Recently much of my writing has revolved around a very large question about the human predicament : Who are we, the beings who live with the thought that the manner of our living may be closing off the possibility of future life, yet who strive to keep that thought from erupting into the realm of conscious action? That question informs my most recent poetry title, Veiled Spill: A Sequence.  Begun in response to the Deepwater Horizon oil spill disaster and European legislation banning the full face veil worn by some Muslim women, the book uses images of veiling and spilling to explore the abiding ironies of gender- and race-based inequality, the brooding presence of uncontrollable technologies, and the desperate freedom of art at a time when social action often seems powerless to avert the wreck of the biosphere.

I was excited to hear from Goddard Graduate Institute faculty colleague Lise Weil with a request to include some of the poems from Veiled Spill in Dark Matter: Women Witnessing, an on-line publication that she launched in November.  She describes the journal, which welcomes all genres of writing and artwork, as a “response to the unprecedented changes humans are facing in an age of massive species loss and ecological disaster.” Visually compelling and challenging on both intellectual and emotional levels, the debut issue offer a series of powerful contributions to what I’ve come to think of as “the literature of going on.” At a time when the End Times have become little more than a trendy trope, right up there with vampires and serial killers, this is work that directs our attention away from the bewitching spectacle of apocalyptic disaster and towards the implications of a basic insight expressed in a line from a poem by Linda Hogan about the terror of living under the threat of nuclear annihilation: “This moment the world continues.”

How are we going to live with unprecedented loss? How can we muster the energy required to sustain work on harm reduction for the planet? What will it mean to keep faith with each other and with the wounded world itself? Dark Matter serves as home base for a powerful, ongoing conversation about these and related questions. Issue #1 is available here:

If you’d like to join the conversation, here’s a link to the journal’s Reader Response page:


by Jan Clausen

On Dark Matter: Women Witnessing
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Jan Clausen is the author of a dozen books in a range of genres, including the hybrid text Veiled Spill: A Sequence (GenPop Books, 2014). Her 1999 Memoir Apples and Oranges: My Journey through Sexual Identity will be reissued by Seven Stories Press in 2017. Recent poetry titles include From a Glass House and If You Like Difficulty. Prose titles include the story collection Mother, Sister, Daughter, Lover; and the novels Sinking, Stealing and The Prosperine Papers. Clausen’s poetry and creative prose are widely published in journals and anthologies; her book reviews and literary journalism have appeared in Boston Review, Ms., The Nation, Poets & Writers, and The Women’s Review of Books. She is the recipient of writing fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts and the New York Foundation for the Arts.

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