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..