Tuesday, January 27, 2009

O, the poems

Have you seen this yet? 100 poets are writing a poem for the first 100 days of the new Obama Administration.

Is it a coincidence that Obama and Oprah are iconic Os?

Monday, January 26, 2009

Teach, Name, Luck

I've discovered the joy of taking long walks while listening to a book on my ipod. I walked to work this morning (about 2 miles) while listening to Eat, Pray, Love. Elizabeth Gilbert has a seductive voice that adds extra joy to the experience. Even when she's talking about wanting to kill herself, you feel like you're swimming in silk.

Today was the first day of classes. Each class was full, and then some ... as always, students were trying to add, and I felt like I was kicking a puppy when I had to turn them away. It's only going to get worse next year with the cutbacks. Too bad we don't build fewer bombs and prisons so there's money for an extra class or two.

I asked my students today to write about their names. I told them I'm Kathleen Mary Evans. My baby book indicates the "Kathleen" comes from my dad's cousin, whom I don't remember meeting but apparently did, according to an old photo showing the baby me in a blow-up wading pool with her standing nearby. "Mary," according to my mom, comes from "the mother of God." Yes, that's what she wrote in my baby book. No pressure, huh? "Evans" is a bastardization of some Hungarian name that was changed when someone several generations ago passed into the U.S. via Ellis Island. I also talked about how I came to being called "Kate" by a friend of mine in college who loved Kate Hepburn (his name was Joe, and "Chuck" in my novel, For the May Queen, is based on Joe). My students in Japan called me Kate-san (they wanted nothing to do with the mouthful that is "Kathleen"). Now that I'm writing this I can see there are so many other associations and family stories that come to mind when I think about my name (such as the fact that Annie calls me "Leen"). This means it's fertile ground for writing. And when we share next week, we'll get to learn some things about each other.

The energy is class was great today. No one fell asleep as I went over the details of the syllabus, always a good sign. We have so many great things happening this semester, including visits to campus by Mark Doty, Paul Lisicky, Aimee Bender, Sandra Gilbert and more. And did I mention my great luck, that during Spring Break, I'm going to Hawaii with my mom, sisters and Annie? Aloha is always a good thing to inject into one's psyche and body while pining for summer--which I always am doing mid-March.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

It's a New White House, Queerly Speaking

Within moments of Barack Obama's swearing in, the official website of the White House was updated with a lengthy list of commitments to LGBT rights.

Support for the LGBT Community
"While we have come a long way since the Stonewall riots in 1969, we still have a lot of work to do. Too often, the issue of LGBT rights is exploited by those seeking to divide us. But at its core, this issue is about who we are as Americans. It's about whether this nation is going to live up to its founding promise of equality by treating all its citizens with dignity and respect."
-- Barack Obama, June 1, 2007

Expand Hate Crimes Statutes: In 2004, crimes against LGBT Americans constituted the third-highest category of hate crime reported and made up more than 15 percent of such crimes. President Obama cosponsored legislation that would expand federal jurisdiction to include violent hate crimes perpetrated because of race, color, religion, national origin, sexual orientation, gender identity, or physical disability. As a state senator, President Obama passed tough legislation that made hate crimes and conspiracy to commit them against the law.

Fight Workplace Discrimination: President Obama supports the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, and believes that our anti-discrimination employment laws should be expanded to include sexual orientation and gender identity. While an increasing number of employers have extended benefits to their employees' domestic partners, discrimination based on sexual orientation in the workplace occurs with no federal legal remedy. The President also sponsored legislation in the Illinois State Senate that would ban employment discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation.

Support Full Civil Unions and Federal Rights for LGBT Couples: President Obama supports full civil unions that give same-sex couples legal rights and privileges equal to those of married couples. Obama also believes we need to repeal the Defense of Marriage Act and enact legislation that would ensure that the 1,100+ federal legal rights and benefits currently provided on the basis of marital status are extended to same-sex couples in civil unions and other legally-recognized unions. These rights and benefits include the right to assist a loved one in times of emergency, the right to equal health insurance and other employment benefits, and property rights.

Oppose a Constitutional Ban on Same-Sex Marriage: President Obama voted against the Federal Marriage Amendment in 2006 which would have defined marriage as between a man and a woman and prevented judicial extension of marriage-like rights to same-sex or other unmarried couples.

Repeal Don't Ask-Don't Tell: President Obama agrees with former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff John Shalikashvili and other military experts that we need to repeal the "don't ask, don't tell" policy. The key test for military service should be patriotism, a sense of duty, and a willingness to serve. Discrimination should be prohibited. The U.S. government has spent millions of dollars replacing troops kicked out of the military because of their sexual orientation. Additionally, more than 300 language experts have been fired under this policy, including more than 50 who are fluent in Arabic. The President will work with military leaders to repeal the current policy and ensure it helps accomplish our national defense goals.

Expand Adoption Rights: President Obama believes that we must ensure adoption rights for all couples and individuals, regardless of their sexual orientation. He thinks that a child will benefit from a healthy and loving home, whether the parents are gay or not.

Promote AIDS Prevention: In the first year of his presidency, President Obama will develop and begin to implement a comprehensive national HIV/AIDS strategy that includes all federal agencies. The strategy will be designed to reduce HIV infections, increase access to care and reduce HIV-related health disparities. The President will support common sense approaches including age-appropriate sex education that includes information about contraception, combating infection within our prison population through education and contraception, and distributing contraceptives through our public health system. The President also supports lifting the federal ban on needle exchange, which could dramatically reduce rates of infection among drug users. President Obama has also been willing to confront the stigma -- too often tied to homophobia -- that continues to surround HIV/AIDS.

Empower Women to Prevent HIV/AIDS: In the United States, the percentage of women diagnosed with AIDS has quadrupled over the last 20 years. Today, women account for more than one quarter of all new HIV/AIDS diagnoses. President Obama introduced the Microbicide Development Act, which will accelerate the development of products that empower women in the battle against AIDS. Microbicides are a class of products currently under development that women apply topically to prevent transmission of HIV and other infections.

(Thanks Joe.My.God.)

Dear President Obama

Welcome to the White House. The bull in the china shop has flown back to Texas. Let us hope you can begin to put the pieces back together, and then some. In the meantime, thank you for the phenomenal inaugeration speech. No question, you are an inspiration.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Spring is even better when it arrives in winter

It's sunny and in the 70s today. I'm sitting in my new favorite local cafe drinking a brilliantly delicious orange, mango and peach smoothie, enjoying the warm air wafting in through the open door. We've had a much colder than normal winter this year, so I'm reveling in this reprieve. The dogs enjoyed it greatly this morning, too. I'll be back home in a bit and will take them for a second or maybe even a third walk, a special treat.

Before I left home, I put organic chicken and vegetables in the crock pot. It's gonna smell great the minute I walk in. Or maybe even as I walk up to the front door. Our good friend Janelle is coming over tonight for dinner. We haven't seen her in a while, so there will be lots of juicy stuff to catch up on over food and wine. It's possible we might go to another friend's house (since we don't have TV) to watch the opener of American Idol, but then again we might just play Scrabble.

I'm still on winter break for another week. I have to get off my duff and write my syllabi for spring now that I've written an involved syllabus with many requirements (ah, bureaucracy) for a course I'm teaching in fall 2009. That class is for frosh and features LGBTQ Film and Literature. It's been very hard to narrow things down because there's so much out there. I've decided to focus on literature and film that features history, activism and multiculturalism. We're also focusing on the literary and creative imagination, which is why I'm using fiction, poetry, creative nonfiction and fictional films, rather than straight-up nonfiction and documentary. Here's what I'll be using:

Revolutionary Voices: A Multicultural Queer Youth Anthology
Stuck Rubber Baby (a graphic novel about queer lives during the Civil Rights movement in the South)

The Bubble (Israel, Palestine)
Fire (India)
Hedwig and the Angry Inch (East Berlin/Canada)
Ma Vie en Rose (France)
Maurice (England)
Milk (U.S.)
Out of the Past (U.S.; documentary about queer history & youth activism/GSAs)
Saving Face (U.S.; Asian-American)

In addition to working on that, I've been revising Complementary Colors, my novel that's coming out this summer. The publisher wants my revisions shortly. I've also been working on the caregiving memoir. Unfortunately, I've shelved my historical novel. I'm stuck stuck stuck. But I'm working on a different novel, a contemporary one. Perhaps I'll return to the historical another day.

Obviously I haven't blogged a lot lately. I've been living a bit more slowly in all aspects of my life, especially now that we don't have the internet at home. I feel like I'm saving gems of gentleness and wandering in preparation for the quick pace that awaits me when the semester begins, when I'll be teaching 4 writing classes and continuing my book tour. I'll be doing a radio show and a TV show in the next few months, in addition to the following events:

Kate Evans & Patricia Harrelson Reading
February 05, 2009, 7:30PM
Books Inc. in the Castro, San Francisco, CA
Kate Evans will read from her latest book, For the May Queen, and Patricia Harrelson will read from her book, Between Two Women at Books Inc. in the Castro. FREE.

Kate Evans & Lillian Vallee Poetry Reading
February 15, 2009, 2:00PM
Ravenswood Historic Site, Livermore, CA
Kate Evans and Lillian Vallee read poetry at the Beautiful Ravenswood Historic site Livermore, California. $5.00 includes Refreshments. Open Mic after a short Break.

Kate Evans Reading & Champagne Reception
February 18, 2009, 6:30PM
Martin Luther King, Jr. Library, San Jose, CA,
Kate Evans reads from her novel, For the May Queen, and also will read from her in-process memoir. She will take audience questions and sign books. Champagne Reception follows. FREE.

This morning I was listening on the radio to Hillary's confirmation hearing. Parts were interesting, but at times I almost dozed off. These congresspeople love to hear themselves talk. I'm just praying (I mean that metaphorically) that Hillary can do something about the horror that is Gaza.

Friday, January 9, 2009

Must see

Annie and I just saw it the other night because I'm searching for films to use in a class I'm teaching about the queer experience in film and literature. Unfortunately this film is very apropos now. If you see it, let me know what you think.