New York Women's Literary Salon

May & June 1984 Newsletter

Text of the Newsletter:
Sat, May 5-7pm. Margaret Randall will come to us from Nicaragua, to read her poetry and share impressions of the struggle there.

Sat, May 26-7pm. Judith Malina will read from the new volume of her early journals.

Sun, June 3-2pm. Tenth Anniversary gala farewell Open Reading, Book Sale and Spaghetti Supper.

POET, TRANSLATOR, PHOTOGRAPHER MARGARET RANDALL was born in New York City in 1938 and grew up in New Mexico. During -the later 1950s she lived and wrote poetry in San Francisco, and in 1961 she moved to Mexico City where she founded and co-edited the literary magazine El Corno Emplumado/The Plumed Horn. From 1969 to 1981 she lived and worked in Cuba and in 1981 she moved to Managua, Nicaragua where she lived until January of this year.

Her books include Women in Cuba, Cuban Women Now, With Our Hands Spirit of the People, Carlota: Prose and Poetry from Cuba, the Silence.

Since the late 1970s she has worked extensively in a literary form that is part oral history, part interview, part essay; the result has been three books about Nicaragua, Doris Tijerino: Inside the Nicaraguan Revolution, Sandino's Daughters, Christians in the Nicaraguan Revolution.

Her poetry this evening will include her work from that time as well as work she has written since she has been back in the United States.

The Diaries of Judith Malina, 1947-1957
"Twenty-one already and I haven't done a thing worth immortality." These words, written on June 4, 1947, open her diary. In these early years we see the young Judith as a sensitive, headstrong woman striving to lead a life consistent with her evolving beliefs in all forms of non-violence and in the unfettered place of the individual in society. We follow her and Julian through late-night discussions with friends, the adoption of vegetarianism, participation in peace rallies, and their first experiences in jail, where Judith begins her longstanding friendship with mentor and social activist Dorothy Day.

Several years ago, during a brief return to the United States, Judith Malina came to the Woman'' Salon to read the prison sections from her then unpublished early diaries. Now upon the publication of the volume by Grove Press, and right before the Living Theater's return to Paris, it seems appropriate that she should read to us again, to end this decade in our history. The following is from the publicity flier circulated by Grove Press:

"No woman of our time has traveled a more daring or more perilous road than has Judith Malina in her journey through the second half of our century. It is a journey that has taken her, and the people she has touched with her genius, on a trek that has helped us see ourselves and our world of crisis with radically different eyes. In the process Judith Malina - known throughout the world as a leading figure in the development of experimental drama - has added a crucial chapter to the history of the modern stage. For the story of her journey is the story of the Living Theatre, the legendary performing group that has shocked, outraged, and inspired its audiences around the world for thirty-five years.

Here is the story of the innovation, excitement, and suffering that went into the creation of one of the most revolutionary theater movements of our time: the early support of such people as Jean Cocteau, William Carlos Williams, Anais Nin and James Agee; rehearsals of the plays Antigone, Dr. Faustus Lights the Lights, The Spook Sonata, and others; the tireless search for performance space in lofts, basements, and garages of New York; and the first difficult bouts with federal and city officials.

What emerges from these diaries is a portrait of a passionately dedicated artist and social visionary, determined not only to make her way as a woman, but to help reshape the course of modern theater."

(These events are made possible with public funds from the New York State Council on the Arts. The cover photographs for this newsletter are by Margaret Randall. The Calligraphy is by Gwynne Duncan.
Closing Statement by Erika Duncan:
After our tenth anniversary open reading and spaghetti supper, the Salon will cease to have a formal existence as an organization. Over the decade we have been in existence, many important women's groups have sprung up, both literary and political. The need that called us into being is no longer present in quite the same way. Over the years also, despite generous individual contributions, the Salon has ceased to be economically self sustaining. Although this year, for the first time the New York State Council on the Arts gave us a grant to pay our speakers, because of our informal structure, which is our essence, they could not give us money towards operating expenses.

In closing I would like to send love and thanks to the many who have been with us over the years and to the four other first founders, Marilyn Coffey, Karen Malpede, Gloria Orenstein, and Carole Rosenthal, whose early vision made our organization possible. During each of the three remaining readings to come, our several hundred books will be on sale at very low prices. We want to get them around. And our mailing list will be available to other groups, perhaps even our space, our network. Perhaps from time to time we will still do a mailing and come together. The Tuesday evening fiction and autobiographical writing workshop, which is self-sustaining, will continue, as will the spirit of the work we did. I wish you all much love and luck!

Sincerely, Erika Duncan

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