The Women by Ashley Farmer

ashley farmer

ISBN: 978-1-937865-57-3
118 pages
Release Date: March 11, 2016
Civil Coping Mechanisms

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“But then she asked me to reflect on my womb. I set the record straight. I responded with an essay, a book.”

I started The Women in 2011 when I began Googling various women-related phrases: “happy women,” “sad women,” “women say,” and so on. Knowing that my online habits, browser history, and geographical location would all shape my results, I wondered what might show up. The searches returned fragments that ran the gamut of media types and texts: advertisements, news headlines, celebrity gossip, feminist websites, beauty tips, and relationship advice all filled my screen. Also among the results: anti-woman screeds, men’s rights activists’ propaganda, misogynistic ramblings, and tired tropes about women’s lives. Using the first seven pages of search results as raw material, I sought to collage and reconfigure what I found. While this project began with a concept, it is not conceptual. Instead, I found value in not simply copying-and-pasting these findings but in actively chopping up, stitching together, and writing through the texts. Through this process, the Google results that might have simply washed over me in the past acquired new meaning. –Ashley Farmer  

Reading Ashley Farmer’s The Women is like reading a cubist painting. These scavenged voices collide, contradict, entertain, horrify, and surprise as they create a dizzying and complex conversation about what it means to be a woman at this particular moment in time. In poems that are by turns witty, beautiful, and moving, Farmer investigates the disturbing chasm between how women are seen and how they see themselves. Even as she unapologetically documents the power that systemic oppression has over our daily lives, her women emerge as brave, hungry, and resilient. The Women simultaneously made my blood boil and made me feel less alone.
Megan Martin, author of Nevers

Ashley Farmer’s The Women unearths the disgusting sludge in language via Google / via thinking. It arranges that sludge into poetry / exposes it / plays with it / works with its brutality. What happens / what continues to happen when language gets close to the varied, ever expanding lives of bodies that identify as women? What to do with that pain / the wound of continuing to be told, via suffocating / sickening pinch, who you are and what you deserve? ‘Have you heard the joke / about how women are like volcanoes: / calm before exploding / and killing everything?’ It never stops being difficult to continue to face how small we imagine each other to be. But we must keep doing it. The Women by Ashley Farmer insists that we do it / for ourselves / for each other / for bodies and lives and futures we have yet to believe in.
—Carrie Lorig, author of The Pulp vs. The Throne ​​