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Lesbians lifting bellies?

bluebox's picture

I did not understand Lifting Belly when I attempted to read it for class. I didn't remember (or particularly care) who the author was because usually authors give you context to start with, because they generally want you to understand where they're coming from. My only hint was that Anne said it was erotic stuff, but I figured she just meant Canzone because of the tongues.

So, it didn't occur to me that either of these poems were about lesbian sex. Now that I loo at Canzone, I can definitely see it there. But I'm still not convinced for Lifting Belly. I'll believe you if you tell me it's about sex, because that seems to work, it just doesn't make sense to me any way I look at it.

At first, I thought that Lifting Belly was dialogue between two people, maybe three. Taking the hint into account, I could see that it would be a love story, maybe even a polyamorous relationship? I let that one go pretty quickly.  For the definition of Lifting Belly, I noticed a note in the margins pointing to those words saying -Person? So I took that as an idea as well. Two people and a person named Lifting Belly?

I made it to the part about giving birth (Lifting belly. Cry. Lifting belly. Lifting belly splendid. Jack Johnson Henry.  Henry is his name sir.) and a few pages after that small success in deciphering the only thing in the poem I was certain about, I skimmed the rest for important words and gave up.

I really thought for a while that the two (or three) speakers were gods instead of humans, with the way they didn't say the name of things and described them the way they saw them. I assumed there was a male and a female, because that's usually how things are. They didn't mention any pronouns besides "Kiss my lips. She did." so that didn't rule anything out.  From what I read, I don't get where it said that it was about love between two women and not between a man and a woman. I could be wrong, but I don't see how it matters in this poem. Unless it points out an issue in gender rights, I don't think there's a point in letting us know that they're both women. If it's real love, it doesn't matter who's doing the loving.


buffalo's picture

Lifting Bellies

I agree with parts of what bluebox and sara.gladwin said. Going off of what bluebox was talking about with confusion, it was very hard for me to read this as a feminist text, definitely some of that was because of my overall confusion of what the poem was saying, but also because it wasn't clear to me that this was a text between two females. Yes there were pronouns like 'she' used, but it's hard for me to distinguish between feminists writing styles,  perhaps I need to pay attention more to the details- but I didn't really feel I was able to pull apart details because I was lost in the conversation. Even though we were told this poem is very sexual, I only picked up a few sexual passages, and there it wasn't clear that it was lesbian sex. Maybe this is a silly question, but is all writing on lesbian sex inherently feminist? I understand how talking about heterosexual sex could easily be described as not feminist, with the talk of penetration, but can the act be written about using feminist writing form?

 I agree with what was sara was saying about feeling like I was peering into someone else's life. Even though I didn't understand much of what the text was talking about, it still felt very intimate, not necessarily sexual, but like two people's thoughts, and the rawness of the language would not be the way people talk in open conversation. The conversation seemed to more of people's inner voice, but not a socailly acceptabel form of communicating. I'm still not sure what to make of Lifting Bellies, but I came out feeling like I was an intruder. Talking about Lifiting Bellies in the form of feminist writing makes me want to learn more about how to distinguish the difference between feminist and non-feminist writing!

sara.gladwin's picture

Sex and Lifting Bellies

When I first read Lifting Belly, I was frustrated by my own lack of understanding. I could definitely see how Lifting Belly could be about sex, because I felt that so much of the words had a sexual nature to them. But the poem seemed to speak to more then just simple sex between two people; it seemed to represent the intimacy formed between two people that share more than just a physical bond but an emotional tie- two people that share their lives together amongst the confusion we are born into. When I said in class that I thought I was looking into a bedroom- I think I actually meant that I was looking into a home. There was daily conversation intermixed with the reiterations of lifting belly; the meaning of lifting belly itself is blurred between images of sensuality, birth and eating. The act of physical sex, "love-making" is blurred with the joining of two lives.

"All of it is a joke. Lifting belly is no joke. Not after all." These lines seemed to stick inside my mind, as it mimicked how I felt about Lifting Belly. At first, it seemed like a joke, nonsense. But as I reread the poem, the flow of conciousness and the blurring of meaning seemed to become sensical. Lifting Belly is no joke, not after all.