This interview with Pierre Joris titled ‘Lignes de fugues / Lettres de fuites’ was conducted for the Flemish literary journal yang – now known as nY. It was published in a Dutch translation in issue 2008.2. The interview mixes mail traffic, a live recording in Albany, NY, Skype sessions and MacSpeech dictations.
Pierre Joris (c) Katia Feltrin
Peter Cockelbergh: Similar to your mention of Paul Celan in ‘A Short Good-bye to Jacques Derrida,’ I would like to propose Ezra Pound as a first ‘medium of our dialogue,’ a first ‘line of flight’. Poetry, exile, other traditions, internationalism, translation, anthologies, music… all relate you to Ezra Pound, as much as they separate you from him. ‘Collage’, which runs forcefully through A Nomad Poetics (2003) too, is another momentary resting place. While Poundian collage, backed by a modernist aesthetics, reduces or recuperates (part of) its seeming heterogeneity, a lot of your own poetry radically puts to work allusion, quotation and multilingualism. How would you posit your work vis-à-vis Pound, and his use of collage?
Pierre Joris: If Gertrude Stein is ‘the mother of us all’ then Ezra Pound is our father. A strange couple, for sure, but essential to anyone coming into poetry in the second half of the 20th century with the intention to do more than write the traditional neo-romantic lyric. For me, Pound was there first – or rather right after I had found the Beat writers, Kaufman, Ginsberg, Kerouac and Burroughs. His importance was immediately immense, and at least twofold. Starting to read the Cantos I realized that poetry was a life’s work of total dedication, not something one could do on rainy weekends when moved by the spirit. Pound also immediately made clear that a learned poetry, a poetry that includes not only history, but also various sets of knowledges, was not necessarily a boring ‘academic’ poetry. The range of his work was liberating. Everything from everywhere could enter the field of writing, to be energized into that multifaceted, multilayered construct called a poem. Amazing!
There was a further essential dimension of Pound’s undertaking that fascinated me and that appealed directly to my concerns: translation. Not just translation as a useful, enriching transfer of other poetries into a given language – though, obviously, I have practiced that craft for onto 40 years now – but also translation as an essential part of writing itself. Translation is writing, and all writing is always already, as they used to say, a translation (into language). In that sense I was immediately struck by the masterfulness of Canto I, which is an original poem (whatever that may or may not mean), but also, a double translation of a Greek text via Latin into English and, formally speaking, into an adapted Anglo-Saxon form, which, on its turn, is thoroughly modern.
It is the poem as palimpsest that immediately interested me. That, to come to your original question, was more essential even than the question of collage. Collage, I have said so often enough, is the essential new technique of 20th-century art (not just poetry), and, unavoidably so given the explosive nature of the century, one that lets reality rain down on us as a wide range of fragments – of cultural, political, social, etc. areas. Pound’s tragedy was that his totally accurate perception of an aesthetics of multi-layered fragments, as the only way to get at the world around us without immediately torquing it into a predetermined fictional totality, was coupled with a strong 19th century desire for coherency – for a totality that he was able to locate only in the totalitarian politics of fascism. He lacked what Charles Olson later called upon as a necessary quality for the late 20th-century poet: Keats’s negative capability. It is the ability to be satisfied with the shining fragments, with the shimmering collage they made, with seeing the fracture lines between the fragments as a complex roadmap along which to travel. We can and do travel along those routes, which I have also tried to think of as ‘seams’.
Ezra Pound started out with a Dantean vision, and he wanted a Paradiso for his century – an impossibility, given the bankruptcy of all such totalizing grand narratives, from the Christian to the Marxist. But Pound’s poetry is much wiser than the man who was given to write it: there is no great single ball to lift, crystal or other, the fact that it ‘does not cohere’ is an accurate description of the facts.
PC: Dodging for a sec, say, Dante, Olson or Kerouac, Mallarmé, too, keeps on popping up in your work. Un coup de dés opens the first gallery of Poems for the Millennium.
PJ: There is the ‘Forerunners’ section before, which has Dickinson, Blake, all the way to Rimbaud and so on, but we really put in Mallarmé as the first one. And in fact there are two Mallarmés. There’s a charnière, a hinge or turning point, and what can be considered the first postmodern work, Le Livre, i.e. his notes for a new and final book. But that was not really a book, the notes were about a performance: this text was to be performed for that many evenings, with a very specific number of auditors, set in very specific places. So it is the description of something he could not do, that was unthinkable or undoable, unwritable even at that time – besides being interrupted by death. ‘Le Livre’ was a performance piece!
But the French, I think to some extent wrongly, always look at Mallarmé as this completely abstract writer. The Coup de dés is a much crazier book in a way, and if I talked about it a lot recently, it is because my friend, the Moroccan poet Mohammed Bennis’s first Arabic translation of the Coup de dés came out. And that was also the occasion, late 2007, for the first edition of the book that actually conforms to Mallarmé’s directions. He had spent the last three or four months of his life writing down exactly how he wanted the book printed: the font, the size of the paper, binding, everything. The first edition was in 1914 by Gallimard, but they used the font that Mallarmé hated most: Elzevir.
I love the idea that it is the first Arab edition that occasions the first real publication of Mallarmé’s book the way he wanted it. By the way, there was a little piece some time earlier on the net, saying that among his dying words was an Arab word, an Arab concept that he was talking about. So there is this weird connection – and I love those connections. Also, this is the first edition that does something else that Mallarmé wanted: three illustrations by Odilon Rédon, which are representational illustrations. And as soon as you see that Mallarmé wanted Odilon Rédon in there, the whole notion of the total abstractness, of the whiteness, of the pure text, goes by the board. He said everything exists to end up in a book, but that means also illustrations, images, the concrete. And that of course was kind of escamoté, concealed by the French 20th-century approach of Mallarmé. And of course, if the poem is there at the beginning, it is also because it is a poem that does those amazing things for the first time: going across pages, demanding a number of readings… so that in some way there is a certain aleatory element in it, depending on how you read it. There are plotlines, but they mix across, and you can read it down, and then down the other page, you can read across the page, so that in some level it foreshadows a whole range of 20th-century procedures, all the way up to John Cage and Jackson Mac Low.
PC: The impact of Gilles Deleuze’s oeuvre on your poetological thinking, as well as on your approach to certain other poets (e.g. ‘The Nomadism of Pablo Picasso’) is well known. Yet how do typically Deleuzian concepts like ‘le rhizome,’ ‘le pli,’ ‘nomadisme,’ ‘multiples,’ ‘le devenir,’ ‘lignes de fuite’ et cetera actually operate, that is, travel/travail through your poems?
PJ: I am a poet, not a theorist or philosopher, but I make the arrogant claim that the poet is possibly the last, in Robert Kelly’s words, ‘scientist of the whole… to whom all data whatsoever are of use.’ Permit me to point to Kelly’s sadly neglected and never-reprinted 1971 book of essays In Time, as one of the most fascinating and always useful stores of incarnated ideas, i.e. essayistic writing that takes the form of poems (decades before the Language poets proposed such inter-genre writing). I have often gone back to this book over the years and think of it even today as an essential source book for a wider poetics than what the current crop of younger en vogue avant-garde, post-avant or what have you groups or individual poet/theoreticians have to propose.
As I started out to say, I am a poet, not a theoretician, and as such I scan nomadically as wide a range of thinking and writing I am able to cover, looking for some ‘feeding for the intelletto’ I can appropriate and incorporate in both my poems and my thinking about poems. The prerogative of the poet is to steal directly whatever is of use, without needing to theoretically kowtow via analysis, explicatio, critical cloning or proof of pc allegiance.
In that sense, Deleuzian and other critical concepts give me a way to think through what happens in my poetry and in that of a range of other poets. My work was ‘nomadic’ in terms of its concerns and language techniques from the beginning, even before I ever read Deleuze & Guattari’s A Thousand Plateaus. Their theoretical work came much more as a kind of vindication for my (and others’) practice in poetry. Obviously my own personal biographical details are more important here. The fact that I write in my fourth language, for example as well as trails — for some 25 years I changed continents, living on three of them, at least every three years — make the concept of a nomadic poetics come to hand very easily. Take a classic Deleuzian concept such as the rhizome. When I came across it, I immediately saw its use in describing a certain difference between my work and that of a range of my contemporaries (Allen Fisher in England, for example), and that of the older generation of high modernists, such as Eliot or Pound. Their aim was still the masterpiece, the single ‘great work’ that would bring together — hopefully as an ‘organic’ whole — the highest and best cultural thinking humans had done. But such structures are always hierarchical, tree-like, limiting and exclusive.
From the beginning on it was important to me to keep the form open, and after the first rather traditional lyrics of self-discovery, I started exploring poem-sequences, mixed genres (prose / journal / poetry) and open-field poetries. In my work the logic of articulation is no longer that of a Poundian or a French Surrealist collage aesthetics. Both are beholden to classic European ideas of light vs. dark, and all that entails in terms of hierarchy. The non-hierarchical, free-moving and at times randomly articulated language units (that could be found in the street or in a philosophical text, overheard on the subway or well up from one’s psychic chora) could or should not be subjected to some single overriding aesthetic or even ethical pre-determined aim. Each one needed to be able to articulate itself with any other one, and create a vast proliferation, open on all sides for ever further egalitarian dérives. As The Beatles had it: Strawberry Fields Forever. And strawberries are of course rhizomes.
PC: Speaking of The Beatles, music seems to play an important role in your poetry and thinking too. You have written liner notes to a Steve Lacy album, and only recently recorded a CD, Routes, not Roots, on which you read some of your poetry accompanied by instruments like the oud, guitar and percussion. Could you say something about how, for instance, the sound of the oud, improvisation, and musicians/composers like Thelonious Monk, Miles Davis or Ornette Coleman influenced you?
PJ: Growing up in Luxemburg in the dull and sombre fifties, confined to the house by overprotective parents, and not too interested in team sports, there was little for me to do besides reading everything I could get my hands on. But there was also the radio and besides the bad German and French pop and early rock on Radio Luxembourg, I somehow found a few AFN radio stations that played some jazz — and wow! That was a major discovery, a true liberation. Especially Bebop. I somehow chanced across a couple Charlie Parker records and I immediately knew that something major was happening there. In fact my first published piece of writing was a little article on Charlie Parker in the JEC newsletter sometime in ‘61 or ‘62. As my old teacher and friend, Eric Mottram used to say, ‘Parker is one of the major American intellectuals of the 20th century’.
One of the great sadnesses of my life is that I cannot carry a tune or play an instrument, that I have no gift for making music whatsoever. I have been meditating on that lack a lot, coming to the conclusion that it is due to the absence of a specific kind of memory, what I would call ‘temporal memory’ as against a phano-memory, a visual memory associated with space that I have — and maybe for that I am so fond of Anton Webern’s music as he seems to build spatially. So of course I have obsessively tried to be involved with jazz and jazz musicians as they represent somehow the greatest creative mystery to me. For several years in Paris I lived down the street from Steve Lacy (whom I had met at the Rotterdam poetry festival) and could drop by in the afternoon when he and his band were rehearsing. Totally thrilling! Steve was deeply involved with poetry, and we spent many hours talking on the relation of poetry and music. My liner notes to his album Futurities, in which he sets poems by Robert Creeley, talks to that.
My companion, Nicole Peyrafitte, is a performance artist and an excellent singer, and she has a number of my poems in her repertory. We have often performed together and with various musicians — it’s always a thrill for me to do that, and I am always amazed when it works, as I’m deadly afraid that my musical inabilities will ruin the performance. But it seems that my poems do have good rhythmic structure. When the time came to record a ‘spoken word’ CD, I knew from the start that I would want jazz musicians to be involved. Thinking of certain poems and their concerns with Maghrebian and other Arab materials, I decided to get an oud involved. I found a superb oud player, Munir Beken, right here in town, as he was teaching at a local college. I wish there was more time so that I could collaborate more intensely with a range of musicians.
PC: You’re often asked about your interest in Arab poetry. To what extent and how does your very active working with and through Arab poetry, culture and life relate to Jerome Rothenberg’s ‘ethnopoetics?’ Could you specify this with respect to your latest chapbook and ongoing project: Meditations on the 40 Stations of Mansour Al Hallaj ?
PJ: My interests in Arab poetry are long-standing and have a range of causes. But to be clear: my knowledge of Arabic is very basic, though I keep on studying it, and have done so for some time. However, as my Arab teacher in Fez once said: ‘It takes at least two life times to learn Arabic well.’ I started too late even in my single lifetime to ever become truly expert. In that sense there is no way in which I could single-handedly do serious ‘ethnopoetic’ work in that area, especially as, in relation to North Africa, the deepest ethnopoetic work would of necessity involve Tamazigh and allied Berber languages. In terms of the anthology I am working on, this means that I need to work in close collaboration with poets and scholars who do have those languages and specialized knowledge of those areas. The problem is that even in the Maghreb itself that work is only in its infancy when not — in relation to Berber — officially frowned upon and repressed.
So, the area I know best is, obviously, the contemporary francophone literature of the Maghreb, which has been a central interest of mine since I first was introduced to it by the Moroccan poet Mohammed Khair-Eddine in Paris in 1966. It was exactly at the moment I decided to write in English, believing that the best contemporary poetry was written in the U.S., and had decided that contemporary French poetry was anaemic, that Khair-Eddine made me discover the literature of the Maghreb in French. His own early work and then Kateb Yacine quickly came to hand. It became obvious to me that the most interesting writing in French was happening outside France, in newly independent North Africa (but also in the Carribean, as I discovered soon afterward via Aimé Césaire) It was just as immediately obvious, however, that I couldn’t make use of that French (even though Luxemburg, in its own way, had been a cultural colony of France for a long time, but showed no desire to free itself from that imposition).
In terms of the Meditations, I have always had an interest in Islamic mysticism, the various Sufi traditions. Not so much from a theological angle (I don’t have a religious bone in my body) but more from the interest in ‘visionary’ poetry and poetics, be it Blake and Rimbaud in Europe, or Ibn Arabi and Mansur Al Hallaj and numerous others in the Islamic tradition. It is the function of the poet as ‘technician of the sacred’, as part of a shamanic exploration of psychic realms not commonly available, that fascinates me. In the Nomad Poetics essays I had brought in the concept of the mawqif, the station, the moment of rest as the place where a poem is written, between two moments of movement, of travel, of nomadizing. This is not an exclusively Arabic or Sufi concept, you could locate it in a range of cultures. Its dynamic possibilities are for example perfectly expressed by the Jewish Russian poet Osip Mandelstam when he writes: ‘Standing still is a variety of accumulated motion.’ So I had come across a list of forty such ‘stations’ culled by an exegete-follower of Al-Hallaj from the latter’s teachings. And I decided that those forty double names (English and Arabic) could provide an interesting formal structure and jumping off point for a sequence of poems.
Although this doesn’t necessarily come through in the actual poems, except when I introduce them at a public reading, it is worthwhile noting that Al-Hallaj was executed by the religious and political power-boys in Baghdad in the 10th century for having said ‘anâ al-haq’, ‘I am the perfect one’, i.e. I am complete and whole in myself and thus a free man, independent from your religio-political machine and machinations. In those days Baghdad was the center of the world, and it is now again, in a certain gruesome way.
PC: The celebrated Poems for the Millennium (1995 & 1998), edited by yourself and Jerome Rothenberg, anthologizes 20th-century experimental poetry from a global perspective. Interestingly, the second volume contains a manifesto for ‘counterpoetics’ signed by, among others, you and Rothenberg. How do you, as a poet, approach experimental, avant-garde poetry, and how do you come to terms with both avant-garde literary and political legacies in your own work? Furthermore, what role do you think new technologies and media could play today in keeping those legs alive?
PJ: I would say that it is not necessarily me who approaches it, but rather that it is experimental poetry that approaches me. It is finally the only poetry that speaks to me, that moves and questions me. Poetry interests me only in so far as it brings me something new (in form or content), as it tells me something I didn’t already know. I have little interest in reading poetry for the sake of poetry. I’d rather read interesting essays, philosophy, history of science, whatever… Right now I am reading an absolutely fascinating book on medieval Arab cooking, to my mind of much more interest than 90% of the so-called poetry published the same year. So I guess it is the remaining 10% that I would call experimental, avant-garde, post-avant, whatever name you want to give it. For me, all avant-garde poetry, from Dada to the Language poets has inevitably a strong political stance. If the old dichotomy between form and content has been sublated in modern poetry, then the whole poem, including what we used to call form, is political.
Writing has always been a material inscription on some support or other. That material support has always influenced what was written on it, be that Babylonian clay tablets, animal skin or knotted string. The new technologies and media are but one new material support for writing. They will certainly influence what will be written through them, but I think it may be too early to know exactly how this will work itself out. (I am using MacSpeech dictate to ‘write’ this ‘interview’ with you – a strange experience to say the least in that the program is still learning my voice and is making ‘menu we needed mistakes’ (that was supposed to be: ‘many weird mistakes’). Although I keep writing by hand and in real ink with my ‘what a man’ (‘Waterman’) fountain pen in the kind of unlined notebooks I have been using for 40 years now, I am also very interested in exploring the possibilities of the new media for writing. This morning for example, I played with the notion of ‘moral almost phonic translation’ (that was meant to be ‘oral homophonic translation’). Using this English voice recognition program, I read a well-known poem by André Breton into MacSpeech Dictate. The program tried to translate the sounds I made into English words with marvellously ‘weeded’ (‘weird’) results. Here are the opening lines of that ‘problem’ (‘poem’):
André Breton’s ‘L’Union Libre’
Marfan I should renew the food while
Opal city today of the shadow
I die you decide we
marked by Matt guy who will fully domed keys are
not found in the Bush did did did did what it did get me up although
bone bone plan to do soon be blown to let them know
I don’t go home to debate off the
(Obviously, if you use this in the final interview, don’t try to translate it into Dutch. Or else why not? I have always wanted to do a kind of translation that would put the given text through multiple languages until the ’original’ text had been wiped out completely.) Now, I will no doubt go over this text to decide if it stands up, and I may also read (‘alter it’) as it pleases me. Well, I’ve gotten away from your original question because of my new toy, but ‘a lead expand at fat’ (‘I’ll let it stand at that’).
PC: Just now, but also in the preface to 4 x 1, for instance, you explain how translation, reading and writing are intertwined for you. Aljibar (2007), as well as its follow-up Aljibar II (2008), are both bilingual editions, with Eric Sarner’s French translations facing your English poems. Other tongues and translation play multiple crucial roles in both your poetry and poetics, and, often seem related to Paul Celan – another ‘line of flight.’ Apart from your renowned Celan translations, and the essays you wrote on him, the link translating/Celan is present in your poems too, from the actual process of translating Celan in ‘Canto Diurno #1,’ to the appearance of single words in, for instance, Winnetou Old (‘Milch’ and ‘Würfel’) or ‘Introït to my Purgatory’ (the infamous ‘noone’). Could you expound a bit on how translation and its extreme polyphony affect your work, as well as on Celan’s effect on your poetry?
PJ: It was a somewhat scary decision, at nineteen, to write in English, my fourth, or possibly fifth language. In early teenage years I had tried to write in both German and French. The idea of writing in Luxemburgish never entered my mind, and anyway I didn’t know how to write in the language I spoke everyday at home and on the street. So, having to write in a foreign language gave a certain freedom, allowing/forcing me to choose my writerly language. If I chose English, or rather American English, it was because I found the poetry being written in that language the most exciting and inventive, both in terms of formal considerations and in terms of possible content, from Pound to Ginsberg, say. But I also realized as soon as I set foot on U.S. soil, that I was never going to become a simple, plain American — poet or otherwise. I instantly felt myself to be (as Charles Olson put it) a man of multiple occasions, one in many and many in one.
I kept reading in all my languages, I kept translating into two of them, and it was only natural that this speaking with multi-forked tongues should enter my own writing. The idea was, finally, to write in all my languages at the same time, or at least to let any language that spoke through me emerge into the poem as the poem asked for it. At times this could also be just the kind of ‘cheap tricks’ Ted Berrigan had taught me not to shy away from, i.e. a stalled poem could at times be kicked into life again by switching languages or by using a literal translation of a phrase in another language that would generate a weird or interesting image that could then lead the poem on into another direction. Remember also what I said above about Canto I. So, I often see my poems as multilayered homophonic translations of themselves from some unknown Ur-language or chora, playing on the discrepancies that arise when different sound- or sign-structures emerge to describe the same (or is it the same?) thing or experience or emotion or idea. The poem as palimpsest, allowing as many resonances as possible to emerge between those limits Zukofsky set for the poem: speech and music. It may sound as if I have gotten away from your question about translation, but all writing is translation, all poetry a multiple translation. Celan, the man who firmly claimed that one could write poetry only in the mother tongue, was not only also a great translator (I read Mandelstam only in his translation, as I don’t read Russian and don’t trust the English and French translations I have looked at) but, I would maintain, he wrote his poems in a language that was only liminally his ‘mother-tongue.’ He worked his world into a made-up, invented German enriched by his multiple languages. There is in Celan’s late work a ‘discrepant engagement,’ a stammer or stutter birthing the poem that has always felt much more accurate to me as enactment of the world, than the poetry that tries to re-present the world in those diminished, smooth, syntactically clear and word-transparent, single-meaning, single-languaged sentences.
One question for my poetics would thus be how to re-inscribe that older, now lost mode, the ‘middle voice’ into the poem. Besides syntactical disruption one of the ways I have found to achieve this is exactly via this multi-language stutter. Because it keeps questioning itself and what it says, it keeps telling me that language is not a home (even though or exactly because I once wrote a book called Hearth Work), that it is another form of exile, multiple exiles in fact. It is that realization that keeps me off-balance and alert as to the shifting sands underfoot. As I say in the poem ‘This afternoon Dante,’ ‘…that exile / is but the next step you take / the unknown there / where your foot comes / down // next, in / heaven or on earth / exile is when you can still / lift a foot / exile is when you are not / yet dead.’
PC: Although you clearly share with the Language poets an interest in language as a medium and although you have indicated on multiple occasions the influence The Politics of Poetic Form, or Charles Bernstein’s Rough Trades had on your own work, you have as often spoken up for a whole series of so-called neglecterinos, or more ‘marginalized’ poets, like Muriel Rukeyser, Anselm Hollo, Robert Kelly and so many others. How do you and your work relate to the institution and margins of poetry and literature today? Is it any different today from the time you lived, for instance, in Constantine or London, or from the time the Language poets were less established? Finally, how do you position yourself vis-à-vis the work of a younger generation of poets?
PJ: I was living and working in Constantine, Algeria, in the middle seventies, when I got first news of the Language poets, via copies of Bernstein’s L=A=N=G=U=A=G=E magazine, sent to me by the English poet Allen Fisher. I had seen the little 1975 Silliman selection in Jerry Rothenberg’s Alcheringa before that, but it had little impact on me. I guess the West Coast L-poets have, generally speaking, interested me much less than the East Coast L-poets. I guess being from Europe where avant-garde movements, from Surrealism to Tel Quel, were the norm — as were their authoritarian or popish exclusionary tactics — I was somewhat allergic to such groups and what they implied, and certainly didn’t want to join, had I been in the U.S. at the time and had I been asked (which I was not). At the same time, I was fascinated by the fact that such a group could arise in the land of rabid individualism, where strong literary avant-garde movements had never taken hold. Core aspects of their poetics were of course relevant, even if much sounded like déjà-vu all over again if you had read the European theorists and avant-gardistas, from the Russian futurists to Tel Quel.
As a European having moved into American poetry, I felt that I had more to learn from the New American poets such as Olson and Duncan and from that younger generation that has in a way been neglected because of the Language poets and their hegemonic claims on the avant-garde scene — claims bolstered by the simultaneous take-over of the U.S. university English departments by European theory, which allowed for a quick acceptance and establishment of the L-poets in academia.
That ‘lost generation’ I refer to would include the likes of Paul Blackburn, as the core link between the Black Mountaineers and those I have often called the ‘real’ New York poets, i.e. Jerome Rothenberg, Robert Kelly, David Antin, Armand Schwerner and allied poets. I would call all of these neglectorinos in that their visibility is way below what their achievements as poets would demand, not only in terms of a wider visibility, but also in terms of critical appraisals. It seems aberrant to me that a poet like, say, Robert Kelly, probably the most prolific U.S. poet of the second half of the century, and one of the most experimental and varied practitioners in both poetry and prose, has not been the subject of a single book of critical evaluation. I think that one reason for that sixties’ generation’s relative invisibility is the fact that they set everything on the poetry, i.e. they wrote and published lots of poetry but very little critical writing or theoretical considerations. Nor did they form ‘schools’ that could have put the spotlight on their agendas — vide the very short-lived and self-abolished original ‘Deep Image’ movement.
No time left to really go into the younger poets, except to say that if I were to put together an anthology of the last 30 years of U.S. poetry, the overwhelming majority of poets would be women. It seems to me that from the generation of Howe, Hejinian and Notley forward to younger poets such as Liz Willis, Jennifer Moxley, Elisabeth Robinson, Jen Hofer or Kristin Prevallet, the energy, inventiveness and sheer imaginative drive has been squarely in the hands of the women. —