Two Women in a Birth


170 pages
ISBN 1-55071-003-6
DDC C811'.54





Reviewed by Eugenia Sojka

Eugenia Sojka is a sessional instructor of English at the Memorial
University of Newfoundland.


This splendid collaborative collection provides a fascinating
exploration of language and writing, and a radically different vision of
subjectivity as embodied, sexually differentiated, multiple, and
relational. Their configuration of “écriture feminine” has strong
ties with the avant-garde traditions of French feminist writing in

The act of collaborative writing allows the authors to question the
concept of ownership, to undermine the traditional, unitary voice of
authority, and to subvert the monological concept of the subject. Apart
from individual long-distance poems (“Touch to My Tongue” and
“open is broken”) written simultaneously as a poetic, critical, and
erotic response to their own writing and reading, both women also engage
in the production of collaborative texts in which individual voices are
not clearly distinguished (“The Double Negative,” “Between the
Lines,” and “Subject to Change”); here the writers’ selves are
dialogized, their identities blurred, and such cultural negatives as
woman and lesbian are reversed. Yet this collaboration is not restricted
to an interpersonal dialogue. It is also an intra- and intertextual
dialogue focusing on myriad issues and exploring various discourses,
including the ecofeminist, lesbian, colonial, and theoretical. The
writers are ambidextrous women who speak with both sides of their
brains: the affective is never severed from the cerebral. No wonder all
binary oppositions are deconstructed in their texts.

The collection is also an excellent illustration of somatization of
writing resulting from an intersemiotic translation between writing and
body. The texts, which blur the erotic and the textual, also engage in
experiments with “genre contamination” (letter, diary, lyric, essay)
and the decolonization of language accomplished through etymological
wordplay, associative writing, and active play with the reader (use of
puns, ellipses, neologisms, and the blank page).

This book will certainly appeal to readers interested in current
experimental writing practices, but it will also entice anybody who
likes to be challenged by cerebral-affective eroticism in writing.


Marlatt, Daphne, and Betsy Warland., “Two Women in a Birth,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed May 26, 2024,