Category Archives: Women

Mary Norbert Korte, a woman poet

 dance in a loving ring
(for Hilary Ayer Fowler)

and pattern becomes
feet like drops of
purposive water
their plash deliberate tone
to accompany their each

and edge becomes
sharply rounded leading
what is the after of our
going before
not bound to arms but

and song becomes
sings itself through figure
of arms and feet
so lastly we know
with delight overtaking caught

the dance of realised pattern
on the live edge
of fitting song.

–Sister Mary Norbert Korte, 1965  (this poem appears in the anthology 31 New American Poets, pub. 1968)

Eddie Mae the Cook
Dreamed Sister Mary Ran
Off with Allen Ginsberg

The halls long dark hard
enough to have survived
the ’06 Quake where survival
was measured by the sound of
Mother Superior’s Rosary Beads
she dreamed
the cooks dreamed the other nuns
dreamed impossible dreams of silver
visions pelagic noises in the
groaning night
Dreaming was a mission she could not
renounce night as a place to see
all freedoms looming ahead
like a sweet dragon like
a cross with its circling tail

She ran away in everybody’s dreams
calling out like a booming flame
running running into the lines
of bards & lions lovers & birds
running with her arms out wide
into the bright flapping dark

(A true story about a dream really dreamed by the cook at the
St. Rose Convent after Sister Mary Norbert Korte attended the
Berkeley Poetry Conference)

–Mary Norbert Korte, 1988

MaryNorbertKorteYoungWoman                                                     MaryNKorte.jpg
Born in 1934 in the San Francisco Bay area, Mary Norbert Korte was from a strong Catholic
family.  This devout upbringing led Korte to enter the convent after graduating high school
in 1952.  As a nun she furthered her education, earning a Master’s degree in the specialized
field of Silver Latin.

In 1965, Korte awakened to another calling when she attended the Berkeley Poetry
Conference and heard readings by poets Robert Creely, Jack Spice, Charles Olson, Robert
Duncan, Gary Snyder and Allen Ginsburg.  She discovered she felt as at home among the
Beat writers as she did in the convent.  Within a few short years Korte left the convent as
her passion for writing and political activism grew.

Korte was one of the original Poet/Teachers for the California Poets in the Schools
program.  Twenty years ago, in the mid 1990s, she stopped teaching in the Schools
program and shifted her energies into environmental concerns by becoming the
Environmental Director for Coyote Valley Tribe in northern California.  To support herself
Korte began teaching at a California Indian reservation.

Regarded as one of the few women of the Beat Generation, Korte’s publications include Beginning of Lines (1968), Hymn To the Gentle Sun (1967), and Mammals of Delight (1978.)  Among the anthologies that include Korte’s poems are Remember Our Fire:
Poetry by Women
 (1969), 31 New American Poets (1968) and Poems Read in the Spirit of Peace & Gladness (1966).  Today she lives quietly and writes extensively in the Redwood Forest in Mendocino County.

HymntotheGentleSunPoetry                 31NewAmericanPoets                      ThrowingFirecracksOuttheWindowWhenMyExHusbandDrivesByMNK


Mary Norbert Korte’s biographical information is taken from the following web page:





Movies about real life famous couples can be risky ventures.  When the two people in question are liked and admired, their personalities portrayed on film must try and match how they are perceived by the general public or the film’s integrity stands to be rejected (regardless of the director’s ability, the script and the actors themselves).   If the couple were notorious and perhaps misunderstood, people can turn away from wanting to see a relationship “train wreck” and disparage the film and its content on perhaps “moral” grounds.  And yet again if the couple had struggles internal to their relationship alone, and these are revealed within the film, whether or not it is intended, the audience can takes sides for or against either of the two people that form the relationship.

Some of this went through my mind when I recently saw the movie Gable and Lombard that depicts the romantic relationship of actor Clark Gable and actress Carole Lombard in the late 1930s/early 1940s.  This film was released in 1976 and stars  James Brolin and Jill Clayburgh as these two famous stars who fell in love in an era when public moral opinion could make or break an entertainer’s career.  The film portrays how these two people met and how their love relationship developed.  What was hard for them was while Gable had been for some time separated from his wife before meeting Lombard, his wife still would not grant him a divorce.  Gable and Lombard went ahead and lived together hoping the wife would finally relent; eventually she did, however not without a scandal.  The tragedy, of course, is that within a few years after Gable and Lombard were married, Carole died in a plane crash in 1942 .  The story is that she remained for the rest of Clark Gable’s life the love of his life (while he did go on to marry two more time before he died, he requested to be buried next to Ms. Lombard in a Glendale, California cemetery).

Unfortunately the film, Gable and Lombard was not well received when it was released in the mid 1970s.  Finding the film fairly refreshing and captivating, I was curious as to why the film was disliked.  From what I’ve researched, it was in part due to how Ms. Lombard was portrayed.  She was considered, during her lifetime, to be a classy well-bred and yet funny lady while actress Jill Clayburgh instead depicted Ms. Lombard as an earthy and fairly free-spirited        wise-cracking woman.  Evidently there were still quite a few people alive in 1976 who remembered and knew Ms. Lombard from 35 years earlier, and these people did not take kindly to Ms. Clayburgh’s portrayal.  Myself a fan of Carole Lombard, I found no offense in Jill Clayburgh’s depiction – I thought she brought out smart, down-to-earth yet silly qualities, making it understandable how Clark Gable would fall for Ms. Lombard.

Other interesting films about real life famous couples possibly worth seeing are:

“Sid and Nancy” (1982) – The story of British punk rock musician, Sid Vicious of the Sex Pistols and his American girlfriend, Nancy Spungen

“Tom and Viv” (1994) – The story of the marriage of American poet, T.S. Eliot and British woman, Vivienne Haigh-Wood

“W.E.” (2011) – The story of the romance/relationship of American divorcee, Wallis Simpson, and King Edward VIII of England


The 3 Threes: Movies about Men and Women

This summer I saw three movies that depicted “threesomes” — not of the menage a trois variety, instead there were situations that reflected in my mind much of the “era” and time each of these movies were made.

     “Two-Lane Blacktop” (1971)

DIrected by Wim Wenders, this film stars James Taylor (the musician) as the driver and Dennis Wilson (of Beach Boys fame) as the mechanic.  This movie has developed, I’m told, something of a cult following.  The female character is a young hippie played by actress, Laurie Bird who gravitates first toward one of the guys and then the other.  The film doesn’t have a lot of dialogue and the main concern of the males is to drive their souped up 1955 Chevy across the U.S., making money by drag racing along the way.  The woman was in some ways secondary to the men’s purpose and concern with the car, however she does manage to have an impact nevertheless.

     “Cutter’s Way” (1981)

A drama with memorable acting, this film is the story of a physically and psychologically damaged Vietnam vet played by actor, John Heard, his wife, actress Lisa Eichorn and his best friend, Jeff Bridges.  The plot concerns what happens when Jeff Bridges finds a dead woman stuffed in an alley garbage bin and is able to identify the culprit who put her there.  When he tells his best friend and his best friend’s wife about what he saw, the friend (John Heard) gets caught up in trying to catch the murderer.  All of these characters are flawed in one way or another — John Heard is a bitter hard drinking man; Lisa Eichorn is his caring yet disillusioned and cynical wife who finds refuge in drinking as much as her husband does.   Jeff Bridges is something of a ladies man who is loyal to his best friend yet yearns for his best friend’s wife’s affections.  What redeems these three people is that they care about one another deeply — their friendships are longstanding and complex.  What eventually occurs in the movie is unsettling and sad.  In many ways this film depicts the heaviness of the post Vietnam War years of the mid-to-late 1970s.

    “Savages” (2012)

In Oliver Stone’s most recent film there are two best friends, Ben and Chon, and their shared girlfriend, Ophelia (referred to as “O”).  Business partners (they grow and sell pot) as well as friends, these two young men are as different as night and day.  It is their differences that balance them, however, and also partly why O is able to love both of them.  When O is kidnapped by the Mexican drug cartel who are looking to take over Ben and Chon’s pot business, there is no question that these men are going to try and bring her home safely.  The dynamic between these three characters stems from the openess of their relationships that in turn seems to foster free flowing communication among them.  How they eventually work through their harrowing ordeal with the drug cartel as well as the interaction among themselves forms the ending of the film.  This current day movie is both a romanticized depiction of a freer lifestyle and a reflection of the dangers of doing business in what continues to be illegal, the growing and selling of marijuana.