Someone in the comment thread to the last post mentioned Deena Metzger as another woman who writes powerfully about justice. I second that recommendation, and thought I’d take this opportunity to add a few more words about her.
April is National Poetry Month, and over the past few days I’ve been re-reading some poems by my favorite poet, Adrienne Rich. There’s so much that I love about Rich and her writing. I love how powerfully—and radically—she fuses political commitment and the pursuit of justice into her poetic vision. She writes provocatively on sexuality, race, language, power, and women’s culture as she combats racism, militarism, homophobia, and anti-Semitism.
There is a new audio podcast on Nextbook of an interview with political activist and writer Alix Kates Shulman -- featured in JWA's online exhibit Jewish Women and the Feminist Revolution -- about her first novel Memoirs of an Ex-Prom Queen. Click here to download or listen to the Nextbook podcast.
Last week, after Jewish writer Tillie Olsen died at the age of 94, I picked up a copy of Tell Me A Riddle, her first collection of short stories published in 1961. Last night I re-read “I Stand Here Ironing,” a story that recounts a poor working woman’s ambivalence about her parenting skills and about her eldest daughter’s future during the Great Depression.
It’s the story of an immigrant struggling to survive economically in the big city, a woman running for president, a crusade against pornography and birth control, a decades-long debate on how to achieve political equality for women.
Lately I’ve been re-reading the stories of Grace Paley, and no matter how many times I’ve read them, they’re hard to put down. She’s one of my favorite writers, a woman who weaves stories from what she views around her and captures how the most mundane, brief moments (a walk with a friend, moms watching kids in the park) contain everything we need to know about people and the world.
When a reporter of the Jewish Journal of Greater L.A. asked Amy Sherman-Palladino, creator and executive producer of WB’s acclaimed series Gilmore Girls, whether she’d be introducing more Jewish characters into her TV show, Amy replied: “By year seven, everyone on the show will be Jewish,” she says. “Believe me, it’s going to be the Chabad telethon.”
I guess the line is funnier if you know Gilmore Girls—a show about a single mom raising her teen daughter—is set in a fictional WASPy Connecticut town.
I stayed up late last night reading Wendy Wasserstein’s posthumously published novel, Elements of Style. (Click here for JWA's "We Remember" piece on Wasserstein.) Like all of Wasserstein’s work, her novel is witty, fun, biting, clever, with a strong thread of social criticism.
Caitlin Flanagan, a staff writer for The New Yorker, has been stirring things up among women for a while now. She’s been writing her controversial views on domestic life since 2001 in magazine articles (she got her writing break with The Atlantic), taking the stance that women should stay at home while raising their kids. “When a mother works, something is lost,” she wrote. She is a self-described “anti-feminist,” who claims she “was virtuously willing to sacrifice her own happiness for the sake of her children.”