New York Women's Literary Salon

May 1977 Newsletter

Text of the Newsletter:
The Woman's Salon takes pleasure is presenting an evening for Cynthia Griffin Wolff in celebration of the publication of:

A FEAST OF WORDS: THE TRIUMPH OF EDITH WHARTON
Friday, May 20, 1977 at 8:00 P.M.
463 West Street, Apt. 933B Duncan
Westbeth -- Between Bank and Bethune Sts.

"This is a book about the continual struggle of the artist to be born through the energizing of the unfulfilled early hungers and impossible longings of the past as the material for new creations in the journey forward. In portraying Wharton's struggle to leave the safe emptiness of the "enclosure", to cross the threshold in order to enter the risky open space of all life has to offer, Cynthia is creating a metaphor, not only for the women of Wharton's time attempting to escape the constriction of Victorian culture, but for contemporary woman's passage through this period of abandoning known structures and securities. Her tracing of how Wharton's increasing control of her craft enabled her to "relax resistance to regression" and let in the parts of her more passionate nature previously perceived as dangerous becomes a plea for all of us to work towards the mastery which will allow us to shed the defences which prevent our art from flourishing."

Erika Duncan, Book Forum

Cynthia is a professor at the University of Massachusettes at Amherst, Her other works include SAMUEL RICHARDSON AND THE EIGHTEENTH CENTURY PURITAN CHARACTER (Archen Books, 1972), OTHER LIVES, a composition reader and text which she edited (Goodyear Publishing Co., 1973) and numerous articles in scholarly and literary journals. She will be introduced by Stephanie Golden, a fiction writer and member of our Salon, who edited A FEAST OF WORDS for Oxford University Press and called it to our attention.

On May 14, we had a special salon for Olga Broumas who had come to the East Coast from Oregon in order to receive the Yale Younger Poets Prize. The atmosphere was very intense as Olga "read" her love poems written to women, swaying with her eyes shut tight In a soft wave-like motion that echoed the sea rhythms of her words. In her introduction Erika Duncan said, "Olga Broumas's poetry is a cry for love between women on all levels. Vivid with the sensual imagery of her native Greek ocean reclaimed in the pulsing warm sources of energy found and acknowledged finally within the female body, it speaks not only to and for those women who love each other physically, but to and for all women slowly learning to support and love each other." Following the reading Cynthia Orr, a story teller traveling with Olga, gathered the remaining audience around her In a circle on the rug and improvised a tale based upon three objects supplied by the listeners. This was followed by an animated discussion on oral literature and Olga's more intimate reading of a final poem.

This was, the third special gathering for a visiting woman writer. Last year we had a small salon for Monique Wittig when she came here from France. We also had one for Lynn Sukenick, a member poet from Colorado. We hope to have many more, so please keep us informed of who will be passing through.

"Anarchism and Feminism" will be the topic of a lecture by Karen Malpede, May 31, at 7:3O pm, Free Association, 5 W. 20th St. As promised, we plan to conclude this season with a second open reading, scheduled for Saturday, June 4. Again we ask participants to bring contributions of wine or food., There will be a social hour and sign up time from 1 to 2 P.M. The reading itself will last from 2 to 6. In order to allow as many women to participate as possible, we ask each reader to limit her time to ten minutes. Our New Year's Open House and Open reading was both very intimate and very animated, including not only fiction writers and poets, but critics, writers of interviews, actors who did improvisations, and song writers. We hope that the June gathering will be in the same spirit.

Following the reading will be an end-year party, open house, and fundraising event from 6 to 9. Because of the tremendous influx of new members this fall, for most of the year we have managed to meet the expenses of running the salon. With the very full program this spring (So many events came up which we felt we could not turn down.) we find ourselves once more drawing from our own pockets in order to keep going and work on next year's program. Since we have always made a policy of being non-exclusive, we hope all friends, members, and supporters will come to our party regardless of whether or not they are in a position to contribute, however we urge you all to help us if you can and come and celebrate with us.

Best wishes for a good and fruitful summer from the four of us,
Erika Duncan/ Karen Malpede/ Carole McCauley/ Gloria Orenstein



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