Monday, December 30, 2013

Writing about trans people

A poet in Fat Poets Speak 2: Living and Loving Fatly writes some of the most beautiful haunting poems about being fat and gay. What a couple of people have mentioned is that it is time for us to write about people who are fat and trans. There are indeed trans people around the "fatosphere." One is the friend of friends, but I would be shy to approach him.

I am planning, however, to have a trans character in FatLand 3: To Live Fat and Free. This means, of course, that I will have to learn a lot more about how one lives life as a fat trans person - or fat trans woman, or fat trans man. The thing is, though, that  I would not wish to make friends with someone simply to learn about it. I would want someone to be my friend because I like that person.

Maybe in a way it is good that at almost 60, I am learning (still).

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Walt Whitman

I feel strongly that Walt Whitman would not have approved of discriminating against or disliking people who are fat. His tolerance took in and embraced people of all genders, sexes, physicalities.

His poetry was meant to be read in the open air, not when people were cooped up in large auditoriums or even small coffeehouses.

On Reading Walt Whitman from the B.U. Bridge

The rain thought about arriving but at the last minute
changed its mind and unfurled up the coast instead.
You'd think the clouds would muffle the sound
but instead they acted as reflectors
hauling the words in and fanning them out
as if they were dancing in colorful clothes
over water.

It's mind over mist, mind over matter,
mind over Mass Ave. Between the sides
spanned by the Charles boats swing past,
motors and sails running with the small wind.
I would give two ducats or greenbacks
for the birds avoiding the bridge
while my throat brings out his words
and microphones them over the span.

Men, women, land as large as laughter
revisit the bridge. He dealt in long, tumbling
lines, and they honored him. I read,
and his tall, loose strides match
the wise ease he observed
in unrhyme.

"TO get betimes in Boston town, I rose this morning early;
Here's a good place at the corner--I must stand and see the show."

Boston, 1854
meets up with Boston, 1980
and shakes hands.
A firm clench. He'd call it manly.

I call it fated.


Friday, December 27, 2013

My mom

There is a poem about my mom in Fat Poets Speak (2): Living and Loving Fatly.

She was plump and beautiful when she was younger. Now she is thin and tiny and still beautiful.

With all that, I feel sometimes as if doctors kept telling her to do things that were completely wrong for her and for her body - and she has been slim for years!  She has high cholesterol, but her ratio is "good" because she has a lot of  "good" cholesterol. But one doctor told her to keep off dairy products. WRONG. (She may even have gotten the colon cancer (operated 1996 successfully) and rheumatoid arthritis and osteoporosis (Lipitor, lack of calcium) because of  this rather wrongheaded advice. Her blood pressure also may have gone up -she takes medication for it now- because of this rather shortsighted advice.

She fell in 2009 and fractured her hip - probably also at least partly because of this rather inappropriate advice. She walks with a walker, and cannot walk far or sit up for periods longer than an hour.

I should add that she is a "diet success story" - she lost forty pounds when she was younger and kept it off, mostly by dieting fairly strictly. Doctors, even the rather benighted individual who told her to keep off dairy products, all love her.

Too bad that their advice and care caused her to become an invalid. I'd bet that if she were fifty pounds heavier but with no history of cancer, high blood pressure or high cholesterol, they would consider her unhealthy, even though she would be stronger and able to walk more than twenty feet at a time.

Welcome to Stupidity Central...

Thursday, December 26, 2013

The Fat Muse visits

Muse has arrived. Today it is the fat female muse. She sits down. I offer her something to drink. She takes hot apple cider.

I tell her that there are things I'd like to put in the poem, but I feel a bit weird putting them in because I am fat.

"Like what?" she asks, spreading her skirts and getting comfortable.

"Oh - knowing someone very well, having him appreciate me, appreciate my curves. Slowly send his hands over them. You know - that stuff."ex

"What is so bad about that?" She drinks the rest of the apple cider. I ask if she wants more. She shakes her head.

"The more you put such details in, the more you legitimize the insertion of such details and the more you make it both legitimate and natural for fat women to write about their own hotness and sexuality. The more they write about it, the easier they make it for women after them to do so, as well. It's a cycle."

I then think of The Biggest Loser, and how there seems to be a hidden subconscious subtext of showing fat people clad in brief garments. People can't seem to get enough of them. Fat is so prohibited that, like the bodies of women in certain countries where they are not allowed to be seen, it becomes sexy by default.

"You're right," I tell her. "But I'm scared. I am not the kind of person who can blithely take on the opinions of millions of people and change them."

"You don't have to be," she says. "Others will come along who can and who do. You are, in Doris Lessing's words, a boulder pusher. You push the boulder slowly up the hill. Others will come along and make it fly."

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Santa is hot

Santa is hot

The smiile draws you
but the red suit grins warmth
and it's only a short way
to jumping into his arms
and telling him exactly
what you'd like for

Santa is hot

Explain that you don't
really believe
but that a Santa for adults
would run your motor
and rev your engine
and his warm tummy
and easy laugh
could drive your car

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Happy Fat Christmas

Is it possible to have a Happy Fat Christmas?  Sure it is.

One tells people who are concern trolling -people who seem to have our best interests at heart, but somehow end up criticizing our bodies- that Santa Claus and Mrs. Claus are hot, and that they obviously have found exercise that suits them. Another thing one might do and say is jump up and down and sing "Bounce Your Boobies", which will drive anyone away whom you don't know too well.

Tell someone who asks if you've lost weight that you now have a magnetic cellphone app that can locate your weight and put it back if it gets lost. Tell someone who asks if you've gained weight that you're training for the lifting marathon and lift that person up as high as you can.

Tell anyone who asks that red is a fat and beautiful color and that is why you're wearing it.

Monday, December 23, 2013

Fat women, fat men and hotness

As stated elsewhere, the posting tonight refers to a blog post in which the blogger stated that fat women could attract men of all sizes, and shouldn't settle for men they didn't consider attractive. The blogger also seemed to consider "tall men with tattoos" as conventionally hot.

Lesleigh Owen and I talked about this previously. We also discussed the concept of "fatting" - of making fat attractive, of linking concepts and ideas and thoughts and scenes to fat beauty, of redefining and writing fat beauty into poems. For in order for fat people -men, women, trans people- to consider themselves desirable and attractive, they must feel that their bodies and auras can be thought of as hot.

What struck me in reading (and responding to) the ensuing conversation, and what made me sad, is that the men who responded, mostly but not only fat men, assumed that they could not be considered conventionally hot. I myself have certain definitions of "hot" which do not involve any particular body types, and which emphasize wit, humor and urbaneness. I think the author of the blog and posting was trying to make the point that fat women should not consider any particular body type "off the table." However, the men who read it were insulted that she mentioned a specific kind of conventionally "hot" kind of body, even though at no time did she restrict "hotness" to that one body type.

I felt sad that the men reading the post would consider themselves as made to feel unattractive or marginalized. (Although of course this is how fat women have been made to feel for decades..)

I hope that fat men will do more writing about themselves as hot and sexy and desirable. I would love love love to see more fat men writing poetry about their fat, sexy selves.

Saturday, December 21, 2013

To food or not to food

Fat Poets Speak (2): Living and Loving Fatly does not have that many poems about food, although it is mentioned. This is at least partly by careful choice. First of all, in a strange way it is an anomaly that fat people are even associated with eating more. Several studies have shown that fat people eat the same amount or less than non-fat people. Secondly, although fat people and people of all sizes have fun eating and cooking, I did not see that there was a necessity to emphasize food and cooking at the expense of so many other areas pertaining to fat people. A few poems that mention food are of course in FPS.

I mentioned at some point that when I was in second grade, a classmate asked me why I was fat. I told him that I ate a lot. He then said, "I eat a lot, too, and I'm not fat." It did not occur to me for more than forty years after that maybe, just maybe, I didn't eat more than most kids I knew, but simply assumed that I did.

It also didn't even occur to me to ask, "What, exactly, is a lot, and how can you know how any one child or person metabolizes it?"

Thursday, December 19, 2013


Playing around with the idea of writing a novel about a placer/esort to which fat women go to have fun and to be physically (and emotionally) satisfied..The idea simply keeps recurring.  I think this may mean something..

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Fat, Winter, Comfort

Lesleigh Owen's breathtaking poem about being in Alaska served as a finale to Fat Poets Speak 1. Many of us fat people love winter because we don't have to worry about trying to get down to as few clothes as possible. We can ease back, relax as others also waddle around in layers..

Or that was how it used to be. Lately designers have taken to making these streamlined numbers that are supposed to make women look as if they are posing in their own ski chalets. We are seemingly not allowed to be comfortable or walk comfortably layered anymore. Seems they hate us so much that they don't even want us to have the comfort of not having to worry about layers or thick, warm clothes that everyone really should think about wearing outside in winter. Nooooo... we are supposed to show bones even now, and how dare we even think or remember of the time when we weren't being shamed.

Even the idea of being comfortable with hot chocolate with a stick of peppermint in it by a fire or in a warm room seems to be going the way of the whooping crane. For comfort itself, you see, is also suspect.*

*Why aren't we acting or moving or working? Does it sound to you as if a whole lot of designers and doctors have ADHD?

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Relearning Eating

When refugees came to FatLand from the Other Side during the Health and Diet Administration oppression, most of them had forgotten what it meant to enjoy a meal.  Friends of theirs had had to sneak food to them, or they had had their intake monitored very strictly by the Health and Diet admins, whether in their homes or in Reeducation Centers.

They often had to relearn how to eat, down to what they found tasty and what they didn't, how much they could or wished to eat, when and even where they felt all right about eating. At first some of them were even sneaking food into their rooms because they were still afraid that someone would see them and report to the authorities. When they finally figured out that no one was going to report them or come for them because they were eating, they started to make weekly trips to local supermarkets, at the urging of their counselors. Counseling centers offered cooking classes as well, which, according to graduates, were not only useful but fun.

The next step simply took time. When they weren't weighed and no one cared what they weighed in FatLand, people started to create food coops so that those in their neighborhoods would have access to cheap fresh  produce.                                                                                                                                         

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Body Image Prison

I hope that one day you will get a chance to hear the poets who contributed to Fat Poets Speak 1 and 2 read in their own voices. I don't know if it is somehow mandatory  for people who write poems about being fat to have lovely, haunting voices, but they do. Perhaps it is an innate requirement.

All of us live in the USA. Perhaps one day our circle will expand to include people from other countries.

Ironically this may be the one thing in which the USA does lead the world right now:  its slowly blooming acceptance of fat people. To my knowledge no country in any part of Europe and very few still in Africa and Asia accept and appreciate fat people  The USA seems to have made more progress in making changes in its laws and in its rate of acceptance of fat people. More journalists and scientists here are finally starting to accept the idea that dieting is counterproductive and that if one wants to try to make some kind of improvements in one's health, the greatest one can make is to take up some kind of moderate movement or exercise.

At last the body image prison is crumbling..and we fat poets are on the job!

Saturday, December 14, 2013


One of the reasons that I was so intent on having fat poets (fat women poets) write poetry about themselves, about being fat, about being in general, was that I was tired of our being invisible.

You'd think that with our robust, in many cases large and fat bodies, we would be quite visible everywhere we went. However, this is not the case. Anti-fat propaganda has managed to take such a vise-like grip on many people's tastes and emotional responses that they actually have developed a way of not seeing us, as prominent as we are.

And along with that invisibility goes a denial of the wish to participate fully in our lives as citizens and human beings in the land in which we live.

We are forbidden not only the possibility of beauty, but also of love, lust, fun and complexity. We are often even forbidden the right to be judged on our intelligence and abilities (Every month a study comes out stating that fat people are less intelligent than thinner people. Luckily every such study seems to sink into oblivion after it wins some free, quick, cheap publicity).

So it got to the point where many of us -including the originator of the Fat Poets' Society, Mary Ray Worley- felt that it was necessary and wonderful to point out in poems that we have the right to claim the possibilities of beauty, love, lust, fun and complexity. And we did exactly that in Fat Poets Speak I:  Voices of the Fat Poets' Society.

We aim to do the same thing in Fat Poets Speak II: Living and Loving Fatly

Friday, December 13, 2013

Bus During Winter

I wonder if anyone could write a poem about being on a bus during winter, with everyone wearing winter clothes and thus being cramped in the seats, with the air pressure not super good, lights completely out, very little conversation or inspiration to converse. I love winter, but I definitely don't like being cooped up in a bus for more than an hour, say.

The only bright point was the driver, who was humming "Wide World," by Cat Stevens, although there might have been a more recent version.

Problem is that I hate flying, not because I am afraid, but because I hate airports and the latest security constrictions they have dreamed up.Trains are better, but they are wretchedly expensive now. (Except for local trains.)

Solution: Turn into a goose and fly. (A fat, strong, tasty goose who, hopefully, will live happily and lustily and be at home in the welkin.    

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Fat Celebrities

Don't know how it would go into a poem, but I could so easily make a list of famous fat people I miss terribly. Mama Cass, of course, would go at the top. Let's see..Jackie Gleason, Peter Ustinov, Mae West, Chris Farley, John Candy, John Belushi.

Then I would list some ofl the people who felt pressured to lose weight along the line and who either regained or kept yo-yo cycling: Kirstie Alley, Aretha Franklin, Oprah, Jason Alexander, Sally Struthers, Roseanne, Orson Welles, Marlon Brando.

What could we say to these people in a poem?

You are more lasting than one body size.
Magic has no BMI.
Your eyes bring stories; don't lose them.
Don't wait for the world to grow up, and don't grow down to them.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Fat Muse

For many reasons I have always liked the idea of a fat muse. I love the idea of the muse easing itself down, its succulent tummy and thick legs leaning comfortably back in a super comfortable chair. I have a few muses, actually. The fat muse has some chocolate, then gets down to business.

"So what do we have to day, Frannie?" he asks. (It is a male muse. I have a female muse, too. She is also fat. She smiles and has the softest white curls.)

"I just don't know," I say. "Not very inspired right now."

"Oh, come on," he says, taking a chocolate pretzel. "Since when do we all start out inspired? We have to wait for it, then generate it and nurture it. You mean to tell me that nothing you thought about today inspired you?"

"I saw snow," I say. "And a couple of birds. Very nice, but I don't know what I can write about them."

"Fat birds?"

"A couple of them, yes."

"How about writing about the fat birds?

"I could," I say. "And something about the boundless sky."

"Boundless, shmoundless," it says, taking a sip of apple cider. "Can't you stick to the birds for a bit?"

"If they want."

"Frannie," he says, chuckling, "I think maybe you want to write about me instead."

"Maybe I do," I say, grudgingly conceding, "but don't get a swelled head over it, hmm? Nothing worse than a conceited muse."

"Why shouldn't I be conceited?" he says, grabbing a butterscotch candy and offering me one. I take it and pop it in my mouth. "I inspire you. That's a damned full time job."

"Well, hooray for you," I say. "Congrats. Woohoo."

"Woohoo yourself," he says. "If you don't like me, I'll float away and inspire someone else."

"Fine," I say. "Go ahead. When you're finished, come back and help me. You're being pretty useless tonight."

The muse laughs. "I'm not useless. But I'll give you a break. There must be someone else I can bother. I'll be back later."

I roll my eyes as he floats away, then look at the paper in front of me.

Hell. He has written something  Or I have.. "How is it to think fat.."

Not bad for a conceited muse, I think.

Reluctantly I start to write.

Monday, December 9, 2013


Sometimes I find that I am as interested in knowing about a poet as I am in reading and understanding the poet's work. What has amazed me over the years is that poets have no one way of working or of putting things together. Some poets begin by hearing a line in their head and following its music as they write down/record what they hear. Some poets "see" a line and then write other lines they  try to fit together, like a puzzle. Some poets read poems, then find themselves reacting to the poems by writing their own.

There are three books of poems I listed as having a strong effect on me in one of the Facebook memes going around now:  Tar, by C.K. Williams, The Last Hiding Places of Snow, by Galway Kinnell, and In a Heysn Vint (In a Warm Wind), by Celia Dropkin. There are many other poets whose work has affected me strongly. Anna Margolin comes to mind, as does Anne Sexton. Gerard Manley Hopkins certainly affected me a lot, as did Dylan Thomas. W.S. Merwin was yet another poem who affected me strongly.

As a young poet, I was afraid that I would sound like someone else, so I wrote rather strange and obstruse poems. It took a while for me to grow out of that.

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Doctors Past

If I had to ask doctors whose patients we were -the poets who contributed to Fat Poets Speak- what they were so afraid of when they looked at our rampaging, healthy (fat) selves when we were younger, they would probably reply, "You were more at risk for diabetes and cancer."

This is not strictly true, and actually fat people are less at risk for many cancers than slimmer people. But it is the only statement they could have made that held even a grain of truth. For if they had made any other statements, such as "It's not attractive" or "You won't be able to get husbands," they would have been not only wrong, but they would have been acting irresponsibly as health professionals. Health professionals are supposed to diagnose and treat on the basis of evidence-based medicine. And to date, there is no evidence-based medicine that suggests that anyone should try to base any approach to health on criteria pertaining to aesthetics or ability to attract potential marriage partners.

I look at the poets who wrote for Fat Poets Speak. Some are married. Some are in relationships. Some are not. I want to tell those doctors of our youth, "Here we have strong, brilliant, healthy and even at times happy fat women who are making major contributions to their fiields and bringing happiness to the lives of those around them. They have written some incredibly sensitive, moving, insightful poetry on the subject of being and living and loving as fat people in a world that still worships thinness. Tell me again what you were trying to do and prove by telling them to diet and starve themselves."

Oh, I hear their answer, all right. "It's better for them to keep trying to reduce their weight, even if it doesn't work."

And I ask, "Why? Is it better for someone to keep trying to be a doctor if he has no interest or aptitude for the profession?"

Hmm. I can hear a pin drop..

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Welcoming and less welcoming places for fat people?

I still hope that one day someone will publish a book about fat-friendly cities, states and countries. At least I would like to think that there are fat-friendly countries. Actually according to certain studies, there are a few fat-friendly countries in Africa. I keep wondering if that means that fat people, especially fat women from western countries, would be welcome there, at least as visitors.

For what it's worth:  I have found that cities and states in which I feel most welcome/d are not necessarily those listed as fat-friendly or those listed as "fattest." This may have to do with the fact that I have very dark hair and dark eyes, and am also tall. These factors may take precedence over fatness.

Welcoming cities/towns:  Boston area. Burlington ,Vt. Madison, WI area. Albany, NY. New Paltz, NY. Poughkeepsie, NY. Pittsburgh, PA. Minneapolis/St. Paul, MN. Miami, FL.

Less welcoming cities:  Philadelphia, PA.  Baltimore, MD.  Washington, DC.


Welcoming:   Sri Lanka, Canada, Belgium.

Less welcoming:  UK, Thailand, Malaysia.

Friday, December 6, 2013

Medical people are oblivious

I so wish that when I was young, I could have said to people telling me to go on a diet, "Shrink myself so that I fit into some arbitrary standard someone who is afraid of diversity has devised, and around which they have build some rather strange megacomplexes of supposed health requirements? I don't think so."

Unfortunately we find out only later that these supposed medical professionals didn't know what the hell they were doing when they advised healthy young people to diet. Just think - an entire profession who should more or less apologize to us. Of course most of them still probably don't think so, and they mouth the idiocies about health and diet they were taught because Big Medicine and Big Pharma and Big Dieting probably funded the textbooks and the few lectures they attended on the subject of eating habits when they were in med school. And they took in the prevailing wisdom -or stupidity- about dieting and norms and weights and such and most probably didn't question them.

Most of them still wish we were not around. They still don't like us fat people.

Since we don't like them either, it is no wonder that we are considered bad patients.

Good thought for a poem.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Fat dreaming?

Also always wondered if my dreams as a fat woman were different than those of non-fat women. But if around 70 percent of us are "overweight" or "fat," it would seem to me that we are the ones with the "mainstream" dreams.

I dream: of the sea, and if I am upset, of the sea crashing in and going inland and flooding. This may have to do with Global Warming warnings, which, alas, must indeed be taken seriously.

I dream:  of crossing from Asia into Australasia, and back again. This dream brings great delight. Why I dream this and why it brings such great delight, I don't know.

I dream:  of snow in July.

I dream: of flying. Yes, Erica Mann Jong, you are not the only one :)   And yes, this dream brings great pleasure, as well.

I dream:  of being in the Bronx, in my grandparents' apartment and of walking near it. Occasionally I see people in this dream who are/were my relatives, and I also see relatives that were gone before I was born.

I dream:  of people I will never see again.

Fat dreams?  I don't know. Poems about fat dreams? I would like that.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Writing poems about sleep

How does one write [poems about sleep?

First Sleep

The thing that an overwhelming number of refugees from the Other Side/USA stated that they liked most about FatLand surprised the Board, but they got used to it. It was sleep. The refugees had lived in constant terror of being harassed or arrested on the Other Side. Now they could rest in almost complete peace.

The thought of being captured by the Fat Police and sent to a Reeducation Center continued to haunt many refugees through their first few days in FatLand. When they could finally believe that they didn't have to worry about being apprehended, they sank down into the most glorious sleep(s) they could imagine.

And on spacious double beds, sturdy mattresses and as many pillows as they wished. With quiet all around, and no taunts, no snitches. Just a hearty welcome and good food and drink.

Some woke on their first night, having forgotten where they were. When they remembered, they drifted back to sleep again, breathing deeply.

Night had become their friend once more.

Monday, December 2, 2013

Fat Poets Speak and Eating

I did not stress or emphasize writing about food in Fat Poets Speak 2:  Living and Loving Fatly. I say this with some regret because I am a food fan :)   What I mean by this is that there are a fair amount of things that I like to eat and a fair amount of things that I like to make or cook. And this goes for most of the fat poets, I think.

I don't wish to speak for the other poets, but I eat...when I eat. Sometimes I eat "more " than some people would think is "good" for me (whatever than means). Sometimes I don't eat foods that are considered "good" for me by other people. Sometimes I combine foods in what some people might consider unusual combinations. I don't have an "eating disorder." Guess what? Most fat people don't.

I did not stress "food" in Fat Poets Speak 2 because I did not want readers to associate us mostly with eating. I may have been a coward in this. I also don't appreciate "feederism," the fetish that causes people to eat more than they would if they were not pressured so they are forced to gain weight. But I also don't appreciate forced starvation (diets).

It has not been proven conclusively and scientifically that fat people eat more or less than others, or that they eat differently than others. People of all sizes enjoy eating, or don't enjoy it, or have appetites, or don't. Thus I also didn't want to show in any way, shape or form that fat people eat more or enjoy eating more than others. Or less.

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Chunky Tasty

Ever meet someone whose chunky body entrances you so much that you wish you could play with it all day?

I did. In 1985. He was, alas, married and of a very different religion. Oh, hell, who am I kidding? Those two things were a turn on for me at the time. He was just. So. Tasty.

I've tried to write poems about it and him. None of them have been any good. Maybe one day..

Saturday, November 30, 2013

Writing about haters and hatred

It takes a special poet or kind of poet to write well and convincingly about hatred, especially hatred directed toward one particular group. And yet it also must be done in a way that tells the reader that the hatred hasn't affected one's basic feelings about who one is or what one believes (about oneself and other things).

One also has to be able to laugh at the haters. Not so easy, but when learned, invaluable. This is yet another thing that the poets in Fat Poets Speak 2 do superbly. They toss the hate back into the faces of the haters and say, "Not today, thanks. Not interested. Find another group, and then another, and by that time, your kind of hate will be outlawed or outthought or outmedicated, or a combination of the three."

What makes it a bit easier is that for every hater, there seems to exist at least one lover.

Friday, November 29, 2013

What If

In the early 19th Century it became fashionable for women to look as if they were dying of consumption. Sort of the parallel to the wan cocained look that was so fashionable until very recently.

It became the view of scientists, religionists and social scientists alike that to be moving toward spiritual enlightenment, one had to be thin. Humans, they believed, would evolve into beings without bodies,lights that possessed superpowers.

I need hardly mention that the great number of scientists, religionists and social scientists in the 19th Century were men.

What if - yes, what if evolution favored fatter people instead? What if people with larger bodies were the ones developing higher/better spiritual connections? Instead of fading into lights, perhaps we are evolving growing into peaceful fatter bodies who have killer serves n tennis and volleyball and contact eternal oneness when we bake chocolate cake or fly?

What if we were aware that some bacteria, 500 years old,  had caused women to part-catch me, and then, being fool proof warm to the woman who wanted me to stay with her..

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Concern Trolling on Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving is a holiday I really love because of the memories that unfold when I think about it. Unfortunately it has a resoundingly awful subtext in the hostile ingratitude of the Pilgrims and other white people toward the helpfulness and then the very existence of the native Americans/Indians.

And yet how easy it is for fat people to identify with those feelings -that other people whom you dn't even know feel pointless hatred toward you. Thanksgiving, which is supposed to be a time of family togetherness and giving thanks, can often degenerate into a fat shaming marathon as "concern trolls" voice their supposedly concerned opinions that you "have to lose" x amount of weight or your health will be injured, or you will die..

Too bad they haven't looked at the statistics for weight loss surgery lately, in and from which a lot of people do die..

There are some excellent poems in Fat Poets Speak 2: Living and Loving Fatly on exactly this issue.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Fat poets, fat people and holidays

This is a difficult thing to do, but I would love to see some fat poets write positively about some holidays. Lesleigh Owen loves Halloween; I love Thanksgiving. I am sure that other fat poets like these and/or other holidays. (And by the way, yes, I am aware of the alternate and rather unhappy text behind Thanksgiving and the way Native Americans were trying to help the white "settlers.") I like Thanksgiving for its associations and the idea that it is secular - people of all religions, across all ethnicities, separately but somehow together serve up turkey (or a veg. alternative) and stuffing and some kind of pie and give thanks, and hope that others will not have to live in poverty or fear the coming year.

Fat people already have No Diet Day. We have "Love Your Body" week. Next step: Festivals for these holidays.

And poems!

Monday, November 25, 2013

Writing about the Fat Revolution

One of the wonderful things that the poets do in Fat Poets Speak II: Living and Loving Fatly is to write about the Fat Revolution. Of course this Revolution is not new; it started in the 1970's and has grown slowly so that more and more people, even if they do not take a no-diet pledge, see that not only is dieting anti-woman because it starves us, but also that it simply doesn't work, completely misleading statistics to the contrary. More and more people are seeing that fat people are beautiful. More and more people are seeing that fat people have the right to live without being stigmatized, harassed or oppressed, whether by teenage idiots or by Boards supposedly designed to find solutions to "obesity."

How does one write about a Revolution without sounding pedantic or unpoetic?

One writes about the souls of fat women. One writes about the beauty of fat women. One writes about fat women gathering to protest. One writes about the courage of fat women who grit their teeth and get on with living their lives even after sociopaths harass them.

One writes about fat women learning to love themselves.

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Our s/heroic roots

As I was writing about FatLand and the Fat Underground Railroad today, I thought of Harriet Tubman. And the Underground Railroad.

And I then thought of the very brave people, men and women, who risked their lives helping Jewish and
other prisoners in Concentration Camps to escape. Most of the couriers were Jewish. Some were not. The ones I knew best and about which I heard the most when I was growing up belonged to an organization called the Jewish Labor Committee.

I was thinking about how Democracy is fragile and how it can turn on itself in a matter of months, as it did in Germany in 1933, although the roots of Nazism were older than that, and its uber-nationalist roots were already taking shape in the late nineteenth century.

And I also thought of the Fat Underground whose members participated in and contributed to Shadow on a Tightrope. Some wrote poems. Some wrote also in other blogs and zines.

Ragen initiated and  is very much involved in a project that will catalog and archive Fat Activists. When the proceeds of Fat Poets Speak 2 go to her, they will help in this magnificent effort.

I guess all this is to say that our poems have roots in the acts of heroes and sheros and will hopefully influence future s/hero(e)s, many of them fat.

We reach back and forward, and our days are not short, but stretch as we write. As we write, we stand up to be counted.

And our numbers are growing.

Friday, November 22, 2013

Fat Fire

A couple of nights ago I wrote about the journey many of us took to become fat poets.

Now I'd like to turn that thought on its ear.

What if there were no references to the way people looked in poems, or at least not to their weight or height? What if no one even thought of fatness or thinness or averageness and thus they disappeared as ways to describe people?

Once I thought that this might be possible. I don't think so.

At least not for a long long time.

And we have to get people to respect our rights and forms and pride as fat people before this happens. Hell, even most fat people don't respect their own rights. Yet.

The way out is the way through. Baptism/initiation by fire.

Fat fire. I like that.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Oh yes we do...

"No one wants to be a poet." Kenneth Goldsmith on NPR, November 21, 2013

Strange thing is that Kenneth Goldsmith himself is a poet. And a sculptor. And yet he chooses  these self-deprecating words when describing part of what he himself does.

I guess Mr. Goldsmith doesn't quite understand the road that many of us had to travel to get ourselves to the place(s) from which we could indeed be poets. Gilbert and Gubar's groundbreaking work, Madwoman in the Attic, explores the anxieties behind the audaciousness of the 19th century women who dared to write and thus become authors. We, as fat women, had as many and perhaps more anxieties. At first some of us questioned if we even had the right to write poems. After all, the people described in the poems were usually beautiful. Especially if they were women. They might be ideals. And the USA was fervently in favor of ideal women being slim, we did not find many poems about fat women who were beautiful or extremely interesting, or both, or just poems about fat women in general. You had to go to certain very specific and not necessarily well known places for those.

But even so, what a joy, what a rush to read poems with fat women in them. Some magazines, zines and journals began to carry and list poems by and about fat women.

This was a very important time and a very key development. For if fat women were to write poems about themselves, they had to read poems in which people like themselves figured largely (no pun intended). The identification process had to begin.

Then we had to stop being ashamed of their bodies and themselves enough to be able to write about them both objectively and celebratorily. We had to figure out exactly what went into creating images about our bodies and also to understand what putting these images into poems would entail.

This meant finding a further identity, not just as poet, but as fat poet. What was the difference? What did it mean to write as a fat poet? It meant finding out what the word fat meant to each of us, and how we wanted to see ourselves in the poems we were writing, and how we wanted others to see us -in the future.

In short, how we wished to present ourselves in poems, and what we wanted our relationships with our poems to be.

Betty Dudley

Marilyn Wann posted one of Betty Rose Dudley's amazing poems from FAT?SO on Facebook. I didn't know Betty well, but we were FB friends and I admired her work immensely. I so wish she could have stayed around long enough to be with us in Fat Poets Speak.

Sign into FB. Then hit this link.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Fat Cat

I would love to see more poets writing about their fat pets. I wrote this poem about a fat orange and white cat named Muffin. However, I do not have such a cat. I would, however, very much like to have a cat like this.

My Fat Cat

Muffin is my fat cat.
She is orange with lots of white fur,
Especially on her belly,
Which wobbles under her
When she jumps.
She rubs against me every time
I walk to the bathroom.

She thinks I am her pillow.
I explain to her
Without much conviction
That she is a cat
And show her a mirror.
Fascinated, she gazes at her likeness
Then struts to the window.
She doesn’t try to seduce birds
With birdlike noises;
She just watches.

She doesn’t gulp her food
But takes it in her mouth
In a leisurely fashion
And informs the world
That she is ready for another nap
By lying down in my bed
And rubbing against my blanket.

It is difficult to refuse her hint.
I spread myself next to her
And rub my head in her

The rest of the non-cat world

Will have to wait. 

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Stark's private war against FatLand and against himself

The only "war" fought in FatLand was, ironically,  against the person who was responsible for providing the funding for a lot of its infrastructure. This grew out of the fact that he was basically at war with himself. He was very attracted to fat women, for instance, but wouldn't countenance marrying one (and especially the one he loved). He liked the idea of having physical fitness centers in FatLand, which was not necessarily a bad thing, but he insisted that their message include weight loss. Of course FatLand would not permit him to open his franchises there under his stipulations, but he kept trying.

When it was apparent that GymNotTrim, health franchises started by Sandor Forman, carried a much more appealing and applicable message of "have fun, move, don't worry about weight," Stark tried to get Forman to merge with CompleteFitness. Forman was at first willing, but then  when he discovered that Stark would not abandon his weight loss message, he reneged. He was then tried on the Other Side, where he would have gone to prison, except for the courageous rescue mounted by his wife Dara and four FatandProud members who then had to live in FatLand permanently.

Stark, livid over Forman's escape, sent drones over FatLand, especially near the safe houses in which the FatandProud members were now quartered. He wanted them turned over to the USA in exchange for a non-harassment pact.

The FatLand Board refused.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Dear Amazing Fat Poets

Dear Amazing Fat Poets,

I am sure that you are aware that even by writing fat-friendly, fat-proud, fat liberation poems, you are committing a revolutionary act and changing the world. The world may be changing you at the same time, but rest assured that you are changing it at least as much.

From what you tell me, people respond very positively when you show them/read your poems. Perhaps there are more people around now who are not so easily taken in by Big Diet's ghastly siren songs. I am also hoping that fewer people will consider getting bariatric weight loss surgery, as well, since a) it causes people to die b) it causes people to become much much sicker than they were before they had the surgery c) people who are healthy -as in managing to live their lives without too many problems- of whatever weight should not go anywhere near this surgery d) can't the world manage to make some little adjustment in its stultifying anti-fat stance long enough to let mostly healthy fat people function without threatening to cut them open?

You are so beautiful. I was looking at your pictures, singly, a few days ago, and thinking that one day, if it does not already, it will see the beauty that shines through your faces and your voices. How wonderful it is that such beauty comes through your fingers -channeled first through your minds- and then finds its way at last onto the page.

I know what you have gone through to reach this proud stage. I know some of the hurts, the anger, the names we were called, the food that was grabbed out of our hands, the giggles from ignorant pea-brain haters, the assumption that bodies that were thinner were better, and worse yet, the assumption that people whose bodies were thinner were more intelligent (where they kept getting that one from, I still haven't quite figured out). I know the diets they put us on, the gnawing night hungers, the temporary happiness when the scale told us we were a pound lighter, the despair that occurred as we somehow gained the weight back on 800 calories a day. I know how we felt that we would never ever be esteemed as good enough or equal to those whose body weights happened to be smaller.

But look what happened to us. Look at the journey we have made and are making. Look how far we've come to be able to say with proud conviction that dieting does not work, that fat is not a crime, that our bodies and minds as fat people work perfectly well, thanks, and we don't need the help of arrogant, presumptuous anti-fat professionals to evaluate our experiences and find them wanting or even dangerous. We know now that we need - ourselves. We know now that we have - ourselves, and friends who believe as we do.

We are THEFATZ. We are fat poets. "The fatz are in gear..their bodies are connected.." (Paraphrase of  Jets' Song from West Side Story).

And damn it, we should get some t shirts :)

Hugs, Frannie

Saturday, November 16, 2013

My Dream

Have this dream of a store which would feature clothes for plus sized women -both resold clothes and new clothes- fat liberation books, paintings and photos of fat people on the walls, poetry readings of fat liberation poetry, concerts of fat-friendly groups, talks by famous fat liberation activists.

Cheese and Chocolate give way to a pear

I love cheese. I love chocolate. I have not yet figured out how to work the two into a fat proud poem. Surely there should be a way of writing happily about cheese or chocolate in connection with the experience of proud fat people.

Also thinking of New York and oddly enough, the subway, which I miss, and which I am so totally not supposed to miss.

Let's see...cheese and chocolate on the subway in New York from a fat and proud standpoint..

From Nowhere

The woman came from nowhere,
the nowhere that floats and crawls
just past the Temple commuter line.
She sat down next to me
and starting hating on Catholics.
She stared at the trash.
I intuited hunger.
Handing her a pear from my bag,
I felt it should have been more.
At the time I thought my fat
deserved no mercy
and wouldn't miss fruit.

A nun came up to me
and said, "That was real nice
of you. I thought she was
going to hit me."
"Thanks," I said,
my agnostic surprise
at being called nice
by a nun giving birth
to self-approval.
"She looked hungry, I guess."

Oh well...ended up with Philadelphia and a pear, instead, and just a little fat pride by implication  in a brief mention of  the time when I didn't have any.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

The Journey

This is mainly a shout out to the wonderful poets who grace the pages of Fat Poets Speak (1): Voices of the Fat Poets' Society and Fat Poets Speak (2):  Living and Loving Fatly.

You perhaps cannot tell from our smiles and our often busy and pleasant lives what we had to do in order to get to a place from which we could write about the hurt and the times we had been harassed and rejected so crudely that it was difficult for us to pick ourselves up, dust ourselves off and go on living - and then writing. When many of us began writing, there were no support groups online to which we could voice our hurt, our shame, our anger. (Hell, for most of us, there wasn't an online :)      There were certainly no fat poets to tell us that it would get better, that we would be able to forge strength and wisdom and some great poems out of what seemed a desert of anti-fat critics and haters.

Books like Shadow on a Tightrope did go some way toward spurring us to greater understanding and solidarity with our other fat sisters. But as powerful as they were, they were still few and far between.

'In the 1980's and 1990's, groups like NAAFA, who had once emphasized social activities, began to see themselves as forgers of social justice and support and pride for fat people, so much so that they began to circulate press releases and statements about what fat people thought of organizations and efforts that purported to help us but did not speak for us. Their public voices grew stronger and more confident. Magazines started to feature articles and essays and images that came from fat pride, not from wishes to conform to a thin-loving ethos.

Most of us poets partook of some of these new sources of support and pride as we learned about them, and it made the going a lot easier for most of us. But each of us had to locate, within herself, the resolve to face the world as a fat person who no longer dreamt of one day becoming thin and facilely conformist.

The journeys we underwent were neither easy nor short. But they brought us to the place from which we could write poems as fat people more secure in our physical and emotional identities.

We do not necessarily glorify ourselves, but we face our world from very different places from those in which we started.

Perhaps the phrase which best describes our efforts and journeys is "Evolved equanimity."

But we continue to create, within our writing and out, the cause and images of Fat Liberation.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Breaking Her In

I do something here that I usually do only in longhand in notebooks. I make notes for a future poem.

Breaking Her In

I don't get it. I still don't get it.

She was heavy, sure, but not super heavy.

She was also quite tall for her age.

Why did you get conniptions when she gained some weight?

Seems she was mostly setting herself up for more growth, which did occur.

She didn't seem to have any other "conditions".

She was athletic, and loved to walk, as well.

By which scenario did you find her unfit? Did you envision Soviet troops invading the land,
with her sticking out of the hidden bunker and thus betraying the block?

Did you imagine Chinese tanks spotting her from miles away because you'd hidden the children and she was too big for the cellar?

Or was it something nastier, more ultrapersonal, like her frightening boys away or beating them at touch football and tug of war?

Whatever it was, it really played havoc with her body and its regulatory systems as you decreed and put her on diet after diet, and she kept losing, then gaining it all back and more.

Why did you keep trying to iron her into uniformity when it was so clear that she would never fit into your barbie cookie cutter mold? Is that all you knew to do to young girls?

Is that all you knew to do to your world?

Saturday, November 9, 2013

The Next Step

Some of us want fat people, especially fat women, to "fit in" and be part of the society in which they live. Some of us want to be part of/a society or place in which we don't have to worry about "fitting in." Or perhaps a place in which mostly fat people live.

I wrote last night about celebrating the 30th anniversary of the book Shadow on a Tightrope. We celebrate the first strong voicing of the idea that we shouldn't have to conform to anyone else's image of what we are supposed to look like.

And today, and now..

We take another step.

We want to be liked, even celebrated for what we are and what we look like. In many poems in Fat Poets Speak (2): Living and Loving Fatly, we speak of our curves, our bellies, our chins, our thighs. We want to teach the world how to fall in love with fat/fatness/fatting.

We dream more than equality.

We dream acknowledgment and appreciation.

Friday, November 8, 2013

Celebrating the 30th Anniversary of Shadow on a Tightrope

The 1970's were heady days for the Women's Movement and for the Fat Liberation Movement.  The Fat Underground interrupted and demonstrated at meetings which purported to be about the health of fat people but at which no representative of any Fat movement was present.. Fat women started to see just how incredibly sexist and incredibly wrong it was for the corporatist establishment to tell them how they had to look and weigh, as well as unhealthy and even dangerous for them, the objects of sexist and corporatist scorn and derision.

In 1983 a book entitled Shadow on a Tightrope was published by Aunt Lute Books in San Francisco. It included interviews, essays and poems by women who self-identified as fat activists and feminists. 

The poems are what spoke to me most, I think. Women claiming their right to be treated as full citizens of their time, space and place, not objects whose shapes and sizes happened not to fit the current often anti-woman aesthetic. Women whose voices ring strong and true with the defiant courage and conviction of their belief that they need not apologize for what they are and who they are. And in those days they had to be a great deal more defiant to voice such ideas because they had never been heard previously, even in the Women's Movement of the time.

Since I read it, I kept thinking of the debt we owe to the women who tossed their anxieties about their "reputations" to the wind and wrote themselves and their images into the consciousness of the Women's Movement and the Fat Activist/Fat Feminist Movement. They are our guiding stars, our first born, our proud matriarchs.

We poets of Fat Poets Speak: Voices of the Fat Poets' Society and Fat Poets Speak: Living and Loving Fatly celebrate the 30th Anniversary of the publication of Shadow on a Tightrope. Without you, we would not have been born.

From:  Kathy Barron    Anne Kaplan   Corinna Makris    Lesleigh Owen   Eileen Rosensteel   Mary Ray Worley  Frannie Zellman   Durette Hauser  Deb Lemire  Dr. Deah Schwartz   M. M. Stein

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Fat Older People

It would be wonderful if in Fat Poets Speak 3, we could have poems that deal with older people who are fat. They are so nice to hug. My grandma was plump during the last twenty years of her life, probably would be qualified as "overweight" according to the BMI scale, but she was strong and energetic, her mind alert with just occasional lapses. She was beautiful. I wrote about her in FPS 1. Would love to see more about people's grandmas and grandpas. (My grandpas both were and remained slim.)

If you look at family photos from the early 1900's, well into the 1930's and 1940's, you'd see that people's grandmas and often other relatives were strong, sturdy, hearty people, looking as if they did a fair amount of work during their days. They didn't have time to worry about dieting and/or what strangers felt about their bodies and body shapes!

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Erotic poetry in Fat Poets Speak

There is some really beautiful erotic poetry in Fat Poets Speak 1 and 2. Some of it is overtly erotic, some is more subtle. But all of it somehow speaks to glorifying not just curves -although there is certain a healthy dose of that- but of making the world happy once more with roundness, softness, nurturing, even at times slowness and ease. However, rest assured that there are also poems that mention fat people who are hurrying, thinking very quickly, achieving, analyzing, engaging in heavily physical activity.

As mentioned previously, Kathy Barron may have come close to inventing a new poetic form of interlocking haiku. But other poets -Lesleigh Owen, Anne Kaplan- also provide engaging and fat-friendly haiku with notable success.

A rather long poem by Frannie Zellman highlights an incident that bespeaks her lust and longing for a certain young man who is willing to remark her lushness but then seems to fall short of acting on an opportunity to take advantage of its proximity, and her forgiving herself after.

Fat erotic poems..(not porn!). Love them!

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

A Non-rhyming Ode to Chris Christie

A Non-rhyming Ode to Chris Christie

You tried to make yourself
Acceptable. Went through BLS (Bariatric/Weight Loss Surgery),
kept up  activities,
somehow ramped up your campaign.
Kept yelling at people.
I don't agree with anything you said
 but size should not influence voting.
Once upon a time
Taft was Pres. Men ate meals
of six courses.

Women served them and smiled
(at least in photos).

Sunday, November 3, 2013

View from the Seventh Floor

Ironically, the view from the seventh floor of the hospital in which my mom is staying is gorgeous. We don't have a clue as to how the hospital (rebuilt version of an older hospital in the area) managed to get its claws on so much undeveloped land. The environs seem larger than many good sized farms. And what does one see? Trees, trees, trees. There is even a creek.  Quite the pricey output for a hospital that does not have more than two vending machines for seven floors (and a very mediocre cafeteria, but oh well..)

Also ironically, most of the nurses -I'd say over 60 percent) are plus sized. None of them seem the least bit interested in having conversations about their bodies. Not that I have tried...they are civil to me, just about. They adore my mom (thank goodness for that, at least), a little lady of 85 who has shrunk to 4'9 and now weighs 87 pounds (she lost a lot of weight due to illnesses). Still beautiful, though, and many of them remark on it.

It would be wonderful to write a poem about these nurses, so many of them fat, who look at me, a fat person, with disdain, and who thus probably look on their own fat bodies, bodies that do so very much for them day by day, with disdain.

Friday, November 1, 2013

Ode to a bathroom or a famous fat person

I mentioned previously that a bathroom figures largely in one of the poems I wrote for Fat Poets Speak  (2): Living and Loving Fatly. However, I think we need an ode to a bathroom, or a happy poem about a great bathroom. Or an angry poem about terrible bathrooms for fat people. How's that for a poetic thought?

Or, considering that it is Halloween tonight, how about a poem about becoming something else or someone else? The best: to dress up as famous fat people.  Mae West. Lily Langtry. Aretha Franklin. Mama Cass. Amy Lowell.  Jackie Gleason.  A great sumo wrestler. The great Bollywood film dancer, Jaya Prada. Fats Domino. List goes on..

And on.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Ancestors, Discrimination and Beauty

Both of my grandmothers were employed here by the Clothing industry when they came to the USA (both around 1913).  They were both strong, somewhat plump women who served as organizers of workers in their work places and, in the case of my mother's mother, chair of committees and women's auxiliary branches of organizations. Ironically I don't think they would have approved of Fat Acceptance, since their environment was saturated with anti-fat beliefs and sentiments. Their generation was determined not to raise fat children because being fat, for them, was considered anti-American (read: foreign and not White Anglo Saxon Protestant).

Somehow the same sentiment still lingers in a lot of the more fashionable areas of big cities, the cities which still receive the most immigrants. And yet the work done by NAAFA and other strong, determined, brilliant women of size has managed to push back against fat shaming just enough so that you will find more fat women beautifully attired and proud of their beauty.

I am proud to say that there are poems in both Fat Poets Speak (1): Voices of the Fat Poets' Society and Fat Poets Speak (2): Living and Loving Fatly about fat women who are now proud of their beauty.

We, the current generation of fat American women, are rising up against fat discrimination and stigmatizing faced by previous generations, our ancestors. But we have our ancestors -in my case, my grandmothers- to thank for their determination to fight back against conditions in their workplaces, thus sowing -and sewing- the seed for their granddaughters to rise up against a different kind of discrimination.

Monday, October 28, 2013

Before and After

You know, it's funny. Some of the slimmer and "average sized" people I knew earlier in my life -oh, say, about twenty years ago- have gained some weight. From what I can see, at least one of them exercises a lot and hopefully feels good. But he doesn't seem to be losing any weight. This of course matters about zero to me. I wonder if it matters to him. He was always hot as far as I was concerned when we were younger and he is quite hot now, with his shock of greying hair, still nice shoulders and strong thighs.

By the way (a little bonus for people who read this blog), he is the man about whom I wrote in "Forgiveness," which is in Fat Poets 2 - Fat Poets Speak: Living and Loving Fatly.

Does he dislike himself because he has gained weight? I hope not.

When he was a freshperson in college (ha, ha, yes, quite fresh), he liked women who were plump/chubby. Then he learned and aligned his tastes with others, specifically the ones who made fun of him for his tastes. And yet he didn't stop appreciating heavier women altogether. He just went out with a variety of women :)

Sunday, October 27, 2013

A FatLand Resort

I was thinking that yet another way to create FatLand would be to have a FatLand resort and just live there at least six months of the year. (Once upon a time there was supposedly such a resort, or at least a fat friendly resort something like this, on the Mexican Riviera.)  We could have monthly rates, weekly rates and of course nightly rates.

Would want not only a pool, but at least a pond. Best would be a lake.

Lots of spacious chairs on the big porch and at the pool. Roaring fire in the living room during the autumn and winter months. Hot cider and hot toddies during the autumn and winter months, too, with some pumpkin bread and chocolate croissants. Cheese danish, too.

Friday, October 25, 2013

Poem: Grace

A poem :) (Yeah, by me. Yeah, I wrote it for this blog. Yeah, I wrote it tonight.)


That I grow breasts that extend
over several continents
and feed millions,
letting them graze on my nipples
and lap me hungrily, bounty never ending,
my large and flowing grace the sweetest nectar
of all.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Correction and idea

Correction! Correcton! The Southwest Popular Culture Association Conference will be held in Albuquerque not in Tucson. Same dates: Feb. 19-Feb 24.

Am now throwing around the thought and wish in my head that there would/should be a Fat Poetry Contest. Don't quite know yet how it would work, or who would sponsor it and be responsible for the prizes. It is an idea in its infant state and it is still saying, "Mommy, mommy" and asking for a cookie.

Here's a cookie, idea..keep growing..

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Reading your/our poetry at the Popular Culture Conference in Arizona on February 19-22, 2014

Even as we read and write, and even as Fat Poets Speak: Living and Loving Fatly wafts into its next phase - being published early in 2014- fat poets are rising up and writing and reading their own poetry.

So, Fat Poets Speak writers - is it time? Will you rise up and read your poems at the following venue? The announcement is from Deah Schwartz, a New Voice featured in Fat Poets Speak: Living and Loving Fatly.

Hi Frannie!  So there is this upcoming Popular Culture Conference and they are looking for proposals for the Fat Studies track and one of the areas is having a panel of three fat poets reading their poems.  I would love to do this!!!  I would take care of all the paper work and send in the proposal if you are interested?  What say you?  The deadline to submit is Nov 1, but I have to work on it early because I have three other deadlines on Nov. 1. The event is in Arizona and it is taking place on February 19-22, 2014.

Would love to hear about our amazing poets reading at this event. Please contact myself or Deah if you would like to do so.

What will you achieve? More exposure for your work. More exposure for people who are not familiar with "Fat" poetry to the concepts of fat people embodying themselves proudly in poetry and being easy with themselves and their bodies in general.

A big step forward also for Fat Studies at the Popular Culture Conference.

So much can be accomplished for those who read at this conference, on many levels.

I ask you to consider going and reading.  I think it will be an incredibly empowering experience.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Jaya Prada

One day I would love to write a poem about Jaya Prada.

Jaya Prada was a dancer in Telugu and Bollywood movies in the 1970's through 1990's. She went into politics for a little while in the 2000's. She is beautiful and acclaimed as such still. She is fat. She was one of the best dancers Bollywood had or has ever seen.

In one of my favorite Bollywood movies, Sharabi, she tears up the floor and the scene with one of the most seductive dances I have ever seen. And she does not remove a thing.

Sunday, October 20, 2013


There are some, um, interesting pictures of women's breasts on Facebook these days. How photoshopped they are, I don't know :)

That is one of the few things that fat women have that are considered an asset. A fat and very endowed friend of mine -when I was in grad school- managed to sleep with most of the rock and folk musicians touring Cambridge, Mass. She was, it seems, esteemed for her bodacious breastage. (Neologism..I didn't want to write cleavage or boobies or knockers or tatas..) She was quite cheerful at concerts. I hope she's still doing her thing, even if she is a bit older.

Some of our poems in Fat Poets Speak: Living and Loving Fatly do mention breasts, not necessarily in an erotic sense, but because they are redolent of comfort and softness and make people nice to hug.

And when they bounce, they reset the shapes of those who happily possess them.

Only problem: getting a bra that fits correctly and is comfortable.

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Fat Poets and Poetry Workshops at Universities - A Dream?

Another dream of mine: to lead fat poets' and poetry workshops at various universities and colleges. I guess one has to be asked by a sister or fellow poet.

I say this because I think women are under an enormous amount of pressure on college campuses to conform to an obsolete physical ideal  -well, men are, too, but I guess I think of women because they seem to be more interested in poetry and more interested in issues pertaining to body images. Or they admit it. Or they are more at ease with talking about them.

I would love love love to teach young fat poets to sing their bodies and persons and minds and hearts - and not to stop, and to get their poems heard. And read. And discussed. To put us on the map!

Friday, October 18, 2013

Peaceful, nurturing

Do an exercise. See which words you associate with fat. I just did, and the words that came out were "peaceful" and "nurturing."

This in itself is of course a stereotype. When fat women march, whether in California or in Washington, DC, we are being anything but peaceful. We may not become violent physically, but our anger is almost palpable. This is what happens when fat women decide that enough is enough and decide to challenge the powers that be to stop thinking of us as numbers on a scale.

But I still like the words that I associate with fat because I associate them with my grandma, who was plump and loved me and cared deeply about me, as I did about her, but with a little too much selfishness because I was younger and heedless and in some ways thoughtless.. I wrote about her in Fat Poets Speak 1. I still like the concepts. Someone who is peaceful and nurturing isn't yelling at you to slim down, wear different clothes or become someone else entirely.

Sometimes I think that part of the "war" on fat people is also a war on "peacefulness" and "nurturing." After all, you can't compete and can't fight wars effectively if you are being nurtured a lot or nurturing a lot.

Hint, hint..

Thursday, October 17, 2013

The Beauty of Our Moms

We all had strong relationships with our moms, some mostly good, some not. Same thing often with our grandmothers. From what I can see, our moms often struggled with food and weight issues, and often passed their anxieties on to us.

The sad thing is that they were beautiful, but the world -well, the country?- was not interesting in letting them know it, or in imparting standards of beauty that admitted other than tall and thin  blond women. And yet..whether or not they were blond or tall or thin, they were beautiful.

I think of my mom, whom I wrote about (as you will see) in Fat Poets Speak: Living and Loving Fatly. She was originally fetchingly plump and thoroughly gorgeous. And yet now that she is very thin -and still gorgeous, at 85- she still - STILL- worries about her weight.

Is it a crime, to shame women for their weight (whatever it is)? I hope that one day, it will be.

Fat Poets' Resort

 A vision: a Fat Poets' resort, where we all can visit or live year round. Plenty of capacious chairs, strong beds, trails to walk and explore, amazing views, incredible food, haunting sunsets. Laptops to rent, with printers nearby, if we decide not to bring our own. A large carpeted library with loads and loads of books. And windows.  A lake. Lots and lots of strong chairs near the lake.

Our own rooms, each with a gorgeous and spacious bathroom. Beds strong enough to jump up and down on (and for other things).

 A pool.

A room with a fireplace and legacy games and chessboards.

Lots of trees.

An amusement park :) (For fat people, but for everyone else too, so it can make money enough to support the resort.)

Swings! Of various kinds. Hammocks.

A porch that stretches around the entire ground floor, for the Main House. Oh, also porch swings. Lots of strong wonderful Adirondack chairs and other kinds of strong chairs.

Staff that adore us and understand how to treat us really well.

Did I leave anything out? What would you all like to see?

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

FatLand 2 is Free on Kindle

I don't usually write about FatLand here because I want to keep the blogs separate. FatLand, is, after all, for the trilogy - science fiction. Fat Poets Speak is for the discussion of the Fat Poets Speak books and writing "fat" poetry.

However, I do feel impelled today to inform readers that -if you didn't already know - FatLand: The Early Days is FREE on Kindle in Amazon from today (well, yesterday) until October 20.

Loving your body and writing about it is a very different proposition in poetry than it is in fiction.  But I must say that the poets featured in Fat Poets Speak: Living and Loving Fatly do it beautifully.

Talk to your body. See what it says! (Argue with it, if necessary, but don't get too mean. It is pretty sensitive..)

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Food and fat

It seems "logical" to some people to connect fat people with eating, or eating more. But a lot of studies show that fat people do *not* eat more than others. The connection between being fat -or being any weight, for that matter- is not a simple "calories/energy in, calories./energy out" relationship.

It is sad that many fat people seem to believe that they eat too much - whatever they eat.

I remember that in second grade, a classmate of mine named Phil -who liked me, as I learned later- said to me, "Why are you fat? You don't eat so much." I said, "I don't know." He said, "I eat more than you do and I'm not fat."  I had no answer for that one.

What surprised me then is that I assumed that I ate too much. My mom had already tried to limit my food intake, with not a whole lot of success. She sent me to camp (not fat camp, just sleepaway camp), starting at eight, because she thought that moving a lot, as one certainly does at sleepaway camp, would help me to lose weight. It did, each summer. Then I gained back the weight each time, and more. I learned to like certain sports, and become good at them. But I didn't lose weight permanently.

I did not want to make known/assumed/stereotypical associations between food and fat people. There was one wonderful poem, not included, that discussed this area. I hope to include it and to remedy some of that lack of connection in Fat Poets 3.

Monday, October 14, 2013


Was just thinking..if someone were to ask very learned doctors (mostly male) of the Renaissance era why women's bellies were beautiful, they would probably be astounded, since it was then a given that women's bellies were beautiful.

If someone were to ask very learned doctors (some male, some female) why women's bellies are considered beautiful or not beautiful, they would probably be astounded, since it is still a given in many circles that women's bellies are embarrassing.

And yet if you consider the belly, a woman's belly, as part of a woman's body, without its cultural baggage and no-no's, of which there are still admittedly many, its slope and soft heft -and grandeur when pregnant- make it pleasing to touch and hold and nuzzle. Babies of course seem to know this. Why not others?

Happily, in Fat Poets Speak 2: Living and Loving Fatly, several of our poets speak lovingly of bellies. Bravo, belly-appreciating poets. May your love of bellies spread so all the world can once again appreciate them.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Fat men poets?

I guess by now many of you have noticed that Fat Poets Speak, both 1 and 2, feature only women poets. I and Fat Poets Speak did not set out to exclude men. I am hoping that somewhere there are indeed fat men poets who are writing about their experiences of being fat in a thin-centric culture. I would like to think that there are fat men who are happy with, perhaps even proud of their fatness, and will embody it one day in poetry.

I somehow remember that there was one man in one of the poetry workshops I taught at NAAFA conventions and two or even three men in the others. However, they were not fat.

Perhaps a fat man poet needs to teach a workshop on fat embodiment in poetry for men.

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Repost of Interview with Dr. Deah Schwartz, New Voice in Fat Poets 2: Living and Loving Fatly

I am reposting this interview with Dr. Deah Schwartz because she didn't get to view it previously. And some of you who might not have been able to see it previously can view it now.

Interview with Dr. Deah Schwartz, New Voice in Fat Poets Speak 2: Living and Loving Fatly

Dr. Deah Schwartz has more than 20 years experience using therapeutic arts, music, drama and recreation activities in a variety of clinical and educational settings with clients ranging in age from 5 to 80+. She has a Doctorate in Education, a BA in Theater, an MS in Therapeutic Recreation, and an MA in Creative Arts Education and is a Nationally Certified Recreation Therapist.

And…she is also one of the New Voices in the second volume of Fat Poets Speak:  Living and Loving Fatly.

This is the first part of the interview. The second will be published at a later date.  Read and appreciate her as she talks to us here.

1.      First of all - at least to my mind- many of us are excited that you have just finished your second book. Can you tell us a little of what it is about?

The book’s title is:  Dr. Deah’s Calmanac:  your interactive monthly guide for cultivating a positive body image. It is loosely based on The Old Farmer’s Almanac, which is a manual that provides information for growing and harvesting hearty and plentiful crops and gardens. People struggling with Eating Disorders and Body Dissatisfaction often feel trapped in cyclical patterns with no way out.  For example, Every January offers another reminder that whatever resolution was made the previous year has most likely failed and they are still struggling. 

But I believe that our history is not fate—it is knowledge, and our past does not dictate our present or future behaviors. We can learn from our past, hold on to the positives, and choose to throw the negatives in the mulch bin. In order to reap the benefits of the repetition or redundancy that our calendar year presents, it is imperative that we take some time to examine the months and seasons for their predictable ebbs and flows and plan our garden of positive body image around the elements that are most certain to occur.  This proactive approach has a calming effect in lieu of a self-critical outcome, hence the name, Dr. Deah’s CALManac.

2.  What made you want to go into the field  of eating disorders?

That is a difficult question to answer concisely but I will give it a try!  My career path was heading in the direction of Expressive Arts Therapy because of my interest in psychology and the expressive arts.  Concurrently, I was trying to figure out a way to resolve my own Eating Disorder by using psychodrama and drama therapy.  This resulted in co-authoring a three woman play called, Leftovers, the Ups and Downs of a Compulsive Eater.  While performing the show on Off-Broadway, New York, and up and down the west coast, I found that the audience inherently experienced a therapeutic benefit from watching the actors confront and ultimately step on the road to personal recovery.  It reinforced my belief in the Expressive Arts as a healing intervention for Eating Disorders.  In the process I found that even though my E.D. was improving, I was still grappling with my body hate, you see I was not just obsessed with food; I was obsessed with the desire to be thin.  I was also working in adolescent psychiatric hospitals at the time, and noticed that the two areas were intertwined.  The teens hated their bodies because they wanted to be thin, they developed disordered eating patterns to become thin, found ways to address their eating behaviors but still had to change their self-loathing to self-acceptance with or without a change in body size from their E.D. recovery.  I also noticed that  teens and   young adults resonate with expressive arts and are more easily engaged than when only verbal psycho-therapy is used because there is an integration of the mind AND the body in the process.  (I actually have a soundcloud recording Under the heading Expressive Arts Therapies explaining this concept   if you want to hear a bit more information about that).  So I suppose the answer is I gravitated to the field of Eating Disorders because of my personal experience with my own E.D.  and in my professional life, seeing the efficacy of the particular therapeutic work I was doing with this population specifically.

3.  How would you say the shape of your life today differs from what you thought it would be 20 or 25 years ago?

 Life throws us interesting curveballs once in a while.  20 years ago I was an adjunct professor at San Francisco State University, working full time at a psychiatric hospital, and a new mom working on my doctorate.  I really loved the balance in my life.  Then I had a severe back injury that resulted in my having to leave my work and found myself at home as a full time mom and very part time doctoral student.  The good news was how available I was for my son.  Those were years I wouldn’t give up for anything, despite the pain and grueling rehab I went through because of my back, but unfortunately, it also catapulted me from my career path into the unknown.  I found that I needed to find work that did not require driving long distances and a variety of other physical limitations due to my newly acquired back disability.  And so I began to do two things.  The first was writing.  I co-wrote a workbook/DVD version of Leftovers that is a unique multi-media resource for Eating Disorders.  I started blogging; writing articles, and as previously mentioned, just finished my second book.  The second was I started a private practice in Oakland California called Dr. Deah’s Walkie Talkies.  Part of the rehab for my back is to walk every day.  Because I am a certified Recreation Therapist, I found that I could walk with clients who were struggling with body image and disordered eating and were either intimated to publically engage in physical activity for fear of being taunted, or they didn’t have time to squeeze in pleasurable physical activity and a therapy session during the week.  In my ‘Walkie Talkies” we do both things at once and I was helping my back in the process!  But despite the secondary gain for my rehab, ultimately my goal is that my clients find places in Oakland and other people where they can continue to explore trails and opportunities for weight neutral physical movement.

5. How does your son feel about what you do and how you identify yourself?

The timing of this question is amazing because of a recent conversation I was having with my son.  Z (short for Zachary) was home from college over the summer and he and I were talking about the concept of people living up to their potential.  One of the benefits of having a 21 year old son, besides being able to legally enjoy a beer together once in a while, is having more open and disclosing conversations.  I told him that sometimes I questioned whether or not I was living up to my potential because when I was a professor and a hospital clinician my income was exponentially more than what I am earning in my post disability “reincarnation”.  He looked at me and said, “But Mom, the work you are doing is all about helping other people make their quality of life better and feel better about who they are.  You help others live up to their potential.  That HAS to be the way you are living up to your potential.”

Yes, I was farklempt!  It was clear that my son not only really groks (understands) what it is that I am doing, but he is proud and supportive.

7. What advice do you have for fat younger women who are worried about "fitting in" with their peers, but don't want to diet or starve themselves?

Well, because I don’t believe in a one size fits all philosophy, I would need a bit more information before giving what I feel would be a truly beneficial response.  Chronological age is important, how long the person has been fat is a factor, the etiology of their fat has some import when offering advice about interventions. But assuming that all variables are equal, I would recommend the Dr. DEEEE’s 4 steps to increasing body-acceptance.

1. EXPLORE:  Find your support systems, people and organizations, websites, therapists, family members (lol notice how they are different from people) who feel the same way you do.  You do not have to fight this level of discrimination all alone.

2.  EDUCATE:  Educate yourself with facts facts facts about the realities of weight stigma, the relationship between fat and health, and the reasons behind size discrimination in our culture.

3.  EMPOWER:  Empower yourself with permission to love your body and EMBRACE the concept of body diversity. 

4.  ENCOURAGE:  Encourage others to do the same, whether they are fat or not.   Changing a societal norm HAS to include the oppressed and allies of the oppressed.  If one group of people is discriminated against, all people are subject to being discriminated against.

8. Tell us the addresses of your blogs so we can follow right along with your essays.

 The primary place to find my blog is on my website, Dr. Deah’s Body Shop at
Once a month I write an original post for the Fierce Freethinking Fatties Website at

I also write about once a month for where I post an   Expressive Arts Therapy Directive specifically created to explore issues related to Eating Disorders and Body Image Issues.