Feminist Poet: Hollie Poetry

Feminist Poet: Hollie Poetry

Hollie Poetry, who was born Hollie McNish, is a British slam poet. In “Mathematics” she is having at go at anti-immigration math. She is worth a listen.

‘And when I meet these paper claims

That one of every new that came

Takes away ones daily wage

I desperately want to scream

‘Your maths is stuck in primary’

She also has her own YouTube channel:  https://www.youtube.com/user/holliemcnish/feed

And her website can be found at:


I am working on a poem, but it is not done. Despite my singing, the woodland creatures have not appeared to help with my housework.

lazy squirrels not cleaning the house and this has nothing to do with Feminist Poet: Hollie Poetry

Comets and Uppity Women

woodcut comet image, Comets and Uppity Women

Comets and Uppity Women

Comets and Uppity Women. The thought might arise these two things have little in common, but Bathsua Makin said,

“A learned woman is thought to be a comet, that bodes mischief whenever it appears.”

Hunter-Gatherer Egalitarianism?

I recently read an article in The Guardian about a study of contemporary hunter-gatherer societies conducted by anthropologists at University College London. I still need to track down the paper the article was based on. The Guardian quoted one of the authors of the study as saying, “There is still this wider perception that hunter-gatherers are more macho or male-dominated. We’d argue it was only with the emergence of agriculture, when people could start to accumulate resources, that inequality emerged.”

Anthropologists for a long time have puzzled over why while people in hunter-gatherer societies show strong preferences for living with family members, in practice few closely related individuals make up the groups they live in. The study focused on computer simulations based on the assumption people would chose to populate an empty camp with their close kin– siblings, parents and children. When the choice was male dominated, the simulation showed a pattern closer to male-dominated pastoral or horticultural societies. When the choice was more sexually egalitarian, a pattern closely resembling the observed pattern of the contemporary hunter-gatherers emerged. And each hunter-gatherer group has far flung connections with many different hunter-gatherer groups.

The authors of the paper make a case for sexual equality as an evolutionary advantage for humans because then early humans would have had wider networks to interact with. With the advent of agriculture, our species skewed towards male dominance.  Agriculture brought with it the opportunity to accumulate possessions and wealth. It also meant groupings with men living with their brothers. The men’s wives were at the fringes of the group. A man’s children and relatives would be more numerous than the relatives within the group of any adult female member. And women lost their voices.

Losing Our Voices

Women lost their voices and many were forgotten through history. How many other Boudica lead armies? What female leaders and advisors’ names have been lost? What tales of adventuresome women are no longer told? How many inventive women’s engineering accomplishments were ascribed to men? How many women writers’ works have been lost? Can we continue with only a portion of the story? Can we survive with only a portion of humanity’s possible contributions?

Women in History and Feminism

I don’t have time or space in this one post to write a history of feminism. There have been powerful women, strong feminine voices, and human females all through out history. And not all of them are famous like Cleopatra, the last Ptolemaic pharaoh of Egypt before Egypt became a Roman province. Or Queen Elizabeth I who was the last monarch of the Tudor dynasty. Most of the women in history who were accomplished, outspoken, adventuresome, powerful or extraordinary in other ways are not routinely mentioned in history books. I have written posts about several of them in the past on this blog. Women such as Ching Shih, Ada Lovelace, Grandy Nanny, and Queen Nzinga Mbande.

Further, there is a tradition of female intellectual resistance to oppression and repressive cultural norms that goes back centuries and includes women such as Christine de Pizan, Mary Wollstonecraft, Virginia Woolf and many others. I opened this post with a quote from Bathsua Makin.

Bathsua Makin

Bathsua Makin was the daughter of a schoolmaster named Henry Reginald. Bathsua’s father was enlightened in an age when it was considered that girls should only learn “feminine” arts such as dancing, singing and needle crafts. He trained his daughter in classical and modern languages. Bathsua Makin wrote a book of poetry at the age of sixteen that included passages in Greek, Latin and French.

During the seventeenth century in English culture, women were subject to men. Family, education and religion were all male dominated institutions. Queen Elizabeth’s reign shook things up and women had enjoyed more freedoms during her lifetime, but with the ascendancy to the throne of James I previous societal patterns returned. With one exception, Protestantism encouraged everyone to read and interpret the Bible for themselves, including women. More women were taught to read. While women were relegated to the private, domestic sphere where they were under the governance of the men of the household, there was an undercurrent to challenge norms. While it was lauded for a man to publish his writings and take on a public voice, women were scorned for such an action. And still women such as Makin published.

Makin’s life was never easy. While she was considered “England’s most learned lady”, she struggled financially. Her husband, Richard Makin, was a minor court servant. When he lost his position, Bathsua petitioned for a position and was successful. She was a tutor to Princess Elizabeth, the daughter of Charles I, and taught the girl mathematics, reading, writing and languages. After the death of the princess, Makin tutored Lucy Hastings, Dowager Countess of Huntingdon.

The Whole Nation Advantage

Makin understood the power of educating women. For ten years she ran a school at Tottenham High Cross. She advocated for teaching women a broad range of subjects including mathematics, history, science and languages. Dying at the age of 75, her life may have influenced many others in small and important ways. It’s hard to know what the impact of her work was in its totality. She wrote that educating women would give “the whole nation advantage”.

Comets and Uppity Women

It has been a while since I wrote about women through history who did unexpected, extraordinary, revolutionary things. Everybody needs role models. I feel society has taken steps backwards towards less egalitarianism and moved towards being more male dominated. In my opinion this development hurts our species. The challenges of our current time period require all the talent, hearts and minds available to us. As women we need to know women before us pushed boundaries, spoke out, and contributed. If writing about these women is mischief, then I will strive to be a maker of such. Look for another post next Sunday.

This Machine Kills Fascists

Woody Guthrie, This Machine Kills Fascists

This Machine Kills Fascists

Woody Guthrie wrote “This Machine Kills Fascists” on his guitar. Steve Earl once said of Guthrie, “I don’t think of Woody Guthrie as a political writer. He was a writer who lived in very political times.”

This Land Is Your Land

“This Land is Your Land” was Guthrie’s answer to Irving Berlin’s “God Bless America”. He was so tired of hearing “God Bless America” constantly played on the radio, he wrote “This Land is Your Land”. I remember listening to a recording of this song when I was in elementary school. The song spoke of ribbons of highway, sparkling sands, and waving wheat fields. A land that was for you and me.

But Guthrie’s songs reflected what he saw around him. He signed the manuscript for “This Land is Your Land” with the comment, “All you can write is what you see, Woody G., N.Y., N.Y., N.Y.” The song originally included the following in the fourth and sixth verses:

As I went walking, I saw a sign there,
And on the sign there, It said “no trespassing”.
But on the other side, it didn’t say nothing!
That side was made for you and me.
In the squares of the city, In the shadow of a steeple;
By the relief office, I’d seen my people.
As they stood there hungry, I stood there asking,
Is this land made for you and me?

These verses were often omitted in subsequent recordings, sometimes by Guthrie.

Protest and Peace Songs

While in California during the Dust Bowl era, Guthrie was among the Okies who flooded into California. The Californians did not want these immigrants. Employed by a leftwing radio host, Guthrie identified himself as an “outsider”. He spoke and sang of the travails of immigrants with such songs as “I Ain’t Got No Home”, “Goin’ Down the Road Feelin’ Bad”, “Talking Dust Bowl Blues”, “Tom Joad” and “Hard Travelin’”. All of these songs gave voice to those who had been disenfranchised.

When Guthrie moved to New York, he met Lead Belly, Cisco Houston, Burl Ives, Pete Seeger, Will Geer, Sonny Terry, Brownie McGhee, Josh White, Millard Lampell, Bess Hawes, Sis Cunningham, and others. This group became his close friends and musical collaborators, forming The Almanac Singers. They wrote songs for social causes such as union organizing, anti-Fascism, peace, and generally fighting for the things they believed in. They wrote songs of political protest and activism.

During World War II, Guthrie served in the merchant marines. At first he tried to argue he could serve better by staying in the US and singing to inspire people. Friends persuaded him to join the merchant marines where he composed and sang songs to bolster moral. He composed hundreds of anti-Hitler, pro-war, and historic ballads to rally the troops, such as “All You Fascists Bound To Lose”, “Talking Merchant Marine,” and “The Sinking of the Reuben James.”

Guthrie influenced the musicians of the American Folk Revival– people such as Bob Dylan, the Weavers, and Pete Seeger. His son Arlo Guthrie wrote and sang “Alice’s Restaurant” which protested the war in Vietnam.

Songs For Our Time

I am tired of songs about dysfunctional love, random sex and the cache of trivialities most rock and pop songs litter our air waves with. I remember the first time I heard Tracy Chapman’s “Fast Car”. And “Talkin’ Bout a Revolution”. They weren’t spun fluff. They felt solid and spoke from the heart. We are living in political times. I think we need songs that reflect the world around us. And we need a singer like Woody Guthrie who can see the world, sing about it in a real way, and give us our songs of peace and protest.

In my cells, water of the lakes


In my cells, water of the lakes

In my bones, the minerals of the soil

My heart beats like a butterfly’s wings

Yesterday my daughter and I drove to Elderly instruments in Lansing, Michigan. We listened to Lindsay Lou and the Flatbellies, The California Feetwarmers, Dervish, and Blind Boy Jerome Paxton while we drove winding back roads to get there. The trees were green. Everything was lush. We saw a coyote.

I grew up predominantly on the western side of Michigan along Lake Michigan. As a high schooler, I walked the ecological progression from dune to scrub to pines to hard woods. When I walk in Michigan now there is an underlying expectation of what the plants and the landscape should look like. It is present in me. It is the most spiritual aspect of me.


I remember when I first moved to Woody Creek, Colorado, seeing the shadows of clouds moving across the mountains startled me. The wide open views shocked me. The landscape was arid, sometimes rocky, sometimes the soil was red. The plants were different. I loved watching the animals from the bedroom windows that faced over a large field. I remember seeing coyotes, fox, deer, and even a mountain lion. The elk were majestic. I loved seeing the elk. They moved with such grace and elegance for an animal as tall as my car. I loved to see the vapor of an elk breathing in and out in the cold. And the edge of ice and frost over the grasses on a cold morning.


It is so easy to forget what is everyday in the background. The explosion of green that happens in two weeks in Michigan sometime near the end of April or beginning of May. It is easy to forget from year to year the blooming of the orange ditch lilies that grow everywhere in Michigan so when you see them again it is like a surprise. It is so easy to forget the ash trees that died because of the ash borers because we still have the maples and box elders. It is easy to believe that the great lakes will never change, the Michigan snows will always come, the monarchs will return, the apples will grow, etc.


When I take a moment to stop. Just stop. Sit in the screen house under the shade of the ever growing maple trees, under the climbing grape leaves, under the clouds… when I am still for a minute, it reminds I am not separate from the landscape. I love to go camping and just sit in the mornings with a cup of tea and watch the area around me. I love to see the deer walking through the ferns. I love to hear the birds. The sight of a heron overhead catches my breath because it is so primal. My heartbeat is reflected in the flutter of a butterfly on the dunes. I am at peace at the edge of Lake Michigan.


How will climate change shift our sense of self? What will we trust if we cannot trust the air we breathe? Or the water we drink? What will happen to our sense of self, an underlying sense of ourselves that we are increasingly out of touch with?

Javaing on the first day of 2016!


Javaing on the first day of 2016! For the last week I have been spending about 4-6 hours a day going through and reviewing some of the java programming I’ve learned in the last year. Serialization, recursion, interfaces and inner classes, arraylists and generics, hash tables, sets, trees, linked lists, collections, maps, iterators, jsp’s and servlets, etc.

This morning as I was putting laundry into the washing machine, I was thinking about programming. Right now, I am off work and class is not in session. I have done freelance writing and art at various points in my life. I love to write fiction and poetry when I have time. I like to draw and paint. I have so many ideas for web applications I would like to create. Programming is another creative tool to make things. On top of that it also has a challenging element of figuring out how things work.

While there are a number of resources to learn how to code, I am thinking of posting some basic tutorials in the nearish future. I am also hoping that at sometime in the relatively nearish future I can add one of my own web applications to this website. Working on it. 🙂

Happy Day of the Dead

Happy Day of the Dead!

Happy Day of the Dead

Remembering the Dead

It is November 1, 2015. I remember back to November 5, 2012 when my mother died. And my grandmother passed in the fall several years ago. While not being of Mexican descent, I appreciate a holiday that is about remembering and celebrating the people in one’s life who have died.

My great grandparents took care of me when I was little. I remember pretending Christmas with my great grandmother. She would wrap empty boxes with paper and I would pretend to sleep until “morning”. I think this was a way to get me to take a nap in the afternoons. Her molasses cookies I have never been able to replicate.

My grandmother was a business woman. She was never allowed to go to college, but she managed five restaurants on her own. Her intelligence and strength still inspire me.

My mother wrestled her own demons. She lived fully, but in the end she succumbed to lung cancer.

An Ordinary Day

I am one small being in a vast universe and my time on this planet is very limited. Humbled by this notion, death at moments existentially flattens me. And other times, it focuses me and makes life sweeter.

Today, I am up early because the clocks were set back an hour and instead of being 7:30 am, it is 6:30 am. It is ok. I have work to do. Always work to do. I’ll make some coffee and get busy on learning how to design a relational database, how to program a java web application, and how various binary search trees look based on which logical sequence is used. I worked on all of this yesterday. Last night while my youngest played video games rather than go trick or treating, I read through my notes on creating databases. Maybe later I’ll go outside and put away the hoses, the lawn furniture cushions, and the gardening tools that are still out. Maybe I will plant some daffodil bulbs and drain the gasoline from the rototiller.

Happy Day of the Dead!

Aubrey Beardsley Tarot

I have written about Aubrey Beardsley in the past. He was referred to as the tragic genius of the Art Nouveau movement. He was unorthodox for his time period and his work often featured the erotic, the grotesque, and the decadent. I just discovered a tarot set of the major arcana based on his work which was created by a woman possibly named Lillie Osbourne. Beardsley’s designs lent themselves well to the cards she created. Check these out:






Jane Was An Open Book


Jane Was An Open Book

by Annette Bowman (that’s me!)

Jane was an open book.

At night when it was time to sleep, she was folded and laid to the side.

She dreamt in dark compression

of being lovingly gazed upon,


and comprehended.

Her complexities would show through

By virtue of her subtext.

Her beauty lay in the lilt of her words.

She had such ideas!


The one who held her every night,

Became mesmerized…

By a Reality show

featuring twelve people.

Only one could be the winner.

He returned her to the shelf.


Years passed.

Jane waited to be re-opened,

Grew dusty.

Would she ever feel the warmth of hands?

Eyes upon her?

Or would mice nibble her edges?

Worms eat her?

Her words never diminished.

If not now, when?


I practiced the fiddle for an hour this morning. Scales– G, A, B, C, D, E, F, G, A, B, C, D, E, F, G and not the A. Oh Susanna! Ole Joe Clark. Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star. Bile Them Cabbage Down.

Real advanced stuff as I am sure you can tell. My dogs would agree with you if they were in the house. I take their howling as encouragement.

I think I want to work more later on “Big Rock Candy Mountain” and “I’ll Fly Away”.

I play some guitar as well. Just chords. I am learning now how to read music. When I was a kid I moved in fifth grade from a school district with a music program that featured listening to the same dusty set of records over and over again to one with award winning bands, an orchestra, and multiple choirs. The music teacher at the new school did not know what to do with me who had never even seen a recorder, so she ignored me for two years. And I never learned about how to play music and read music. Currently, my fiddle instructor, Isaac Weiss, is teaching me. He’s great.

I was thinking on stuff this morning over coffee.

Learning an instrument takes vision. And investment. And belief in yourself. If I only went on the way I play fiddle right now, I would give up because it sounds pretty bad. However, I practice a few hours a week and every week the notes become a bit clearer, the music makes more sense, and I am starting to hear melodies. It is thrilling.

Lots of skills, achievements and whatnot require this trio of vision, investment of effort over time, and belief in yourself. No one has lost weight, saved for a trip, wrote a novel, completed a 5K, learned to ski, etc. without this trio.

The way I see it, one can sit in the bath warm and cozy and getting all pruney or waste time in front of the television or whatever…

OR you can decide now is the time for __________________

Sometimes, these things have an optimal time, but if you wait for that time will it ever really come? If you don’t start socking away $20/week for that trip to Japan, will you ever get there? If you don’t start setting aside retirement money, how will it happen? If you don’t take those first steps, how will you run that half marathon? If you don’t start writing, how will that novel in your head end up on the page? If not now, when?

September 19, 2015, lazy Saturday


September 19, 2015, lazy Saturday.

I am waiting to see if it is going to rain. I love the rain. I am listening right now to the Wailin’ Jennys’ “Storm Coming”.

And it is giving me a break from fall garden work, building a chicken coop, and painting fence panels for a dog run. Love the new puppy. Really.

I need to run to the store and buy some butter to make zucchini bread. I don’t know if the rest of the world experiences zucchini bread, but zucchini bread is the only way to deal with this vegetable at this time of year. If you are from the US Midwest, you know what I am talking about.

I have been transferring music from recently purchased cd’s into iTunes so I can burn some sampler cd’s to share the news about some great musicians and groups I heard last week at the Wheatland Music Festival. Groups like the California Feetwarmers, Lindsay Lou and the Flatbellys, and Balsam Range. Great musicians like Jerron “Blind Boy” Paxton.

I still need to practice fiddle (working on “Oh Susanna” and “Big Rock Candy Mountain”), configure a new router, download a database and do homework, and watch Dr. Who later.

Lazy Saturday. Best kind.