Guest post by undergraduate writer Paige Impink
Filed under: Lesson Plans, Post by: Alyse K, Starring Local Feminists, Uncategorized
Last semester, while teaching an undergraduate section of Introduction to Creative Writing at George Mason University, I had the pleasure of working with Paige Impink, a very talented young writer. Out of Paige’s many beautiful pieces, I found myself especially struck by the simultaneously humorous and biting feminist themes in this poem, “Digest Cosmopolitan,” which Paige collaged from a newspaper and from Cosmopolitan Magazine. It’s my honor to share the poem with you here. Read on after the poem to hear Paige’s reflections on her own writing, as well as the feminist readings and ideas that influenced her.
“Digest Cosmopolitan,” by Paige Impink
to write about Africa
…………and the sizzling, sinful things they’re craving right now.
Don’t the critical conditions of democracy
…………look so sexy?
A term was invented for ‘powerless social groups’
…………that no man can resist, and
political attacks misread
…………the 10 things guys wish you knew.
Pragmatism may be a useful way of understanding
…………the colorful smoky eye made easy, but
nuclear power is not the answer for
…………why so many men are suckers for skanks while
a Palestinian peacemaker
…………has pecs of steel.
In any case, France has never undertaken
…………what a lipstick can’t.
At the center of my writing are the struggles involved in family relationships, especially those focused on women, which is a very relatable issue….During the course of this semester, there have been several other classes that have helped shape the theme of the pieces that I decided to include in my portfolio. This semester, I took an African-American literature class, and it was the hardest literature class that I have taken so far in my life. It really helped me learn how to critically examine an author’s work and made me realize how different writers talk back and forth with each other through their literature.
In this class, we also explored the theme of feminism and the idea of “ecriture feminine,” a theoretical concept developed by Elaine Showalter that argues that women write in a more fluid structure that represents the flow of the female body. These two ideas really made me examine the way I write as both a woman as well as a writer responding to the works of others.
The second class that helped shape my work is my Spanish class. I explored many different forms of Spanish and Mexican literature, including opinion essays, poems, and short stories, and it made me realize the stylistic similarities and differences of the writing in Spanish culture compared to the American works that we studied in class. Without going into too many details, other experiences that affected my works in this collection included reflecting upon my relationship with my mother and how it has grown since I was younger, as well as viewing the ever-present issues involving sex and gender roles in our society.
As I said before, my African-American literature course affected both my writing and my view of writing a lot this semester. One author that I studied in that course who affected me tremendously because I had to write a research paper on her was Ann Petry, who wrote “In Darkness and Confusion.” I critically examined her style in terms of being a social novelist, and I analyzed her views of uncomplimentary sex roles that black men and black women suffered in 1940s America.
Another writer who has influenced me is Lucille Clifton and her poem “To My Last Period.” She took such an important part and the avoided subject of a woman’s body and life and turned it into something beautiful with her words. I hope to be able to represent females and taboo subjects relating to them in the same light in my own writing.