November 2000

  • The Women’s Times

    Volume 7

    November 2000

    Lady Lyricists

    by Claudette Dolan

    Day in and day out, it seems that the routine and rigor of going constantly to and from class turns our lives in to something of a bore at times.  We see the same faces up at the front of our classes lecturing and instructing, and most of us just take these special people, who are our professors, for granted.  We don’t stop to consider that they are multifaceted human beings, full of love and talent.  I wanted to take some space this month to highlight the flair of three very special women in IUP’s English department.  Besides performing their roles as teacher in our classrooms, they also have incredible poetic voices that must be shared with the literary community among our readers.  So, sit back, relax, and get to know three extremely gifted women, who have been graced by the Muse.

    ~Jean Wilson~

    For those of you who are fortunate enough to know her, Jean Wilson can truly be described as an angel in human form.  She is mother to, God only knows, how many English majors, baking brownies for English club meetings and inviting members to her home for Christmas parties complete with pizza, cookies, and warm conversation (we all know every lonely student craves this!).  I have known her for almost my entire six years at IUP, and have taken a number of English classes with her husband, Ken Wilson.  As a member of the English Club, of which she is the faculty advisor, I have marveled at the way in which she translates the reading of a poem, such as William Carlos William’s The Red Wheelbarrow. The work becomes transformed from something I saw as insignificant, into a poem full of lovely details I never looked hard enough to see before, for example, the beautiful contrast between the wheelbarrow’s red paint and the white of chicken’s feathers.  She has a special talent for making words come alive that I have had an even greater opportunity to observe, since I have had the good fortune to end up with her as my classmate, this semester.  In our class on contemporary women poets, her readings of the poetry, I believe, have helped each of the students in our class to slow down and look a little deeper when we all wanted to ritualistically burn our Louise Gluck books, much to Dr. Guevara’s chagrin (actually, he’s quite sympathetic to our frustrations).  Jean loves Emily Dickinson and quoted, by memory, a lovely poem of hers for me, during our interview.   She has a beautiful voice, and it was such a wonderful experience to hear her recite.  She read some of her work at the English department’s celebration of IUP’s 125th anniversary last April.  If you ever get the chance to hear her read publicly, it’s an experience you won’t soon forget.

    ~Laurel Black~

    Although I have never had the opportunity to be a student in one of her classes, I have seen and spoken to Dr. Black on several occasions around campus.  I even got to talk rabbit with her (she breeds them and I have one as a pet) one day while I was waiting for her officemate, Judith Villa, to arrive for a meeting.  I can remember having the chance to hear her read a poem about her mother at the 125th Anniversary Celebration last spring and being moved to tears.  She is an incredible poet, and I wanted to learn more about her.

    Apparently, Dr. Black gained plenty of evaluative skills during her time as a graduate assistant at the University of Iowa.  One of her tasks was to ditto all of the materials that were used for workshops, which enabled her to read plenty of materials used for them, including everyone else’s work.  She told me, “I got really good at evaluating stuff.”  She told me that her least favorite poem is probably Robert Frost’s The Road Not Taken.  “I can’t stand that poem,” she said, “I think the narrator is a perfect example of very traditional male decision making and presentation of self.  Who is he talking to as he makes this big decision?  He’s imagining a big audience for telling about this experience [children and grandchildren].”  She also pointed to the fact that male decision- making is usually geared toward making a choice and sticking with it, while females have been criticized for changing their minds and being considered more indecisive.  She states that Frost, “went down this road, well, so what?  All the difference was that you got to make a big deal out of making a choice.”  I love her reading of the poem and she gave me a new perspective to consider when I read it.  Dr. Black projects a lively, upbeat attitude that is contagious when you’re engaged in conversation with her.  I admire her literary gifts and also, her bravery in the face of adversity.  Diagnosed with breast cancer four years ago, which unfortunately spread to her lymph nodes, she maintains an optimistic self-assurance in the face of an unknown future.  She is a reminder to us all of the support we must give to the fight for a cure for this disease, affecting women and their families everywhere.  Dr. Black is leaving a legacy, though, in the form of her poetry and journals that she keeps for her five-year-old daughter.

    ~Their Works~

    Cancer (Three Dreams) 


    I am in a town called Crystal Falls, 
    in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. 
    I am standing on the deck of a modern house, 
    looking out over the memorial park by the river. 
    The weather is bright, warm plants sway 
    in red, green, and yellow plastic pots. 
    This is supposed to be my family’s house, 
    and my mother is inside, in the kitchen.
    Down at the park, there is suddenly 
    a shadow, and the brilliant whitewash of the bridge 
    darkens to grey.  The funnel of a tornado 
    spins madly, churning its oddly slow, undulating path 
    up the main street, up the terraced slope 
    toward my house.
    I’m shouting warnings:  Get down!  Look out!  Get out! 
    uselessly.  I kneel on the stairs, wrapping my arms 
    around my head.  The deck trembles. 
    There is a popping noise behind me, nails 
    springing up from wood.  Then it’s all over. 
    My mother stands at the screen door, holding 
    a dishtowel.  What is it?  she asks, as the plants finish 
    their slow spinning, What?


    Going for a drive along the lakeshore, I’ve gotten lost, 
    but refuse to admit it.  Any moment, I will recognize 
    where I am and begin to enjoy the scenery again. 
    It’s very early spring, cold, alternately bright and dark.
    Over the long slope of a hill beside me, 
    I see the clouds suddenly drop a streamer. 
    It leaps and twists, points like a finger, 
    then finds itself and begins to move toward me.
    Never try to outdrive a tornado.  I get out of my car 
    and roll into a shallow ditch.  A tunnel is to my right, 
    the lake is behind me, suddenly rimmed with palms. 
    The waters toss, the fronds rip.
    Then the tornado is next to me, and its point 
    is tiny, drilling a hole into the sand 
    by my cheek like some child’s crazy top, dust choking me 
    as the funnel whirls over  my head forever.


    Cedar Rapids, Iowa.  My house is set back from the road, with a large front yard like my parents 
    always wanted.  Across the street, one house, then a clear view to the river, the boxcars, and the 
    factories.  Beside this house leans the middle-aged man’s junk store, square and false-fronted as 
    if this is taking place out west.  My house is wide-open, like the view, with no furniture but a 
    stove and table.  It has large windows with one pane each.  My father, mother, and little sister 
    have come home for a visit.  My mother, still square-jawed but thinner and yellow, her cancerous 
    pancreas and liver like old softballs in her abdomen, is suddenly able to eat.  How she loved to 
    eat before she got sick, how she saw passion in cooking!  She stands at the stove, gobbling food. 
    Sirens go off, and across the river, the tornado dips and rises like a cobra.  Clapboards wing and 
    twist end over end through the air, and everything glows with a strange green light.  I’m trying to 
    lead my family to the basement, but my mother won’t come.  My father waits halfway down the 
    stairs, shouting, “Jackie!  Jackie!” but she refuses to leave the stove, refuses to even 
    acknowledge his calls.  We slip down into the darkness.  When it is over, my mother is gone.  The 
    wooden spoon trembles in the aluminum pan.  The air is not at all like Iowa’s, but clear, cold 
    and fresh, like a sunday morning in spring in Massachusetts.  My father and I help the junk man 
    pick up his clapboards, the pavement wet in front of his store.  There’s nothing else to do.
    —Laurel Black 

    A Salvaging 

    You bring tomatoes, green and impossible. 
    Nothing, I tell myself, can come of this, 
    although some feed, I know,  on cattail root and bitter dock, 
    but something in me is sure to send these knobby 
    culls cranking through Mother’s old meat grinder, 
    their reluctant hides humping and succumbing 
    to the whorling screw that winds them through 
    to spew out green and seedy 
    in the old gray granite basin. 
    Listen:  this is no love affair.  No autumnal oozing 
    at the cider press.  No undisturbed exuding 
    of the grape, sagging toward perfection through cheesecloth. 
    But raisins, brown and ornery from the sun, 
    apples worked to vinegar, the hard fat rent from cattle loin, 
    dried bark pulverized to cinnamon, four pounds of sugar 
    added at the last:  a dark and heady mash, 
    a peasant’s fare, to season in a crock of earthenware, 
    a slab of mincemeat pie to make a palate sing 
    in celebration of a salvaging—a song that says 
    Put this woman anywhere.  She’ll live.
    —Jean Wilson 

    This Could Save Your Life

    by Rachel Goss

    For almost eight years, part of my life has been dedicated to martial arts.  As a woman in such an intense discipline, it has sometimes been especially challenging.  Already at a disadvantage with my height and weight, I was up against people particularly men, who were twice as big and as strong as I was.  In most cases, men are naturally stronger and more muscular than women, but that doesn’t mean that there aren’t things that women can do to compensate.  Though physical makeup and strength are important to a well-rounded martial artist, speed and accuracy are also essential elements.  In competitions, I often had to work twice as hard to prove my ability ~just because I am a woman.  In self- defense situations, I was especially advised to use “the element of surprise” along with focusing my techniques to more vulnerable areas of the body.  No matter which sex you are however, this advice is all very important and applicable since opponents/attackers come in different shapes and sizes with different strengths and weaknesses.  On college campuses where rape is more common, it is especially important for women to know how to protect themselves from dangerous situations, even if one is not a skilled martial artist.

    Usually, any art of karate is traditionally taught as a means of defense and used as a last resort.  First we are taught the most important aspects of self-defense~ awareness and prevention.  Do not walk alone at night but if you have to, plan ahead and if possible let people know where you are going and what time you will be back.  Only use main roadways that are traveled often and well lit.  It may be a good idea to carry pepper spray or hold your keys in a manner that would allow you to use them as weapon if necessary (i.e. a key between your index and middle finger enclosed with a fist).  Always pay attention to your surroundings.  If you think you may be being followed, do not turn down deserted
    streets and alleys, just to see for sure.  Get to a place with a lot of people as soon as possible.  Also, do not be afraid to call for help.  Though this all mostly common sense, people are sometimes too careless to put it into practice or overlook these things in the midst of panic. 

    If someone approaches you and they begin to verbally harass or abuse you, walk away.  At this point it is smartest to not antagonize the attacker and to get you out of a potentially dangerous situation. If you are in fact, struck or grabbed, you must react immediately.  Hit as hard as and as fast as you can and use your body, as weapon; your knees and elbows are your most powerful attributes.    People sometimes think that karate is about high kicks and fancy, flying punches and while this great in competition; it has no practical application on the street (my instructor used to say, “keep it simple”).  Also, remember to aim for the most vulnerable parts of your attacker’s body-that includes the groin, eyes, temple, ribs, and joints.  Get the person off of you as soon as possible and run for help.

    If you are concerned about your well-being and want to be more prepared, it is a good idea to train regularly.  Even the techniques taught by the best martial artists are never guaranteed; it takes a lot of practice and patience for them to work.  If you do submerge yourself in some form of self-defense, you will be able to think and react faster and your technique will be more effective.  While being aware and using common sense can help you, even the most skilled black belt can be sucker-punched.

    Out of this World Vegetarian Recipes for Thanksgiving

    by Claudette Dolan

    Ready or not, here comes Thanksgiving!  And for many people that means a huge helping of turkey with the usual accompaniment of stuffing and gravy—but this menu item is not particularly appetizing for everyone.  For those of you who have a belief system in place that excludes meat from your diet, I have some special recipes especially for you!  These include a scrumptious suggestion for a mouthwatering main course that will make turkey-eaters envious.  

    Vegan (Strict Vegetarian) Nut Roast à la PeTA    


    The Roast:
     2 tablespoons oil or margarine
     2 large onions
     5 cloves (or entire bulb) garlic, minced   
     3 cups raw cashews
           1½ cups bread
           1 cup soup stock (or water)
           Salt and pepper
           ½ teaspoon nutmeg
           2 tablespoons lemon juice

    The “Stuffing”:
     3 cups bread cubes, toasted
     2 tablespoons margarine, melted--not hot
     ½ to ¾ cup finely-chopped onion
     1 cup chopped celery
     ½ teaspoon thyme
     ½ teaspoon marjoram
     ½ teaspoon sage
     3 tablespoons parsley, chopped
     Salt to taste

    Cook the onion and garlic in the oil or margarine, from the first list, until tender.  Remove from heat.  Chop the cashews by hand or in a food processor, cut up the bread, as well.  Add the cashews and bread to the onion, then add some vegetable stock, salt and pepper, nutmeg, and lemon juice.  Put half of this mixture into a small, non-stick loaf pan (or line a regular loaf pan with parchment paper if a non-stick pan is unavailable).  Mix together all the ingredients from the second list.  Put the mixture on top of the stuff in the loaf pan, and add the rest of the first mixture so that there are three layers of food in the pan. Place the pan on a baking sheet or in a larger loaf pan, to catch overflow, and bake at 400 degrees for half an hour.  The top should be browned.  Let the roast cool for a few minutes, then turn the pan over and serve on a plate (with gravy if desired).  Keep in mind, that this dish is very rich.

    FYI:  The roast will take about an hour to prepare and makes six servings.

    Vegan Gravy Recipe: 
     ½ cup vegetable oil
     3-6 cloves of garlic, squashed and minced
     2-3 slices of yellow onion, chopped
     ½ cup of all-purpose white flour
     4 teaspoons nutritional yeast
     4 tablespoons low sodium soy sauce
     2 cups water
     ½ teaspoon sage
     ¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
     ½ teaspoon salt
     5 or 6 white mushrooms slice (optional)
     extra flour or cornstarch (optional)

    Measure the vegetable oil into a small saucepan.  Cook the garlic and onion in it for about two minutes on medium or medium-low heat, until the onion is a bit tender and translucent.  Add the flour, yeast and soy sauce to make a paste.  Add the water gradually, stirring constantly.  Bring the gravy to a boil on medium to medium-high heat stirring constantly—the gravy has to boil in order to thicken.  Add pepper.  Stir in the sliced mushrooms, if desired.  Add salt, if needed.  If gravy is too thin for your taste add the extra flour or cornstarch.  Makes one quart.  Serve hot.

    Gender Bias in the Classroom

    by Jen Gross

    Did you know that males receive eighteen hundred hours more of the teacher attention than females from the time they start school until the time that they graduate?  My jaw dropped in disbelief when this information was presented in my Educational Psychology course this semester.  I’ve always been supportive of equal rights, but had never really thought it was a problem when it came down to education.  As an Elementary Education major this issue has suddenly become a very important one to me.

    Could this be a way of using behavior management in the classroom?  I often hear teachers’ say that they call on the boys more often to keep their attention focused.  In one study shown in my class, a teacher (aware that the study was a gender bias study) was watched by two experimenters who found in her classroom and many others that the teacher was more inquisitive of the boys than of the girls.  The teacher would respond to the girls answer with an “okay” and to the boys by asking more abstract questions.  Not only did this study, but also other observational studies have shown more teacher interaction with boys than girls.

    One could also wonder if maybe males need more attention?  Though very controversial, there is evidence that lateralization, the process by which certain functions are located more in one hemisphere of the brain than the other, is related to gender.  What does this show?  Females proceed at a faster rate when it comes to language development during preschool years.  There is support relating to this data that shows there are minor structural differences between male and female brains.  There are a bundle of fibers that connect the hemisphere of the brain which are proportionally larger in women.  This however, could be related to the fact that more verbal skills are encouraged in girls.  Therefore, growth may occur more frequently due to higher stimulation resulting in better language skills.

    Can we conclude that the eighteen hundred hours of additional attention males receive in comparison to females is justified?  These are very important concepts to note for future teachers, because even if one believes that males do develop at a slower rate it is important to be fair to both sexes.  I leave this knowledge with you to form your own opinion.  

    Gifts From the Muse: Submitted Poetry

    Dragonfly Time 

    Flit of reflected silver wing  
    And metallic emerald body 
    In my black iris 
    Where are you off to as you zip away 
    But more importantly, 
    What of mine do you take with you 
    You don’t seem large or strong enough 
    To carry away 
    The weight of my youthful days 
    Woven together into years 
    (that’s a heavy quilt) 

    Or even the particle 
    Of an instant 
    With the power of distraction from life 
    To enable me to take note of 
    The passionlovecare in my husband’s eyes
    Claudette Dolan

    What the World Values
     I am amazed at how little 
    the world values poems 
    uses them for therapy, 
    doesn’t matter how good they are
    or if people eat them for breakfast. 
    My doctor mocks me when he repeats  
    You think you should read me a poem,  
    like it’s something only the desperate do?
    But when I think of anyone’s beloved 
    all those times a poem sits and dries 
    --you know, that’s not just a poem  
    beloved, that’s watering our eyes.
    —Rosaly DeMaios Roffman

    Wife in the Ocean 

    Watch the tides sweep and engulf my mother 
    My stepfather’s essence swells like ocean 
    Because she is sponge she will not smother
    Don’t drown!  The water you must recover 
    Like some form-changing, brain-draining potion 
    Watch the tides sweep and engulf my mother
    When fluid fills you, become another 
    Replace all your thoughts with one quick notion 
    Because she is sponge she will not smother
    Into every pore absorb your lover 
    Ebb of water now your only motion 
    Watch the tides sweep and engulf my mother
    Depths you sink, watch jellyfish hover 
    But theirs is a varied locomotion 
    Because she is sponge she will not smother
    If you sink too fast will you take cover 
    Washed on beach, sunbaked, void of emotion 
    Watch the tides sweep and engulf my mother 
    Because she is sponge she will not smother
    —Claudette Dolan 

    Hand Shadows

    Poem for My Mother (1906-1994)

    On long asthmatic nights 
    you took my darkness 
    with the magic eye
    a ceiling dinosaur 
    a tiger prowling 
    up the paper-trellised wall
    your hands 
    finger-fanning back to back 
    brought birds 
    (they swooped into 
    the chimney crack) 
    then quickly signing up a horn 
    behold:  a prancing unicorn
    swans sailed the ruffled cornice like a sea.
    At close 
    we cupped the light 
    hands blooming to veined roses 
    in the dark.
    And you must know 
    how I would spell your darkness, 
    how I would shadow game 
    the breathless, dark, abbreviated wall 
    and bloom your satin rafter 
    with a rose 
    to please the sleeping birds.
    —Jean Wilson

    A Reason for remembrance

    by Jessica Donald

    These are my sisters and brothers   
    hanging on your gallows   
    These are my sisters    
    burning on your stake   
    Screaming out for hope   
    Screaming out because of your fear   
    Your want of power over them
           Your mistakes
      I mourn for those who died    
    because of your ignorance   
    My voice will not stop   
    My life made better   
    through their sacrifice   
    My Goddess known through flames 
    of the past, burnt stakes, hanging trees 
    growth of our actual faith 
    voices raised, minds expanding 
    ignorance being erased
             the truth is at hand


    by Brenda Mitchell

    Dear Friends and Colleagues:

    As the mid-point of my three-year appointment as Director of the Women’s Studies program draws near, I have been reflecting on the WS Program’s past and considering plans for the future.  One theme that emerges from committee meetings and discussions with faculty is that Women’s Studies, as it exists at IUP today is fragmented.  We need to form a cohesive group that fosters a sense of belonging, collaboration, and a sense of ownership of and responsibility to the Program.  We need to get to know each other, talk to each other, and discuss our vision of the future of Women’s Studies at IUP. 

    In order to begin this process, the Women’s Studies Program invites and encourages your participation at a “retreat/workshop” on Saturday, November 11, 2000, from 9:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. at the College Lodge.  We especially encourage interaction among faculty, students, other interdisciplinary academic programs and student associations, including the African American Cultural Center, Asian Studies, Pan-African Studies, Liberal Studies, International Studies, Pride Alliance, and others.

    Our goals include:

    • Providing opportunities for WS faculty and students to meet and interact outside the classroom
    • Forming a cohesive, informed group of faculty and students who support and actively contribute to the WS program
    • Fostering a sense of “ownership” of the program
    • Formulating realistic, workable plans for the future of WS at IUP
    • Renewing commitments to WS and considering how each of us can contribute to follow-through

    Please consider what Women’s Studies means to you.  What can you contribute to supporting our goals and ensuring the continued growth of the program?  Below are some suggestions for issues to consider.  It is by no means an exhaustive list, and we encourage you to come up with your own list of issues to discuss on November 11.  As you will notice, some ideas are geared to specific  “tasks,” such as the charges of the curriculum and program committees to formulate plans for staffing WS200, for organizing Fall 2001 programs, for developing fundraising activities, and for discussing implementing a plan to initiate a national search for a full-time WS director (providing that we come up with funding somehow).  Others are geared to organizing interdisciplinary teaching circles on the model of those existing in the Center for Teaching Excellence Reflective Practice Project.

    9:00-9:15  Continental breakfast
    9:15-9:40  Opening remarks and introductions of participants
    9:45-11:30 Small group work
    11:30-12:15 Small group reports and discussion
    12:15-1:00 Lunch

    WS curriculum committee:  workable solutions for staffing WS200
    WS program sub-committee:  FALL 2001 “Women in Science”—speakers, programs, dates, estimated costs, possible funding sources
    WS program committee:  Future of WS—brainstorm workable plan for possible funding sources; discuss plans for new WS director beginning Fall 2002
    Teaching Circle—Feminist Pedagogy
    Teaching Circle—teaching gender in the introductory class
    Student small groups—What does WS mean to you?  How does WS meet those needs?  How can WS improve meeting student needs?
    Student small group—reviving “Women for a Change”
    Women’s Center/ Women’s Resource Center—ideas, funding, plan of action
    What does WS mean to people of color at IUP?
    Small groups should number from 3-5 people.  Choose a focused topic that you want to discuss or a specific task that you wish to accomplish.  Designate someone to record the main points of your discussion, possible solutions, and your “plan of action.”  Set up a schedule for future meetings of your group:  date, time, place.


    Thank you for your support and participation.

    Brenda Mitchell
    Director, Women’s Studies Program

    Happy Thanksgiving From All of Us at Women’s Studies!!