Tag Archives: women’s literature

In Memoriam – Toni Morrison, 1931-2019

“The writing is — I’m free from pain.  It’s where nobody tells me what to do; it’s where my imagination is fecund and I am really at my best.  Nothing matters more in the world or in my body or anywhere when I’m writing.”

Toni Morrison

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In Memoriam – Judith Krantz, 1928 – 2019

“I love magazines and film critics, so I eat it up.  I’m not one of those people who says, ‘I never read anything.’  I generally read all of it.”

“I’m convinced that it’s energy and humor.  The two of them combined equal charm.”

“Surely the whole point of writing your own life story is to be as honest as you possibly can, revealing everything about yourself that is most private and probably most interesting for that very reason.”

“Have some sort of private place to work in.  Put up a sign to keep from being interrupted.  Mine says: ‘Please, do not knock, do not say hello or goodbye, do not ask what’s for dinner, do not disturb me unless the fire or policemen have to be called.’”

“Thousands of people plan to be writers, but they never get around to it.  The only way to find out if you can write is to set aside a certain period every day and try.”

“Some questions are not meant to be asked as long as the answers are right.”

“The rich are different only because people treat them as if they were.”

Judith Krantz

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Women’s Worlds

Carol Ann Duffy is a Scottish-born poet and playwright whose works often focus on gender-based oppression and violence.  In 2009, she was appointed Britain’s Poet Laureate, becoming the first woman and first openly gay or lesbian person to hold that position in its 300-year history.  Even then, however, her male colleagues referred to her as a “poetess,” which I think is akin to a man calling his beloved spouse “wifey.”  Duffy’s writings include Mean Time (1993), which won the Whitbread Poetry Award and the Forward Poetry Prize; The Other Country (1990); Selling Manhattan (1987), winner of a Somerset Maugham Award; and her first collection, Standing Female Nude (1985), for which she received a Scottish Arts Council Award.

Dramatic characters and narratives, voiced with a sharp edge of wit and social critique, characterize Duffy’s early work, while her recent collections have wrestled more directly with dark and tangled themes of love.  But, perhaps her most intriguing compilation of poems is the “The World’s Wife,” published in 2000, which examines some of history’s most famous events and myths strictly from the viewpoint of the women or female characters who dutifully stood off to the side.  In many cases, she creates a female version of the male.  The figures include Mrs. Faust, Mrs. Quasimodo and Mrs. Tiresias.  A self-contained Penelope doesn’t wait for Odysseus; frustrated Mrs. Sisyphus is married to a workaholic; and Pygmalion’s statue, tired of being pestered by her groping suitor, “changed tack/ grew warm, like candle wax/ kissed back” – and after sex gets dumped.  She provides twisted updates to Viagra, sheep cloning and Monica Lewinky.  This material has been mined by feminist writers before.  But, as women gain more economic and political power – even in such unlikely places such as Brazil and Egypt – it’s always refreshing to contemplate how historical events might have appeared if their creators had been filled with estrogen and not testosterone.

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