Though I wasn’t writing much this week, I was reading a lot, which is what got me into the mess of becoming a writer. Here’s some of what I plowed through that you might enjoy. I’m finding lots of amazing writing by and about women, and that’s inspiring me. News events are also compelling me to keep my head down and work… there’s so much to be done. After we dance, of course.
by Warren Richey for the Christian Science Monitor. A nice summary, though no surprises. Impressive law professor, check. Nancy Pelosi, check. Chamber of Commerce spokesperson, check. Wal-Mart shoppers, oops. I guess they don’t matter in this particular story. Or do they?
by Jack Schafer, Slate’s media critic, who thinks she’s the right person for the job of executive editor at the New York Times. His colleague Ron Rosenbaum turned cartwheels and called for the return of the ERA campaign. Which approach do you like better?
by Sandy Banks, one of the many great LA Times columnists I now follow from afar. Sandy has a gift for making the quotidian sublime, and for illuminating a person’s story with infectious compassion. I hope this short piece about a young woman tragically orphaned grows into a compelling book with a happy ending.
by Zoe Williams, columnist for the Guardian UK. Yes, it was nice of her to review such interesting books just as I started a blog about women in the 21st century. No, I’m not going to steal her homework and gist it – read it yourself!
There’s a lot of fuss about Jose Antonio Vargas and the DREAM Act this weekend. Testimonials about immigration are essential in the public discourse, but sometimes fiction illuminates even more than a true story. I recommend Reyna Grande’s masterful debut novel which explores the forces that lure people across the border through the quest of two young women – one American-born, one Mexican-born – searching for their loved ones. Grande is also writing a memoir about her experience as a child brought to the United States illegally. I can’t wait to read that, but there’s a reason her novel has been chosen by multiple cities and schools for their community read programs. Check it out…
…or actually Joan’s.
I’d been tossing around the concept of this blog for a few weeks when I sat down yesterday morning with coffee and a copy of the June 2010 Smithsonian. New Yorker dance critic Joan Acocella contributed a great profile about Barbara Morgan which explores the photographer behind the iconic image of Martha Graham dancing in Letter to the World. The picture is also called The Kick… you can look at it in the Smithsonian article but you’ve likely seen it many times. It was used as part of the design for the commemorative stamp in honor of Graham and probably in every high school history text book that bothers to mention American art in the twentieth century.
The great writing of the article hints at a brilliant, temperamental artist unafraid to bend others to her will for the sake of art. She labored alongside luminaries like Graham and Georgia O’Keefe but her life and work remain in the shadows. I wondered why, and I wanted to do something about it.
A web search yielded very little, though apparently if you name your daughter Barbara Morgan, she’s going to do something interesting because I also learned about an astronaut and a country music songwriter. A visit to my local library also turned up a civil rights leader by the same name, but no biography about the woman who co-founded Aperture magazine.
I did find a Wikipedia biography that cites actual books but omits the fact that she and her husband had at least one child, a fact I gleaned from their grandson’s gift of some of her work to UMassAmherst. Kendra Greene has written a nice summary of Morgan’s accomplishments that museums and galleries apparently use freely.
All that is lovely, but I wonder what it was like dragging around a Leica in the thirties and forties… and what she would think of our digital world. I’m hoping to visit the Library of Congress and read some of what Morgan herself wrote in Aperture and for her various books. I’ll keep you posted…
Parris Island in South Carolina got its first female base commander today. I’d like to thank the Marine Corps for arranging that to happen on the first day of my blog, and the Associated Press for making her official bio somewhat more interesting than the dictionary.
Brigadier General Loretta Reynolds, one of three female general officers in the Marine Corps, is a Baltimore native who graduated from the Naval Academy in 1986.
The base is the only location where female enlisted Marines train to enter the service but that’s not why or how Reynolds got the job. Check out this local news clip for Capt. Bernadette Newman’s explanation.
Reynolds is one of three female general officers in the Marine Corps, but like most of our military she has served the country without much media attention. I’ll be watching for a profile of her…
In the meantime, check out this article about Captain Kathleen McGrath, the first woman to command a U.S. warship.
Recently I was reading a Washington Post article about two sites that curate great stories – long, deep reads that illuminate and challenge. When I examined Longform and Longreads I discovered that the editors are providing some of the best articles available on the web. I found much to love, including some great profiles of women as well as articles by top female journalists. Yet there’s a serious imbalance in articles about women. We are half the population yet apparently still invisible in many ways. Unfortunately, an analysis of our most influential media outlets by VIDA found that this under-representation permeates our literary culture.
Therefore, I’m spending the summer seeking, sharing and sometimes writing articles about women – scientists, geniuses, artists, leaders and heroines. I’m not trying to shove women’s work into a special corner all its own, but I think it would be useful and helpful to have a reading space that celebrates women and their accomplishments. And I’m wondering if men will find it it interesting and accessible as well since they can peruse anonymously the way I read Esquire and GQ.