets short-listed.  Ocean takes on a mythical community of shore dwellers and their relationship to the ocean, itself a character in the narrative. 

Goyette inspires me with her spirit, her fierce desire for equality, her tireless work in the world of community building, and her brilliant sense of humour. 

G is for Artemisia GentileschiArtemisia Gentileschi was an Italian Baroque painter, today considered one of the most accomplished painters in the generation following that of Caravaggio. Like Sue Goyette - she was considered a fierce opponent of those who took advantage of the downtrodden - particularly women and the poor. She had been raped when young and not only successfully prosecuted the rapist, she often featured the victimization of women in her works. She was the first woman to be admitted to the Accademia di Arte del Disegno. I guess I don't have to tell you why she inspired me, do I?

The work she is most known for is Judith Slaying Holofernes.  This one is a self-portrait of her as a lute player.

Have you got any ancient or modern inspirations in your life


Susan Scott said...

Great post on two great people Jan - and how lovely to have Sue as your friend. I've added her name and The Brief Re-incarnation of a Girl to my tbr list. Gentileschi I haven't heard of .. so many brave and courageous women who have taken up the cause to ensure wrongs are righted. Endless admiration ..

Here in SA I have such admiration for our public protector Thuli Madonsela whose probe into our president's corruption on a particular issue brought it all the way to the Constitutional Court, recently (last week) and which found against him. Thuli Madonsela did not let go of the rightness of this in spite of many attempts to stop her probe ...This is an ongoing drama in our country.

Elizabeth Spann Craig said...

I've had a recent craving for poetry and have been reading a good deal online and trying to use poetry to warm up before my usual writing, too. Thanks for the tip on Sue!

Bish Denham said...

That must have been a tough topic to tackle in poem. Worth looking into. I've heard of Artemisia, a movie should be made of her life if one hasn't been done already. As for inspiration, my mother and Joan of Arc.

Margot Kinberg said...

You're so fortunate, Jan, that Sue is your friend. Being able to write powerful poetry is such a gift! I must read her work. And your mention of Artemisia Gentileschi is spot on, too.

Keiths Ramblings said...

I think I am too much of a free spirit to allow anything or anybody to inspire me. I have always been one to do the opposite of what people suggest, so I suppose they could be considered to be negative inspirers! A delightful post.

Visit Keith's Ramblings and his obsolete words!

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Miss Andi said...

What heartwarming words about your friend! It was great to read how much you respect and admire her!

Andrea from Damyanti's D Company #atozchallenge