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By Rahna Reiko Rizzuto

A RADICAL ACT

“What would happen if one woman told the truth about her life? The world would split open.” ― Muriel Rukeyser

Twenty years ago, Anita Hill sat in front of a Senate hearing and told her truth at the intersection of race and gender.  She was publically pilloried by a panel of white men. This weekend, at Hunter College, Anita Hill was celebrated by a sold-out, star-studded conference, whose participants had a chance to thank her for enduring what she has so that women today could stand on her shoulders.

After a full conference day, the evening was filled with stories, in a hot ticket night of performances curated by Eve Ensler.  But throughout the day, there was a clear refrain that will resonate with all women writers.    Read more

By Amy Wheeler

SEX, POWER AND SPEAKING TRUTH

“I will not stand by silently and allow him, in his anger, to reinvent me.”

~ Anita Hill, in response to Clarence Thomas’ 2007 autobiography

Two decades ago, a young female attorney with humble Oklahoma roots held America spellbound as she “spoke truth to power” on national television.

The year was 1991 and Anita Hill’s courageous testimony, delivered during the nominations process for Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, raised the country’s awareness about sexual harassment in the workplace.

I remember being riveted to the television for the duration of the hearings, being shocked by the lewd comments and come-ons Hill reported Thomas making while she worked with him. But my outrage flared when the panel of all-white, all-male Senators began interrogating Hill, as if she were on trial.   Read more

By Kathlene Postma

A Room of One’s Own, One Way or Another

What I wanted for Christmas for ten years in a row was simple and impossible: A room of my own. Our house is a cozy bungalow, we have three young daughters (who will soon no doubt be asking for rooms of their own), and by the time the issue became pressing—I was desperate for a quiet space to write—the housing market convinced us to stay put. Small is the new big enough.

Except I really wanted—no needed—my own room.

  Read more

By Eve Ensler

Ambiguous UpSparkles From the Heart of the Park (Mic Check/Occupy Wall Street)

I have been watching and listening to all kinds of views and takes on Occupy Wall Street. Some say it’s backed by the Democratic Party. Some say it’s the emergence of a third party. Some say the protesters have no goals, no demands, no stated call. Some say it’s too broad, taking on too much. Some say it is the Left’s version of the Tea Party. Some say its Communist, some say it’s class warfare. Some say it will burn out and add up to nothing. Some say it’s just a bunch of crazy hippies who may get violent.

I have been spending time down at Zucotti Park and I am here to offer a much more terrifying view.   Read more

By Elizabeth Austen

Letter to a Young Writer

Dear Writer,

Years ago I heard Stanley Kunitz say, “The first job of the poet is to become the person who could write the poems.”

For a long time I thought this meant I had to become a better person than I am. I thought I had to become virtuous and perfect, so that the Muse would give me wise and beautiful poems.

But what I know now is that all (all!) I needed to do is to become myself, not someone else’s idea of me.   Read more

By Claudia Rowe

Add Kids and Stir

When I was last at Hedgebrook, two writers-in-residence were pregnant, and I – single, childless, about to turn 41 – could not hide my envy. It was not that I desperately loved children. I didn’t even know any children. But I wondered about missing out on the experience of family. I wondered if it would limit me, as a person and as a writer.

Years before, a friend had urged that I take full advantage of my solitary life: “It won’t be this way forever,” he said. “Do your work now.” Yet I was antsy, wandering around my tiny mountain home. Jumpy. The silence clogged my brain and I could not commit to the voice on the page.   Read more

By Monique Truong

I blame Laura Ingalls Wilder for my constant craving for homemade pies

I blame Laura Ingalls Wilder for my constant craving for homemade pies.  On the pages of her Little House series of books, I learned that Ma could make pies out of almost anything: green pumpkins (The Long Winter), black birds (Little Town on the Prairie), dried apples (By the Shores of Silver Lake), and even vinegar (Little House in the Big Woods). In fact, the only time when Ma did not bake a pie was when their eponymous little house was on the prairie, where “stewed dried blackberries and little cakes” were the closest things that Pa and the girls got to a proper dessert and that was only at Christmas dinner.

When I was eight and speeding through every book by Wilder that I could find—eschewing Farmer Boy till the very end because it was, eww, about a Boy!—every sentence about pie making and eating was pure magic to me. They still are. While I have put away now, along with other childish things, my calico sunbonnet (I will leave it up to you, dear reader, to decide whether I mean this figuratively or literally), I have kept close to my heart and my open mouth Wilder’s vivid evocation of the Good American Pie.

Like many quintessentially American fare, pies were foods that I read about but that I rarely ate at home when I was growing up.   Read more

By Christine Johnson-Duell

Finding Pomegranates

I have always loved the Persephone/Demeter myth and as an MFA student, I discovered Eavan Boland’s poem, “The Pomegranate.” I loved its wistfulness, its wisdom, and its fierce ambivalence (simultaneous wanting: to protect a daughter from, and propel her into, life), especially because I’d always related to this myth as Persephone. The speaker says “…the best thing about the legend is/I can enter it anywhere.”

In the decade that followed grad school, I came across numerous Persephone/Demeter poems. In that decade, I had a daughter, but I never wanted to write a version of the myth. Other poets, better than I, had already done it; the world didn’t need another. And, unlike Boland’s speaker, I was uncertain where to enter it.

I did (and do) however, have a few opinions.   Read more

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