Wednesday, March 09, 2011

ESLF: T.A. Noonan

Next up in our series looking at 9L contributors participating in the Early Spring Literary Festival is T.A. Noonan. Her essay, "The Trouble with Correspondence" is featured in the spring/summer 10 issue (vol. 7, no. 1). Currently, I'm in the midst of interviewing T.A. for the next edition of 5 (or so) questions, which I'll post during the festival next week.

Right now, here's a little bit about the essay. A simple description for this essay would be that "The Trouble with Correspondence" is about T.A. delving into the practice of witchcraft, while also wrestling with her body image. Of course, the essay if far more complex than that, asking big, tough questions. How can you reconcile being a witch and your catholic upbringing? How can you accept your body the way it is when society says you shouldn't? However, what makes the essay so compelling is how personal it is. We see her struggling with these questions. We understand how witchcraft and body image, alone and together, impact her life. What she has to say about body image is not often heard in the media: being fat does not mean you are weak. The essay is bold, thought provoking, and honest. Without further delay here is an excerpt of "The Trouble with Correspondence."

Ask a man off the street to describe a witch, and he might conjure a barefoot, gypsy-skirted girl. Another might imagine black-robed figures sacrificing kittens and drinking babies' blood from a cauldron. Still another might think of his landlady.

The problem of witchcraft boils down to a problem of language. Take, for example, some of the current synonyms for witch -- Wiccan, pagan, neopagan, heathen. Despite what The Oxford English Dictionary and various thesauruses say, the terms aren't equivalent. Even witches don't know what to call themselves half the time.

But here's what I know: Wiccans follow a system of tenets and beliefs reconstructed by Gerald Gardner, an amateur anthropologist, in the 1950s. A pagan is anyone who doesn't practice Islam, Judaism, or Christianity. Neopaganism is a subset of paganism that includes various recontructionist, Goddess-centeric, and/or polytheistic belief systems. Heathen -- originally used to refer to an ignorant, non-Christian peasant -- is now the reclaimed title of a Nordic-themed neopagan sect. It's like this: squares are rectangles, but a rectangle isn't always a square. Wiccans are witches, but a witch isn't always Wiccan. Witches are pagan, but a pagan might not be a witch. Or sometimes a witch is a pagan -- witchcraft isn't tied to religion. A person can be Christian and practice witchcraft.
To read "The Trouble with Correspondence" pick up a copy of vol. 7, no. 1 in our webstore!

T.A. Noonan will be reading along with Adam Levin as part of the Ninth Letter reading on Wednesday, March 16 at 2pm in the Author's Corner on the 2nd floor of the Illini Union Bookstore.

No comments: