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E. Ethelbert Miller Featured Artist

of the DC Commission on the Arts and Humanities

Literary activist E. Ethelbert Miller is DCCAH’s featured artist of the week. Miller is a renowned poet that has practiced in DC for almost 40 years. Since 1974 he has served as the director of the African American Resource Center at Howard University. During that time, he has chaired the Humanities Council of Washington, DC, hosted a weekly radio program on WPFW and served on the boards of the PEN/Faulkner Foundation, Washington Area Lawyers for the Arts (WALA), and the Edmund Burke school. He currently sits on the board for the Capitol Letters Writing Center and serves as an editor for the African American Review. Read more about his credentials on his website.

In 1979, Marion Barry declared September 28 “E. Ethelbert Miller Day.” He has also been awarded the Mayor’s Art Award for literature in 1982, the Public Humanities Award of  the DC Humanities Council in 1988, and the Columbia Merit Awardfrom the literary community of Washington in 1993.

Divine Love is one of Miller’s most renowned works. Read more poems on his website or on Poetry Quarterly.

 

Divine Love (For Alexs & SooJin)

I wish I had loved you many years ago

I would have loved you like Ellington loved Jazz and Bearden loved scissors.

I would have loved you like Langston loved Harlem and the Blues loved Muddy Waters.

I would have loved you like Douglass loved to read and Garvey loved parades.

I would have loved you like Zora loved stories and DuBois loved suits.

I would have loved you like Lewis boxing and Mahalia loved to sing.

I would have loved you like Carver loved peanuts and Wheatley loved poems.

I would have loved you like Jimmy loved Lorraine and Ossie loved Ruby…

I would have loved you like King loved Jesus and Malcolm loved Allah

–E.Ethelbert Miller

Photo courtesy of Tom Terrell Photography.




How to Cook Food

By Jessica Wesiberg
The New Yorker blog

For those of us who want to eat locally, but maybe don’t have the time to grow our own vegetables, nor the salaries to buy everything at the farmers’ market, Lisa Jervis’s “Cook Food” is a fantastic how-to guide. Jervis, the founder of Bitch magazine, dubs this tiny volume a “manualfesto.” The “festo” part comes at the beginning, when Jervis briefly parses some of the political and environmental issues that face us at the dinner table: how far most ingredients travel, the petroleum and chemicals used in food processing, the mistreatment of animals.

Jervis’s writing has an off-the-cuff quality: she never spells out the word “because” (she prefers “ ’cause”) and sometimes substitutes apostrophes for “g”s (“talkin’ ”). But because she’s inconsistent about it, it registers as laziness rather than kitsch, which I thought only added to the book’s charm. Her whole point is that eating well—in the fullest sense of the term—isn’t all that hard to do. The second part of the book is a kitchen guide and twenty easy, affordable vegetarian recipes. She also has some useful tips on how to save money and effort (for tomato paste: buy the type that comes in a tube; the type in a can goes bad too quickly) and for enhancing flavor (salt early!). PM press, a new publisher based in Oakland, is charging only ten dollars for the book, and it’s well worth it. I’m going to test out her “spicy brownies” recipe tonight, which calls for silken tofu in place of eggs. I imagine it must be quite good: otherwise, I don’t think Jervis would have bothered to write it down.

Buy book now | Download PDF now   




Vikki Law Portfolio

Articles & writing
Exhibitions
Workshops
Zines edited and produced

Articles & Writing 

“ABC No Rio:  Twenty-Three Years of Art and Culture.” Clamor 24 (2004).

“Barriers to Basic Care.” Clamor 21 (2003).  

“Breaking the Silence: Incarcerated Women Speak Out.” Punk Planet 72 (2006).

"Bringing the Next Generation Into the Struggle: The Children's Social Forum." Left Turn (2007). 

“Chicana Lives and Criminal Justice: Voices from El Barrio.” Review of Chicana Lives and Criminal Justice, by Juanita Diaz-Cotto. make/shift 3 (2008).

“Enter the Nineties: Punks, Poets, Politics at ABC No Rio.” Maximum Rock n’ Roll 275-276 (2006).

“Erase the Borders.” HipMama 36 (2006).

“Everyday Actions.” make/shift 1 (2007). 

“Explaining Are Prisons Obsolete? to a 7-Year-Old.” make/shift 4 (2008). 

“I Was a Teenage Armed Robber.” Kiss Machine 6 (2003).

"Incarcerated Women Create Their Own Media." off our backs (2007).

“Invisible Rebellions: A Short (and Incomplete) History of Women’s Prison Revolts.” Kiss Machine 18 (2008).

“Mamapalooza NYC.” HipMama 34 (2005).

“Mamapalooza.” off our backs 35.7/8 (2005).

“Prisoner Unions.” In Encyclopedia of Prisons and Correctional Facilities, ed. Mary Bosworth. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications., 2004.

“Take Your Kid to the Allied Media Conferece.” HipMama 40 (2008).

“The Art in Zines.” In Zine Yearbook 9, edited by Joe Biel, Steven Stothard, Sparky Taylor, Dillon Vrana, and Brittney Willis. Bloomington, IN: Microcosm Publishing, 2009. 

“The First Encuentro of Indigenous Zapatista Women with Women from Around the World.” Hip Mama 39 (2008).

“The Invisibility of Women Prisoners’ Resistance.” Turning the Tide 16.3 (2003). 

“Two Ways of Seeing: A Mother and Daughter Take on Protest Photography.” Kiss Machine 12 (2006).

“Two Ways of Seeing (a mother-daughter photo essay).” In Mamaphonic, ed. Bee Lavender and Maia Rossini. New York: Soft Skull Press, 2004. 

“Unlikely Communities.” Clamor 29 (2004).

"Women in the Struggle: Reportback from the First Encuentro of Indigenous Zapatista Women with Women From Around the World." The Red Pill (2008).

“Workin’ for the Man.” Clamor 26 (2004). 

 

Exhibitions curated at ABC No Rio, NYC:

Homecoming, October 2008.
American-born artists explore issues of ancestry, migration and returning to their parents’ homeland.

The Ides of March, March 2008.
Building-wide exhibition showcasing projects by more than 30 artist collectives and collaborations.

The Art in Zines, October 2007.
An exhibition exploring the art and design in the 10,000+ zines housed in ABC No Rio's zine library.    

Remembering What Care Forgot, Fall 2006.
An exhibition in two parts, celebrating the culture of New Orleans before Hurricane Katrina and the city's post-disaster revival.

Reflections from the Joint: Art and Correspondence by Prisoners, November 2003.
An exhibition of art by prisoners who request literature from Books Through Bars—NYC.

The Chiapas Show, April 2000 
Exhibition of photography and other documentary work about the life and struggles of the autonomous Zapatista communities. 

Art From Inside: Out, January 1998 
Exhibition of art by men and women incarcerated throughout the United States.

Squatting on the Lower East Side, May 1997 
Exhibition of photos documenting the squatted buildings in Manhattan's Lower East Side..

After the Crane, March 1997 
Exhibition about the lives of the residents of the Fifth Street Squat, which was razed by the City in February 1997.

Exhibitions participated in:

Postcards from the Edge. James Cohan Gallery, NYC (2007); Babylon Lexicon. NOCCA Riverfront

Riverview Gallery, New Orleans (2007).

Inauguracion. Casa Hilvana, Mexico City (2007).

Reapertura. La Quinonera, Mexico City (2007).

The Clothesline Show. Postcards from the Edge. Brent Sikeima Gallery, NYC (2006).

Babylon Lexicon. Barrister’s Gallery, New Orleans (2006).

Traditions: Connections to the Diaspora. Tomorrows Artist and Dancers Gallery, NYC (2006).

New York Eviction Blues II. Manhattan Borough President’s office, NYC (2006), ABC No Rio, NYC (2006).

Remembering What Care Forgot. ABC No Rio, NYC (2006).

The Ides of March, ABC No Rio, NYC (2006).

Todos Somos Juarez. Galeria Puerta del Viento, Durango, Mexico (2005).

Art Slam. Asian American Arts Center, NYC (2005).

Creative Release. Sev Shoon Gallery, Seattle, WA. (2005).

Representing Ourselves. Visions in Feminism conference, MD (2005).

Eviction Blues. ABC No Rio, NYC (2005).

Cram Sessions. Baltimore Museum of Art, MD (2004).

Wall to Wall. Norfolk, VA (2004).

The Clothesline Show. ABC No Rio, NYC (2004).

The Ides of March. ABC No Rio, NYC (2004).

Lower East Side Photographers Photographing the Lower East Side. ABC No Rio, NYC (2004).

ELS-LES, LESX. NYC. (2003).

The Art of Revolution. Lawrence, KS (2003).

COPS. ABC No Rio, NYC (2003).

The Ides of March. ABC No Rio, NYC (2002).

The Racism Show. ABC No Rio, NYC (2001).

The Chiapas Show. ABC No Rio, NYC (2000).

The Ides of March. ABC No Rio, NYC (2000).

Light Leaks. ABC No Rio, NYC (1998).

The Art of Exile. ABC No Rio, NYC (1998).

The Ides of March. ABC No Rio, NYC (1998).

Squatting on the Lower East Side. ABC No Rio, NYC (1997).

After the Crane. ABC No Rio, NYC (1997)
 

Workshops

“Abolishing the Prison-Industrial Complex” SUNY Social Justice Conferenece, Binghamton, New York. 8 November 2008.

“Women, Incarceration and Resistance” SUNY Social Justice Conferenece, Binghamton, New York. 8 November 2008.

“Media Access for Prisoners” Critical Resistance 10, Oakland, California. 27 September 2008.

“‘AIN'T GONNA LET NOBODY TURN US AROUND’: the development of a national movement of women prisoners, women released from prison, and their allies” Critical Resistance 10, Oakland, California. 27 September 2008.

“Spotlight on Incarcerated Women: Conditions, Profiteering and Resistance” Bluestockings Bookstore, New York. 17 September 2008.

“Women in Prison” Brooklyn College, Brooklyn, New York. 16 September 2008.

“Media Access for Prisoners” Allied Media Conference, Detroit, Michigan. June 2008.

“Revolutionary Parenting” Allied Media Conference, Detroit, Michigan. 21 June 2008.

“Don’t Leave Your Friends Behind” Ladyfest, Baltimore, Maryland. 13 April 2008.
Presentation on supporting parents and children in anarchist movements and discussion on concrete ways that childless activists can do so.

“Don’t Leave Your Friends Behind” First annual NYC Anarchist Bookfair. 14 April 2007.

“Xerrada Presxs als EEUU” (Prisoners in the United States) Ruina Amalia, Barcelona, Spain. 10 January 2007.
Presentation about the issues and resistance among women in prison in the United States.

“Leave No One Behind: Community Parenting.” Second annual Providence Anarchist Bookfair, Providence, RI. 15 July 2006.
Presentation about the necessity of supporting parents and children in radical movements.

“The Future Generation: Anarchist Parenting and Community.” Seventh annual Montreal Anarchist Bookfair, Montreal, Canada. 20 May 2006.
Discussion around the question: Why is it necessary to support parents and children in the anarchist movement? Discussion about concrete ways those in the movement can support families in their midst.

“Don’t Leave Your Friends Behind: Supporting Mothers and Children.” La Rivolta! Boston, MA. 4 March 2006.
Presentation on how supporting mothers and children fits into an anarchist-feminist theoretical framework and discussion on concrete ways childless activists can do so.

“Women and Power.” Visions in Feminism, College Park, MD. 7 May 2005.
Panel discussion about the ideas of power and the images of women, mothers and activism.

“Beyond Online Activism.” Mamagathering, Minneapolis, MN. 18 July 2004.
Discussion about organizing parents to go act politically beyond cyberspace.

“Mothers in Prison.”  Mamagathering, Minneapolis, MN.  18 July 2004.
Workshop about the issues facing incarcerated mothers and how feminist and radical communities can support them.

“The Art of the Conscious Mother.” Barnard College, New York, NY.  8 November 2003.
Roundtable discussion about motherhood, work and art.

“Building a Radical Parenting Support Network.” John Hopkins University, Baltimore, MD.  11 October 2003.
Discussion about the needs of parents and their experiences in activist communities.

“Invisibility of Women Prisoners’ Resistance.” University of Oregon, Eugene, Oregon.  10 August 2003.
Workshop and discussion about the silence of incarcerated women, their issues and their resistance.

“Issues for Women Prisoners.” American University, Washington, DC.  26 January 2003.
Workshop and discussion about the issues facing incarcerated women.

“Economics Inside and Out.”  SUNY Binghamton, Binghamton, New York.  16 March 2002.
Panel discussion on the history of penal labor in the United States and past and present prisoner organizing around the issue.

“Museum Education Programs: Quantity or Quality?” National Graduate Seminar, American Photography Institute. New York. 10 June 2000.
Panel discussion about the priority of foundations, their expectations and     the reality of art programs for youth in New York City.

“Sounding Off: Art and Activism in the 1990s.”  New Museum of Contemporary Art, New York, New York. 10 September 1998.
Panel discussion about the role of the arts in activism and political organizing.
 

Zines Edited and Produced

Tenacious: Art and Writings by Women in Prison (Spring 2003 to present)

Nefarious Doings in Revisionist Tourist Attractions: A Mother-Daughter Photo Zine (2007)

Enter the Nineties: Punks and Poets at ABC No Rio (2005)

Tell Me About the First Time You Came to ABC No Rio (2005)

Family Values: A Family Approach to the Republican National Convention (2004)

8 Days in August: A Mother and Toddler Take on the RNC (2004)

Mama Sez No War (2003)




Vikki Law in make/shift magazine

By Alexis Pauline Gumbs
make/shift magazine
Issue 6

The less you think about your oppression, the more it grows. After a while, people just think oppression is the normal state of things.—Assata Shakur, quoted in Tenacious

prison
an obscure word
footnoted in dictionaries
scholars say
it was how the ancients wrote
“we are not yet ready”
on their wrists every morning

—Alexis Pauline Gumbs, “An Archeology of Freedom”

 

The statistics are scandalous. “Crime” is down, yet more and more people are locked in cages. Welfare has been dismantled, and—not at all coincidentally—the fastest-growing prison population is made up of women living in poverty who have committed nonviolent offenses. And the majority of the women living in women’s prisons are mothers. The majority of women living in women’s prisons are mothers, and the majority of prisoners, period, are parents.

What is the cost of a generation of children growing into steel around their hearts?

What is the cost of the giving up, the quieting down, marked on our screaming bodies with the blunt instrument of the state?

What is the ongoing cost of slavery when even our minds conform to the cruel structure of the shackle?

One logic of maternity would say that mothering is incompatible with prison. Indeed, as abolitionist author and activist Victoria Law points out in the chapter on mothers and children in Resistance Behind Bars, mothers in prison lose their right to parent through a number of state policies based on the presumption that women locked up in prison must be bad people and could neverbe good mothers. Law astutely connects the systematic separation of women in prison from their children to a longer tradition of punishing women for any behavior that challenges social norms, from sex work to writing a bad check to self-defense. Those women who have not learned to properly conform to the expectations of the state cannot be trusted to raise their children to be conformist pawns. Historian Rickie Solinger, curator of the Interrupted Lives exhibit, connects the collaboration of prison rules and foster-care strategies to keep children disconnected from their mothers to a broader project that characterizes motherhood as an economic privilege and justifies state action to take the children of poor mothers, single mothers, and mothers of color away from them.

One logic of maternity would say that prison and mothering are incompatible. And indeed the statistics suggest that prisoners lose the right to mother. Most mothers are locked up more than 100 miles away from their children. Most mothers were the sole guardians of their children before they were caged. Foster-care agencies tend to rush to make foster children with imprisoned mothers available for adoption. Practices of immediately separating mothers who enter prison pregnant from their babies, denying women in prison prenatal care, and shackling imprisoned mothers while they give birth, as well as searching and yelling at children who come to visit their mothers, make the struggles of mothers living inside U.S. prisons acute and traumatic for mothers and children.

Another logic of mothering would say that prison is incompatible with life itself. Yet another logic, articulated most clearly by Black feminist lesbian warrior mother Audre Lorde, would say that mothering is necessary for survival and that “we can learn to mother ourselves.” Mothering, therefore, is bigger than the relationships between biological mothers and their birth children. Mothering, in a queer sense, a cosmic sense, is the process of transforming the world, of making life possible. And it happens everywhere, even or especiallyin the brave actions of women mothering from inside prisons, spaces that are designed to make life impossible. For all of us.

The zines, book, and exhibit featured here point out both the consequences and the cruelty of depriving a generation of children of their literal mothers, and depriving ourselves as a society of the energy of mothering and transformation that gets locked down by the very logic of prison, policing, and surveillance in our society. It is important to note that the materials covered in this review speak explicitly and exclusively to the experiences of women incarcerated in women’s prisons and do not address the experiences of the many women living in men’s prisons. The experiences of transgender/gender-nonconforming prisoners have been neglected in general and were not ever mentioned in the book, zines, or exhibit under review.

Interrupted Lives,a multimedia exhibit curated by Rickie Solinger, vividly illustrates the barriers against mothering in prison. A series of nightmare paintings made by children whose mothers are in prison directly transmits the trauma of trying to navigate and make sense of a social system that they as children can clearly see is unfair. Images like a baby in a womb locked in chains, scary puppets, screaming faces, and three-dimensional structures made from chains and wood represent the struggle of these young artists to express the costs of their mothers’ imprisonment on their psyches. The centerpiece of the exhibit, a postcard project from mothers in prison depicting their own definitions of love, insists on an idea of love; the project includes advice to children that illuminates stark realities like “my credibility is shot with my children,” as well as collages and a crayon drawing of a human heart impaled by prison bars. Alongside the postcards are small black boxes with quotations from sources such as a bill of rights created by incarcerated parents. The message is that though the system of prison has discounted the authority and agency of mothers who are in prison, the mothers themselves refuse to consent to this.

Victoria Law’s body of work supports this sense that mothers in prison are not merely victims of an unjust, greedy prison system that violates their human rights, but are also organizers, activists, and artists using mothering as an energy that transforms their lives and their conditions. Law does not stop at “representing” the experiences of women in prison; unlike almost any other scholar/activist/ally, she highlights the organizing and action of women in prison on behalf of themselves and each other.

For six years, Law has been producing and distributing the zine Tenacious, featuring writing and art by women in prison. With Resistance Behind Bars, Law is determined to make her interventions accessible to possible activists and allies inside and outside prison by using clear language, providing resources, and carefully building the history and context with short, focused chapters on key issues identified by prisoners (such as sexual assault, health care, and mothers and children).

In both the zine and the book, by presenting the creative resistance of mothers in prison despite the gendered violence, deprivation of rights, and social invisibility they suffer, Law reminds us of the cost of caging mothers, our creative intellectuals, and depicts their tenacity in creating family, community, and transformative love anyway.

In issue 14 of Tenacious, released in honor of Mother’s Day 2008, Margaret Majos makes a call to other mothers in prison: “Mothers! Don’t allow prison’s stenchaffect you. Your love for your children can fill the emptiness of your heart!” Majos argues that an organizing ethic is what will allow mothers and mothering to survive the prison system: “Only standing up to the issues will bring inner healing . . . The system tries to kill our souls, yet we have the power to take it back.” “We Had No Choice,” by Lori Towle, which opens issue 15 of Tenacious, responds to this call with a poetic statement representing a clemency movement of mothers who insist that they should not be locked up for defending themselves and their children from abusers.

Law’s work allows women in prison to provide tangible advice to those of us who would like to be allies to the struggles of women organizing in prison. For example, Lisa “Lee” Savage explains:

I feel simply there needs to be MORE CONTACT with those prisoners organizing and resisting and trying to movement build. They (women in prison) need to know those people are out there willing to support our resistance.

Understanding that mothers in prison are vigilantly nurturing their own movement for justice and transformation is a key insight put forward by this recent creative and analytical work. Our contact with and support for organizing efforts by women in prison is key not only to their achievement of basic human rights, but also to the creation of a society that affirms the possibilities of love and life instead of accepting the confines of a system dependent on policing our bodies and spirits through an economy of punishment. Get ready.

Buy this book now | Download PDF now

Resistance Behind Bars: The Struggles of Incarcerated Women by Victoria Law
(PM Press, February 2009)

Tenacious: Art and Writing from Women in Prison, edited by Victoria Law
(Self-published)

Interrupted Life: Incarcerated Mothers in the United States: A Traveling Public Art Exhibition, curated by Rickie Solinger
(Emory University, Robert W. Woodruff Library, January 15 to March 12, 2009)

 




Real Cost of Prisons Review in Make/Shift Magazine

By Kebby Warner
make/shift Magazine

After reading The Real Cost of Prisons Comix, what stands out the most for me is that something as complex as prisons is explained so effectively in comic form! This is for everyone, from the young to the old—no matter your educational background, the Comix are easy to understand.

I never knew what went into building a prison until I read this book. But the cost is truly mind-boggling: $60 billion a year just for prisons in the United StatesThat’s a lot of money coming from taxpayers. I used to be a taxpayer before I came to prison. And it blows me away to know there’s actually a Web site, www.jailbedspace.com, purportedly set up “to put the buyers and sellers of ‘County jail bed space’ in touch with each other.” That’s right—jail administrators can actually go to this site to rent bed space to one another.

The Comix not only talk about prisons, but they talk about individual prisoners, their families, the guards, and the guards’ families. I see the stress on the faces of these guards daily, but I never thought about what effect this could have on their families until I read this book. Prisons can be bitter, angry, and depressing environments for those of us who live here locked up like animals, but the guards are also locked up with us for eight to sixteen hours a day. Even though they get to go home every day, I can only imagine the feelings they bring with them.

The Comix talk about the “War on Drugs” and laws that have been made to lock up more and more people each day. Like the book says, the majority of the women I see coming through this prison are addicts. Instead of a drug-treatment program where they can learn how to stay off drugs, they are sent to prison, where there is a waiting list for all of the programs offered, only to be paroled back into the same community they came from without coping mechanisms to stay off drugs.

And who pays the cost most of all? Our children. The Comix tell us that 2 million children under eighteen in the United States have an incarcerated parent. Fifty-three thousand of those children are in foster care. My own child, whom I gave birth to while in prison, was put in foster care, only to be adopted in the end because of the two-year law in Michigan: if a person remains in prison longer than two years, parental rights will be terminated. I know who my daughter was adopted by and am in contact with her. There are many mothers and fathers out there who are in prison and have no idea where their children are or who has custody of them. Is there any limit to the price this country will pay to lock people up? It doesn’t look like it.

Teaching others the cost of prisons in comic form is a brilliant idea! This book deserves to be spread to the masses on the inside and outside. It has made me take a whole new look at the real cost of the prison industrial complex.

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Cook Food on Happy Herbivore

By Lindsay
Happy Herbivore

Cook Food by Lisa Jervis self-describes itself as a manualfesto for easy, healthy, local eating. If you’ve ever felt overwhelmed by the politics on your plate — this book is for you. Jervis takes the best information and insight from books like Michael Pollan’s In Defense of Food and The Omnivore’s Dilemma plus the many works by Eric Schlosser, Marion Nestle and Raj Patel and puts it all together in a nutshell. Jervis also answers questions we’ve all had: what’s healthy? what food is the most eco-friendly? can I really eat organic vegan food without breaking the bank? Then Jervis goes one step farther and teaches kitchen basics so anyone can feel comfortable in their kitchen. Complete with a guides to spices, ingredients, pots, pans and easy recipes, this book is literally a one-stop-shop for everything you need to know about being a little more health and earth conscious.

Cook Food is also vegan-friendly, meaning Jervis draws attention to the horrors of the meat and dairy industries, promotes a vegan diet and provides only vegan recipes. However, Jervis is a meat eater herself and thinks organic meat is humane and earth-friendly. I sharply disagree with her there, but other than when she’s talking about her own diet the book is very pro-vegan. All in all, it’s a great little book and certainly helpful for anyone confused, overwhelmed or new to eating green. I’m also glad that an environmentalist finally stepped up and admitted a vegan diet is about the most earth-friendly way one can eat. (Ugh, hem, Al Gore).

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Vikki Law at the Edmonton Anarchist Bookfair

Women behind bars
By Scott Harris / Scott@vueweekly.com
Vue Weekly

The struggles of prisoners against unjust incarceration or inhumane treatment has a long history in the United States, from the national "Free Huey" movement which sought to have Black Panther Party founder Huey P. Newton released from prison in the late '60s to the 1971 Attica Prison uprising in New York to contemporary prison solidarity movements seeking the freedom of political prisoners like Mumia Abu Jamal and Leonard Peltier.

But despite this long history, the specific struggles and realities of female prisoners has largely gone unrecognized, a fact that is all the more important given that while women make up less than 10 percent of the 2.3 million prisoners now in US jails, female rates of incarceration are increasing faster than their male counterparts, more than doubling in absolute numbers through the 1990s.

This oversight is one which Victoria Law, who will be visiting Edmonton as the keynote speaker at this weekend's Edmonton Anarchist Bookfair, aimed to remedy in her recently released book, Resistance Behind Bars: The Struggles of Incarcerated Women (PM Press, 250 pp, $20). Part of the reason the prison activism of women has been ignored, Law explains, is because the specific issues faced by women in prison lead to different priorities and forms of struggle.

"When you consider that prisons were set up originally to incarcerate men, and this hasn't really changed in the past few centuries there are a lot of things that aren't specifically for women that are needed, like gynecological services or resources to deal with women who come in who are pregnant or who have a history of things like breast cancer or cervical cancer," Law explains over the phone from New York. "In addition, because of the way society is gendered when a mother goes to prison oftentimes there is not a male relative or somebody willing to step up and take care of her children, whereas when a father goes to prison oftentimes a female relative, like the biological mother of his children or his girlfriend or his wife or this mother or his sister will take care of his children. The majority of women who go to prison are mothers and the majority of those mothers have been single heads of households before going to prison, and again this is in large part because of the way society has gendered parenting."

The result of these gender-specific issues, she says, is a different form of prison-based struggle, one that is rarely recognized to the same extent as more straightforward prison issues.

"A lot of the resistance isn't looked at as quote-unquote resistance by people who are looking for things like organizing and activism. So if incarcerated women are organizing around access to their children this doesn't fall under the traditional idea of what we think of when we think of prison issues," she says. "So women at the maximum security prison of New York, Bedford Hills, formed a foster-care committee specifically to educate the incarcerated mothers there as to what their rights were when their children entered foster care. But because when we think of prison issues we think of male prison issues, we're not necessarily looking at things like parenting and access to children particularly as a prison issue. It's not a big glamourous thing, it's not a work strike, it's not a riot, nobody gets hurt and it's not something you can look at and see."

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Diario de Oaxaca: A Newsarama "Best Of"

By Michael C Lorah
Newsarama

A warning: this book missed Diamond's cutoff numbers, so you may have a hard time finding it in your local comics shop.  But it's worth the extra effort to track down a copy.  Peter Kuper, co-founder and co-editor of "World War 3 Illustrated" and current author of "Mad"'s "Spy vs. Spy", spent two years living in the southern Mexican state Oaxaca, arriving just in time for an annual teachers' strike in the cause of increased wages to turn violent, leaving dozens of people dead.

"Diario de Oaxaca" is Kuper's sketchbook and journal of the events that occurred during his time in Mexico.  The political content is smaller than many readers will probably expect, but the strike ended shortly into Kuper's tenure, so most of the material was created in the aftermath.  On the other hand, though the strike is ended, its shadow lingers over most of the book.

With not much in the way of traditional comics, "Diario" provides insights into the Oaxacan culture via Kuper's expressive, collage-like sketchbook illustrations, which are offset by one- to two-page text journal entries that enable Kuper to expand on what he's witnessed politically, socially and culturally.  The illustrations are far more than sketches, however.  Each page is a full color tapestry of an amazing city and its culture.  Peppered with embedded photographs of the concrete reality of Oaxaca, each of Kuper's pages explores a festival, burned-out cars, flora and fauna, ancient Zapotec structures, witnessed public relations, or myriad other nuances of local life.

In a beautiful hardcover edition, with over 200 pages of Oaxacan culture and political strife to uncover, "Diario de Oaxaca" is one of the most important comics of the year.  It's touching and sensitive, righteously angry and in awe of the history and culture it's immersed in. Peter Kuper's been one of comics must-read talents for a long time now, and "Diario de Oaxaca" is just another feather in his cap.

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From the Authors of Girls Are Not Chicks!

The fresh-tasticly updated Girls Are Not Chicks by Jacinta Bunnell and Julie Novak is out now at http://www.pmpress.org and http://www.reachandteach.com. Be the first in your neighborhood to color all the pages.

We are delighted to join forces with Reach and Teach/PM Press to bring you this new version of a classic! Twenty-seven pages of feminist fun! This is a coloring book you will never outgrow. Girls Are Not Chicks is a subversive and playful way to examine how pervasive gender stereotypes are in every aspect of our lives. This book helps to deconstruct the homogeneity of gender expression in children's media by showing diverse pictures that reinforce positive gender roles for girls.

Color the Rapunzel for a new society. She now has power tools, a roll of duct tape, a Tina Turner album, and a bus pass! Paint outside the lines with Miss Muffet as she tells that spider off and considers a career as an arachnologist!

When a girl's voice is fostered to its brimming potential, the sound is not a peep, nothing akin to the sound of a fuzzy baby chick. The encouraged voice of a girl is resounding and loud, glowing with perfect protest and intellect. Girls are not chicks. Girls are thinkers, creators, fighters, healers and superheroes.

Oh, yes, and keep coloring,
Jacinta and Julie
http://www.girlsnotchicks.com


PM Press in London

That's right, we now have a quasi-official London office, given the recent trans-continental move of editor Andrea Gibbons. It's her third in as many years and has been a bit rough, but she's finally feeling that life is now more or less sorted, though if you've extra kitchen wares you'd like to offload, she could probably help you out. And of course, if you're interested in working with us, you can get in touch with her at andrea@pmpress.org. Just remember that apart from a pretty full time job of PM editing and website updating and etc, she's also starting a dissertation on transnational capital and neoliberalism. She will do her best not to be flaky.

We are excited to announce our first official appearance though, which will be the 2009 London Anarchist Book Fair.

When? Saturday, October 24th from 10 am to 7 pm.

Where? Queen Mary & Westfield College, Mile End Road, London, E1 4NS.

We will have two tables full of PM's finest wares...it's the first time you've ever seen anything like it if you haven't seen us in the States, and we promise an array of intellectual joys attractively packaged. (And we're not just talking about the folks working at the booth!)  

We are also proud to present author Gabriel Kuhn, who will be speaking in Room EB4-45 from 5 to 6 pm.

Gustav Landauer, Erich Mühsam, and the German Revolution of 1918-19

Gustav Landauer (1870-1919) and Erich Mühsam (1878-1934) arguably remain Germany's most influential anarchists. Both were key figures in the Bavarian Council Republic of 1919, the most ambitious attempt by left-wing radicals to create an egalitarian and socialist society on the ashes of the German Empire.

English language material, in particular primary texts by Landauer, Mühsam, and fellow radicals of the era, are scarce. PM Press has now announced a series of publications providing sources that have long remained unavailable. An extensive Gustav Landauer reader will be published in March 2010. An Erich Mühsam reader and a reader on radical currents during the German Revolution will follow in subsequent years.

The volumes' editor and translator Gabriel Kuhn will give an introduction to Gustav Landauer and Erich Mühsam, discuss German anarchism, and outline the PM Press projects.

We're sad to say that as you read above, this gorgeous and important collection of Landauer's writings is not yet available. We're as disappointed as you are, but we will have several other books and pamphlets available that Gabriel has written or been involved with, and you can read all about them here, and we will be holding several launch events here in London, as Stockholm really isn't that far away.

So hope to see you at the Bookfair, at upcoming events, or just around!



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