We are very excited to have this under way, and we're even more excited to be showcasing some pretty fabulous work by some pretty fabulous ladies. Since this is our first segment, there really isn't a particular theme; just some amazing work that we felt had to be shared. Stay tuned for future postings, and above all, please enjoy!
by Courtney Allen
Furnished apartments in Cairo share a common decorating theme: French neoclassical design. Every stick of furniture is painted with gilt, covered in striped or vine-patterned sage green material, and smothered in a copious abundance of matching pillows with tassels. In the apartment I shared in April 2008 in the neighborhood of Mohandiseen there were three tinkly gold and crystal chandeliers, two marble-topped end tables, and a gold coffee table with a mirrored, glass-topped compartment. Completing the hotel suite effect was the indirect blue-tinged lighting around the ceiling in every room.
Upon touring the flat, our prospective landlady, Madame Magda, cast a sidelong glance at me and pointed at the tall, fair-headed John, asking with narrowed eyes, “You sleep with him?”
I cannot tell a lie. “Yes?” I replied in a squeaky please-rent-us-this-apartment-
“You are married? You must be married,” she explained firmly.
After a pause a pyramid would fit in I blurted, “Yes, we’re married…of course we’re married!” Okay, apparently I can tell a lie, just not very well. The guilt I felt on lying to a little old lady must have shone clearly forth from my face, but Madame Magda still saw fit to rent us the apartment. She then refused to speak to me for the rest of the month without a grating tone of disapproval in her voice. After we left at the end of our time in Egypt, she asked our third roommate whether we had in fact been married. I only hope she kept the guise up; we grew rather accustomed to our sham marriage while it lasted, even if we never managed to convince a soul of its validity.
Madame Magda was not the only person John and I found ourselves deceiving about our matrimonial status in Egypt. One of the wonderful things about Egypt is its fresh produce. Nearly every block in Cairo had a small juice stand where it was possible to purchase fresh orange, banana, guava, strawberry, and sugar cane juice—sometimes all mixed together if you’re feeling extravagant, While in Luxor, also blessed with many fresh juice stands, we tried the sugar cane drink and attempted to have a conversation in Arabic with the proprietor. We muddled along okay until he asked us how long we’d been married. Having failed to consult one another in advance on this matter (in hindsight a glaring error), I stammered in Arabic that we’d been married a year, while John concurrently said two. The shopkeeper gave us a puzzled smile, but we were too busy staring at one another in shock, wondering why each had chosen the other number.
The final victim of our web of lies was a carpet-seller in Luxor’s tourist market. We’d been to Khan el-Khalili, the large and famous market in old Cairo. With the noise, dust, aggressive salesmanship and covens of stray cats, visiting the market is a little bit like stepping into the 14th Century when it was built. We were expecting something similar in Luxor, but instead found a network of clean, tidy, freshly-paved alleys under shade trellises, rather like if we stepped into the Epcot Center, Disney World version of a souk. I intended to buy a small carpet for my father’s birthday, and we suddenly found ourselves walking away over an hour later, shaking the sense of dull hypnosis from our eyes, clutching a bundle containing not one but two lovely little wool carpets!
The most hilarious part of this episode is not the carpet-seller’s belief in our matrimonial union, but the fact that John and I never lived together outside Egypt. While we were still together we had joint custody over the little carpet—it was in my possession for a while, but currently rests on the floor of my former boyfriend’s room. It’s been a while since I’ve seen the fuzzy little memento of my first trip to Egypt, and I’m considering asking for sole guardianship. At least my sham marriage resulted in one tangible reminder of my first trip to Egypt.
by Rachel Somers
by Dorothy Karlin
She says, "I've already let a lot slide."
If I swallowed, I'd cry,
which is dumb; in truth, I'm mad.
She made me the guilty one.
so I cut my hair into a ragged edge.
I make myself guilty,
but I want cleaner ends.
At last the snow has melted,
but I want cleaner ends,
not mud's squelch, the smell of shit.
not a rescue, but a deliverance into
mud's squelch and the smell of shit.
The sheep will be birthing soon,
a dirty shed open to the bitter air.
The sheep will be birthing soon,
the ewes are barely mature themselves,
open to the night and the wind;
the ewes are barely mature themselves,
the spindly lambs are born wet.
I huddle into my coat, imagining the barn;
the spindly lambs are born wet,
sliding from their mother's womb.
which is dumb; in truth I'm mad --
pushed from my mother's womb,
and she says, "I've already let a lot slide."
by Jenny Jope
by Maggie Carcaterra
of tarnished silver chains
About our contributors:
Courtney Allen works in both color and s black and white photography. Originally from Roswell, Georgia, she is currently studying at Boston University. Her favorite music is Bob Dylan, Brian Eno, and the Beatles.
Caitlin McDonald is a graduate student at the University of Exeter, England pursuing a PhD in Arab and Islamic Studies. She spends her time gallivanting around the world interviewing belly dancers and calling it research. She is a nationally promoted blogger for Skirt! magazine.
Rachel Somers does many things different things very, very well. After investigating drawing, painting, and clay, she found a calling in jewelry making. She completed her degree in art and psychology (she double majored) this spring in California, and she is currently interning in Maine.According to Milagros Reyes, "Pictures can take you places, touch your soul, lift your spirit. Wherever life brings me, whatever I experience, taking pictures is my way of sharing my experience with whoever crosses my path. In this case YOU. I invite you to walk along with me." Visit her website at milreyesshootingaround.zenfolio.com
In her own words, Dorothy Karlin writes, "I grew up with sheep, and it was my responsibility to feed them. Now my parents have a 14-year old neighbor who makes any efforts I made to learn about sheep look mighty feeble...any time I try to think of beauty, nature, home....I think of sheep."
Jenny Jope is an award winning writer and photographer from Boston, Massachusetts. Her photographs impart the mythology, communicate the poem that exists between reality and imagination. Her Work will be featured this summer in the 8 Visions Exhibition at the Attleboro Arts Museum, an exhibit of eight unique artists featuring a mixture of creative processes and genres.
Maggie Carcaterra is currently completing her degree in photography at Maine College of Art, in Portland, Maine. She is originally from Saratoga Springs, New York, and she enjoys ice skating, old cameras, and traveling.
Erika Bailey lives 30 minutes outside Boston with herhusband, 3 children and a small menagerie. Her most recent work was published in Balancing the Tides, a literary journal out of RI. She loves to write and dabble in constructive art as well.
If you would like to contribute to our next posting, please email submissions to firstname.lastname@example.org.