New York Woman's Literary Salon

November-December 1978 Newsletter

Text of the Newsletter:
November 18 - E. M. Broner reading from A Weave of Women introduced by Phyllis Chesler

December 9 - Valerie Miner and Jana Harris reading Fiction from Oral History

January l at 2 PM -Open Reading

These Salons will take place at the home of Erika Duncan: 463 West Street (Westbeth, between Bank and Bethune streets), Apt. 933B. For the first two Salons, there will be a social hour between 7 and 8 PM; the reading will start at 8.

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NOVEMBER 18: E. M. Broner, Associate Professor and Writer-in-Residence at Wayne State University, commutes between there and New York. She is a novelist and playwright. Among her novels are: Journal/Nocturnal, Her Mothers, A Weave of Women. Her play, The Body Parts of Margaret Fuller, was showcased at Playwrights Horizons and chosen for Playwrights at McCarters Theatre in Princeton. She is currently co-editing, with Cathy N. Davidson, a collection of essays: Embraced and Embattled: A History of Mothers and Daughters in Literature (late spring, 1979, Frederick Ungar). She lives ceremoniously with her family and friends.

A Weave of Women is a book of ceremonies between young and mature women who find refuge together in a small stone house in Jerusalem. They write songs to each other, greet loves and births, mourn deaths, rescue and, if necessary, punish one another (Holt, Rinehart & Winston).

DECEMBER 9: Valerie Miner and Jana Harris will be sharing with us their experiences working closely with each other in a collective in California writing some of the works from which they will read. A year ago, when the Woman's Salon gave a program at the National Convention for Women in Houston, Valerie came to join Olga Broumas (from Oregon), Gloria Orenstein and Erika Duncan in celebration of the spreading of women's literary networks throughout the nation. Numerous new salons grew up as a result of that program, in Texas and elsewhere. We look forward to this evening as an extension of the energies we catalyzed in Houston.

Valerie, one of the founders of the nationwide Feminist Writers Guild, will be reading from the book she co-authored, Tales I Tell My Mother (Journeyman Press, 1978), and her new work in progress, a novel tentatively entitled An Examination of Conscience, about two generations of Irish immigrant women returning to the homeland. In writing about the women written out of history, Valerie deals with their Catholic background, politics in Ireland, and leftist politics in the U.S. Her first book, Her Own Woman, was published by Macmillan in 1975. Her work has also appeared in many periodicals in Britain, Canada and the U.S. She is currently teaching at the University of California, Berkeley.

Jana Harris' poetry, short fiction, and critical reviews have appeared in numerous periodicals and anthologies. She has published three volumes of poetry, as well as two collections of broadsides, and is currently working on a fourth volume of poetry and a novel, Alaska; in the Pursuit of Money, from which she will read. She says. "I write from the memory of the mill-town women and the fishing village women in the Pacific Northwest where

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I grew up; where I too became one of these women, the daughter and grand- daughter of slaughterhouse workers and the wife of a fisherman. I write from a culture where women are kept from each other by social taboo, a culture that teaches reverence for the work of man and the commitment of women to servitude. 'Women' are a lower caste and because of this they have their own language, an underground language, an idiomatic communication for cultural experience, having been taught that real words are too embarrassing or unlady- like. My writing is an attempt to capture this language, to give form and shape to what has heretofore been considered the non-literature of female survival."

JANUARY 1, 1979 Our traditional New Year's Open Reading will feature Alice B. Toklas delicacies (improving slightly as we go along), other warm food, eggnog and cider. It will begin at 2 PM and go on for several hours followed by the feast and party!! Bring poetry, music, theater, novels, short stories, and things to eat and drink. As our Salon goes on, these gatherings become both more festive and more intimate, a chance to come to know each other in new ways. So be prepared to stay a while.

ANNOUNCEMENTS: Phyllis Flaxman has volunteered to collate announcements for inclusion in the newsletter. Please send all announcements of publications, events, etc. directly to her at 107 West 74th St. apt. 2R, New York 10023.

WRITING WORKSIFOP FOR WOMEN to be held on Wednesday nights from 8 to 9:30 in the Salon space (463 West St. -- tel. 691-0539). Erika Duncan, who will be running it, writes:

Because I believe that books and other shorter works reflect in impact upon readers the essential quality of the writer's experience in their creation, I am developing a workshop in which women writers learn to share their deepest selves in ways which truly can reach others. The process of writing, by necessity, brings to the surface our most vulnerable areas. It awakens many hidden sides of self. Therefore, I strongly feel, it should not be a lonely one, especially in the early stages.

Together we help each woman discover her essential themes and questions, showing how through understanding these a living structure for a project can evolve. And once a project is begun, we teach each woman to recognize in "what works" her strengths from which forward motion can be unleashed. We start to see how even weak and "unsuccessful" sections function to protect those parts of ourselves we fear (as we work to overcome those fears) or lead to what we do not yet know how to say, so that gradually we learn to accept and "own" the totality of the writing process, while increasing our mastery over its many complexities.

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THE FEMINIST REVIEW: Women's Words on Women's Work is a new bimonthly book review created when the New Women's Times in Rochester invited the New York chapter of the Feminist Writers Guild to edit it as a supplement to their newspaper. The first issue, with reviews and essays by Karen Malpede, Sallie Finch Reynolds, Erika Duncan, Stephanie Golden, Andrea Dworkin, Ellen Frankfort, Leah Fritz, Adrienne Rich, E. M. Broner, Elizabeth Fisher, Grace Paley, Phyllis Chesler, Marsha McCreadle, Robin Morgan, Jane Augustine, Gloria Steinem, Erica Jong, and others will be out November 1. Subscriptions are $9 a year and include 24 issues of the New Women's Times and 6 issues of the Feminist Review. Please send money to New Women's Times, 1357 Monroe Ave., Rochester, N.Y. 14618.

VIRAGO BOOKS on Salon book table: As a gesture of support for feminist publishing in England, the Salon has decided to keep a good stock of books published by Virago not available in this country. Because of shipping costs, these books are somewhat more expensive than those contributed by U.S. publishers, but since we feel this transcontinental sharing is important, we urge you to buy them.

APOLOGY: Noreen Forde McDonald has called it to our attention that it was not she but her friend Suzanne Levy who had been recently injured and whose pain inspired her fine poetry at the last Open Reading. We apologize for the mistake that appeared in our last Newsletter.

Gloria Orenstein writes from Paris:

The Woman's Salon energy is growing a new set of (Goddess) wings here in Paris this year. October will mark the opening of a feminist Salon de the which is being created by Yolaine Simha, a friend whom I first met last summer at my Salon de the encounters on the Rue Christine, and who is the author of "O maman, baise-moi encore," published under the pen name Ygreque at the Editions des femmes. Her Salon. which is literally a "salon de compagnons" where music and dance will be included in the programming as well as readings and art exhibits, will have spaces set apart for a small library and reading room, a "salle d'exposition," and an expanse of open space for literary events. The "animation" of the cultural programs (as they say in French) will be coordinated by Francoise Eliet, a psychoanalyst and artist. Francoise was extremely active in catalyzing an important conference on Women and Creativity held in the Marais last year. She will inaugurate the opening of this feminist space with a show of works by women artists entitled "Echos," for these will be the works of women who are simultaneously participating in a larger show being held in Aix-en-Provence.

The first literary event of the year will be a program featuring a discussion of our own Woman's Salon in New York. I will discuss the founding

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of our Salon and the kinds of theoretical ideas we have elaborated as a result of our research, criticism, reviewing, and experience running the Salon over the past 3 years, and I will also talk about our coordinators, our members and the works that have been presented in all of our programs. I'll share the program with Francoise Pasquier, who over the past year has founded a new feminist publishing company, called Editions Tierce. She published an important feminist journal entitled Questions Feministes, and her first books have included such titles as L'Italie au feminisme and Les Interruptions de grossesses--colloque internationale organise par le Mouvement francais pour le planning familial. She will discuss the publication of her "agenda"--a women's calendar, and the founding of Editions Tierce (1, rue des Fosses Saint Jacques, 75005 Paris).

The Salon de the will be open from 4 to 9 and will serve sandwiches, drinks and snacks. It welcomes women and men but will only have programs of works by women. It will be known as Le Lieu-Dit, 171, rue St. Jacques, 75005 Paris.

The women's poetry- and prose-writing groups (anglophone) will be getting underway in the near future, and I hope to keep our Salon informed of their activity just as soon as I can. On Saturday I visited the Pere Lachaise cemetery with my students and placed flowers and a Salon program on the tomb of Gertrude Stein and Alice B. Toklas. I invoked Goddess blessings for all of you, and I also send you my own Salon Blessings for an exciting and rewarding year in feminist literary history.

Amities Salonieres, Gloria Orenstein (alias G. Q'Stein)

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