New York Woman's Literary Salon


The Woman's Salon is a forum for criticism and theory as well as for fiction, poetry and plays. The Salon was founded by five women writers in the Fall of 1975. While we make no exclusive esthetic judgments, the major commitment of our Salon is to work that seeks through its poetic and imagistic intensity and its structural innovation to alter individual consciousness and to change the social world. The Woman's Salon supports, encourages, and provides an intelligent and receptive audience for writing that generates the personal and communal transformations which are the essence of the feminist world vision. We are committed to the writing we believe in regardless of its acceptance by the contemporary literary establishment or its distribution under the current system of economic censorship. We believe The Woman's Salon can influence literary history.

We believe in the power of the written word to define the evolving nonviolent human relationships that are the most profound discovery of the feminist movement. We believe in the power of the imagination to create a world in which women and men can contact and deepen our joyous connection to the life-force. We believe carefully crafted feminist writing increases our capacity to relate to one another without bondage and that as the capacity to love freely increases, fear and violence are transcended.

The connection between theoretical analysis and artistic creation is a vital one. The most compelling work to come out of the feminist movement combines analysis and passion, combines intellect and feeling, in ways that profoundly challenge the existing disorder because they take away from thought the false comfort of abstraction and take ineffectuality away from passion. The new mode of passionate perception originates with women and develops through our increasing knowledge of ourselves and of each other.

The Woman's Salon supports young and emerging writers and honors older women whose writing lives have been spent forging a feminist esthetic. We take sustenance and strength from recognizing our tradition and from embracing all generations. Karen Malpede

Three of the founders of The Woman's Salon will be hosting a coming together of literary networks which have been working to give audience support and serious critical attention to emerging women writers at the National Women's Convention in Houston. Erika Duncan, whose first novel, A WREATH OF PALE WHITE ROSES, came out this Spring, is currently working on her second novel as well as on a collection of portraits of English-speaking writers to be initially published in BOOK FORUM, where she is a Contributing Editor. She has also written articles for THE NEW BOSTON REVIEW, VIDEO CITY STAR, and CHANGES. Karen Malpede is the author of PEOPLE'S THEATRE IN AMERIKA. She edited and wrote the introduction to THREE WORKS BY THE OPEN THEATRE. Her plays LAMENT FOR THREE WOMEN and REBECCAH were both produced in New York City. Her most .recent play THE END OF WAR was produced in Dallas last Spring and is currently running in New York City. She has written for SOCIAL POLICY, WIN, LIBERATION, and PERFORMANCE. Gloria Feman Orenstein is the Chairperson of the Women's Studies Program at Douglass College of Rutgers University, where she is also an Assistant Professor of English. She is the author of THE THEATER OF THE MARVELOUS: SURREALISM AND THE CONTEMPORARY STAGE, and is working on a book on literary salons. Her articles have appeared in MS., THE FEMINIST ART JOURNAL, WOMANART, where she is also a Contributing Editor, CHRYSALIS, SHANTIH, DADA-SURREALISM, SIGNS:JOURNAL OF WOMEN IN CULTURE AND SOCIETY, and BOOK FORUM.

Olga Broumas, this year's winner of the Yale Younger Poets Prize, will read from her poetry written to women. The program will also include readings by Deena Metzger who comes from Los Angeles representing The Woman's Building and CHRYSALIS and Valerie Miner from The Feminist Writers' Guild in San Francisco. From The Woman's Salon itself, Gloria Orenstein will speak about the history of salons in the past as catalysts of culture and the current reclamation of these forms by women for themselves. Erika Duncan will speak about the role of literary criticism as a means of entry into works of art and feminist ways of breaking barriers between the previously divided aesthetics, and Karen Malpede will speak of the relationship between artistic creation and political transformation in the building of a new feminist theater.

In its first year of existence The Woman's Salon presented the following Salons "The Women of Surrealism", a slide-lecture by Salon founder and critic Gloria Orenstein to celebrate the publication of her book, THE THEATER OF THE MARVELOUS; a reading of the short story "The Horse" from her book of short stories, APPETITES, by Lynda Schor; "The Death of Clair" section read by Salon founder Erika Duncan from her novel, A WREATH OF PALE WHITE ROSES; the play REBECCAH by Salon founder Karen Malpede, read by actors Sybille Hayn, Ellen Maddow, Tina Shepard; the short stories "Fusion", "Inside/Outside" and "The Baby Tooth", written and read by Salon founder Carole Rosenthal; poetry written and read by Barbara Deming and Adrienne Rich, fiction and criticism by Catharine Stimpson and a paper on Salon Women by Gloria Grenstein; poems by Marge Piercy and a selection from Phyllis Chesler's recently completed book on men read by Phyllis Chesler; a tribute to Anais Nin on the occasion of publication of Volume Six of her DIARIES and of her book of essays, IN FAVOR OF THE SENSITIVE MAN, participants were: Daisy Aldan, Nona Balakian, Erika Duncan, Joan Goulianos, Viveca Lindfors, Valerie Harms, Karen Malpede, Kate Millett, Claudia Orenstein, Sharon Spencer, Frances Steloff and Alice Walker.

The Woman's Salon's second season included nine Salons, each one attended by from 75 to 175 women, among them: a special New Year's All Day Open House and Open Reading; two Salons for critical writers, one for a poetic-psychological study of Edith Wharton's creative growth by Cynthia Griffin Wolff, and one for Vivian Gornick; a salon featuring the writings of women in prison with poetry readings by former prisoners as well as speeches, readings, and performances by women involved in prison literature; two Salons linking art and literature. one for sisters Susan and Nina Yankowitz in celebration of the publication of Susan's book SILENT WITNESS, and another presentation by members of a group that composes texts intended for installation and performance, held at the AIR GALLERY, as well as two experimental readings, one of three novels-in-progress by Sharon Spencer, Mary Epes, and Deena Metzger, and another of computor -assisted fiction by Carole McCauley. Marge Piercy read from her novel WOMAN ON THE EDGE OF TIME, and Robin Morgan read from her collection of poems, LADY OF THE BEASTS.

So far this year, our third season has hosted a Salon for Judy Chicago and her Dinner Party Project, a Salon in celebration of Mary S. Hartman's book VICTORIAN MURDERESSES and Barbara Fisher Perry's unpublished manuscript on MOTHER MANDELBAUM, who headed a ring of Pacificist Pickpockets, an evening to celebrate the paperback publication of Dorothy Dinnerstein's THE MERMAID AND THE MINOTAUR, and a discussion of it with guest psychoanalysts, Florence Volkman Pincus and Paula Bromberg.

The literary salon has traditionally served an important function for intellectuals and artists by promoting the visibility of new works and ideas and by providing a means of informal contact for writers and their readers. We hope to establish a communication with women writers around the world and to stimulate translation of their works, criticism of new books, and a close working relationship between writers, critics, artists, and readers. We have a book table where works by women writers are sold, often at discount prices. The Woman's Salon wishes to encourage all efforts by women writers, critics and artists to create a feminist culture.

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