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     painting by Etel Adnan


I wake up in the morning and I check the internet for news. I wake up reading. If it were twenty, or even ten, years ago, I’d be reading the paper. Instead, it’s Facebook.


I wake up and I read about another rape.


I go to work, where I have a situation ongoing that I can’t discuss here. It is a source of anxiety.


Earlier this month, an internet friend posted a student course evaluation that said: “Baby girl I would fuck you in the ass so hard.”


Another rape, another unhappy reveal of who exactly, and at what date and time, will blame the victim: why was she even there? why didn’t she leave?


Another crime, another injury porn or corpse porn image to share virally for a day. Another accused criminal, another mug shot porn image to share virally for a day, with black banners and white text telling the viewer in one sentence how to channel their rage.


The woman implicated in the Philly beating of two gay men, it turns out, is the daughter of the police chief. Apparently, allegedly, she brags on social media about calling in favors to her father.


Comments on Cop Block’s image of her chugging from a bottle of Fireball (something at least one person I love has done) suggest she be given “the Ray Rice treatment.” Now a celebrity is metonymic for cold-cocking a woman (consider that verb, if you will). Ah, the mutability of language! The shortcuts through critical thinking it makes possible!




I’m reading Etel Adnan right now, To look at the sea from Nightboat. Yesterday on the train I read a scene in which a woman is drawn and quartered in front of her classroom of deaf and mute children.




Ok, hi, so this is the world. What can a person do? Lots of options. Some artistic people turn to various mediums and genres of fine art to express their inner turmoil or joy, as the case may be. I’ll tell you what I do: I operate Belladonna Series, Inc. a 501c3 literary non-profit based in Brooklyn.


I do this because I believe that publishing work by underrepresented women writers changes the world. I believe doing good work to benefit other people feeds me.


From my contribution to a publication by Acts + Encounters in 2013, co-authored by three Belladonnae. Though the full work was a collaboration, I feel a need to account for the “I” here:


We enter into institutional time, and we exit. In 2010, Belladonna* was a non-profit at the state level, and secured grant funding through the fiscal sponsorship of our friends at Litmus Press. This worked well, but after gathering together ten women to form the new iteration, the Belladonna* Collaborative, we decided to move forward independently. Acquiring federal non-profit status would enable us to apply directly to a wider variety of funding sources, and so I worked with the Volunteer Lawyers for the Arts (VLA) to make this happen, meeting several times with our assigned attorney high in the Condé Nast Building, overlooking Times Square. Now thanks to a piece of paper (the IRS Determination Letter), the thing officially called Belladonna Series, Inc. is able to apply directly to foundations and government agencies whose missions include funding the arts. I took on this task because it seemed important to me. I had the desire to see it done, and I secretly love paperwork.

We enter into Belladonna* time, which is so very non-institutional, and we bring with us the facts of the institution, which we then manipulate. I take pleasure in describing us as “intentionally anarchic.” This state of being allows for the spontaneity that hierarchy seeks to eliminate. It is also why I frequently cry at our board meetings, and the women around me pause the conversation to take care of me. Then, later, everyone follows up with me—because we have individual relationships in addition to our community ones, are always allowed to continue being people in bodies at Belladonna*. Admitting that one is overwhelmed isn’t a problem among us. Belladonna* is a body too.

We travel as Belladonna*, each of us with a portion of the agenda internalized, like a spy ring. The archive of the future is the knowledge each of us carries, which we combine and recombine in whatever fraction/fragment of our group is present in a given situation.



Krystal Languell was born in South Bend, Indiana. Two chapbooks and a full-length collection of poetry are forthcoming: LAST SONG (dancing girl press, 2014), BE A DEAD GIRL (Argos Books, 2014) and GRAY MARKET (Coconut, 2015). FASHION BLAST QUARTER was published as a poetry pamphlet by Flying Object in 2014. A core member of the Belladonna* Collaborative, she also edits the journal Bone Bouquet.

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Published Sep 30, 2014 - Comments Off on On Always Beginning, Part 4 (Accounting for the I) by DB Guest Blogger Krystal Languell

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